Born In a Morgue – The Story Of Me
first posted February 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Born Into Death
This is the story of my birth and how I felt as a child. I feel it will give readers an idea of who I am and where I came from…..Well yeah .. a morgue…
I have over 800 new readers subscribed since I first posted this story and while it is buried in my archives I thought I would dust it all off for you to read and get a bit of insight of the person behind my blogs.
It is rather a mammoth read.. but as with all my work.. it may be long but never boring. I hope you enjoy this story.. of how I came to be
After being asked by an editor today about my unusual birth in a morgue, I decided to revist “Tales of An adoptee” and rewrite it and publish it on Orato.com the story which is available in full at the following link. Born in a Morgue
Valentine’s Day 1966, the day Decimal currency was introduced to Australia dawned a lovely day for me. Far in the outback of NSW on the banks of the Macquarie river at Dubbo, I was conceived in circumstances that vary depending on which participating parent one is speaking to at the time.
My mother was young and single, strong-willed and curious. My father was also young with a wild and restless Irish streak, and together, the combination did not bode well for me. Della was the only daughter of the six offspring of Grand Master Mason, Ambrose Angus and the fact that his daughter presented herself to him pregnant and single caused him much consternation. I don’t know whether the decisions he made on behalf of his family at the time ever came back to haunt him as they did me; I never met him to ask him why. Strange as it sounds, the man that had the most profound effect on my life and upbringing never set eyes on me. My grandfather soon sent his sons away to work in Queensland for a year or so and set about hiding my mother from society when he found out about my existence. It would not have been too difficult to hide her as the family lived in a country town and without the lads at the house bringing visitors he was able to isolate my mother successfully. As my mother grew in size, so did the lies and deceit, culminating with my grandfather taking my mother down to the capital city to await my birth. The last thing my mother remembers is walking off leaving my grandfather sobbing behind on a bus stop seat holding his head in his hands. I often wonder what was going through his head at the time. Was he thinking of the shame I had bought upon his good masonic family? Was he sobbing for the lost smiles and laughter, was he sobbing for my mother’s lost innocence
With my adoptive parents at my 21st birthday
Did he miss his “Gypsy’s” child at all…ever? My mother was taken to a single mother’s home and made to work hard during the pregnancy, scrubbing floors and being told daily by nuns what a sin it was to be single and pregnant. Not an hour past where she would not be told how evil she was. The young women were fed food not fit for a dog and were dressed in rags. They ere continually stood over and told how sinful they were and that God had forsaken them and they now belonged to the devil for sinning. They were hit, whipped and treated appallingly. Medical aid to them was scant, they were just cow breeders for other childless Christian families. My mother was continually told I was born into evil and the least she could do was to pass me to a good kind Christian family to raise and hope that her sins would not wash off to me.
Time past and so did my time in the womb, and my mother went into labour with me. She was not allowed any pain relief and had no help or assistance and when the time came for my birth she was whipped down to the morgue and covered by a sheet. The single mothers were kept away from the other married mother’s they were sin they were shame and they weren’t allowed to contaminate the labour wards or the other mothers. So they were taken down to the morgue for delivery, where they could scream from lack of medication and proper care with no one to hear them but the dead. So surrounded by death, where others die, I was born just after 4 a.m. on the 21st of November 1966 and whisked away from my mother without her ever touching me. She never held me or stroked my baby soft skin.
She never nuzzled me and never told me how beautiful I was or how loved and wanted I was. The chance for me to search out and find the nourishment I so desperately needed was robbed from me in an instant, never to be replaced.
21st of November 1966 was a special day, the cusp of fire and water in the year of the only mutatable Chinese sign, The Fire Water Horse. The fire water horse combination is the rarest in the Chinese Zodiac and only happens once every 60 years. A scorpion no less, with enough of Sagittarian fire in my tail to never stagnate. My mother is a black Scot. A throwback if you like to the times of Black invaders raping and pillaging through the highlands of Scotland and the isles. She is a direct descend of Olaf The Black, King Of Man (isle of Man) and of the Torquil Macleod Linage.
They say my great, great, great grandfather was heir to the Macleods of Rassay and Lewis and that he sold his lands and immigrated to Australia hundreds of years ago. My father was an Irish Rogue, Sydney Leo or as his name translates, “the fire in the heart of the serpent”. He was short with typical red hair and green Irish Eyes. He once told me that his grandmother was kidnapped as a child in Ireland, for what reason I never did find out. So here was me, a tiny bundle of seven pounds nine ounces, with brown hair and brown eyes, a true mixture of both my parents. I looked like them, I cried for them…I needed them, but they never came.
