HEY DAD! HOW YOU GOING?
This member story by Emily Parsons, PWV peer support worker and PWV member was part of Viral Stories – an evening of public storytelling by people living with HIV held on Saturday, 29 July 2023 at Federation Square, Melbourne.
Emily was one of six positive people who shared their personal stories of activism, motherhood, migration, sex, love, and perseverance. Hosted by Living Positive Vicotria and storyteller Gary Paramanathan, and supported by the City of Melbourne, Viral Stories was a night of vulnerability, joy, laughter, and resilience.
Hey Dad, how you going? Fancy seeing you hear! God what’s it been? 35 years, yeah it has I know it has as I’m now 43 and you went and got it by that van just before for my 8th birthday. Remember that day? You were trying to get to work at the leadlight shop in Brighton on public transport as you never had a car, It was a really foggy morning and the trains were on strike you had to walk from Broady station all the way to Glenroy because that’s where the trains where going from, now when I think about it that’s a bloody long way it’s like …………. but you were happy walking I remember we walked everywhere anyway there was apparently no footpath and you had to walk on the road in the gutter which I assume you thought would be safe but bam a fucking van hits you from behind and takes you out like straight out. Did it bloody hurt, or was that it that quick you were thinking ‘what the fuck just happened?
Mum always said you weren’t too messed up though you just weren’t not there anymore she says it wasn’t you that you were gone laying there in that hospital bed and turning off the machines was the right thing to do. Well anyway I’ve missed you, its, good to see you. Let me make us a cup of tea and ill fill you in on what I’ve been up to since you went and died on me!
Life has been pretty shit to be honest and I feel like the day you died is the day that mum went too really, don’t get me wrong she tried she really did but she just wasn’t there anymore really , she did try to keep me, T and M on the straight and narrow as much as she good, made sure we all finished our high school years, taught us right from wrong and made sure to inflict as much of her hippie music on us as she could, I still can’t listen to Neil Young to do this day. She made sure to raise us to believe that we should never take no for an answer and that we are always right matter what anyone else says or think but she did keep using drugs, she was blown away when I told her I was HIV positive she couldn’t believe that could happen to me, how could I her young innocent daughter have that happen to her? She was the junky the one it should’ve got me I remember her
You know Mum always said that if you hadn’t died I would have grown up spoiled and turned into a Broady slut with 6 Kids! So thanks for that I suppose, if there is one good thing to come from this I’ll take that!
So I didn’t become the town slut but I did end up still becoming a mother, I’m now the mum to 3 beautiful boys who are full of mischief, smart, funny and good little dudes you would love them, they have all arrived in the last 12 years and when I become pregnant with the first one, I had some crazy shit happen along the way, I met this guy who just happened to be my boyfriend’s best mate, he was tall, skinny, good looking and a smart arse always he reminded me a lot of you! So anyway I fell for him broke up with the boyfriend to go profess my love to the mate. The mate fell for it and we started dating, got engaged and one day I said to him I wanted to have babies, he then said to me that if I did we would have to be married so I organised a wedding in 3 months and made it happen. It was a great wedding if I do say so myself we got married in Queens park, where we used to go with pop, you know the park with the big lake and the ducks and those big army cannons we you used to sit us kids on a laugh at because we couldn’t get down.
Yeah I got married there by a celebrant dressed as Elvis, pop walked me down the aisle to Billy Idols White Wedding it was great but it would have been better if you were there and could of walked me down the aisle. Nan kept banging on about getting your brother to do it instead of pop but your brothers a dick and has not been there for us one bit so that was not going to happen anyway where was I, oh yeah so we got married and I went to the doctors to have my bloods done to check if I was healthy enough to have a baby, I wanted to do all the right things so I could have a healthy baby. Anyway I had my bloods done and they came back and it turns out I was HIV positive the doctors said that it was probably not a great idea to get pregnant just yet but what they didn’t realise was that me and hubby are both very fertile human beings and literally only had to say we were thinking about having a baby and brush past each for me to get pregnant which of course we did.
