From: Annette Butchart
Sent: 5 March 1999 4:06
Subject: your last message
I have tried to open the last message you sent but although I have loaded
the software package I still don’t have that particular access as we have
limited acces to the internet – due to unscrupulous staff members doing
naughty things etc!!!!! One month they downloaded a whole load of “trash”
and ran up a bill of $2k needless to say that even we senior staff have to
Anyway, how has your short week been? I always seem to work twice as hard
on a short week to try and catch up!! [Read more…] about Email From Annette and My Reply
“What can you say to pierce this dreaded black fog, when once it descends? No words prevail. Your hugs pain me as I seek only the agony of my solitude. Leave me. Let me lie, that I might ponder why I am worthy to live. To recall my unknown and unforgiven trespasses. To hear each breath as it flows in and out my imprisoned chest. My heart cold. My sun dark. Perhaps, this time, it will not pass – and then I shall lie peacefully forever in the arms of eternal quiet and struggle no more.
These are not words spun like a silken thread from the spindle of a writer. These are my own memories. Memories of dark days that haunted me – and I survived. Shared memories of my beautiful daughter, who did not.
Depression comes into our lives in different ways and not all can deal with it successfully. Once it has struck and covered you with its black fog, nothing is ever the same again.
A virgin sees the world differently after her veil has been rent in the first act of carnal love, for even the light of day will seem more bright and bent on exposing her painful loss of innocence. When depression strikes our loved ones, the pain of feeling impotent and unable to “fix it” is a pain of a different kind but of no less intensity.
If you want to know a little more about this, I urge you to read an earlier blog post Depression: What Does It Feel Like? which has links to some very helpful support groups in Australia, as well.
It’s funny how things go in circles and leave you wondering why it takes so long to complete the loop. My mother has always been impeccably groomed – my Dad says she is the only woman he knows who puts on a hat and gloves to do the washing. He is joking of course – but it is his way of saying that he had never seen my Mum not well presented. I am sure she must have had her “bad hair days” – we all do – but I can never remember seeing her looking unkempt or shabby, myself.
I can remember when we lived in Big Bell and my brother (who is three years my younger) was about two. My Mum would lie on the floor of the lounge room of our house and do her pelvic floor exercises. It fascinated me because she could move her tummy muscles in a very visible manner and make the weirdest noises with her insides. She always told me it was very important for women to keep their inner core muscles strong and to be fit.
She drank lots of water and always had a glass of fresh lemon juice with water before breakfast. Of course, I got to taste it, screwed up my nose, made a horrid face and could not believe that she would willingly drink such a sour concoction. Her reasoning was simple: lemon juice is very good for keeping your skin clear of pimples and for helping remove some of the excesses of life from your body.
As I grew up, lemon juice was well known to be great for helping cure a sore throat, and hot water with lemon juice and honey were “de rigueur” in winter for helping to recover from the flu. As was homemade chicken broth. To this day, I love a hot lemon and honey drink. She also taught us to use Cream Of Tartar to clear up mouth ulcers and keep your skin clear of breakouts. She told us then, 60 years ago, that cream of tartar was a natural product that occurred when grapes where being turned into wine and it was extracted from the fermentation tanks. It is a natural salt, created when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide. My Mum also knew how to use it with Bi-Carbonate Soda to make her own baking powder for scones and sponges and cakes; to make egg whites stiff for Pavlovas and to make her own version of Play-Doh for us kids.
As a teenager, a final rinse of my (then) naturally blonde hair with strained lemon juice slaked with equal amounts of water would leave it shining brilliantly and we girls fancied our hair would match anyone in a Palmolive Shampoo advertisement for silky smoothness. I remember when my cousin Joyce was staying with us and one afternoon, we decided to wash our hair outside. It was blazing hot in the Perth summer sun and we lay the hose out to its full length along the black Bayswater sand, bringing the water to almost boiling temperature in no time at all. By the time the two of us had washed our hair twice, rinsed it twice, conditioned it and rinsed it again and then enhanced it with our lemon juice rinse, I suspect we had used about 30 gallons of water.
Apart from the copious amounts of water running down our nubile teenage bodies to help keep us cool as we attended to our hair, we needed to keep the sand wet – because the lawn was somewhat patchy near the tap and the heat was ferocious. The water was so hot as it came from the hose we had to decant it into buckets half full of cooler water drawn from a separate tap.
You know nothing of heat underfoot until you have tried running barefooted across the nefarious black Bayswater sand in summer – where even the poor grasshoppers would try to climb up the stems of the Guildford grass to keep their feet off the ground.
All my life, I have used Cream Of Tartar to help with “inner cleansing” but left the lemon juice to my Mum. Indeed, I can remember Robbie saying one day (when he was displeased with her over something or another) “She LOOKS like she drinks lemon juice”. But my Mum has had the final laugh. Only recently , I have learned that although lemon juice is acidic, it is a weak acid and within the body it creates a response that is extremely alkaline. Fresh lemon juice will promote the release of sodium bicarbonate to support enzyme activity and the lemon fruit itself is converted into potassium citrate. Since I have suffered for years from severe cramps brought on by a lack of mineral salts in a body that is naturally highly acidic, Cream Of Tartar was not actually my best friend!
