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Jane Hutcheon

broadcaster/journalist/author

22 Nov
2019

What's Been the Most Rewarding Journey You've Ever Taken? Event Life FAQ deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 2 weeks ago

This can be a holiday, a trip or an experience! 

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20 Nov
2019

My Answer - Who Would You Describe as a Role Model Personal Event FAQ deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 2 weeks ago

Dear Richard,

Thanks for your response to a recent post where you spoke about a Captain Mark O’Brien who helped you when you most needed it.

I found your letter so touching Richard, when you spoke of attending his funeral, despite only knowing him for six weeks:

Today I saw how many lives he had touched, and how important he was to people in all sorts of different places. I learned that the many wonderful qualities I'd glimpsed in those six weeks were actually characteristic of him throughout a long life, and I marvelled at the courage of a man who must have been dying at the time (I met him) staying so true to himself.

Why do I grieve for a comrade I knew so briefly? Because he saved my life and probably my family's lives too. He took a chance on me (by giving me a public service job) when I was unemployed and practically unemployable. I was 45 years old and getting by on precarious casual work, with mounting debts and zero prospects. I don't believe I'd have kept our home, or a lot of other things the family needs, much longer. 

Certainly I'd lost much of my self-respect and was headed for complete collapse. Then this one man - a brilliant eccentric, kind-hearted, erratic, visionary, and introverted - gambled on me who so many others had rejected. He took me on, instead of the safer options who would certainly have fitted in more easily and caused less trouble for him. It has made all the difference. It was probably the last significant act of his naval career, and I hope he knew how much it mattered.

Richard, in an interview I did for One Plus One a few years ago with author Tim Winton he described the time a stranger turned up at the family home without notice, to care for his father who had been badly injured in an accident.  Winton’s mother didn’t know how she was going to cope had the stranger not appeared.

How amazing that you discovered your own angel in Captain Smith.  I wonder whether he knew that you were struggling when he gave you that public service job?  Perhaps he sensed your quiet desperation?

And how fortunate that you had the gift of seeing an extra dimension to Captain O’Brien by attending his funeral.  Now you know what a rare human he was and that some of his hushed magic rubbed off on you, leaving a lasting impression.

Thank-you for telling us honestly about your struggles Richard and for revealing this wonderful individual.

Love,

Jane

 

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06 Nov
2019

My Answer - the Regret You've Learned to Live With Personal Life FAQ deliberate life

Jane Hutcheon

Dear Ellen,

Thank-you for your response to my question: what’s the regret you’ve learned to live with? 

You stopped me in my tracks when you said that your greatest regret was having children.

At 63 I look back and saw what an awful mother I was sometimes.  I never actually wanted to have children, but I did. I was too young and I didn’t even know who I was myself, let alone know how to raise a child.

I wonder whether you were ever able to have a discussion about parenthood back then with your husband?  Many of us just think having children is something we are supposed to do.

I remember what it was like becoming a mother, which I never thought would happen.  I was so late coming to motherhood that my husband and I thought about it deeply, knowing it was something that would profoundly change us, but that we both wanted that transformation. 

Motherhood suddenly dumps a load on your shoulders, or at least, that’s how it felt to me.  Then there are the expectations.  A new mother is always expected to have the answers and to know instinctively what to do.  It’s the one area where ‘fake it till you make it’ doesn’t work.

Ellen, I sense that you have thought long and hard about this regret.

I didn’t know how to love them unconditionally and allow them to be children.  My mother once told  my sister that she had to teach me how to love my baby.  When my sister told me, I was hurt and angry and my first thought was, if that’s true then what does it say about MY mother?

You have shot an arrow through the key question of life Ellen.  What is love?

I see love as very much a verb.  It’s persistence and showing up when you don’t feel like it.  It’s trying to soothe and explain when you are tired.  It’s holding and comforting when you feel angry or hurt.  It’s discomfort.  It’s trying, failing and trying again. And it’s saying you are sorry many times over. 

Love is nothing like the adrenaline-fuelled passion that I used to think it was.

Ellen, though you regret what you went through you don’t regret the individuals you brought into the world:

I took the responsibility of parenthood seriously and I aways put them (the children) first, always had food on the table and I sent them to a church school as it was all I could afford.

Looking around at our society I can see many - including me - who struggle with parenthood.  It’s one of the hardest roles in the world.  And yet your boys, now adults, are making their own way in the world. 

They have turned into lovely men and I am happy for them both.

It sounds like you have accepted those difficult, earlier years and realised that though a tough lesson, your regret helped you to grow as a human.  

Thank-you so much Ellen, for helping us and sharing your thoughts.

Love, Jane

 

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