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My father was born in Hungary and was drafted into the German Army as were all young men in that area around
the time of World War 2. He survived shrapnel shots, prison of war camps and the loss many of his siblings in this tragic world event
which destroyed so many innocent families. He came to Australia to make a new life and married his English teacher, when he was
moved to Brisbane where he was bonded to work for two years building roads with the Brisbane City Council. They certainly had a more
common sense and humane approach to immigration in Australia in the 1950's than they have now!
I was born and brought home to a tent where my parents had made a home in Belmont in Brisbane. My arrival had my mother's maiden aunts, busily counting the days on their fingers to see if I was "legitimate" or not!
I have very early memories of my childhood, and I remember when my sister was brought into the family, when I was two and a half years old. I was jealous that she was getting so much attention. We played "Let's go walking" - often, where I taught this little interruption to my life, to walk, so she didn't have to be carried around by MY mother!
My social development was hindered by very poor eyesight that was not recognised remarkably till I moved to my third school, when I was 9 years old, despite the fact that I often sat at the teacher's table to read the black board. Once I got over the shock of actually seeing people's expression as I interacted with them for the first time, and seeing leaves on the trees that were previously a green blur, and street lights that were giant fuzz balls, I vied for first place in the class with a couple of bright kids in the class. I missed out being Dux of the primary school in my last year by half a mark.
I went to Brisbane State School, where after the initial shock of realising that the competition was much higher, I achieved
straight A's in the junior exam and was offered all the scholarships I applied for in Senior. I had no idea what I wanted to do at that stage, so I went to
Teachers College where I knew I would earn money after just 2 years of study and at least I knew what a teacher did!
I could have gone to Uni, but there were way too many choices, as my results would have allowed me to any course at all there. I achieved High Distinctions in half the subjects we did at Teachers College. This was despite my extreme shyness which led to my form lecturer suggestion that I should find another career until she watched me performing in an actual classroom.
I taught for 2 years at the last primary school I had attended, and spent 6 miserable months at a school at Stradbroke Island. I quit and received the only government support I have ever had as I changed careers. $11.50/week x 2 weeks. I began a stock control job, where I used a comptometer which was a giant manually operated calculator. I was briefly married and I mean briefly, and I moved to Sydney for a few weeks, where I got a job at my second shop I called on at Bondi Junction. I came back to Brisbane and shortly after that my "husband" left after leaving me with the bill for the flowers he had given me for Valentine's Day! All good experience. It certainly taught me not to get married ever again!
I returned to teaching at Cannon Hill for two and a half years met a guy and followed him to Scotland and I spent six months teaching in a "Proddy" school at Cranhill in Glasgow. I came back to Brisbane a year later and he followed me. I was not really interested in teaching anymore and there were no teaching jobs at that time, so I virtually became self employed at 26 doing a variety of casual jobs which included letter box delivery, dish washing and cold larder chefing and private tutoring.
And then in 1979 when I was 29, I began cleaning with a friend. He sold his business after 6 months and I said, "So what should I do now?" and he gave me a window bucket and 3 squirtie bottles and one client name and said, "You know what to do!"
I was a terrified shy little girl, (maybe not so little!) and happily on my own again. It took me a week to muster the courage to call the client. I cleaned the lady's windows the best I could and she
directed me to her husband's office and he in turn sent me to an architect next door.
By this time I was feeling a little more comfortable and I told the lady that I was doing this for myself and she asked if I cleaned houses. I remember saying, "I'll clean anything!" The rest is history. I have worked 18 hour days, every day, year in year out, with rarely even Sundays sometimes not even Christmas Day or Good Fridays off for 35 years.
After seven years of working by myself I contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis from being attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes while mowing one day. I was forced to start employing people. This, along with the debilitating self destructive RA disease, has offered me the greatest challenges of my life - in hindsight my Greatest Devine Gifts. I have followed a path of learning and asking questions meeting extraordinary people along my way.
Today I am surrounded by a family of people who have come from many countries in an industry which is more challenging than many. I love the business as it is truly my child, as I certainly have had no time to spend developing "normal" relationships or "family". My collie dogs have become my trademark. I have had 9 magnificent companions, the loves of my life.
I never was socially very adept, and after RA, my health was a high priority. I have worked at curing RA through natural therapy. I have not been successful with this goal, but my Bag of Hope was kept full, as without hope you have nothing. I am certainly well and full of energy compared to most every else in our group, despite that fact that I am more than double the average age of these people.
With the assistance of a wonderful surgical team I have 2 knee replacements and thanks to a biological drug, developed through stem cell research, I have my health back again, full of the
appreciation that we get one body and it can so easily be destroyed without conscious good choices. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs have never been a part of my life. I have never eaten a big Mac, and I consider
Coke to be a very effective toilet acid. I never fitted well into any social groups and I wasn't until I began to learn to fly, which I began 4 days before I turned 50, that I found a social group to belong to. Alcohol and
cigarettes do not mix with flying. This suites me extremely well to mix with this passionate group of recreational pilots.
I take 2 hours off every week to hire a Cessna 172 and I share my passion with passengers who are keen to experience the freedom of flight. I look forward to the balancing experience of seeing the people and their problems leaving me at 1000 feet per minute as I push the throttle in and climb like a "love sick angel"!
At a time of my life when the people my age are retiring and passing their businesses onto their children, my business is still alive being challenged by the very nature of the business, cleaning in the construction industry. We are at the bottom end of the food chain. Our trade is so often forgotten till the last second, and so often maligned, our trade that presents projects in a pristine condition, the dream of all involved from the investor stage to final project completion stage. I swear that as they take my coffin away I will leap out and scream,"Remember the cleaners!"
We have to survive through the trauma of businesses collapsing owing us money. If anything, we are growing. Our exciting venture of "Wisdom Over the Urinal" is so stimulating it makes me want to burst out of my skin! The opportunity is surrounding me with a wonderful bunch of talented people, an extension to my own creativity. You wouldn't want to be "dead for quids", would you?