After my migration to Australia when I was 19 I had many casual jobs then I trained as a nurse. In my second year of nurse training my mother in the UK died suddenly. I needed to save money and return to the UK to collect my younger sisters and bring them to live with me in Australia. I went to night classes to study the equivalent of HSC while working extra shifts so I could apply to study teaching. I knew the night work as a nurse would be hard to do with two children aged 7 and 10 to look after. Everything went as planned despite many difficulties.
No one in my family had ever stayed at school older than 14 except for me, no one had ever gone to university. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do there, would people think I was stupid? What about my sexuality not something you talked about back in 1972. I was so nervous I didn’t even go into the student café for 4 weeks. I ate my lunch on the lawns alone. I was 23 a normally confident person but was out of my normal life situation. I had no family to talk to and no close friends.
In one of my tutorials I met Molly who was a mother of 5 children, abandoned by her husband after many years of marriage, who had literally gone back to school to do year 11 and 12 then applied to study education. She had also migrated to Australia as a young woman. Molly was 47. She was also a kind and wise woman. We became friends and I was able to talk honestly to her about my life and myself. She accepted me for who I was and has been an inspiration to me all my life. She is now 92 and still going strong. Just having someone to share the problems in my family, the struggles looking after two young sisters and being a lesbian was all I needed to get me through life at that time. It also gave me strength to become a political activist.
There have been other people I have turned to at different times in my life but this was one of the loneliest times I had. Leaving my nursing job, being a surrogate mother, working at the weekend to get me through, and study, all new and difficult tasks. Molly was there to listen and I thank her. She was certainly a friend when I had a need.