Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

45 Years And Counting

May 10, 2014

Today we are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary.  When I think about that day, I remember standing looking out the front window at Sydney and thinking “This isn’t quite how I pictured my wedding day”.  I never dreamed I would be in Sydney, Australia, waiting to marry a man I had only seen for 3 or 4 different periods.  I always thought I would meet someone here in Seattle, get married, have children and live very much like my parents.  I was 22 going on 16 – naive, inexperienced and in many ways clueless.  I have certainly grown up and matured since that day – imagine if I had been the woman I am now when I was married – an interesting “what if”.  I could apply that to any point in my life, then I know I would not be who I am now unless I had experienced the last 45 years exactly the way they unfolded.  To read the posts I did about going to Australia, check out and .

I remember it was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon – May 10th – a gorgeous Fall day.  Some of the family had gone down to the flower market early that morning and the ladies of the Presbyterian church decorated the sanctuary for us.  They also enjoyed the benefit of the flowers for the next day, which was Mother’s day.  I notice this year both days fall  at the same time this year as they did in 1969.  I just realized I was born and married in the last century!

I had arrived in Sydney the Sunday before and then suddenly, Eddie was gone the next morning.  He went back to the small town to give finals and everyone went to work or school – just Angel and I were left.  Everything was so different and unusual.  The people,  the place, different customs, the languages, food, experiences – I often think it really didn’t sink in because Eddie was gone again.  He was due back later in the week, so I spent those days missing him again.  No one had phones in the small towns, so I couldn’t talk to him until he came back.

I was surprised and pleased to find that Angel and I were able to communicate – she had very little English, I had no Armenian or Arabic.  The family was all around and they welcomed me and made me  feel welcome.  I sometimes wondered if I seemed like a being from another planet; they were so different from me and my experiences.  It turned out they were fascinating and fun, I learned so much in a short time  and it has been a learning experience ever since.  Eddie came back Thursday night and the preparations for the wedding got underway.  Saturday morning they hustled Eddie out of the house before I got up – he spent the time with John and Sofie until the wedding.

It was a little different than I thought – we were going to have a very small reception at the house, so I was helping with the food that morning – I don’t remember what we were planning or what happened most of the day.  I pretty much dressed by myself and was ready before the others.  George was giving me away, Shake’ and Sonia were my bridesmaids in yellow – the dresses had been worn at Shake’s wedding.  When we went down to get in the car, John and decorated the car with tissue flowers, etc.  So as we drove to the church, people turned and waved.

The church was done in yellow and white flowers, it was so lovely.  I had given Eddie the wedding ring back when I arrived in Sydney –  he had sent then in December with the engagement ring.  I told him that the next time he gave it to me, he was never getting it back.  I know that John and Vic were taking pictures for us, I don’t remember a whole lot of  the wedding itself, but it did the job and suddenly we were married.  John drove us back to house in the car and more waving to us.

At the house John decided he was going get us drunk – I don’t know that he did because I had no idea how being drunk felt.   We had a hotel room for the night, so John and Sofie drove us over there.  I think Sofie was a bit embarrassed after a bit – John kept showing us all the parts of the room, etc. and she was trying to get him out of there.  Finally she succeeded and we were alone.

The next day Eddie decided to rent a car – neither of us had driven on the left side of the road.  The rental car fellow brought the car over to the hotel and explained how all it worked and then left – but with the key.  So he had to come back or there was no point to having a car.  One thing we found out, doing the opposite of what we were used to doing here doesn’t necessarily work there.  Good thing it was Sunday morning and not much traffic.  We had a lot of horns honk at us during that drive, it was quite an experience, a bit hair-raising at times.  After a bit we decided to go back to George’s house and see the family, we had had enough experience for the day.   (Several months later we found out the first rule of the road is give way to the right – those on your left have to look out for you).

We spent the rest of the day with the family and one of the guys took Eddie over to return the car.  Then it was time to board the train to Griffith where we were going to live.  Eddie had rented a small flat not too long after living in boarding house for a bit – not quite his taste and it was a relief for him.  Griffith was 450 miles west of Sydney and it was going to take a while on train that didn’t move very fast.  That was some train trip!

