Thursday, 28 May 2015

Never Saw It Coming {Accident Anniversary} / Life

It started out to be a day like any other day. But Wednesday the 28th May 2014 will be etched in
my memory forever. 

There wasn’t any screaming sirens signalling danger, going off in my bedroom when I reached for my slippers. There was no huge neon sign flashing ‘Warning, Warning’ as I walked into the bathroom for my usual shower. When I sat down to eat breakfast there was the same quietness about the house, no pulsing tones of impending doom. And as I drove to work, there were no voices in my head urging me ‘turn back, turn back’. I never saw it coming.

I thought 2013 was a dreadful year! My older sister passed away from Pancreatic Cancer on the 6th April 2013 after just 7 or so months after diagnoses. My brother, who had been battling cancer for 8 years, passed away on the 7th September 2013. Two weeks later, my husband’s Father passed away. Their passing rocked our family to the core and things have just never been the same since. When someone you love dies, life just loses a little bit of lustre, fullness and meaning.

So when a traumatic accident on the 28th May 2014 caused my family to be once again facing uncertainty and pain, I hated that this time, I was the cause.

I had just completed two days of Fork Lift training and was preparing to sit the test on the Thursday. To get in a bit of practice before the test I was moving stuff around the car park. I won’t go into the ducks guts of the accident but the upshot is, two 50 kg wooden pallets fell from a height of around 3 metres and landed on me. The first one hit me in the head and I lost all feeling from the neck down.

I remember very vividly the words I spoke as that first one hit me in the back of the head forcing me to the ground…

‘Dear Lord, please don’t let me die. If I never walk again so be it, just don’t let me die and put my family through that again’. 

At that instance, I felt as if someone had scooped me up and gently placed me on the ground. I felt no panic or fear nor much pain. In fact, I felt a peace and a certainty that no matter what happened, no matter what injuries I sustained, I would live and the Lord would get me through whatever I had to face.

Daughter # 3 my right hand girl.
She was by my side almost every day at the hospital
and my nurse when I went home.
And what I had to face was an epidural haematoma from a head injury requiring 30 staples. In my back was T11 fracture, T12 fracture with anterior displacement and L1 fracture along with a compression fracture of L5. Both major bones in my right ankle were fractured as well as the metatarsal bones (long bones in foot that connect your ankle to your toes) fractured on my left foot. Two fingers on my right hand were fractured, a collapsed lung along with an assortment of internal and external bruises, scrapes and other injuries that I don’t even understand or know what they were but, I know enough to be sure that I am one very blessed woman to have come through the accident at all.

Today it is 12 months since that horrible day. I have slowly recovered from most of my injuries and with physiotherapy and hydrotherapy 4 days a week and lots of hard, painful work, have gradually gotten better at walking and standing and sitting and all those things we just take for granted. I will never be the same physically though and there are lots of things I simply will never be able to do again whilst other things will take a lot more time before I can manage them without pain.

For around 6 months after the accident I was at the mercy of other people having to do everything for me, which has made me appreciate the little things that I took for granted, so much more. Like getting myself into a nice hot shower and washing myself. Being able to attend to my own toileting needs without assistance. Always dependent on someone being there with me should I need a drink or my medication or a meal. Dropping something was always a pain because it pretty much had to stay on the floor until someone came along to pick it up for me.

Some of my wonderful family who were always there for me
Now I can do those things for myself, with varying degrees of difficulty, but I will never forget what it felt like to be so helpless and I am so, so thankful to my husband and children who absolutely went above and beyond to care for me and every day I thank the Lord that I have come so far and that they were so selfless.

You learn a lot about yourself through something like this accident and there are things that I am trying to work on to be a better person. You also learn a lot about other people, often well meaning people, but that’s a story for another day.

I would not wish something like this on my worst enemy and I can’t truly say that I am happy it happened, but, I am glad of the lessons it taught me and to discover a strength and determination born out of my trust in the Lord as it is He who brought me through some of the darkest days of my life and every morning when I wake and every evening before I go to sleep, I thank Him with my whole heart that I'm still here to tell the story.

“You may never know that JESUS is all you need, until

 JESUS is all you have.”

Corrie ten Boom

P.S. Anyone want a used pair of Moon Boots?



Saturday, 23 May 2015

Meet Valerie Part 2 / Memories of Mum {Valerie’s Gallery}

Mum dressed up as she was want to do for some family occasion.
She always had a way of making things fun and special.
Valerie Hazel Torning. An amazing woman, who had an amazing life and packed so much into her almost 77 years. As you can read in Meet Valerie Part 1, she achieved many things in her life, but that really only covers a portion of what she was involved in.

