© Julie Boyd
DJ’s mum, Jedda, died today. It was very sad and he’s distraught. My boy doesn’t know what to do to comfort his friend.
She was a little dark-haired dynamo and a wonderful mum. Everyone knew her. She usually hung out in the front yard and was always up for a chat whenever you’d go past their place. DJ lived with his mum and she looked after him, way too well as he never wanted to leave home. They both lived with her Dad, Rich, and the rest of the family.
Poor Rich. I saw him just now, standing on the side of the road as I was walking back from the beach with my boy. He’d had a rough week. His car had blown up while his eldest son was ferrying a load of schoolie mates to the beach. He’d only had his license for 2 weeks and was driving carefully- and dad is a mechanic. It was just one of those things. Then Rich’s wife of decades decided she’d had enough and walked out. Well, she didn’t walk out so much as walked downstairs and refused to go back up again. He’s not allowed downstairs now.
She’s rapt. Has a beatific smile on her face most days, and is absolutely delighted to be out of the testosterone fog which has surrounded her for so long. In a houseful of five grown boys, and a husband who thought he was still one of them, Jedda was the only other nod to oestrogen in the place.
Poor old Rich isn’t faring anywhere near as well. His face was as blank as an artist’s canvas as he stared into space, until I startled him with a ‘G’day mate. How you doin’?’
‘Pretty bloody ordinary’ he said, and promptly burst into tears.
‘What on earth are you doing out here?’ I don’t know why I ask dumb questions in situations like that. It was pretty obvious- he had nowhere else to go.
I don’t think he’d ever cried before and the water just gushed out, streaming down his cheeks like a burst water main. All I could do was put my arm around his waist- he’s too tall for me to reach his shoulders, and just stand there with him.
He finally managed a few words ‘I’m just waitin’ for me brother. He’s … supposed to be taking me over to Murwillumbah … to pick up another car… Bloody hell Jules, I think I must’ve killed a Chinaman this week.
Political incorrectness aside I was immediately taken back to my own childhood when ‘killing a Chinaman’ for some reason signified that the whole world had gone to rack and ruin.
‘You can’t have mate, we don’t have any around here. A couple of Malaysians, but don’t let them hear you call them Chinese, and the Korean lady down the road will throw something at you if she hears you say that.’ Bad humour sometimes works, but not this time.
‘Jeez. I can’t even be miserable properly can I? I can’t do anything right at all. I don’t have any confidence at the best of times, but this has just knocked me for six.’ Ah, cricket metaphors, much more appropriate.
‘Well she’d been fitting for a couple of days. I took her to the doc and they sent her up to intensive care, but I didn’t have any insurance. Do you know how much that costs? Anyway, they told me that she wouldn’t recover as she had brain damage, so in the end we had to turn off the breathing thing, and she just died.’
I could see his brother’s car rounding the bend up near the shop so there wasn’t time to say much more.
‘How about I go and get DJ and the boys for a barbie at my place. You can come up when you get back and we’ll have a drink to the old girl?
As he climbed into the car, head bent and shoulders slumped, I looked at my boy standing patiently to one side and thought ‘dog lovers are all the same. We love them to death, but when they do die it hurts as much as losing anyone else in the family. But at least euthanasia is a real option for them, not so for us.