Dang!  I haven’t found the book downstairs with the wedding pictures.  I look some more for a future post.

I Am A Late Bloomer

April 27, 2014

There have been only two things in my life I did early – I was born 2 weeks early and went to school a year earlier than was smart.  The birth was when I was ready – maybe the doctor miscounted or Mom wasn’t quite sure when to start counting.  Anyway, I arrived around 6 a.m., a day before my parents 5th wedding anniversary.  And there was my big sister to welcome me too.  As for school, my Dad tells the story of Ellen getting on the bus to go to school and me making a huge fuss to get on with her to see where she went.  We were in Southern California at the time and if I was 5 by the 1st of march, I could start kindergarten.  Later, when we moved to Seattle, I suddenly found I was a year younger than everyone else in my class.

I must have shot my wad on early things; after that, I always felt I was trying to catch up.  I was not making the greatest grades in school – mostly C’s with a B and A every once in a while.  Meanwhile, my older sister was just at the right age for her grade and did very well.  Not always easy to be three years behind her and having a lot of the same teachers she had.  When she graduated, I started in that Fall – there were a lot of teachers who remembered Ellen and I had the feeling they expected me to do as well as she did.  It didn’t work out that way – maybe I was a little in over my head at the time.

As a result, my parents thought I would have done better if I had waited a year.  When my sister Candy went to school, they made her wait a year, so she was a big older than the others.  She, too, had good grades and was active in school, maybe that extra year was a real bonus for her.  With the age difference, the three of us were more like 3 generations because we weren’t in the same school at any time together.  By the time Candy went to high school, she was in a different one than we were because they changed the school boundaries.  There were no reminders of an older sister  for her – it was a whole new place just for her.

I have to admit, I didn’t expect it would take this long – I am 67 and still working on what I want to be when I grow up.  Now one would think that from my start in life I would be a go getter – I was born two weeks early, at 6 in the morning.  My Dad once said I was born tired and never got rested.  I was 19 when I had my first date – I didn’t do well with boys because I was so unsure and had no experience about boys except my Dad.  I always thought a brother would have been a good thing, unfortunately my parents never went for the idea of trading in my younger sister for an older brother.  Always wondered why.  I was married at 22, by  then almost all the girls in my graduating class had been married for a while.  Then of course I went to Australia to be married.  I have never figured out what I want to be when I grow up – haven’t found anything that really “hits” me.  I am have to create it for myself.  I have never felt I fit anywhere.  So here I am looking at 67 and I feel as if there is something really cool just around the corner – not sure what it is or how it will look and feel.  All I know is I am open, receptive, unlimited, allowing with no preconceived ideas of what it has to be or how it will show up.  I am finally at a point of thinking in terms of “Whatever works”.

It’s not to say I have had a boring life, once that wonderful Armenian fellow I met at my aunt’s came into my life, things have been very interesting.  We were married in Australia and it is a bit disconcerting to find we will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in less than a month.  Put in years, it seems quite a long time.  But it doesn’t feel that long.  In many ways, I look back at the first years and it almost feels as if it happened to someone else or that I read it in a book.  I have learned so much, been to many places I have always wanted to go, some places I never thought about and others I have no desire to return.  I have met a lot of interesting and amazing people over the years, they have taught me so much.

I wonder what I am meant to do – sometimes I feel time is running out and I am getting too old.  But I have heard the phrase “You are never too old” and I continue to  learn and grow.  I am looking to the future and what will unfold – anything is possible for me.  I know I am not the same person I was and there is no changing the past.  I learned long ago not to beat myself up – I did the best I could with what I had and knew at the time.  I am learning that it is and was all perfect for me; I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without it.   I choose to learn to embrace the future and also learn to enjoy the journey – sometimes seems  a bit counterintuitive. When I think about what I was doing before, I hear Dr. Phil in my head asking “How’s that working for you?’ and know it’s not working for me.  Much better to try something different and see what happens.

Milepost 43

November 30, 2013


I am not sure what I am marking, or is it just a milepost in my life?  I don’t see it as an anniversary or a celebration or anything like that; it’s simply the month I was diagnosed with RA 43 years ago.  I don’t remember the particular date, though I know it was before Thanksgiving.

