Families we choose for ourselves

I lost my phone on a bus somewhere a few days ago (aargh!!!) and had to start over again. Although I did go to the Vodaphone store and ask to keep my existing number (which would have made things sooooo much easier) when the helpful Salesman looked up my number ‘on the system’ and asked for my name, he then nodded slowly, sucked in his breath and said “sorry…you’re not authorised to make any changes to that account, it was opened with someone else’s details”

And I remembered that 5 years ago, Jonathan got the sim for me because I was spending the day with friends out on a boat and Jon wanted to stay in the city and ‘check out the Apple Mac store’ instead.

I explained that we were now divorced and how much it would help to keep my existing number, but to no avail.

So, *sigh* I’ve had the annoying task of calling Doctors, Centrelink, the people I pay bills to, Bank of Queensland (who I’m paying off my Apple laptop loan to), Medicare, University…and slowly everyone I love (trying to either get their contact details from Alun or facebook)…as well as various Employment Agencies to give everyone my new contact details.

One of the people I couldn’t get hold of quickly was the Ambroses. But then I remembered that Pete and Lyn run their own business so I googled “Ambrose Fabrications” and there was a contact number. I smiled just reading it because I knew I found the details of the family I made for myself.

I quickly dialled the main Reception number and Pete answered – very professionally, I might add.

“Hi Pete, it’s me!” I couldn’t help but smile

“Hello me!” Pete greeted, cheekily “Why are you calling the work number, little one?”

So I explained and Pete sighed and chuckled “You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on, Janet. You wolly. Okay. When I get home, I’ll text you my mobile number, Lyn’s, Troy’s and our home number – now how ARE you? Tell me everything”

And that is one of the reasons I love Pete. I called at 5:30pm that day – he was probably packing up after a very long day of labour-intensive work but he paused to listen to me. When he asked how I was, I get the sense he really wanted to know. Pete always makes time for me. Always.

We talked – really talked – for ages. In my mind’s eye, I could imagine Pete easing himself into a chair, grimacing at his sore back and nodding and smiling and sometimes rolling his eyes affectionately at my crazy stories and complaints.

Pete told me he had hurt his back (again) and sounded like he was fighting a cold. He told me how much he was hurting over Troy coming off his medication for Scizophrenia (sorry, not sure how to spell it) and how much he and Lyn worried over him. Pete isn’t Troy’s natural father. He started dating Lyn when Troy was 5 years old. But he loves him as his own and it warms my heart that I see living proof of a Father loving a son even if their DNA is different.

Pete remembered that I was dreading the arrival in a few months of Al’s parents. Pete said “Janet…I don’t understand why Al’s Mom doesn’t like you – we loved you the second we met you. You’re a little ray of sunshine and we’re so happy you’re in our lives…something must be very wrong with her…I dont want to ever meet her because I dont like anyone who hurts you”

And I remember back to the day I met Pete and Lyn and he’s right – they were loving straight off the bat. I’ve known them since I started dating Troy back when we were 15 years old and ever since then – even when Troy and I broke up because we worked better as friends – they’ve been the family to me that I’ve always wanted.

I often go shopping with Lyn, have coffees with Pete – call them all the time and they call me – we’re always in contact somehow and as I’ve grown and gone through joys and heartbreaking failures – they’ve been there. They rejoice with me in the good times and bring gifts and flowers and shower me in hugs, they’re silent in times where I’ve gone nuts on computer dating and they don’t necessarily agree with it, but listened patiently to all my dates and laughed and cried with me when guys were dorks/heartbreakers. Pete affectionately named me “Bus girl” because I was cocky dating so many guys at the same time and told Pete “guys are like buses – if I miss one, another one will come by in a few minutes” He laughed heartily at that. The Ambroses put money in my account when Jon left me on my own in the UK, they visited every single day when I was in hospital after the accident and they had a ‘Janet intervention’ in those very dark months when I attempted suicide a few times. Pete’s been a “Dad” to me, too – and Lyn’s been the Mom I have dreamed of all my life – the type that bakes cookies and arranges flowers, volunteers at her children’s schools, is involved in ‘bake sales’ and gardens and reads books and knits scarves. I love them both so very much.

I’m a nomad…but no matter where I live, Lyn has always arrived with a straw basket with towels, jam, fresh bread, cookies (always my favourite) and has come ready to help me ‘settle in’ to whichever house I’ve been moved to – and together we’ve stroked our chins and pushed furniture around and around. We’ve gone out to pick odd bits of cheap furnishings (cushions, throw rugs, lamps, rugs, paintings etc) (Lyn always distracts me at the till: “Janet – can you go and grab…” and by the time I’m back, everything’s paid for and Lyn’s loading it into the back of her car with a loving smile.

