Betty Lou’s story is quite incredible. She tells it in the third person and depicts the amazing highs and lows of life. It reminds us of how suddenly life can change and how we need to be resilient to overcome sudden adversity. How to pick ourselves back up and tackle the challenges of life in the best way possible.
Once upon a time in a beautiful northern Australian city there lived a lady who was enjoying her life in the tropics. . She lived in a big old house with her husband of 53 years, an old big dog and a little young dog. She loved the tropical climate, the sunshine, the steamy heat and the warm rain. She spent her time gardening, swimming, walking the dogs on the beach, sewing, reading and playing golf.
Their two gorgeous daughters had finished their education and had decided to go travelling to the other side of the world. In England they had met two handsome men. They both got married and had two wonderful children each. The lady and her husband visited them often, mainly for weddings and births and they in turn visited Far North Queensland.
All was well until December 2016. and then everything fell apart. Hiding under the bed one night was a snake. Fearless husband tried to scoot it outside not realising that it was a taipan. It bit him and within ten seconds he had stopped breathing. . The lady and her neighbours started CPR, ringing the ambulance and generally screaming and wailing. The paramedics resuscitated him and took him to hospital. Brother in law and wife, and daughters from England arrived but sadly five days later he died without regaining consciousness. The lady was traumatised, in shock, wandering around vaguely, muttering nonsense and drinking gin.
What to do now? Where to start? Where to go? Luckily, she had family and friends who organised the funeral and guided her through the many official procedures that occur with the loss of a partner. She then decided with much apprehension that a move to England was the only option. She needed her family and they wanted her. Sadly, brother in law and daughters had to return home but before they left they began the process that had to be completed before she could leave Australia. Tearful farewells, a few gins and she was on her own. So much to do!!
First, she fixed and scrubbed the house and buried big dog in the garden. (Thankfully he had died peacefully before the fatal visit to the vet) – the lady’s friends were amazing – sawing, painting, lopping trees, pool cleaning and digging grave. Next, she transferred ownership of house and car, saw solicitor, got British passport, sorted pension/bank/credit cards/bills, found a removalist bought a one-way ticket for herself and little dog and played a bit of golf. Then she sold house, furniture, TV, golf buggy and car and her home looked empty and sad…With the help of friends she had massive garage sales to rid herself of her many treasured, superfluous possessions and packed her essential belongings into 14 cardboard boxes to be shipped overseas along with golf bag and rocking chair. Fun was had by all. Finally, phone and electricity were cut off, newspaper was cancelled, little dog had a rabies shot, bag was packed for six weeks, a few tearful farewells and she was ready. It was strange to be taking this big step alone. She missed her husband. He had taken care of her. Over the last 3 months she had experienced moments of terror and despair. But all that was over. She was flying off to the other side of the world.
She landed at Heathrow in the early morning and it was exciting, scary and surreal. Her family was there to meet her and her little dog and there were lots of hugs, cuddles, laughter and tears. The first few weeks went in a blur – talking, planning, shopping, watching TV, walking little dog, eating and drinking and reminiscing. She had lots to do though. Would it never end – this paper work – new bank account, new drivers licence, seniors bus pass, national insurance number, NHS number, electoral roll enrolment and applications for heating allowance and free TV licence. Luckily, she had help. Also, more enjoyably she joined a golf club, a bowls club and a library, bought a lap top, a BRG Mini Cooper and the essential winter boots and woolly clothes.
She’s been there nearly a year now and plans have been passed for a granny flat in daughter’s garden. Her own little place. She’s been busy – golf, bowls, dog walking, knitting, sewing for family – plus a holiday in France, trips to London for theatre and museums and many family get togethers for birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day.
The next year should be exciting too. A new home, a trip to Greece, planning a trip to Australia and making new friends She’s still feels sad and strange to be without a husband, to be making her own decisions, to be going places alone and to be planning her life for herself but the worst is behind her and she is determined to be happy in her new home. Best of all she has her family to care for her, to guide her, to laugh and cry with her and to love her.