We had come back from Australia in September of 1970 and found jobs as well as a place to live in about a week or so.  I was working in a nice department store in San Mateo and our apartment was in Redwood City.  As I think back to that time, it almost is as if I had read it in a book or someone told me about it.  43 years is a long time ago and a lot has happened over the years.

I am still not sure what triggered RA – was it bouncing down the concrete stairs on my butt holding an upright vacuum cleaner?  Was it lifting up the wardrobe truck to check for water damage?  Or something else I haven’t associated as a contributing factor?  Then again, it could have been my body trying to throw off the stress of Australia once I was back in my home country.  I have often wondered through the years what happened, but is that relevant now?

Then I began to see myself as a victim, an innocent bystander sideswiped by RA.  But  I now know I am not a victim even though I have spent a lot of years with a victim mentality.  It’s the “Why me?” question.  Did I do something in another lifetime and this is payback?  If so, I hope I had one hell of a good time in that other life.  Or the “What did I do to deserve this?” question.

I’ve thought about it at different times and come up with other possibilities – a preparation for the next life; this is my soul contract; there is a reason and purpose for it; this is my purpose in life; I chose to experience it in this lifetime.  I am sure there are many possibilities; what I have learned after a bit was not the “Why?”, it is the “How?” that is important.

The “How?” is the how do I deal with it?  At the time, I didn’t know I had a choice; I could go get treatment and see what I could do to help myself, or dig a hole and bury myself and not do anything.  Looks as though not knowing I had a choice was a good thing.  I think of all those times I just wanted to curl up in a ball (or as much of a ball as I physically could) and bury myself in the covers.  Then the times when I felt good I was able to do things and have a good time.

When we moved to Connecticut, I became involved with the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  I started out in a support group, but found it was too “me” centered.  Yes, if I was having a difficult time, it was good to whinge and get it all out.  But I get depressed with constant whingeing, so when I was asked to be a Self Help instructor, I said yes in a shot.  Later I asked to become the Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I will admit both scared me a lot – I always found being up in front of people an agony.  What I learned from both of those was to be comfortable talking in front of people.  Now everything I do tends to be more personal – I can do technical but it’s not comfortable for me.  I put personal things, stories, humor as well as facts into what I do.  If time is limited, I will jettison my stories to be sure I present the important information.  I had a card with the things I needed to cover, so I made sure I followed that.  I will admit I never had a time limit, I just talked until I was finished.  Plus I always told them, any time you have a question, just let me know.

The biggest bonus was feeling I was finding something positive in RA – people would thank me for helping them, saying it made a difference to hear from someone who has it, sometimes it was helping them know and understand “it wasn’t all in their head”.   This from many older women, especially in the class.  There are all the times when I helped someone and I didn’t know it.  I often think each of helps a lot of other people without confirmation.

I loved to hear how wonderful I am, but I was also concerned.  I figured as long as I kept a balance of “feeling I was hot stuff up front” and “do I look stupid standing up here walking back and forth and waving my arms?”, then I would not get a swelled head.  Now there are people in my life who would tell me there is no danger of me getting a swelled head.  A subject for another time.

Ye Gods and Little Fishes!  I am at the end and I am so surprised.  I saw pictures in my mind as I was writing this, a bit of going down memory lane.  Interesting to think about it at this point and seeing it with a different perspective.

P.S.  You have no idea how long it took to find that photo of a mile marker 43.  I wasn’t about to let technology win this time!

