I expected nothing from yesterday’s birthday, had planned nothing in the aftermath of floods and other dramas, and yet 24 hours later I’m still aglow from the unexpected pleasures it brought.
A romantic dinner with hubby the night before… Great Italian with the kids last night. A call from an old pal – celebrating a 43 year friendship that’s still going strong. Another from my brother – hearing his voice on the phone after a tracheotomy tube had prevented him from speaking for a week was the most joyful of birthday presents.
All six of my brothers remembered, even the one on night shift in cyclone-torn Central Queensland. Such great blokes, and lord knows, they all had more important things on their minds.
The 42 people evacuated by helicopter from flood-devastated Jambin included one brother, his wife, their daughter and granddaughter, and another nephew and niece.
Water surrounded my family’s homes in Biloela and Jambin, but didn’t make it inside, thank the high heavens. Chooks and dogs survived, but not the four black snakes my brother killed while clearing debris from around his front steps.
A neighbour across from my Mum admitted panicking as the rising waters turned the surrounding streets into canals. ‘Oh, I wasn’t worried,’ said my 84 year old mother. ‘I’ve been through this before.’ And she has. More times than most. Despite power failures and unreliable telephone coverage, she somehow managed to send me a beautiful bunch of flowers, bless her.
The floods of the 1970s made an enormous impression on me as a teenager and decades later featured in my first novel Dust: ‘Silently, like a thief, the flood had crept up on us, stealing our land, our paddocks, the path to our back door, our bottom step.’ This year, the flood waters made it two steps higher.
And in a strange twist of fate, as the flood waters recede yet again in Central Queensland and the indomitable folk begin yet another clean up, I’ll be reliving that teenaged obsession.
A good friend has surprised me with tickets to Suzi Quatro for my birthday – and try as I might to keep my expectations low, they keep bubbling up.