John Marsden Writing Topic #167

K**

Eleven Lives and Loves

Volume I–K is for kids

December 17 2008

Lorraine’s story

I didn’t plan on having kids, especially ten of them, of course I didn’t, especially since I had my eldest at seventeen.

When I discovered I was pregnant, my boyfriend, Markus and I freaked out, which was to be expected. What we didn’t expect was our parents kicking us out of home. We knew that they wouldn’t be happy, but it’s not unreasonable to not assume that we would be disowned. We were incredibly lucky that my unconditionally loving and wealthy Aunt Elizabeth, took us in.

Despite being seventeen, with nothing but each other and the baby on the way, we got married on January 12th 1976 when I was three months pregnant. Our wedding was very small with both our families and many of our friends deserting us. Nevertheless, Aunt Elizabeth made it as nice as she could and gave us a lovely honeymoon. Our first child, a son, Michael Charles Ramieres was born on July 14th 1976. 

Despite taking precautions and finally getting Michael into a sleep pattern, when he was eight months old, we discovered that we would become parents for a second time. Our son, Lucas Jonathon Ramieres was born on September 21st 1977. We would find ourselves again in this position six months later and our first daughter, Gwendolyn (Gwen) Charlotte Ramieres, was born on November 30th 1978. When our teenage years were over, Markus and I were married and already had three children in as many years and, thanks to the generosity and help of Aunt Elizabeth, managed to bring in steady income, as a sports equipment sales representative and receptionist respectively.

We actually had a little bit of a break when we got the surprise of our lives with the news that we were expecting triplets. Cassandra Leanne, Christi Lena and Carrie Lisa Ramieres were born via C-Section on August 3rd 1980. With six children, we were done or at least we thought we were.

Our final boy, Scott Alexander Ramieres was born during our longest break on January 18th 1984. We had another surprise of our lives with another multiple birth on the way, with twins, Julie Vanessa and Elaine Paige Ramieres coming into the world on May 12th 1985.

We would finally stop at the birth of our tenth child on February 28th 1990. The birth did not go well to say the least and I ended up having to have a hysterectomy. Luckily, Elizabeth (Bethie) Miranda Ramieres arrived safely, six weeks after the death of my beloved Aunt from an aggressive form of breast cancer detected too late. The only time more babies would come into the world in our family would be when grandchildren would eventually come along and not for some time.

Our world was torn to shreds when Markus died in a car accident on August 19th 1992, aged 33, on the way home from work. With both sets of parents deserting us, Aunt Elizabeth and now Markus dead, I was truly on my own. Michael was 16 and Bethie was only 2. Michael, strong as ever, took on the fatherly role, mostly for the younger kids. I never asked but I was grateful and therefore feeling constantly guilty for a young man to take on such a role. Although he never complained, I believe it is the reason why he moved out at 20 to be with other kids his age and why he only wants one child. I’m happy he found a lovely wife, Suzanne, who only wants one child as well. Michael and Suzanne met at uni, have been together for twelve years—dated for seven, married for five—and are expecting their first child.

Despite the fact that Lucas was only a year younger, he was a more sensitive child and really couldn’t take on the role as a makeshift father figure like Michael could. It didn’t surprise me when he came out to Michael and I at eighteen. I could see all the signs and still loved him unconditionally, however Michael didn’t and had trouble accepting him, however he ultimately did, because that’s the way his father and I raised him. Lucas has a wonderful partner in Blake and we are constantly frustrated at the fact that same-sex marriage and equality does not exist in this country we proudly call home.

Similarly but not as necessary, Gwen, as the oldest girl, was a mother figure to her siblings. She was always calm, patient and loving, not to mention a gentle soul. But with Gwen, gentle soul certainly does not mean pushover, not in the slightest. She stood up for Lucas to Michael when he came out and she didn’t let controversy stand in the way of her and love. When she was eighteen, she started studying at university and fell in love with one of her lecturers and well-known entrepreneur, Stuart Lovett. Stuart was not only her lecturer, but eleven years her senior. They of course didn’t start dating until months after her classes with him ended, however once the beans were spilled nobody cared about the circumstances. Stuart was fired from teaching and lost a business, Gwen was threatened with expulsion, however she stood her ground by pointing out that she was over eighteen and he wasn’t her lecturer when they started dating…and the threat to go to the media helped a lot. Despite the controversy and the risks, Gwen and Stuart married a year later and are still together, eleven years on, with their own child on the way.

The triplets, non-identical but forever close, have always been fascinating. They have similar careers—all in television, yet have gone to different places.

Cassandra ended up becoming a newsreader. So far she has been a newsreader for several stations and now she is based back in Melbourne. As much as I’m happy to visit her wherever she goes, I’m even happier that she’s home, especially since so many of my kids are all over the world.

