A place of our own

by barbznz

I got back to Akatarawa to my mums house, it was only temporary I knew so I needed to find something. In those days one thing that single mothers did was to become house keepers. You got room and board and a small allowance. People would advertise for a single mother to come and keep house. It seemed like a solution so I answered a few ads. I met with a few people but finally settled on a man and his nine year old daughter, They lived in Upper Hutt close to town.

Suzanne and I moved in. There was one major snag. I couldn’t cook and I wasn’t very good at housekeeping. The daughter used to love pulling out her fathers porn and showing me the pictures. I would get all embarrassed and she would laugh. I couldn’t tell her father which made it worse. I mean what would I say. Excuse me but your daughter knows where you keep your porn and keeps showing it me. Very awkward.

While we were there, Suzanne went to Wellington Hospital for tests. It was horrible being so far away from her. but I hoped we would get some answers. The didn’t say much when she was discharged just to say I would get an appointment in the mail with the specialist.

I needed to get out of my living situation and found temporary accommodation in Newtown, Wellington. It was a shelter for homeless woman and children. It was really basic, Suzanne and I shared a room. The woman and children had come from some pretty awful backgrounds, Some of the stories of family violence really frightened me. I never realised that people lived in such dangerous situations. One good thing was it was close to Wellington Zoo and I took Suzanne for walks to see all the animals.

We were there for about 3 or 4 weeks I think, not long but in that time I turned  21. It was a far cry from my 20th. I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday and spend most of the day like we did other days,  in our room. Somehow friends, Tom and Betty Collins found out about it and came and took us to their place for dinner. It was lovely to get out of there.

Tom and Betty were from Tauranga. Tom was an old friend of my brothers and Betty was the daughter of a friend of Dad’s. They caused a real scandal when they ran off together when Betty was 14. Tom worked on the railways and they eventually got a railways house once they were married of course.

When I got back from dinner we got back from dinner, I found out that my Dad had rung to wish me happy birthday. He was the only one who did. Then the others found out that it had been my birthday and wanted to know why I didn’t say anything. Truth is I was too embarrassed.

I did find a flat in Upper Hutt in Lane Street behind Wallaceville Station. It was one bedroom at the end four or five flats. I applied and got   the DPB so was able to get some white-ware on HP. My mum had a kitchen tea for me and all her friends brought things for my flat including food for the cupboards and linen. I didn’t have a lounge suite I just had a divan bed for a couch. Later a neighbour discovered I didn’t have a lounge suite and organised one through the Salvation Army.

The appointment for the paediatrician arrived and Suzanne and I caught the train to Wellington.. He told me that Suzanne had epilepsy and severe disabilities. I didn’t know what severe disabilities meant but I figured it wasn’t a good thing. While I was redressing Suzanne in the other room the nurse said that I took that really well, Well said the paediatrician, it is in the family, she was expecting it.

Actually I wasn’t expecting it, My world was blown apart. It was totally incomprehensible. We caught the train home. I just wanted  to get home.

At least I didn’t have to hide in the shower..


© Barbara Hart 2014