Della was taken to an isolated room where she had nuns and workers with her 24 hours a day. She was not given any medication and nothing to dry up her milk supply, Every time a baby cried she would pour milk down her front, milk that could have nourished me was washed away and wasted. The nuns continually talked to her, persuading her to sign the papers to adopt me out. She refused for two days, demanding to see me. Stronger tactics were used – threats to lock her away in a mental institution and worse. After the second day nurses came with papers for her to sign, she was told they were papers to sign for her care in the hospital. They were not; they were adoption papers. When she demanded again to see me the next day, she was told it was too late and that she had willingly signed the papers the day before. She was then heavily medicated and brainwashed some more before being sent home.
Over the next few months she heard I was in Wollongong and left home to find me but she was caught by the police and taken back and locked away in a mental hospital. By that time it was too late, the final adoption papers had be signed and sealed by the courts.
Meanwhile in Wollongong NSW lived another family. Frances and Graham. Frances had been sick most of her life and was the mother to stillborn twins, who were sadly born at seven months of conception in a toilet. Shortly after, in 1963 she fell pregnant again but unfortunately in the sixties not much was known about the rhesus factor. Frances had negative blood while Graham had positive blood, so when their daughter Catherine was born on the 31st of July they both nearly died, mother and baby. Catherine had emergency blood transfusions directly into her head and Frances underwent post natal surgery. Frances was then told she had cancer of the uterus and would be unable to have another child ever. She underwent a total hysterectomy and subsequently a double partial mastectomy.
This news and result broke Frances heart, as she had always wanted and dreamed of a pigeon pair of little girls to dress up. After much discussion they put their names on an adoption waiting list, co incidentally around the day of my conception.On the 24th of November 1966 came the phone call came that changed their life. Three days after my birth, not straight away like most adoptive parents. They were told a little girl had been born and matched with them both and were asked if they would like to come and collect her. Over the moon, they rushed to Sydney and the first glimpse they had of me was a pair of huge hands poking out through a pink bunny rug. I was sleeping, as usual. I was handed to them, still sleeping and they filled out more paperwork until finally it was time to take me on the long ride home, still sleeping.
They named me Margaret Ruth. ‘Margaret’ means pearl and ‘Ruth’ means vision or mirror. I was named after the street the adoption agency was in, Margaret Street……I do not give them any points for originality. I arrived home in Wollongong, to my new home on the slopes of Mt. Keira, still sleeping and I was introduced to my big sister Catherine. It was a time of love, I was now surrounded by the love that I had lost. For six months I was a nothing; I lived in no man’s land. I slept a lot Mum often tells me of her fear every time the front doorbell went, thinking it was the agency saying she had to give me back.
I was nobody’s child until finally my birth was registered in the next April. I am officially record number 888 of 1967. I finally had parents and a family to call my own. I was told from an early age that I was adopted. I don’t ever remember sitting down and being told one day, I just always knew. I know I always remembered what it meant to be adopted. I had often overheard dad’s mum commenting how they had disgraced the family by bringing me into it with comments such as, “You never know what gutter she came from.”
My Natural Mother with 5 of my 6 children.
My new grandmother on my father’s side was always standoffish towards me. I could feel it coming from her in waves as I was growing up that I was an extra, unwanted intrusion. My grandmother was a class above the rest as such. She was president of the state rose society, the state deaf society and the mother union at her church. She was knighted by the Queen later in life for her services to society. (OAM) Grandma was of the firm belief that little children should be seen and not heard, in fact she often reminded me of that very detail. It was different with my mum’s mum – she was a sweetheart and was another source of affection for me as a child, which helped me get through some rough times growing up. Who knows the reasons why, but I was one wild child. I was always in trouble and I couldn’t understand why. Why couldn’t I climb that tree? Why couldn’t I play in that delicious looking mud puddle? Why did I have to wear these horrid frilly dresses? Why the heck do you dress me in white when you know its going to turn mud colored by the end of the day? I loved life and I loved exploring. I loved waking up each day to see what nature had to offer.