Christi has had the hardest time of them all, if she hadn’t been in a car accident at seventeen, she would have been the first to marry and the first to have a baby. I’ve always heard of the possibility of history repeating itself with your children, although I’d hoped that would never happen. Christi and her boyfriend, Darren, had been dating for a year when they had discovered they were pregnant. Darren’s parents, myself and Michael were furious. I’d hoped that they would adopt the baby out, not to mention if I suggested abortion, I would have been beyond hypocritical, but they were determined. Despite their extremely young ages, they loved each other and had plans, admittedly impressive ones. Two weeks after Gwen’s wedding, they were in a car accident, history repeating itself again. Darren died instantly and Christi needed surgery for several broken bones and miscarried at 12 weeks, staying in the hospital for two months. The injuries healed but the pain from the loss never did. She has two tattoos on her left wrist—Darren and Jellybean (her affectionate nickname for her unborn baby) and she hasn’t had a boyfriend since. That being said, she went on to finish high school, graduate with a degree in journalism and has gone on to be a boundary rider for Channel 10 at the AFL games. I know it’s wrong, but that tragedy happened for the best. I believe she is meant for someone and to have children, but the time wasn’t right for her then.

Carrie ended up becoming a successful television producer, working on soaps mainly, starting out in Australia and now in Los Angeles. She is one of the few children without a partner and that’s okay, she has expressed no interest in dating and if she’s happy with that, so am I, I’m definitely not child-in-law deprived.

Scott was a pleasant surprise, the last boy after four girls in a row. Scott made himself the leader of the younger kids, he wasn’t bad at it actually. He lives in Canberra, training at the Australian Institute of Sport as a Track Athlete. However he knows he’s getting older and his recovery from injuries is slowing as he ages, he knows it won’t last forever. I’ve been encouraging him to pursue his other passion, cooking, I think dating a chef, Isabella, is probably encouraging him a lot. 

The twins, like the triplets, have been forever close. Julie is the Alpha twin, alternating between bossing Elaine around and giving her gentle encouragement to get her out of her shell. When they finished school, they planned to spend their gap year travelling around the world. However when they reached Hong Kong, they loved it there so much, they stayed and became flight attendants for Cathay Pacific. Elaine eventually moved on to British Airways, she loved England more.

Bethie, being the youngest sometimes had the best and worst times of all the children. As the last child, I was perhaps a bit more lenient in the rules and the most relaxed, however she also never knew her father. He died before she could form solid memories of him, but he loved her more than anything. The only father Bethie knew was Michael, it is because of this that they have an unusual and sometimes strained sibling relationship. Bethie is close to all of her siblings and she is definitely their favourite.

One of the joys of having so many children is that there is always diversity. Diversity in their careers—an optometrist, a florist, a television producer, two journalists, an athlete, two flight attendants and two dancers. Diversity in their locations—six in Australia (in two states), one in America, one in Asia, one in New Zealand and one in the UK. Diversity in their personalities and diversity in their looks—I see hints of Markus and I personality and looks wise in all our children.

There also diversities in their reactions to change, especially my last major change. Four years after Markus died, I met my current partner, Travis Johnson. He was the foreman at the renovations at my office. I would give him coffee and have lunch with him every day and we got to know each other over the three month period that the renovations took. With Michael, Lucas, Gwen and the triplets at 20, 19, 18 and 16 respectively, they were mature enough to realise that Travis wasn’t trying to replace their father, but they were young enough to be unhappy about it nevertheless. The younger kids were aware that he was a new man but didn’t fully understand. The girls accepted him more than the boys did, Lucas was the most receptive to him and Michael was territorial.

Eventually Travis managed to fit in to the family, he helped Michael and Suzanne move into their new home and do some renovations, he supported Lucas when he came out, he helped the younger kids with their woodwork projects and became the fatherly figure that Michael couldn’t always be due to his limitation as a child and a sibling, he took the weight off Michael’s shoulders. Travis loved all ten of my children as his own and to have that capability, he would have been a spectacular father if we had our own. All of the children have returned the favour for our wedding next week—Gwen, florist extraordinaire has done the flowers, Julie and Elaine have organised to fly home with Markus’ parents (Markus’ parents, Anthony and Aurelia, came back into our lives when Markus died. They deserved to know and the children are the only connections left to their only child) and Scott, the triplets have organised the equipment for the wedding video, Lucas was the wedding planner and joint first dance choreographer with Bethie and Michael is giving me away.

I thought that falling pregnant at seventeen was the end of my life, but it was only just the beginning. I can’t imagine my life without my children, let alone abandoning them. I never did reunite with my own parents, they did find out about all of the children, but never made much of an effort and I certainly couldn’t forgive them.