A Confession

November 26, 2011

When I was a sophomore and junior in  high school, the refrain was constant -“What do you want to do? What do you want to be?  You have to prepare for college”.   Underlying that message was another one – maybe I was the only one who heard it – “You have to decide now, it’s for the rest of your life!”.  I didn’t know what I wanted to be and the thought of picking the wrong thing and being stuck with it for the rest of my life scared the pants off me.  Maybe that’s why I have never really been able to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  I went to junior college to be a teacher – I chose it just to get them off my back.  Later I was attracted to commercial art school and went for two years – I didn’t go the third year and I never worked as a commercial artist because I didn’t really believe in my creativity or talent.  There, I said it and the world hasn’t collapsed!  I do have talent and creativity, only took me 55 years to say it out loud.  Then I went to work for Boeing as a tech illustrator – the art school figured anyone working for Boeing was prostituting their art.  Then I met Eddie and I got married – I made the safe choice.  Except it wasn’t so safe because I didn’t feel secure; I worked at the beginning of our marriage in Australia and when we first got back to the States.  Then I was diagnosed with RA and working wasn’t really an option.  Plus I didn’t want to be a department store salesclerk all my life.  The confession – I realize now I was hiding behind RA so no one would expect much from me.   For some people who know me, this is no big news flash.   You are wondering what I was hiding from – it was the world.  Of course I am the only one in history ever to do this!

From the time I can remember, the message was always “The world is a scary place” from parents, the news, society, school – everywhere.  That made me afraid and very unsure of myself.  I didn’t feel I had any abilities or talents, what could I do in the world?  So all those messages in high school certainly didn’t help.  The other message was to make sure to be safe and secure before venturing out, not conducive to taking a risk.   So I was scared to  move from my safe little cocoon.  Yes, I did go by myself to Australia to get married – Mom and Dad at one end and Eddie on the other.  Most my travels and adventures have always had someone on either or both ends, I wasn’t all on my own fending for myself.  That was probably what I needed to learn to be self reliant and trust myself but I was too scared to do it.  I will say that having Eddie travel a lot helped me to be more independent because I had to take care of things while he was away.  A friend really had to point it out to me because I didn’t know it.

All these years I felt I really had to go out and find a job, except I didn’t think I was qualified to do anything nor did I have confidence in my abilities.  It was easier to do volunteer work because  volunteers are always welcome.  I could make my own hours and travel with my husband when opportunities arose.  When it came to RA, I felt myself a victim for along time; an innocent bystander sideswiped by RA for no reason.  Someone thought it was payback for another lifetime – I decided I had better have had one hell of a good time if this was payback.  I pictured myself trapped in rusty suit of armor – the outside was not me.  If you looked inside, you would see the real me trapped and not able to get out.  Great images for a victim.

The question is – am I a victim?  No, I have learned it is simply cause and effect, no blame.  It has flitted through my mind that I have done this myself, but only for an instant because it is too painful.  Also, another club to beat myself up with and make me feel even worse.  Thank goodness it wasn’t something terminal!   As I look back over my life with RA, there has been a lot of positive from it.  I made speeches and taught classes for the Connecticut Chapter of Arthritis Foundation, quite a few times I knew when I did but I have decided that I was most effect going along doing my thing and being myself.  It isn’t necessary for me to always know I helped someone, that leads to a swelled head and no longer effective.  There must be something in this I was meant to do and be, though it has been very hard to see it from this angle.

My goal now is to still be effective and help others in different ways without RA.  As always, I am a work in progress.

A little history Part 2

March 4, 2010

Since my parents, nor his, would be able to come to the wedding, I asked my Mom to make my wedding dress – you should have seen her jaw hit the floor!  I still have that dress and my veil in a white pillowcase.  Finally it was time to leave and I stopped in San Francisco on my way to Sydney so I could see my aunt and uncle – they had introduced us.  Plus my cousin’s wife was from Hawaii and she arranged with her parents to meet me in Honolulu for a 9 hour lay over before heading on to Sydney.

I will say, on that Sunday morning I arrived in Sydney, I looked like I had slept in my clothes.  He had brought the whole family with him – his Dad’s first cousin – and all I could think was I was with him again.  Unfortunately he left the next day to give finals and then would be back a few days later.  So there I was, everyone had left for school or work and I was left with Angel who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Armenian or Arabic.  But we did really well making the other understood and those few days while he was gone, I finally found out about Armenians.  It didn’t really occur to me I was in a strange country, with strange people speaking a different language, eating unusual food – I only knew I was without him again.

