The Maddest Kind of Love
by Christine Hillingdon
is available today.
TUESDAY IS COLD for an approaching autumn, but I like the cold. It keeps the hot flushes away. As I arrive home from our local Westfield Shopping Centre in a taxi with the usual pile of groceries, I am pleased to see mail stuffed into the sandstone letterbox.
I pay the driver, thank him kindly for placing my overflowing bags on the doorstep, and shove the mail into one of them.
Home! The Mediterranean styled house that Nathan and I built six years ago. I love it. It is open, easy to maintain and modern as opposed to the old worldly fussiness of the previous house we shared.
Carrying the bags inside and dumping them next to the kitchen bench, I curse as the one with the mail tumbles over onto the tiled floor. I leave it there and pack the freezer items away, switch the kettle on and check the landline phone for messages.
There are none. Good. My precious solitude isn’t threatened.
Sipping my tea I check through the mail and it is then I notice a hand-written envelope.
It’s from Jaye.
Inside is a hand-written letter thanking me for the book. My book ends with “D Day”—Diagnosis Day—and he is writing to enquire how I am. At the same time he tells me his own life has taken a change for the worse. Anne, his wife, is terminally ill. But, I knew of this through the writers’ grapevine.
I understand his pain and connect it immediately with my own.
He describes his life as a “crock of shit” and how it has been that way for about five years now. Anne is dying from an autoimmune disorder that is “killing her slowly, painfully, and cruelly.” Her vital organs have begun collapsing, enlarging, or malfunctioning. At present she is in need of constant care, and Jaye is providing this in the best way he can.
He has become Anne’s carer.
There is no email address included for me to reply. But reply I must. I want to. So I place it aside until I have the privacy and the time needed to do this. In the meantime there is the rest of the groceries to stash away, washing to collect from the line outside, and dinner to prepare.
Thank God Nathan and I decided to opt out of having children. It hadn’t been something either of us wanted. No spare time, no freedom, not to mention all that responsibility. I have a hard enough time caring for me, never mind children.
And so I write, telling Jaye how my own life is. All the wallow and self-pity is chucked in for him to read. I don’t care. I need to tell.
I also ask Jaye questions, the details that he has carefully left out of his letter. Free time for him, the support of family and friends, and how disabled Anne is at this present stage?
And Anne, I’ve never met her, but my heart goes out to her for what inevitably lies ahead and what her life has become.
It could so easily be Nathan and I in that same situation. But I tell Jaye I have different plans if that should ever be the case.
I leave those details out on purpose.
Meanwhile, I offer my shoulder and give him my email address and phone number, in case he should feel the need to use it. To whinge, rant, or simply ring up and talk—about anything.
The Dark Poems I wrote while undergoing chemotherapy that helped see me through. I tell Jaye of these as well. Extremely therapeutic. Although they make me cry on re-reading them, even now.
And emailing. I email friends everyday. They too help, and I enjoy the online company. My choice when to read, when to send or simply delete. So neat. So convenient.
My days simply fly by since retiring from my job as a part-time, freelance journalist. Not enough hours. It has always been this way. Don’t know how I found the time to work—and I certainly don’t miss it. The in-house politics did my head in week after week.
Nathan, who works within the political side of journalism, handles that sort of thing much better than I ever could or did. He rarely loses his cool at the can-print, can’t-print meetings when something hot is going down and the editor in chief is insisting this and that. Me, I would hold my ground and fight for my opinions and often end up off side for a while because of it.
I tell Jaye about the book club I belong to and the courses I have signed up for over the last few years: Zumba, yoga, and next on the list belly dance—aging body permitting.
Signing off, I tell him to give Anne a big hug from me.
Woman to woman.
And I mean it.
THE NEXT day I post it while picking up groceries at the local supermarket. These are the ones I couldn’t find on Tuesday—and the ones I forgot.
I am convinced Mr. Coles emails Mr. Woolworths every week announcing what his specials will be, and Mr. Woolworths replies, agreeing he will not stock those items for the interim. In return, Mr. Woolworths sends Mr. Coles his list of Specials, and Mr. Coles agrees to do the same.
Once home again, there is cooking to be done and placed in the freezer for Mum and Dad. They are both eighty odd and standing at the stove is often too much for Mum’s arthritic hip.
I don’t mind this—mostly. I love cooking as a rule. But it wasn’t really what I had in mind for when I retired.
The day after that I log on to check my emails.
There is one from Jaye.
The Maddest Kind of Love is available
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Christine Hillingdon was born in England and migrated with her family to Adelaide, South Australia in 1963.
She has been writing since school days and received a highly commended prize for a short story in her final year of high school. Since then she has had many short stories and poems published in a variety of literary magazines on and offline. Christine has won a few competitions along the way, including Poems for Passengers. This was a joint initiative between TransAdelaide and the Department for the Arts and Cultural Development, South Australia.
In 2011 Christine self-published a book through Peacock Publications about her twenty-seven years working as a psychiatric nurse at Hillcrest Hospital, South Australia. In May 2016, her children’s book titled The Girl From Far Away was published through Gnome On Pig Productions.
Her first novel of women’s fiction, The Maddest Kind of Love, is through Driven Press.
Find Christine at: