Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Setting Out

Dad couldn’t be by my side—his macular had degenerated to a point where it got in the way of travel.

Mum came on her own. She arrived the day before the brain surgeries, and stayed through the second one and a few days into my week in inpatient rehab. Her presence was invaluable to my time in hospital—not only did she provide much needed support, but she also advocated for me when I could not. In addition, she was one of my main connections to the rest of the family who didn’t make the trip. In particular, she passed information on to the rest of the Brandon Clan.

Dad only heard about my situation through Mum, second hand. Throughout my time in hospital, he wrote me poems daily, his way of managing the anxiety and yearning to be with me. He sent the first poem the evening after the first brain surgery.

Setting Out

Was it anger or pain? We never did really know,
The roll of fat at the back of your neck bright red with rage (or misery).
Today, we would probably be warned of ‘lactose intolerance’,
But then, we were just told to ‘let her cry’, and eventually you slept.

As a toddler, you hung on to your ‘clobber bag’.
I don’t think I ever really knew what was in it, but the bag was always there:
A large plastic bag of toys, treats, bits of paper, pulled along from room to room.
At night, it stayed at the foot of the bed and in the morning
You sometimes found a second bag of treats, so we could sleep

We relied too much on ‘big brother’ to take charge, forgetting how small he was.
But he really didn’t seem to mind: “cummon Deb”, he said,
And off the two of you went, up the ladder of life.

At the time, I wasn’t able to read it. When I finally had the wherewithal to read his poems, they warmed the cockles of my heart, sometimes bringing a smile to my face, other times tears to my eyes.

To this day, more than thirteen years since the surgeries I treasure his poems. I will always treasure them.