I remember 4 weeks after the accident and I was in my apartment feeling overwhelmed. I was struggling on my crutches, didnt know how to make a meal for myself (my own Mom was a champion at this stage and would always come up from her flat directly below mine to make me toast in the morning, a sandwich for lunch and an evening meal when she got home from work) and was looking at my broken body and wondering if I would ever run or skip or sit cross-legged again…and I cried. My phone rang and it was Lyn. “Hello Luvvie – just thinking of you – I’m coming over with snacks and a Dvd okay? See you in 10 minutes”

Lyn lives a good 45 minutes drive away but came just when I needed someone. I cried and explained I couldnt live in my beautiful apartment any more (my first home on my own – which Lyn had helped me find, apply for and move into, by the way) – that it was all too much for me – I couldnt afford it and was struggling living on my own. We talked for ages and I ended up having to lay down, I was so tired and so ill. I woke up and Lyn had left roses on the table and a note saying “Dont give up – I’ll be back tomorrow – chocolate biscuits in the fridge for you and your Mom xx” and the next day, Lyn, Pete, Troy, Troy’s sister and her husband and their two children turned up and they all worked quickly and lovingly and moved me out of there. Lyn had put an ad on the internet for someone new to move in so that the owner wouldnt be left without a tenant and went around knocking on people’s doors and asking them if they knew of anyone who’d be interested in living in my flat. My own folks helped with the move, too (Dad loved speaking with Pete about ‘the old days in the UK’ and Mom was puzzled about it all but made a huge lunch for everyone). The whole day, I just laid on Mom’s couch and hoped the pain and dizziness would stop. I found the day emotional and shameful somehow -I felt weak and like a failure but the Ambroses assured me again and again throughout the day that everything would get better and one day I’d have a home of my own again. I don’t know what I would have done without them, you know.

Oh my gosh…I’ve gotten distracted 🙂 sorry.

What I wanted to say was that because Pete said (the other day when I phoned him at work) that Troy “wasn’t well again” I arranged to meet with Troy for lunch today. I arrived early to the City and called Troy to remind him we had a ‘lunch date’ in an hour. He was really happy (thank you God) and said “We’re all in the Library – wanna come meet us?” and I nodded and smiled and made my way to the WA State Library.

When I got to the building, I smiled.

Pete and Troy were sat on the steps outside the Library chatting and watching people passing by. They both smiled when they saw me.

“Did you punks get thrown out for fighting?” I asked playfully as I came up the stairs to greet them

Troy shook his head vehemently “no” and looked at the ground. Pete smiled and hugged me. I felt like I was home. “No no, we were just bored. The girls are looking at books and I didn’t fancy anything in there…glad to see you, kiddo” He held me at arms length and checked over me with a Father’s concerned eye “You’re looking tired – you not sleeping?”

I shrugged “I can fall asleep, I just cant stay there”

Pete hugged me again and gently kissed the top of my head “Yeah I know what you mean. Too many thoughts, hey? Wanna come see what the girls are up to?”

I nodded and he put his arm around me as we headed to the Library entrance.

Lyn spotted me and came and enfolded me in her arms “Hello Darling – how are you?”

“mpfh” I mumbled ‘fine’ into her jumper

“Peter, our girl looks tired – don’t you think she looks tired?”

“Yeah, I noticed” Pete winked at me “We already chatted about that – keep up, woman”

and they both laughed.

“How’s the house?” Lyn asked, putting her arm around me and leading me over to the children’s play area so I could watch Katie (3 years old) and Mason (8 years old) choose books with Kelly (their Mom and Troy’s sister) directed them both while Steven (Kelly’s husband) just looked bored and frightened to say so.

“Ugh…It’s really pretty – you HAVE to come see it (this is the first house Lyn hasnt seen – weird!)…the lounge room is driving me crazy though –  it’s so brown. Yuck”

As always, Lyn understood completely. “I think we need to add some creams and some other textures…maybe some nice blue, too? You love blue, dont you? I’ll come by in the next few weeks and we’ll get it modernised – what do you think of blue gingham material?”

And I spent a really nice hour in the Library with the family I adopted for myself. I could relax in their loving company. I smiled and nodded as Katie showed me her fairy books and laughed as Mason showed me his adventure books, I chatted easily with Pete and Lyn and we all watched Troy while he paced slowly back and forth at the Library entrance chatting to people only he could see. Kelly came and chatted and I gave Steven a playful nudge on the shoulder and I felt like I was ‘home’. I love them all so much.

I had a really nice time. I could breathe and just be ME and felt so cherished and included.

I’m so blessed to have the Ambroses in my life. Pete was the first person I talked to about Uni and was totally behind it when I was 19 years old…and every year since 🙂 Lyn was the first person I talked to about Matt and she gave me some really sound advice and just loved me through my bad decisions. When I flew back from the UK, I knew I didnt want to stay with anyone (I had to have some space and some time to think things through on my own) and Pete and Lyn didnt get offended, they just paid for 4 weeks in a beautiful hostel by the city. Pete also put a few hundred dollar notes into my hand “for in case of anything you need” and hugged me.

The Ambroses have been there for me through everything and are the parents I’m so blessed to count on when my own are unpredictable.

I’m really thankful for the friends who become family. Father God, I’m truly blessed.

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