This all happened pretty quickly too mind you as our next appointment about my HIV was in a hospital and we had to break the news to them that I was pregnant, the doctors were good about it and it ended up being O.K. in the end I and I have gone on to have 3 healthy pregnancies.
So this motherhood gig is pretty hard in fact I think it’s one of the hardest jobs I have had, I didn’t realise that feeding, bathing entertaining tiny humans could be hard especially when I’m expected as a women to be able to do this naturally and with ease without going insane… is just bullshit it’s impossible and then work, be a good wife and if I can keep my shit together after all this be a good human, well I can tell you I haven’t been able to do all these things together but I am ticking them off the list as life goes on.
Let me tell you a story about the boys. This one time I had put two of them in the bath. They would have been like four and three and I went off to deal with the baby and I came back in and the little shits had filled the whole bath with toilet rolls like the whole packet. I walked in and all I could do was go ahhh, ahhhh. I was so shocked. There was these two little dudes sitting with a grin from ear to ear in the middle of this white papery sludge. There was no water left it had turned into this sludgy, jelly like matter it was fucked, really fucked. Hubby came in and pretty much did the same thing as me then grabbed a beer and a sieve and then proceeded to scoop all the contents out for the next hour into a bucket as it would’ve blocked the drain and caused a lot of damage. So yeah this motherhood, kid thing is fun, real fun, “have kids they said, it will be fun they said”
But you know what dad, I think I probably wanted to have kids because of you because of all the adventures that we used to have. I loved how I was your little side kick in everything you did. I remember walking through the paddocks with you to get to the train station so you could go score. We would go past the athletic track and you would make me run around it and tell me that I was fast and would be a great athlete one day. But other times we would go to work we would travel all the way from Broady over to Brighton to go to the Leadlight shop. Now that I have a sense of direction and know Melbourne that was a long fucking way for us to go on public transport too. So that you could get to work I guess, though it was doing something that you loved and it was a wage to feed us. You want to know something funny, my hubby grew up in Brighton and remembers that leadlight shop. He used to go to the toy shop across the road too like we did. What a small world and yes it’s pretty funny that me a Broady girl married a Brighton boy. I remember us going to all those footy games up at Windy Hill “Go the Bombers” and standing on my box with you and pop and watching the game. Then once again that long bloody walk back to the station and home again. It’s even just the just little things like teaching me to use cutlery while eating pizza; boiling fresh yabbies in a pot; helping me with Lego; and drawing pictures. A part from that one time, I had spent ages drawing a horse and you came along and drew a pooh coming out of its bum! You thought it was hilarious and so did mum, but I was in tears and you had ruined my picture. Now when I think about it, it’s pretty funny and I probably would do the same thing to my kids as a joke.
I think it’s all of these things we did and possibly even you dying and me having to step up and be a mum, to M and T that has made me the fucking rad mum that I am today and helped me to be able to do this and do it well.
Yeah it was shitty not having you around and not having you there for all the first things and not even having you now. The boys ask about you a lot. What you were like? What you looked like? And sometimes what was your name and who you were? I feel like I’m in a game and their trying to trick me. Sometimes, I can’t answer their funny harmless questions because it hurts too much to think about you and what I’ve missed and even what they have missed: what they are missing by not having you here. I wonder what they would have called you. You couldn’t have been a ‘pop’ as your dad was pop. Maybe you could have been a ‘Pa’ or as the boys would say maybe he could have been ‘poo poo head pa’! Ahh, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter now though. These are only thoughts and conversations I can have with the boys to try and make a shit situation better.
Well, I should probably let you go; go back to mum. I’m glad you finally are back together. I hope she is happy and dancing around like a hippy and you guys are having a rad time together. So yeah, thanks for being such a good dad and for helping me to raise my boys like you raised us: a life full of fun, adventures and a give no fuck attitude to life. Love you dad and tell mum I love her too.