I’m looking forward to new life—married life with Travis and the soon-to-be-born grandchildren.

 

***

How We Got Here

Prologue

 

I didn’t plan on having kids, especially ten of them, of course I didn’t, especially since I had my eldest at seventeen.

When I discovered I was pregnant, my boyfriend, Markus, and I freaked out, which was to be expected. What we didn’t expect was our parents kicking us out of home. We knew that they wouldn’t be happy, but it’s not unreasonable to not assume that we would be disowned. We were incredibly lucky that my unconditionally loving and wealthy Aunt Elizabeth, took us in.

Despite being seventeen, with nothing but each other and the baby on the way, we got married on January 12th 1976 when I was three months pregnant. Our wedding was very small with both our families and many of our friends deserting us. Nevertheless, Aunt Elizabeth made it as nice as she could and gave us a lovely honeymoon. Our first child, a son, Michael Charles Ramieres was born on July 14th 1976. 

Despite taking precautions and finally getting Michael into a sleep pattern, when he was eight months old, we discovered that we would become parents for a second time. Our son, Lucas Jonathon Ramieres was born on September 21st 1977. We would find ourselves again in this position six months later and our first daughter, Gwendolyn (Gwen) Charlotte Ramieres, was born on November 30th 1978. When our teenage years were over, Markus and I were married and already had three children in as many years and, thanks to the generosity and help of Aunt Elizabeth, managed to bring in steady income, as a sports equipment sales representative and receptionist respectively.

We actually had a little bit of a break when we got the surprise of our lives with the news that we were expecting triplets. Cassandra Leanne, Christi Lena and Carrie Lisa Ramieres were born via C-Section on August 3rd 1980. With six children, we were done or at least we thought we were.

Our final boy, Scott Alexander Ramieres was born during our longest break on January 18th 1984. We had another surprise of our lives with another multiple birth on the way, with twins, Julie Vanessa and Elaine Paige Ramieres coming into the world on May 12th 1985.

We would finally stop at the birth of our tenth child on February 28th 1990. The birth did not go well to say the least and I ended up having to have a hysterectomy. Luckily, Elizabeth (Bethie) Miranda Ramieres arrived safely, six weeks after the death of my beloved Aunt from an aggressive form of breast cancer detected too late. The only time more babies would come into the world in our family would be when grandchildren would eventually come along and not for some time.

Our world was torn to shreds when Markus died in a car accident on August 19th 1992, aged 33, on the way home from work. With both sets of parents deserting us, Aunt Elizabeth and now Markus dead, I was truly on my own. Michael was 16 and Bethie was only 2. Michael, strong as ever, took on the fatherly role, mostly for the younger kids. I never asked but I was grateful and therefore feeling constantly guilty for a young man to take on such a role. Although he never complained, I believe it is the reason why he moved out at 20 to be with other kids his age and why he only wants one child. I’m happy he found a lovely wife, Suzanne, who only wants one child as well. Michael and Suzanne met at uni, have been together for twelve years—dated for seven, married for five—and are expecting their first child.

Despite the fact that Lucas was only a year younger, he was a more sensitive child and really couldn’t take on the role as a makeshift father figure like Michael could. It didn’t surprise me when he came out to Michael and me at eighteen. I could see all the signs and still loved him unconditionally, however Michael didn’t and had trouble accepting him, however he ultimately did, because that’s the way his father and I raised him. Lucas has a wonderful partner in Blake and we are constantly frustrated at the fact that same-sex marriage and equality does not exist in this country we proudly call home.

Similarly but not as necessary, Gwen, as the oldest girl, was a mother figure to her siblings. She is always calm, patient and loving, not to mention a gentle soul. But with Gwen, gentle soul certainly does not mean pushover, not in the slightest. She stood up for Lucas to Michael when he came out and she didn’t let controversy stand in the way of her and love. When she was eighteen, she started studying at university and fell in love with one of her lecturers and well-known entrepreneur, Stuart Lovett. Stuart was not only her lecturer, but eleven years her senior. They of course didn’t start dating until months after her classes with him ended, however once the beans were spilled nobody cared about the circumstances. Stuart was fired from teaching and lost a business, Gwen was threatened with expulsion, however she stood her ground by pointing out that she was over eighteen and he wasn’t her lecturer when they started dating…and the threat to go to the media helped a lot. Despite the controversy and the risks, Gwen and Stuart married a year later and are still together, eleven years on, with their own child on the way.

The triplets, non-identical but forever close, have always been fascinating. They have similar careers—all in television, yet have gone to different places.