As I grew I started to understand more about what being adopted meant. I started wondering from an early age just who I was. In some ways it’s a great tool for the imagination, I was a princess, kept hidden to claim my royalty when prince charming came to sweep me off my feet back to my kingdom on a shiny white horse. Well, no knights and no horses, as I grew I found I was allergic to the critters. I had a million scenarios to dream of but no truth. I asked but received no answers. I remember climbing onto the roof of my house and waiting, just waiting for the aliens to come and get me as soon as they realized they had dropped me off on the wrong planet. They didn’t come, either they didn’t realize or I was the brunt of a huge cosmic joke. I started school at five, already sensitive to the differences between me and others. My best friend looked just like her mother but had her dad’s eyes. I went and looked in the mirror, who did I look like? I went and searched out my sister who was as usual ruffled by my appearance. I looked at her long and hard, there was dad’s face but mums eyes and dads shape but mum’s hair. Back to the mirror, nothing, just who was I? At school things became more difficult, I didn’t fit the mould.
I found myself getting into trouble for all sorts of things, I was just bored with the whole event and announced on the second day that I wasn’t going back. Imagine my displeasure about being told I had to endure 12 more years of it at least and then there was college to think about. I climbed the figtree that afternoon to ponder that one. From that day on I counted my schooling days down. Mum was part of a social set at the school, the typical fete knitter, cookie baker and canteen helper. She belonged. I was the outcast, the one on the side of the group. I don’t remember being awkward but do remember everyone making it awkward for me. I was “Nigel no friends.” I was the fat kid that said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I was brutally honest…I hadn’t been taught tact at that time. One of the other kids mums, Mrs. Walker pushed me in the pool once on holidays at a Queensland resort, so I got out and pushed her in. No one had said it was ok for her to push me in, but not for me to do it to her. Now just because she had just gotten all dressed in a lovely frock and makeup all ready to go out that night doesn’t mean a thing. She did it first.
I spent my childhood pondering, many hours spent climbing mountains, catching tadpoles and adventuring around the neighborhood at my leisure. I was always alone, as the other girls wanted to play mummies and daddies which I found to be repetitiously boring. Why play dolls when I knew of a tree that was full of plumb mulberries and silkworms to catch to pop into a shoebox? I was a reader and devoured anything full of written words. I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton and quickly progressed to Aleister Maclean in early teens. I was surrounded by a loving family but always felt that something was missing…me. I didn’t really belong here. I belonged somewhere else, with someone who looked like me and thought like me and did things I liked to do.
Dad saved my childhood and sensing the wanderlust within me, he took me around Australia traveling with him as often as he could. Dad was a coach captain and toured the outback year in and year out. It was nothing to him to pull me out of school and take me to Ayers Rock for a few months, or a back state tour of Victoria and Queensland. I loved traveling with him and the travel may have had something to do with the reason on why I couldn’t settle at school. How could I, when the week before I was sharing an aboriginal’s camp fire watching him making song sticks at Ayers Rock? I was nine when I journeyed on that trip and didn’t realize at the time of the impact it would have on me. It was the first time I really remember my eyes being opened to reality.
We arrived at Ayers Rock after traveling through western Queensland for a week and pitched our camp. I helped dad with the chores then set off to explore on my own. Traveling away from the camp I came to the aboriginal settlements. It was amazing, kids with dirty blonde hair and black skin with snotty noses and no clothes. WOW…. here was me for years trying to rip my clothes off and be free and here was these kids as free as I wanted to be. I sat down at the campfire of one such family. I could sense even way back then of much that was unspoken. The man radiated strength and purpose and yet to what I had been brought up to believe, there was no purpose and no strength in living so poorly. His wife had a tatty old torn dress on with one tennis shoe. She was so proud of that one shoe, she showed it off to me smiling and chattering in her own language. I watched the kids playing, so happy so free and then I sat at the fire to watch him carve the sticks. He had one eye only but seemed not to miss the other one.
We both sat in silence as he carved a set of song sticks, when he was finished he looked up and looked me straight in the eye. Two dollars, was all he said and he handed me the sticks. I cautiously reached out for them…mine? Wow, it was so special, I treasured those sticks as if they were gold. They were mine, carved for me and me only. The man kept looking at me as I handed him the two dollar note. He then opened his arm out wide and spread it around the whole area as if to say what you see. It was unspoken, but it was as if he was welcoming me to his homelands. I felt for once in my life that I wasn’t the extra leg, that this was my time and my place and it was special there for me. I smiled at him and nodded, still to this day it is as clear as a bell ringing. I understood him and he understood me. He was the first being i ever came across that did understand. We were both outcasts, him and me, both not quite fitting the boxes society had set for it’s people to be in.