Thursday night he came back from the small town and we prepared for the wedding Saturday afternoon.  It was a lovely sunny, Fall day and I remember being ready before anyone else – I looked out the front window thinking “This isn’t how I pictured my wedding day”.  We had about 20 people, that included us and the minister.  That evening we took a slow train 450 miles west of Sydney to go to the little town where he was teaching.

We had a very small flat, no heat or air conditioning and where everyone knew everyone else.  To be considered 1 of 2 American couples, we definitely stood out.  We were both really home sick for the States, it took us a year and a half to save the money to come back here.  I had never been that far away from home but because we only had each other to depend on, we developed a closeness we might never have had if we had stayed here.  Being in a third country made it easier because we both were dealing with a strange place rather than only one of us.

There was a lot of stress all the time we were in Australia, then stress coming back because of immigration – he had applied for and received a permanent residency visa, but I didn’t relax until we were several miles from L.A. airport.  We settled in San Francisco Bay area and about 2 months after we were back, I was putting my coat on after working 12 to 9 at a department store.  My shoulders hurt so much and that night I couldn’t get comfortable, it was as if someone was boring holes in my shoulders.  The next night the same thing happened and I knew something was wrong since I couldn’t raise my arms higher than my waist.

I went to my aunt’s doctor and was fortunate to be diagnosed right away.  He told me I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and I said “Fine” as I went along my merry way – I had no idea what it was.  In the past 38 years I have learned a lot more about it than I ever wanted to know.  I am blessed with a really great husband, I know he could have left after I was diagnosed – we said for better or for worse but didn’t expect worse after just a year and a half.  There have been husbands who have left; I can’t imagine how that would feel.

A little history

March 2, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, the back story has something to do with the “why”.

I was born in Los Angles area and when I was 7, my parents moved here to Seattle.  I graduated from high school in 1964, then went 2 years at junoir college (that was the term in the old days) and then 2 years to commercial art school.  Just as I finished art school and before I went to work for Boeing as a tech illustrator, my aunt in San Francisco invited me down for a 2 week holiday.  I met a young man and stayed three weeks.  He was a foreign student, an Armenian, born and brought up in Jerusalem when it was Palestine, carried a Jordanian passport with a student visa.  He had been in the U.S. for 8 years working and going to school – after 8 years and a Masters, he had had enough of school.  Unfortunately in those days, when one stopped being a student, one had to leave.

He didn’t want to go back home because there were no opportunities for a Christian there, but it was too expensive for England and not enough time for a visa to Canada.  He was able to obtain a good conduct certificate from Amman, Jordan through a cousin and was set to leave for Australia.  I met him 5 months before he left and while I was in San Francisco, we dated a lot.  He later came to visit Seattle and just before he left, I went down to “visit my aunt” again.  We had written back and forth after I left the first time – he was so different from anyone I had ever met.  he could have stayed another quarter in school, then we could have been married here – he didn’t want me to think he was marrying just to stay here.

He must have been very sure I was going to say yes because he bought my rings before he left but didn’t ask me to marry him until he had been in Australia for a month or so.  He said we would be unofficially engaged and in December officially engaged.  But it would be the following December before we would be married; a very long time to wait.

He sent my rings to my Dad with instructions to give them to me on Christmas – it wasn’t until 1 minute after midnight that I saw my engagement ring.  Even so, he didn’t show me the wedding ring until he had received instructions.   It was a lovely emerald cut, not huge but I loved seeing the rainbow colors from the sunshine.

It turned out he couldn’t wait until the following December, so we planned to marry at term break.  That meant I had some things to do before leaving – a passport, smallpox shot, polio oral vaccine, etc.  The other item was a bit of a puzzler – I had to prove I was a spinster.  I had plenty of time to think because that January it snowed over 3 feet, very unusual here.

When it was finally clear enough to drive, my Dad drove me  to the County/City building in downtown Seattle. When we walked in, I’m sure the guy behind the counter of the Marriage License Bureau thought “He’s old enough to be her father”.   Then when I explained what I needed and asked if he had any suggestions.  He said he would write a letter on their letterhead that they had never issued a marriage license for me in King County – that left 38 other counties and 49 other states.  Then I asked my minister to write a letter for me to say he had never married me to anyone.


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