How do I start this?
Yesterday I came across the following quote from George Bernard Shaw and posted it to my Facebook favourite quotes list: “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, my child, but take courage: it can be delightful!”. I had not previously seen the full quote as it is normally rendered as “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”. Seeing the quote in full for the first time, my thoughts immediately went to my first child, Steven Paul, who I had not seen or had contact with for around 25 years. Life certainly presented Steven with more difficulties than most of us are required to deal with. I can only hope that he also found some of that delight which life can bring.
We can never know what life has in store for us and especially when we participate in bringing another fragile human life into this world. We can also never, with any clarity, foresee the results of decisions that we make throughout our lives.
Here are some of my memories.
When Steven was 2 or 3 years old, my memory will not permit me to be more precise, Steven suffered quite a severe febrile convulsion and I remember cradling him in my arms trying to unclench his jaw and keep him from completely passing out. He spent several days in hospital wrapped in ice to bring his temperature back to normal.
During his first 12 years of life, the family had no really settled home. I think we moved house at least eight times in that period, through most of which I was serving in the Royal Air Force. One of the final home moves was a biggy. We emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. For me, these years were a time of adventure and it did not occur to me, as far as I remember, that the children were not being given the opportunity to form lasting friendships or to put down secure roots. The fact that these things have never played an important role for me personally, may have played a part in that. I can only hope that their subsequent lives have not been detrimentally affected by that.
In his early teens, Steven was struck with what has become in recent years a growing modern scourge, Type 2 Diabetes and was facing for the rest of his life the prospect of daily insulin injections and rigorous self-monitoring of his food intake and health outlook. I cannot even begin to understand just what that would do to any young person suddenly thrown into the same circumstances.
Not too much later, without going into details, Steven’s Mum and I split up. She moved out of the family home taking our youngest child and leaving me with the two teenagers. It is to my everlasting shame and regret that I was not in any way at that stage either psychologically or experientially ready to take on that responsibility. Hell, I didn’t even know how to cook properly. There was also at that time a great deal of anger and resentment at my situation, to the extent that I came to want that woman completely out of my life. I decided to sell the house, moved into a 2 bedroom unit and packed off my two teenage children to live with their mother. This is something that I will always regret. I don’t beat myself up about it now like I used to but it is always there reminding me that I could have played things so very differently.
As far as I can remember, I never saw Steven again after that and eventually lost touch with all my children entirely for many years especially after they all moved back to the United Kingdom several years ago. I did get the message that Steven had returned to UK six months before the others left Australia and that he had lost some toes through amputation as a result of the diabetes but that he was doing better over there.
Today, out of the blue, I received a message on Facebook from Steven’s mother saying that she had some bad news for me. She had been trying to find me for about a year. Of course, I had moved home just before that time. The message came not entirely with surprise as I had some months ago got the feeling that something was not quite right. It seems that Steven passed on about 15 months ago. I have no details at this stage but that would put it around April 2011. Apparently the whole family had returned to Melbourne some years earlier. I am told that Steven had spent some time living and working up in Queensland but his kidneys started to fail and he came back to Melbourne for treatment.
At Monash hospital he needed to have the lower half of one leg amputated and also lost a thumb and several fingers to the disease. With the aid of a prosthesis he was able to be mobile and even overcame diabetes through a kidney and pancreas transplant. He was said to be a happy, positive person, helpful, with a great attitude throughout all of his troubles. He settled into a unit by himself and was in the process of having a vehicle specially fitted for him to drive. His body was found in his unit when he did not appear one day. He had apparently suffered death through large blood clots to the lungs while by himself at home. That is all I know at this time.
I have lost a son. Though a long time estranged son, one who was always loved and who will live forever in my heart. A life cut far too short at 40 years of age. I am sorry that I was not there to be with you through your troubles Steven but I hope you found some of that ‘delight’ which life can bring, my child.
Rest In Peace
Steven Paul Edwards