Sunday 2 June 2019



I remained still. 


Then I realised the call was for me. 


"Hello Helen, you look lovely.  Are you going somewhere special?  I love your outfit.  If I wasn't going to jab you with a needle, I would have asked you out..."

And so it began.  Our connection.  Our kindredness.  This phlebotomist - let's call her Janet, shared my kind of humour.  My kind of openness.  My kind of vulnerability.  My kind of outlook on life.  We sped through many topics, during the short time I was perched on the (seemingly high and oversized) phlebotomy chair. 

Another jabber lady -  "the needle whisperer" was called in to seek out my hard-to-find veins.  Within minutes, my A positive blood was flowing down the tube.  No sweat! 

Janet continued with our latest conversation, explaining to me that her son had Down's Syndrome and that he also had a hole in his heart. 

"Tetralogy of Fallot?" I asked. 

Her eyes widened and watered in seconds.  "Do you know about it?"

"Yes, my brother was born with it.  The reason I ask you this is that I want to encourage you in your plight with your son.  There are so many new, improved procedures nowadays, compared to when my brother was treated as a young boy.  Success rates have greatly improved on all types of Tetralogy". 

We then entered the bubble of heart speak (pun intended), where time stood still. 

I told her how my mother, while breast feeding her youngest at that time (no 3), had to travel - per train, many times -  to Leicester Children's Hospital with her other sick child (no 2) to be treated, operated and checked upon.  How after his open heart surgery at five years old, he posed on stage showing off his huge scar - in front of numerous medical and heart surgeons (including Dr Christopher Barnard).  How later in life, he had a valve installed between his two ventricles (my brother referred to this as his 'pig valve').  I told her of my fear to go into Intensive Care to see him after his operation.  I told her how his head had swelled after surgery, and how confronting it was to see him like that.  I told her how comforted I was, though, when he lifted his water filled head off the pillow, looked up at me and said "Hello, Doll", as I knew there and then, he was going to be ok.  I told her of my brother's humour, wit and courage.  And finally - I told her of his passing at age 66.

Tears all round!

Tissues all round!

Janet then told me of her husband, who had suffered an injury and couldn't go out to work.  How she was the only earner in the family.  How she coped with her son.  How she laughed and loved with her son.  How they were waiting for her son's 'big op'.  How others told her how strong and courageous she was, and how she brushed those comments off with "we have to do what we have to do".   She told me how grateful she was that she still had a warm home - and food....

"And talking of food.... I always, in my head, classify and compare people to food, Helen.  You would be a juicy hamburger.  You have it all.  You are lovely on the inside and the outside.  You would be a hamburger with the lot!  The absolute lot!  Whoever has you in their life, has gold.  I'm glad I got you today.  I needed this. Thankyou so much.  You've inspired and encouraged me...."

"And you, me!" I responded. 

More tears, more tissues! 

I slid off the chair.  "Come here, give me some sugar".

We hugged.  We exchanged well-wishes.  I went to leave the room, and as I was closing the door, I just had to share one of my (deceased) brother, Brian's well wishes with her. 

"...And remember to keep your bowels open...."

I closed the door, and as I walked towards the stairs, all I could hear was Janet's hearty Belly Laugh....

Friday 2 November 2018


It's hard to think of my mam as a widow. It's hard to think that one of her sons - my brother - no longer exists. It's hard to even contemplate how she feels: the agony, the distress of both of them no longer with us. And yet... life goes on - for all of us.
Visiting the elderly in a residential home - the 'forever' home for most, is facing life on the brink of death. I don't say this morbidly - but rather - matter of factly. It doesn't mean it is necessarily a miserable place to be. I have witnessed such kindness, consideration, devotion, patience, sweet vulnerability, wisdom and good humour. I often wonder if what I 'think' my mam would need or how my mam would feel, may not always be the reality of the situation.
Maybe (probably) I am totally off the mark.

Today, at lunch, in the dining room, I had the good fortune of a top of the table seat. Prime real estate.

John: "What did your mom say? I'm sorry - my wife died not long ago, and I'm just not coping..."
Fred: "I want to go back to my room. I don't fancy lunch. Please take me back. Oh, wait... is that ice cream?"

John: " she never had hardly any sick days. She was gone so quickly..."

John: "Will you keep QUIET!!"

Robert: "Yes, that's from me, too, Fred. You're so noisy"

Mam: "It's a mad-house"

John: "It's like a circus. Everyone's performing 'cos you're here"

Mable: "Could I have some lunch, please?"

