Mum is showering me with T.L.C. When she’s not making me a cup of tea, she is rubbing my back with liniment or slipping hot water bottles into my bed.
Today we are off to Bream Creek to see Mum’s masseur, Debs. On the way we stop off at a roadside barrow selling organic cherries and organic apricots. I grab a bag of each, and stuff the money into the honesty tin.
Snacking on the luscious fruits we drive on through Marion Bay, a strange settlement. It is mostly shacks built by the side of salt marshes that stand behind the breathtakingly beautiful Marion Beach. There is an eerie end-of-the-world quality to this hamlet, perched between the wild, deserted sea and the strange, flat marshes.
We pass a flock of black swans. How odd they must have seemed to the first Europeans to walk in this land. By the shore there is an old cemetery with graves dating back to those early settlers.
Debs lives on a high hill with panoramic views of the coast. She is a practitioner of Ka-Huna massage, a skill, it turns out, that she learned from my aunty Lily in Queensland. Ka-Huna is a full body massage that originates in Hawaii. Debs works up and down with firm sweeping strokes of her forearms. In the past few days I have experienced the return of severe neck and shoulder pain. It is a tension that I haven’t felt since before my breast surgery. As my body relaxes I begin to cry. I just don’t know what kind of therapy can heal the sadness that I feel.
Back at home Mum offers to give me a manicure. She strips off the chipped nail varnish and then sets to work with one of those magic buffing blocks, first sanding back the ridges and then polishing with the smoother surface. Soon my nails are glowing.
Mum inspects her handiwork. “I think it works better if you do it yourself,” she says, “you can get into all the little bends.” “Probably,” I agree, “but it feels so lovely to have you do it for me.”