My name is Sylvia Maunder. I am 63 (just). I live in a lovely rural township in Wairarapa, New Zealand called Carterton.
I have been married for 43 years to my husband, Peter. We have three fantastic adult children, Simon (married to Keri), Frith (married to Jason) and Maria (about to marry Greg). There are also six grandchildren, three for both Simon and Frith. Life should be grand.
In 2006 my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Coeliac disease and I had to immediately adopt a gluten free diet. I was given the diagnosis the day before my 57th birthday – just as well I hadn’t baked myself a birthday cake that year. I spent my birthday that year going through my pantry tossing out anything that had wheat, rye, barley, triticale or oats in it. Five big rubbish bags of food and the containers that it had been in went to the tip and what was salvageable went to work to be shared among those whose ordinary lives included those everyday items with no ill effects on their health.
While there are some things from the world of wheat that I really miss, I have pretty well come to terms with it now and can exist quite happily in the gluten free world. I just wish we weren’t charged so much extra to be able to eat healthily, though.
I was brought up in Christchurch, an only child – something I have rued all my life, but there was nothing I could do about it so I just had to get on with it. Our neighbourhood, is not and was not flash. Lower socio-economic it would be tagged today. My father, for much of my life was ‘the local law’. He was a traffic cop and in that neighbourhood it was pretty dire, growing up as the child of the local cop. I was teased and bullied constantly.
Outwardly I grew up as any normal kid, but inside the house, or rather outside it, at the local RSA or The Bower Ave pub on his days and evenings off, my father would drink away the family finances and come home, not raving mad but drunk enough so that you shouldn’t cross him. He often used to hit my mother and wasn’t beyond using too much force with me either. They weren’t the sort of stories you spread about the local cop. He used drink to bury away his war experiences, and my mother retreated into mental illness as a way of escaping the treatment meted out to her.
I was bright at school but never bothered with a university degree as I was so desperate to leave that life and start a new one where drink and mental illness wouldn’t define me. So I left school at 18, left Christchurch and went to work as a public servant in Wellington.
The going was pretty tough for a basic grade public servant in those days, but I managed to get by and my life grew richer (and I don’t mean monetarily) with the addition of friends, a husband, children.
Two years ago, as step 1 in the path to retirement Peter and I sold our business, and our Wellington house, and moved to Carterton.
And, why am I writing this blog? Well I just read an article in Pink magazine about how therapeutic it was to write one, so here’s hoping, and if anyone else finds it helpful to read it,God Bless and I wish you a successful journey.