Mam: "What if I need something while you are in Sydney next week?"

Me: "Sarah will be seeing you on Monday, Mam. She will bring you whatever you need"

John: "Don't worry. Your mother won't ever go without here. Oh no. She is a Rock. She is a rock to us all...."

Mam: "Hmmm... the Rock of Ages, more likely"

Fred: "Room please. NOW"

Nurse Aid: "Would you like some tea? Sugar and milk?"

Mam: "No, not milk - tea. Do you have any? Can you get my daughter some?"

Tom - with his hands in his mother's mouth, trying to adjust her cliff-hanging dentures amidst partially chewed silverside "...It's ok, mom, I've nearly got them. Do you want them in or out?"

Mam - pointing over to a couple of ladies in mobile recliner chairs: "Sylvia is 96. Ninety six! Oh, and Phillipa is 94. Awwww....."

Robert to me: "Where's your little girls? They were here the other day. When will they be back?"

Rosie, standing, crippled over with arthritis, fists clenched and wrapped around her walker's handles, staring at me, searching my being while waiting for eye contact:

Mam: "Rosie, this is my daughter. I was telling her about that cushion on your walker. It looks much more comfortable than mine. Helen - look at Rosie's cushion"

Rosie: "Well, goodbye then...."

Mam: "Goodbye, Rosie. See you next time"

Thursday 18 October 2018

Machinists Wife on Debco Engineering

The Machinist and I have been partners in business for 30 years this year.  

We hadn't planned to travel to a foreign land and start a business.  It just happened by default.  The Machinist was offered the use of $15,000 to take over a machine shop; an offer made by the owner of a company he was working for at that time.  An owner who saw great potential in the Machinist.  An owner whose desire was to retire and travel the country.  

It was a great opportunity - from the land of opportunity: Australia.  

We arrived with less than $1500 in our bank account, but with lots of determination to build a new life.  We arrived with very little experience and lots of naivety.  

We used only $5000 of the sum offered to us, which we repaid within six months.  

Our new business miraculously survived through the recession.  We learned as we operated.  

We're still learning.  We still feel like new kids on the block.  We still occasionally feel like amateurs and that we don't know what we are doing.  We are, however, now equipped with a new tool:  Awareness.

And I have to smile as I think to myself 

"'s been a long time coming..."

Ever wonder what it's like 'behind the scenes' of a wholly family owned and operated business?  

I'd like to share - via this blog and our Facebook pages - some of the ins and outs, ups and downs of running your own business.  The reality.  The nitty gritty.  My intention is that it may encourage, inspire or even - help another to not feel so overwhelmed or alone. 

Oh, and I'd also like to share a variety of conversations we have during our short coffee/ tea breaks - aka 'smoko' breaks.  They are often a source of hilarity.  I call them "Conflab in the Fab (Shop)"

Debco Engineering Pty Ltd - for business 

The Machinist's Wife - for home and family 

Sunday 2 September 2018

Farewell to Thee, My Father

His second child, - my second of four older brothers - passed away just five months ago.

I was never really sure how much this news affected him.  He wept, but on subsequent visits, we never spoke about brother Brian's death.  I would have, had my dad initiated it.  But no.  Nothing. 

Was it the British 'stiff upper lip'? 

'Chin up and get on with it'? 

Or was it the opacity of dementia?

Some days, his cloudy brown eyes would drizzle tears - and then, momentarily -  he was asking for an item to be added to the shopping list. 

Oh, the dread, the pain of having to tell his wife - my lovely mam - that he had left us.  She knew he was soon to depart this world.  She was waiting.  She had predicted that the third day of his illness would be "the day". 

She was right.

She lifted her frail hand to her face and cried gently...."He has left me a few times during the earlier part of our 67 years.  I should be used to it.  But this is different..."

"Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease
Gonna take a sentimental journey
To renew old memories"

Oh, the anguish of the widow! 

The agony. 

The grief.

I am so very grateful for my father. He was absolutely perfect for me. He was my jiggly belly gadget man. Soft, and tender hearted. Introverted. A loner, yet still comfortable in company - preferring to listen than to speak.

"I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory
And I heard about the street of gold beyond the crystal sea
About the angels singing and the old redemption story
Oh and some sweet day I'll sing up there the song of victory"

I love you, Herbert Brian Hudson - BA PhD 
(Born again.  Past having doubts - HB Hudson)