Valerie was an extremely benevolent person and had a great passion to help people in whatever way she could. Growing up I remember my sister and I giving up our beds on more than one occasion to accommodate a poor homeless person, or a battered wife, or an abandoned child, or some other poor soul that was down at heel so they could have a home cooked meal and a bed for the night. However, this act of kindness was not always met with the usual thankfulness. 

I remember once a very large man who was having trouble finding somewhere to stay came for the night and left again in the early hours of the morning with quite a few of our valuables in tow. Mum just took things like that in her stride. She wasn’t someone who was attached to her possessions and was always glad to give something away if it helped someone else.
Dressed up at a Women's Retreat

With a love for music, Valerie taught herself to play the piano, as her mother would not allow her to have lessons. She became very accomplished at playing by ear. She was a real larrikin and loved to act and sing and dance and play the piano or the squeeze box. 

When I was a child, many a night was spent sitting around in the lounge room singing together with Dad on his harmonica and Mum on the piano. For many years she led a Choir of ladies who would present concerts at Senior Citizen Centres and Nursing Homes. My sister and I were usually scripted into these performances. We didn’t mind at all as it often meant a day off school.

Mum loved to talk, as any one in my family can attest to. No matter what the occasion, Mum would always hold court somewhere in the room. I’m sure that whoever coined the phrase ‘talk the leg off an iron pot’ had Mum in mind when they said it. 

But the thing is, she was really interesting to listen to and never ceased to amaze me with the topics she was versed in. Hence, she was a sought after Public Speaker.

Mum mucking around whilst having her picture taken before
heading out to a Public Speaking Engagement
Mum loved to read, three and four books at a time, on any topic so she had varying degrees of information and knowledge on just about any topic you could imagine.

Mind you, sometimes you just wanted her to stop talking. I remember times when she would ring me at home and launch into a long conversation about something or other. I could actually put the phone down, go and check on the dinner, see what the kids were doing and have a glass of water before heading back to pick up the phone and Mum would never miss a beat, not even realising I’d put the phone down.

I could regale you for hours with stories about Valerie and the many things she was involved in. Suffice it to say, she had an extremely interesting life. We were all very proud of her and her death through Bone Cancer in 2001 left a huge hole in our lives, but she left an amazing legacy and example for her children and grandchildren.

This Blog is, in part, a dedication to Valerie as well as a history for the family, those who knew her and anyone who is interested in the many things that made up the life of Valerie Hazel Torning. Keep your eyes open in ‘Valerie’s Gallery’ for some of Valerie’s poems, stories, anecdotes and other writings as well as more of the interesting endeavours in the life and times of Valerie Torning.



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Insanity {The Battles We Fight} / Kids

'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Insanity' is all about Kids and Mothering and life with a big Family. The joys of being a parent and those things that drive us crazy.

She was born a healthy 8lbs 4 ozs and 20 ½ “ (3790gms and 52cm for you metric minded people). 

The Doctor said it was all in her cheeks! 

I think he was right because she only grew up to be a tiny little thing. At 27 years old I don’t think she tops 5’.

Her first year was plagued with ill health and hearing problems so in some ways she started life behind the 8 ball.

Today she turns 27 but it is also her Graduation Day from the Diploma of Childcare and I couldn’t be more proud of her. 

You see life isn’t easy for someone with a learning disability as any parent with children who struggle will attest to.

It was a battle to get her help through her school years, quite often a fruitless battle. Private Speech Pathology and tutoring at my own expense over the years helped some but the ongoing support and intervention that would have made a difference was just not there and what we did receive I had to fight long and hard for.

The day she started High School I cried all day. I was so worried about how she would cope and after the lack of support at primary school I didn’t hold out much hope of anything being different in High School. I was right!

When she finally made it through High School and what a traumatic experience it was for both of us, we thought finding work through the assistance of a Disability Organisation would be a piece of cake. Wrong! Big time wrong!

The world is a harsh place for people that don’t meet the ‘standard’. The word disability seems to conjure up all sorts of negative impressions in the minds of prospective employers thus we spent many long years trying to find employment without any success.

When the opportunity to do her Certificate III and then Diploma in Childcare came along it was decided to give it a go and to our delight, discovered she was a natural with kids. But the battle wasn’t over. The theory proved to be very difficult for her so with help from family, a good friend and the astuteness of her TAFE teacher who recognised she had a learning difficulty she struggled on.

Now today, after much hard work and frustration, tears and wanting to throw the towel in, she will receive the degree she never thought was possible and struggled so hard for. 

