My life is ordinary. I live in an ordinary house, in an ordinary suburb. I have an ordinary job. I am a mother to two sons (they are not ordinary!!), both now in their twenties. I’ve had all the highs and lows that parenting in today’s world brings. I’m an immigrant, like many Australians, coming here to seek a new and better life for my family.
In my life story, the chronology of events as I see it is: I went to school; studied at university; met a lovely man; got married; had a family; and, emigrated to Australia where we have lived for the last 16 years. The fact that I lost my dominant right arm at the shoulder at the age of nine, has never featured consciously as a significant factor in my life. And the fact that when we came to Australia, my husband was working abroad (and still is), while I adapted to a new country with two small children, and brought them up mostly as a single mother, was an emotional, not a physical challenge.
Whilst I acknowledge that having one arm does pose its challenges, my mantra is to do anything and experience life to its fullest. I have played netball and tennis, scuba dived in many different places and go to gym most days because my health is something I value.
I have renovated my house, made curtains, installed plasterboard, and have painted walls, ceilings and floors. I have completed both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in engineering and work full time in a job I really enjoy. I love cooking food to share, being with my family and friends and travelling to different places. I have tried to be the best mother and wife that I could be and can’t be more proud of my two sons (so clearly I have succeeded in this at least!
While strangers may see me as an amputee, and doubtless this has shaped some of my personality traits and changed the direction of my life and career, I know my family, friends and colleagues don’t see my amputation at all, they see the real me.
I credit my parents with the fact that I am fiercely independent and determined, they never told me there was anything I couldn’t do. They encouraged me to try anything and they let me fail and try again, and now as a parent I realise how hard that must have been for them. I am truly grateful to them for their restraint in not taking over when the challenges were great (but never insurmountable).
My hope is that all those I meet will see an independent strong woman who can change a car tyre or a lightbulb, who cares for her family and friends, is from a generation where being a woman in engineering was unusual, is an active member of her community and will stand up for what is right, supporting those in need, because I am not defined by my physical attributes.
On 17 October 2024 it will be the 50th anniversary of my amputation surgery (half a century!! What a milestone!). I intend to celebrate the event with my family and friends, to acknowledge how it shaped my life to bring me this beautiful family, these beautiful friends and a place in this amazing country where I am so blessed to have this ordinary life.