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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 37 - Not The Only Apple

Gayle Woodward is expecting a second child – and her husband Woody begins building a home for his family.

Read all of Gayle’s wonderfully direct and involving story of family life in New Zealand. Click on Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine in the menu on this page.

I was vastly seven months pregnant, with what the clinic doctor at the Mater called an exceedingly big baby. However I was well and happy and looking forward to this new baby. We had names of Robert and Mark for a boy and Catherine for a girl.

Our new house on our section in Glenfield was underway. Woody had owned the section since his father persuaded him to pay it off as soon as he started work. His father was guarantor and Woody paid each month’s payments to his Dad. Now it was paid off and we were able to get a First Home Owners mortgage through the State Advances Corporation with 3% interest. We were to be Owner Builders, to build as much as we could with friends and family, arrange subcontractors for the rest and get progress payments from the State Advances as each part of the work was inspected and signed off.

We decided on a three bedroom, double storey house, clinker brick with a tile roof. The basement was going to be undeveloped in the short term. My Uncle Ken drew up the plans for us and our friend Owen O’Meagher was the builder. Woody and Owen spent each weekend at the house. Peter, a welder by trade, welded the footings. Terry was to do the plumbing, Woody the electrical work and labourer for everybody else.

Woody was installing power points in the third bedroom and I asked him why there were so many. He astounded me by explaining that if we had a girl, she would need a light over her dressing table and one for her dolls’ house as well as over her bed. I did not think that he was very interested in the expected baby but that comment proved me wrong.

I would make pots of thick split pea and shin meat soup which the men gobbled up gratefully at lunch times. They carried on through the spring time and on through Christmas, stopping for the holidays only. Jeff went along some days and ‘helped’ by passing nails and sweeping. The house still was not ready by late February when our baby was due.

I spent a lot of time alone at home with Jeff while the house was being built. It was a hot summer and I was having trouble sleeping, sitting, and even walking. My huge belly stopped me from seeing my toes and gave me a sore back as I leaned backwards to compensate for the weight. A new song was playing on the radio. It was Simon and Garfunkels’ ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’. I was preparing myself for a hard labour knowing that I had to deliver a very large baby. The lyrics of their song included the words, ‘…and pain is all around’ and ‘your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way’. I took the song as my own. I felt that Simon had written it just for me.

It became the song of this pregnancy. Jeff heard it so much that he would ask me to “Sing like a bridge, Mummy”. We had a record player up on a high shelf to keep little hands off but Jeff loved the music and would beg us to play it. He would place Woody’s large headphones on his own small head and sing his funny little lyrics to his heart’s content. He grew up hearing Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond and John Denver constantly. We three loved our music.

And so, a very happy time as an only child came to an end for Jeff. He had been very cherished by grandparents and uncles and aunties alike, but by 1973, Jeff had a girl cousin, Lisa, who refined the ‘Adda’ that Jeff, had called his grandfather to Alla and that name stuck. His other grandparents had another grandson, Paul, so Jeff was now not the only apple in everybody’s eye.

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