Success is often so much sweeter when we have to put real sweat and tears into it to achieve what others may see as a walk in the park.

Everyone faces battles in life. Set backs and hard times, disappointments and struggles happen to us all. But some things that others take for granted are a huge mountain to climb for someone like my daughter and my son and anyone that has some kind a disability or hurdle to jump in this life.

Congratulations, just doesn’t seem enough after the incredible effort that my daughter has put into achieving this degree. I am so proud of her. Always have been, even without the degree, just for the way she has persevered and kept going through everything life has thrown at her and never given up.

You are an amazing young woman Ellie with strength, determination and courage and tonight as you receive your degree I want you to remember that you are not stupid or useless or inferior. 

You are special and wonderful and have worked so hard to get to where you are. You deserve all the accolade of your success and can be proud of yourself because we certainly are.  

Oh and Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 18 May 2015

‘Stop That Noise!!!’ / A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Insanity / Kids Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have 5 children.
               I have 5 children.
                              I have 5 children.
                                             I have 5 children.

It doesn’t matter which way I say it, the result is the same, there’s 5 of em!

I remember sitting and thinking this very thought one day while all 5 were playing around together in the back room of our home, toys scattered from one end of the room to the other, dress up clothes half on, half off, television blaring and the stereo pumping out the golden strains of ‘Take Me To The River’ by the Commitments.  I wished someone would take me to the river, and drown me! No, not really. Well, at least take me to the river so I could sit in a boat on the quiet water and fish with the only noise being the gentle lapping of the water against the side of the boat and the distant sound of gulls on the shore and the only ones I had to feed were the fish. sigh…..

The noise I was enduring was anything but peaceful. There was, ear piercing squeals and gales of laughter. The sound of  #1 bellowing instructions while #3 sang at the top of her lungs and danced on the coffee table. Movement of the foundations as stampeding feet from #2 chased #4 around the house in gay abandon, and to complete the quintet, the dulcet tones of #5’s screaming could be heard across the boarder.

Now before you say anything, No, I did not have unruly, ill bred children who needed a swift upper cut. Well, sometimes I did, but for the most part they were just normal loud, noisy, busy, imaginative kids who loved to play and dance and listen to music and put on plays and rough house and generally have a good time. Except #5 who seemed to just want to scream for a year or so. Hey, what can I say? You’d probably scream too if you were the youngest and only boy in the family with 4 older bossy, fussing sisters getting in your way all the time!

That was our home. Always alive with noise, mess, people coming and going, phones ringing, baths running, dinner cooking, kids yelling and running around, televisions going and music playing and I loved it, most of the time.

There is an interesting phenomenon though when you have a large number of children. The neighbour’s kids usually come to your house rather than the other way around. In fact, my neighbour once said to me ‘I guess when you have 5 of them you don’t notice a few extra’. In a way it’s true. What’s  7 or 8 or 9 when it’s all boiled down.

There are a few drawbacks of having 5 children though. Like, how everything comes in packs of either 4 or 6 so you always end up with one less or one over. And if I ever had to go away for a night or weekend I would have to split the kids up and send them in different directions because no one wanted to have 5 extra kids over night when they already had 2 or 3. Funny, it was always ok for me to add their 2 or 3 to my 5. That math seemed to work for people, but not the other way around. And cars were a problem as well. Most are 5 seaters which was fine kid wise so long as they didn’t need a driver. Hence we owned a Tarago or two throughout our early years. And with 5, someone always has to share a room, unless you can afford a huge house with 6 bedrooms or convince a couple of them to sleep in a tent in the backyard until someone moves out.

Anyway, what was the point of this post? I’ve momentarily forgotten. I got so wrapped up in my memories that the point now escapes me. Wait, It’s coming back to me. Noise! I remember now. I just lost my train of thought there for a moment in the silence of my office with only the sounds of my keyboard clicking and my brain rattling. I think I think better with a racket going on.

For me, the absence of noise is a sad thing because it reminds me that my children have grown and moved on (well, three of them at least). That’s why I love Wednesday nights when we have family night and we all gather round the dinner table talking over each other and laughing and eating and loving being together. When we manage to have everyone together, there’s 13 of us including partners and grandchildren. It’s not so different really. There’s still orders being bellowed and tv’s going and people singing and the sound of feet chasing the littler feet of the granddaughters around the house with squeals and laughter and conversation and banter and sometimes, sometimes I just sit and listen and enjoy the sound of my family and I ponder why the good Lord decided to entrust me with 5 precious gems. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m eternally grateful that He did!