One of the most important, most rewarding aspects of my life is the fact I am now a Father to four amazing children.
It fills me with joy waking everyday knowing that it will always be the case, that the child that I lost and the four I have as being the most blessed of people I will ever have an enduring and loving relatedness with. It defies belief as to those who inflict pain on others by putting themselves between the love of a parent and their child.
So I remember the moment.
I sat at the end of the bed in Bayswater, Western Australia and made the decision to move back to Sydney. My life was not going to plan. I sold the unit I had improved in Maylands and lost money in the process. The global financial crisis was biting everyone and the mining boom hadn't quite arrived.
I continued to record my life using a moblog. You can see all of the following play out by visiting http://moblog.net/alexanderhayes
I was fighting my own demons and my Fiance and I were sinking to new lows.
I lived by myself in Amy Street, Erskinville complete with it dank, dampness, narrow pass through, park of she-oaks, stench of traffic, bustle of noise and crashing cacophony of people of all descriptions.I swapped rent for upkeep of my rental house, painting it inside and out, repairing damaged woodwork and building a little garden of succulents which I love.
I worked at TAFE NSW in Strathfield at what was aptly named the Centre for Learning Innovation (CLI). Train trips backwards and forwards from the city centre. Numerous Thai dinners with dear friends that I'd come to know and love.
My ex-fiance then decided to come and re-kindle again this time in Sydney. Brought my step-son over and he started at Erkskinville Primary School. Lasted a few months and then one sunny morning, with light streaming in through the bedroom window she made the decision to go back home to Perth.
Devastated I recall smoking packet after packet of cigarettes till the ashtray overflowed. Drowned myself in red wine and eventually in anything I could find.
My role at CLI came to an end when I realised that each and every new idea that I put to my manager was going from her in tray into the bin.
I'd come from Western Australia filled with hope about being able to put into practice my new found ambitions in mobile learning. I took the ideas to a dear friend and she helped me win a new role with the AFLF again. With the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research.
Amazing colleagues. A wondrous breath of fresh air. Deep inquiry. Deep thinkers and beautiful moments where the concepts of flexible learning were fostered.
We moved in together. We rented a large apartment that looked out over the city centre. I began working in the tower at 1 Oxford Street in Sydney. Beautiful sunsets spent with her and her new partner cooking meals together, living and loving a working life...never far from the computer and running many, many online and offline projects.
Train rides and lovely times going between project to project around the state. Hope filled professional development sessions where I oscillated between facilitator, technical expert to right-hand-man.
My boss and flatmate woke me with bad news.
My Father had suffered a stroke.
"Dad, you may not be able to move that hand, arm or leg but you can move the other. Lets find a way to re-teach and re-learn your way back." I gave him an ice-cream carton filled with nuts and bolts from his own workshop. He over a period of months gradually learned to put them back on those bolts, complete with washers.
My Father had another stroke. This time far more severe. My Mother, ever the angel that she has always been nursed him. My Brother and I cut a hole through the downstairs laundry wall and jack hammered our way through tons of sandstone rock to create a new bathroom. Complete with grab rails and room for a wheelchair if need be.
I visited my Parents with increasing worry. My Father taking poorly grew stronger and stronger by the day. He learned to walk again. Talk again. Hold a spoon again. Through tears and bitter cussing he learned to be anew again.
My mates rallied around and helped me repair things in that big house that I never called home. We fixed rust balcony poles, concrete cancer. Completing rebuilt the storm water and sewer drainage system. I travelled extensively and repeatedly returned to that place in the bush, that sanctuary of eucalypts and screeching Garraway.
Then it happened. My father had a brain haemorrhage. Through all his adversity he barely murmured a word of hardness to any of us. This came as a bitter surprise to us all though. Tested our patience and our resolve.
With tubes coming out of every orifice and in critical care in hospital he clung on to dear life. We clung to his hand. Cried. Pleaded with him to get well. Drifting in and out of consciousness, in and out of recognition of who we were he was transferred to a new ward.
He began again. We began again.