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I told them I was coming to visit.

“Don’t tell Mum- cause it will be a surprise!”

My sister picked me up from the bus stop.

I left Melbourne at 8am, the train to Swan Hill, then the bus to Mildura.

Walked through the door at 3.15pm.

There she was in her chair watching the afternoon cooking show on SBS.

“What are you doing here?”

“SURPRISE!” I said with arms wide open, ready for a BIG HUG!

It’s a great way to get the heart-strings tuned.

The lift of spirits, the sense that what’s in front of you is a mirage, until you grasp it with two hands- and know its real cause you can feel it- you are home -for a little while- you can relax and be there.

The day I brought Mum home from her heart surgery the children gathered to welcome her home- it had been three months in Melbourne.

She was angry with Dad, always expecting more from him and at the same time knowing that he was incapable.

If you don’t know, don’t remember what it feels like to hug someone, to physically connect, it’s easy to take them for granted, and she felt like that- neglected.

Like the school-teacher I commanded: 

“Dad come and say Hello to your wife!”

“Mum, stand up, come on now give each other a hug!” 

There was connection- I was on either side of them, pushing them together and then the tears- it was too much for the fine tuned heart valve, Mum ran away- so much left unsaid. 

Dad had harvested the olives alone that year, over one hundred trees, olive by olive and all by hand like penance- like each olive was a rosary bead and he was praying that his wife would return.

He picked all the olives in the time she left and returned.

He pressed the oil, allegory to his wife’s reconditioned heart.

One hug can mend-

oil anoints- 

the holy-spirit descends and 

we are indeed blessed by acts of how we show our love 

and this was his way- 

I suppose.

As I prepare to go home for Christmas- I have not seen them for a whole year.

The changes will be more pronounced.

When I arrive and see them at first- I hardly recognise them, then the faces, the familiar returns, the wrinkles fade, and I see them again – “Oh there you are- just as you were.” 

One thought on “What are you doing here?

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