Bad stuff started happening five years before November 1983.
My second year at Auckland University years, 1978, and mum is diagnosed with breast cancer. Such a painful part of my history is a tough thing to write about and hard to read. I know.
While she was going through five years of operations, recuperation and a final slipping away, I was living at home for the most part and going to varsity. She was meeting every crisis with the same mix of outwardly philosophical stoicism and I didn't know what to do. No one was actually talking to Ross and me, so I made my own appointments with her doctors and, as much as they could, they explained things, and prepared me for the worst.
It was a lonely time, for all of us.
How did she feel inside? How did dad feel inside? How did Ross feel inside? I have no idea - they never said. Me? I was a mess of sadness and impotent rage.
I moved out of Ramelton Road in 1982 to go to Secondary Teacher's College in Mt Eden. I moved into Deedoo's Windmill Road flat while he was in the Masonic Village. Then I was in New Plymouth.
Too soon it was November 4, 1983. Jacky and I were the last people in the family to see my mother alive, diminished and beaten by the cancer, in the Mater hospital. It was hard and I will never forget that last visit and breaking down as I walked down the flights of stairs after saying goodbye.
The responsibilities now fell to me. The funeral. Dad was Unable to cope, dad trusted me to take over. This kept me going through the loss. Being strong for my father and brother undoubtedly helped me in the short term but the store of grief is still with me.
It's never going to go away.
Growing up in our household meant being brought up by our mother. That meant being disciplined and having barriers and examples and values. Sometimes, luckily, they were beaten into us. Like any child I rebelled sometimes but I grew up to be grateful for the chastisements. The bamboo stick hurt but that was very temporary. The hugs when I did well are the things that remain.
In late 1975 I drove home from MAGS with good news: accreditation for University Entrance. I walked in the side door from the garage at Ramelton Road to find the person I most wanted to first share this news with but she found me at the same time. The joy of success (finally after so many failures) was never, ever, as sweet as that instant. as we embraced.
I'm the first to admit that I'm lucky, having these angels around me as I grew up. I was totally sheltered and protected from all the nasty things that can happen like divorces, cruelty, abuse and the like.
I am absolutely certain that without Uncle Jack, Ma, Deedoo, my mother and my father I would not have the same values, relationships, outlooks on life that I do now in 2016, aged 58.
The final words in this chapter belong to King Lear. In his poignant farewell to his dead daughter Cordelia before he, himself, dies:
No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more:
Never, never, never, never, never.
Love and peace - Wozza