Thursday, November 24, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 5 and last)

The Fantastic Four are now complete!

It's just after one in the morning in ward 5 at Nelson Hospital. Right now, it's the twenty-eighth of November, 1991. I've just helped our good friend Stephanie Borlase AND the doctor, who is supposed to be delivering our new baby, out (yes - OUT) of the delivery room.

Both succumb to the heat in the room and faint! In turn, they get the wobbles, slurry speech and collapse into my (massive manly) arms. Everyone else in the room is pretty busy - Jacky especially.  So I've been asked to help the faintees outside. 

Around 1.20am, I have returned to Jacky's bedside in time to welcome, five minutes later, at precisely 1.25am, Jade Michelle Purdy to Nelson, New Zealand, and the world.

I am briefly allowed to hold Jade in my hands - she is tiny and pretty much fits in my left hand, legs dangling over my watch.

Godmum Steph with Jade
It IS hot in the room. The incubator has been wheeled in because Jade is making a dramatic entrance thanks to being premature and the heat in the room has been cranked up. Yes Steph, cranked up A LOT. 

At 1.26am Jade is quickly transferred to the incubator and I am again overwhelmed by the drama of the moment. BUT I have the doctor and Steph to check on. They are most embarrassed by events but I don't mind - it's given me something to remind Steph about for the last 25 years!

The v word can strike fear into any virile young male. When Jacky started bandying round the v word after Samantha came along, I had doubts.

Growing up with only one brother was sometimes tough for me; I would have loved to have had a couple of sisters. So, although I wasn't necessarily looking  for another addition to our brood, I was only in my early thirties and, who knew? Once it's done, it's done.

Your sis-ter!
On the other hand I'd watched and worried through three pregnancies so far and, let me tell you, it's a stressful experience for everyone concerned. There's the worry that something will go wrong for some looong months, and always the knowledge that a painful day is approaching for the new mother.

I was at school when the call came from Steph in May 1991. 

Waimea College, where I was now Head of English, was 15 minutes drive from our home in Wakefield. This being the little town where Keegan and then Adam were going to school, where our friends the Sivaks and the Borlases lived.

The Borlases had become good friends really quickly! Still, I was a little surprised to get a call at school from Steph. For some reason, I was in the main office area of the admin corridor at the time.

A routine test had returned a positive result and we were going to be a mummy and daddy for a fourth time! 

The first few months of the new pregnancy were difficult. We knew that having four children was really going to stretch us financially and in other ways. 

The day to day hand combat with four children places many stresses on a relationship. Many compromises need to be made, many of them are never articulated. You just do it!

We had developed an instinctive knowledge of how to support each other. We were very young parents for Keegan - in many ways just kids ourselves and the marriage was not yet even ten years old and we had four children!

Both of us had had to grow up fast to the responsibilities of being parents. In a way, it was a great thing. We were in this thing together and we had to make it work. There was no other option.

Big brother tries to establish order

Financially, we had it tough - living in a shoebox int middle of road was hard. Houses needed to be a certain size now and, yet again, we needed  a bigger car. I'd started out with a mini, then mum's old Chevette (Keegan and Adam), on to a Holden station wagon (Samantha). Now we traded that in and bought a Ford Econovan to ferry the six of us around Nelson.

As to the name - again, we were sure it was a boy so, again, we had Ethan William Purdy all ready to go! Again we were surprised when a baby girl emerged.  Yes, yes, we CAN be slow learners at times. However, in contrast to Samantha, we settled quickly on Jade - a one syllable name, and Michelle was for Jacky's kid sister.

Luckily, Jade proved herself to be Keegan's equal as a baby, rather than a hellion child like Samantha. Right from the start, our new little bundle of joy was mature and self-assured. She quickly established her presence around the house and her charmingly delightful little smile got her out of a lot of potentially sticky moments.


Jade's arrival also brought balance to the force. Having two boys, then two girls had a nice symmetry and Jade was able to establish tight relationships with all three siblings. 

In many ways, along with Jacky, she is the glue that holds us together, keeps us honest and keeps us linked as a family, even when we are so spread out geographically. When someone steps out of line - Jade steps in. This figures. When young we called her Nana Jade, or mini-mum, and the expression 'Jade knows all without seeing' became a thing.

Much later, when I was in charge of day relief at one of my schools I told the staff to only give a message to Jade if they couldn't get me. She was about 9 at the time!

Jacky and the Purdettes

The family was now complete - this part of my journey was over, so that meant time for that traumatic snip snip in June of 1992. 

My final paragraph to the original autobiography ended with my declaration that I had lived my first 34 years proud and true and strong as a Purdy and with a hope that what my children read about themselves would put their own place in the Purdy family into clearer perspective.

Now that I'm 59, I hope that's still true.

Love and peace - Abu Keegan, Abu Adam, Abu Samantha, Abu Jade.

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