Cassandra ended up becoming a newsreader. So far she has been a newsreader for several stations and now she is based back in Melbourne. As much as I’m happy to visit her wherever she goes, I’m even happier that she’s home, especially since so many of my kids are all over the world.

Christi has had the hardest time of them all, if she hadn’t been in a car accident at seventeen, she would have been the first to marry and the first to have a baby. I’ve always heard of the possibility of history repeating itself with your children, although I’d hoped that would never happen. Christi and her boyfriend, Darren, had been dating for a year when they had discovered they were pregnant. Darren’s parents, myself and Michael were furious. I’d hoped that they would adopt the baby out, not to mention if I suggested abortion, I would have been beyond hypocritical, but they were determined. Despite their extremely young ages, they loved each other and had plans, admittedly impressive ones. Two weeks after Gwen’s wedding, they were in a car accident, history repeating itself again. Darren died instantly and Christi needed surgery for several broken bones and miscarried at 12 weeks, staying in the hospital for two months. The injuries healed but the pain from the loss never did. She has two tattoos on her left wrist—Darren and Jellybean (her affectionate nickname for her unborn baby) and she hasn’t had a partner since….until now. She went on to finish high school, graduate with a degree in journalism and went on to be a boundary rider for Channel 10 at the AFL games.

Carrie ended up becoming a successful television producer, working on soaps mainly, starting out in Australia and is now in Los Angeles. She is one of the few children without a partner and that’s okay, she has expressed no interest in dating and if she’s happy with that, so am I, I’m definitely not child-in-law deprived.

Scott was a pleasant surprise, the last boy after four girls in a row. Scott made himself the leader of the younger kids, he wasn’t bad at it actually. He lives in Canberra, training at the Australian Institute of Sport as a Track Athlete. However he knows he’s getting older and his recovery from injuries is slowing as he ages, he knows it won’t last forever. I’ve been encouraging him to pursue his other passion, cooking, I think dating a chef, Isabella, is probably encouraging him a lot. 

The twins, like the triplets, have been forever close. Julie is the Alpha twin, alternating between bossing Elaine around and giving her gentle encouragement to get her out of her shell. When they finished school, they planned to spend their gap year travelling around the world. However when they reached Hong Kong, they loved it there so much, they stayed and became flight attendants for Cathay Pacific. Elaine eventually moved on to British Airways, she loved England more.

Bethie, being the youngest sometimes had the best and worst times of all the children. As the last child, I was perhaps a bit more lenient in the rules and the most relaxed, however she also never knew her father. He died before she could form solid memories of him, but he loved her more than anything. The only father Bethie knew was Michael, it is because of this that they have an unusual and sometimes strained sibling relationship. Bethie is close to all of her siblings and she is definitely their favourite.

One of the joys of having so many children is that there is always diversity. Diversity in their careers—an optometrist, a florist, a television producer, two journalists, an athlete, two flight attendants and two dancers. Diversity in their locations—six in Australia (in two states), one in America, one in Asia, one in New Zealand and one in the UK. Diversity in their personalities and diversity in their looks—I see hints of Markus and I, personality and looks wise, in all our children.

There are also diversities in their reactions to change, especially my last major change. Four years after Markus died, I met my current partner, Travis Lincolnson. He was the foreman at the renovations at my office. I would give him coffee and have lunch with him every day and we got to know each other over the three month period that the renovations took. With Michael, Lucas, Gwen and the triplets at 20, 19, 18 and 16 respectively, they were mature enough to realise that Travis wasn’t trying to replace their father, but they were young enough to be unhappy about it nevertheless. The younger kids were aware that he was a new man but didn’t fully understand. The girls accepted him more than the boys did, Lucas was the most receptive to him and Michael was territorial.

Eventually Travis managed to fit in to the family, he helped Michael and Suzanne move into their new home and do some renovations, he supported Lucas when he came out, he helped the younger kids with their woodwork projects and became the fatherly figure that Michael couldn’t always be due to his limitation as a child and a sibling. Travis loved all ten of my children as his own and to have that capability, he would have been a spectacular father if we had our own. All of the children have returned the favour for our wedding next week—Gwen, florist extraordinaire has done the flowers, the triplets have organised the equipment for the wedding video, Lucas was the wedding planner and joint first dance choreographer with Bethie, and Michael is giving me away.

I thought that falling pregnant at seventeen was the end of my life, but it was only just the beginning. I can’t imagine my life without my children, let alone abandoning them. I never did reunite with my own parents, they did find out about all of the children, but never made much of an effort and I certainly couldn’t forgive them.

I’m looking forward to new life—married life with Travis and the soon-to-be-born grandchildren. I can’t help but wonder how the children feel about this day finally arriving.

 

 

 

**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.

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