Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Return of the Grounded Dutchman

The Grounded Dutchman has boarded a plane and is on his way back to Australia. We're not sure what's coming back, just as he isn't certain to his future over here. Tin Can, String and Whistle is a bit like that at the moment - with another round of job cuts announced nobody is certain what is going on.

It must be worse for him - he left on a four month vacation around Australia his ugly, modified landcruiser mid March last year only to end up in hospital, unconscious with his pelvis in pieces three weeks later.

What is it they say - if you first you don't succeed, so much for paragliding...

He spent ten days unconscious in the John Hunter in Newcastle, attached to a respirator and various other tubes before waking. It was only then, on waking, the real healing started. It's taken a year for him to get back to near where he was. The bones healed eventually. The consequences from being oxygen deprived have taken longer, the impact to his speech noticeable, though it still amazes me that he's always been able to prattle on in three languages as appropriate.

It's been a long, fraught recovery. Once he was up and about he went back to Holland to recouperate. He's been living with his mother for the last year, slowly getting his life together.

The journey has been long on this side too, for the Grounded Dutchman was a very close friend for a long time. I'm still not sure how or why we bonded. He's known for being arrogant, prickly and at times just a pain in the butt. But somehow, we became close. The two single forty-somethings in the office with no family around. We became each other's occasional movie date, drinking companion and sounding board. Sunday nights was cheap dinner and bad telly night - we're both fond of Fat Bastards (The Biggest Loser). He's the person who would call at eleven at night for a chat before bed time. We used to go out for sneaky cigarettes before I gave up two years ago. Friday night after beer club it was beef rendang and noodles at a favorite cheap Malaysian joint in Chinatown.

He was good to have around.

For me, most significantly, it gave me a view to what it could be like to have somebody there. Really scary stuff for somebody who's always been single.

He altered when he was recovering. It softened him. I remember phone calls from the hospital in the early days where he'd tell me things like "I've just finished my lego." I remember driving up to Newcastle to see him over the long weekend and he rang every hour on he hour to see where I was. I remember doing a lap of the John Hunter with him while I was up there. The first real time he'd spent outside since the accident.

We've talked about the frustrations that the injuries have left him with. He can no longer drink alcohol. He'll never run a marathon. He will never paraglide again - something he used to love doing. He's now got a slur to his speech which comes and goes depending on the day and how tired he is.

And now he's on the way back.

And I'm not sure what to feel.

Reindert has warned me that I must not become his mother. No fear in that. Blarney keeps asking me what's going on, asking me to bring him over the meet the boys. Glen Waverley still can't believe he's on he way back.

What shall Pandora speak. Nothing for the moment. We're meeting for coffee on Sunday. He texted to ask if I knew where his bikes were. With his van, was my reply. And where was his van? Nowhere he'd find it easily. Reindert and I have left it with an acquaintance the other side of the You Yangs. We'll get it back for him soon.

Oh, did I mention that he's the most exquisite creature I've ever clapped eyes on? Nah, I though not. I didn't mention that he broke my heart either.

This year without him has let me adjust and recover. For me, self-preservation kicked in after the accident. For such a dreadful event, it was the greatest cosmic "get out of jail free" card I've ever received.

I may care about him, but I care about myself more. And maybe this was the lesson that I needed to learn.


1 comment:

Kath Lockett said...

Hmmm. As he's winging his way back over here, I'm sure there'll be a few more chapters that we readers will be hanging out for....

....whether you like it or not, Pandora!