I now drink the juice of half a lemon every morning in a glass of water which is having a highly beneficial effect in balancing my pH levels and my skin is as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom. Indeed, the health benefits of the common, much overlooked lemon bear some investigation by any woman who wants to maximise her healthy glow.
I recall being at breakfast with a bunch of blokes when I was a financial planner and one of them asked me if I would like him to pass me the sugar for my coffee. Without thinking too hard I responded “Yes please. I have been known to be a little tart, first thing in the morning.” One responded with “well, don’t know about you guys – but I am not going there!” It was very funny and we laughed a lot. Being sour is sweet – just now and again.
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(c) Lesley Dewar July 2012 to current.
While I was trawling through some old emails, looking for a picture of Robbie’s Jeep (to update his birthday story), I found these thoughts – which we read aloud at Annette’s funeral. If you have a child, scrawl down some thoughts of your own and then share them now, before it’s too late to tell them what you think and how you feel.
Annette – I have always loved you.
Because I had to work, in the school holidays she and the two boys would stay with other families. Annette was so popular; she would be ‘booked up’ in advance by friends who wanted her with them. I can see her still, getting on the Prospector to go to Kalgoorlie to stay with Grandma – one other time, holding her new, white stuffed cat, getting on the bus to go to Lake Grace.
Her best friend in South Perth was Anne Marie Hall. Anne Marie’s Dad owned a Rolls Royce and was Secretary or President of the Rolls Royce Club. Annette was often going off with Anne Marie and her family to picnics and outings, chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce – as if born to it.
She learned to play the piano – although not very well. We didn’t have one of our own and it was hard for her practice much and eventually she gave it up.
Annette helped me plan and carry out a surprise birthday party for Warren’s 18th at the South Perth Chinese Restaurant. I still have the place card with her name on it. Annette H. She was fantastic and didn’t give the plot away, once.
Christmas Day was always spent with her Dad (Doug) and most years she would come and spend Boxing Day with me for my birthday.
Annette loved Jade and Robert. I have a photo of her, when Jade was small and Robert was not yet born – proudly showing off her round, eight month pregnant tummy – with Robert still to come.
After Bob’s daughter, Karen, passed away, we were surprised to learn that Annette and Karen were very, very close. They visited, babysat each other’s children, went shopping together and undoubtedly swapped unflattering stories about their respective parents. They were great friends – the two young mothers together. Jade and Jessica are only six months apart in age – Jade is the older.
We were surprised, because they never mentioned it to us, the mother of one and the father of the other. Once Karen did ask me if Annette was her real sister, but she was not. Annette was already more than twelve months old before I met Karen’s father.
These two beautiful daughters – both have been taken from us so young, and with so much life to live.
Alistair loved Annette and we are so proud of the way he took care of her and Jade and Robert. She was just too young – by age seventeen, Annette was already a mother and a wife.
When I close my eyes and think of my daughter, what do I see?
- a pretty little blonde with long hair in a red check poncho and white stockings, running through the park in Guildford with the two boys
- a baby, whom I was allowed to visit, but not often enough when she first lived with her Dad
- Annette, as a ‘little green teapot’ in the end of year concert and prancing about in her gym tunic
- lying on the back lawn, with Tiger the cat, in the morning sun in South Perth
- walking down the hill, in 4th Ave, with WACL our black Labrador and Anne Marie, going to school
- taking home a ‘doggy bag’ of Bob’s ravioli – he always makes extra, just for her
- helping me and my Dad, just a couple of weeks ago, with Gordon, to take all the old boxes out of my new office and telling me how she hoped Lisa wasn’t upset that she had gotten a call back for A Chorus Line
- she and I searching for my new pendant, when I had drunk too much champagne on my birthday
- laughing as we drove away from Ryrie Ave, saying to each other “washhouse, what washhouse?”
- playing an old crone, in Jack The Ripper, coming right up to the edge of the stage to show off to us
- walking with me, by the river in South Perth, checking out all the old piles of seaweed from the prawn fishermen of the night before
- taking me to lunch at the Karalee Tavern, to tell me how much she loved me, that she was truly sorry she did not ask me to her wedding when she married Gordon and promising we would always be friends in the future.
- the last time we saw her – when she came unexpectedly to visit Bob and me. On her own, happy, bubbling, talking about her home, her job, her children, her husband, and her brothers – so full of life. She hugged us both – and left us.
Are these enough memories of Annette? These are nothing – I cannot begin to tell you all the things I remember, all the things we shared and all the things we missed.
So, what are my gifts to her, this day?
My black silk stockings, which she loved and which I promised to give to her for one of her sexy plays
Her special perfume, which we brought back from Bali but she didn’t come to visit – and then it somehow got packed away again
My gold ingot, from a time so many years ago when we four were all there was in the world.
My black velvet evening bag, for a girl who loved the stage and the paparazzi
A small packet of tissues, in case we both cry
Above all, my gift is my love and memories that last forever.
29th October, 2001.