The trip we were on with dad was a booking from Girl Guides, Dad was a very popular tour operator who had kindness, good morals and a take charge and do aura. It was a safari, so the campsite was sprinkled with the thick heavy canvas bedouin looking tents. I was used to camping in them, by then it was second nature, the stars were my holiday home. I would pitch my tent and then go and help the other tourists pitch theirs. It was hilarious at times, some city people had no clue and would hammer furiously away at solid rock for ages before storming off in frustration. Even after I showed them the next time we pitched camp they would still try beat mother nature and hit the rock areas without fail. I helped around the camp in exchange for pocket money. I was an avid playing card collector and had bought a deck from every place I visited. Of a morning my favorite job which made me feel really big, important and grown up would be to start dad’s coach up and keep it idling on low revs to warm the airbag suspension up. Dad pretty much let me do what I wanted, he trusted me by then and I would wander everywhere we went and explore by myself. I wandered in and out of different places and scenes at will and sucked up everything I saw and experienced like a vacuum.
At Devils marbles I camped under the stars next to an open fire and awoke as usual before dawn. I quickly skipped over to where Dad was already beginning to cook breakfast for 50 people. A delicious al fresco bacon and eggs with toast and cereal.
To watch the sunrise over devils marbles with not a person in site on a crisp clear winter morning in the desert was the ultimate experience, I felt so alive and so happy and free.
The Girl Guide leader on the rock trip would often try and make me stand at attention and follow the group around but I found it all horridly constraining. Don’t touch this don’t touch that, line up here, no way. Dad told her to leave me be after I had complained to him in a foot stamping huff. The day everyone was to climb the rock dawned a tad overcast. It wasn’t raining but there was no blue sky visible. The leader, Pam, sat everyone down and had the morning lecture. Because it wasn’t sunny she wasn’t going to let anyone climb the rock all the way, everyone had to stop at the end of the second chain and come back down. She looked straight at me, “and that includes you”. I was cranky and went to see dad, nothing I can do about it, was his reply to me. She had complained about safety and that was that. I wandered off and found mum and my a friend I had on the trip.
They could tell I was cranky so kept silent as we walked to the foot of Ayers Rock. It was a long and steep climb. The beginning section has chains running down the middle to pull yourself up on. In no time I had passed everyone else including the rather large Pam and I kept on climbing. Finally I reached the top of the second chain and sat down to enjoy the view. Wow to this day nothing has come close to the feeling experienced up there. Here was this rock, and I knew from my lessons that two thirds of it was still underground. It was in the middle of the flat flat desert and in the distance, 18 kilometres away sat the Olga’s, a smaller formations of egg like rocks that i could see in the distance on the plain.
I grinned to myself and got up from sitting down. Without a backward glance I kept climbing, up and up. By now the chains had stopped and turned into white lines painted on the rock to follow. I knew not to venture away from them, many a person had made that fatal mistake and were now remembered by a simple golden inscribed plague at the foot of the rock. It didn’t seem long before I was at the very top, I looked around the full circle, I felt like I was at the top of the world. Just me and nature and what she had created, but why? The creation of the rock intrigued me, why was it there, just popped up smack in the middle of Australia? There was nothing around it, not even a hill or ridge, not counting the anthill mounds sprinkling the desert scrub landscape. I sat and took my surroundings in for a while, but realised I had to race back down. I skipped back down the path to the top of the second chain. Mum was sitting there all red-faced and tired. She laughed when I told her that I had gone to the top; she had expected that and apparently when everyone met up at the second chain Pam had gone off her rocker to find me missing. I didn’t care – whatever punishment I got for disobeying was well worth the experience. I helped mum down and we were the last ones back.
The Coach was running and dad winked at me as I got on silently. Mum and I sat down and Pam started. She grounded me, I never knew you could be grounded on holidays but she did and then came time to hand out the certificates of the day’s achievements. The certificates were genuine “Ayers Rock” with options under very much like this one.
I came saw and….
1, I Climbed Ayers Rock.
2,I Climbed Three Quarters of Ayers Rock.
, I Climbed One Half of Ayers Rock.
4, I Climbed a quarter of Ayers Rock.
5, I Saw Ayers Rock and gave up.
All the certificates were passed out all marked with ticks varying from I climbed one half of Ayers Rocks down to a quarter and I saw Ayers Rock. Finally she came to mine and called my name, I accepted my certificate and glanced down at it. I came and I saw and I climbed Ayers Rock, it said, all signed, witnessed and stamped. The only one on the tour. I grinned to myself as I returned to my seat, nobody and nothing could ever take that away. It was an experience that I often drew on later in life.