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Anne Frandi-Coory – Short Life Stories

*All text and images are copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory*

*All rights reserved 16 August 2018*

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There is so much domestic violence occurring in Australia …so many women and children murdered. Why? I believe it is a societal problem, but why in 2018, can’t we find solutions?

My mother, Doreen Frandi, abandoned me when I was ten months old for various reasons which I explore in my book: Whatever Happened To Ishtar?; A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generations Of Defeated Mothers.

ishtar-front-cover (200x299)

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In the fifteen years of research I did for the book, I discovered how awful life was for my Italian mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I was devastated to put it mildly! The domestic violence, marital rape, too many children, no contraceptives, brutal men, etc etc. In my mother’s case, she was thrown out of my father’s Lebanese extended family’s home onto the streets of Dunedin. Just like her mother and grandmother before her, she was used and abused all her life by men. My mother had previously entered a convent to escape the violence at home, but her life as a nun didn’t give her the peace she craved.

I often wonder if I had not been placed in an orphanage and other Catholic institutions for most of my childhood, would I have also become the victim of domestic violence? Instead, I became an angry, frightened child and combative young adult, not trustful of anyone, particularly men. I was independent and passionate about whatever I chose to do, and refused help from anyone! I obviously had something to prove to the world.

Anne & Tony

Anne Frandi-Coory 6yrs old

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I loved my mother, and have never blamed her for her abandonment of me. She did her best. The nuns would never allow her to visit me in the orphanage, which broke her heart, and she suffered all her life from mental illness brought on by the guilt that she could never be the mother she wanted to be. I blame the Catholic Church which could have helped her to care for me, particularly as she was a former nun, but it didn’t! As far as the Church was concerned, my mother was a ‘fallen woman’ because her first child, a son,  was born out of wedlock. She couldn’t care for me and work as well.

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Doreen & Joseph's wedding

My father Joseph Coory and my mother Doreen Frandi on their wedding day.

It didn’t matter to the Church that my naive mother was pregnant to a soldier who was already married, which he neglected to inform her at the time of the affair. She followed him to his family home in Dunedin, and the rest is her tragic story. The father of her firstborn was my father’s younger brother. My father, 18 years older, with the best of intentions,  married her, adopted his nephew, and almost three years later, I was born. The major problem was that my red haired mother lived with the immigrant Coory family in a three storey house, in which several generations also lived. Including the father of her first child! The Coory family was a devout Catholic one, and it’s clear from my research and my memories of visits to that household,  that my pretty mother was a harlot, and her red hair proved it beyond doubt! The fact that she was Italian just added racism to the hatred the family felt towards her.

So many successive generations suffering domestic violence. It occurs in all races, cultures, religions, and countries. If there are solutions, I don’t know what they are. Societal change takes generations and we should all be looking for answers. I know one thing for sure: Australia’s current LNP government is not interested in investing in the prevention of domestic violence. It has cut funding for Women’s Refuges and other safe houses, cut Newstart and other benefits which could help single mothers. Once again, the cards are stacked against women and children!

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anne_006-twitter-2     Anne Frandi-Coory 16 August 2018

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More information here about Whatever Happened To Ishtar? 

 

 

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Anne Frandi-Coory

I resisted the fear and stood up to racial abuse…but should I have?

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Last Tuesday 14 April I was sitting on a train bound for Melbourne’s CBD at about 11am. All around me were voices in various stages of peaceful conversation, when suddenly a very loud male voice disrupted the calm. At first I thought it was a one sided phone conversation, so I turned to see who this inconsiderate person was. About four seats behind me across the aisle sat a well dressed young man wearing sunglasses looking straight at the window opposite his seat. In seats beside him but facing the rear of the carriage sat an Indian couple; I could only see the backs of their heads at this stage. The young man began to yell and scream obscenities obviously referring to the couple which alerted me to what this was all about:

Speak English you f…… c…. you f…… dogs why don’t you go back to your own f…… country you c…. I have to sit here listening to you f…… dogs talking in another language no-one can understand you f…… c….

 This tirade continued in an atmosphere of complete stillness. I was feeling flushed and angry while looking around for an emergency button. Then, the abusive man began to punch with his fist, the window right beside the woman’s head. How is it that window didn’t smash with punches reverberating throughout the carriage? Enough! I stood up and asked:

Does anyone know where the emergency button is?

 A young man right behind my seat pulled out his earplugs and said as he pointed to a spot behind me:

There is one beside that door.

It was an intercom so I pressed the button and a lady answered:

Can I help you?

Could you please send someone down to this carriage, there is a racist abusing a coloured couple and he is banging the window beside them with his fists. It’s becoming violent.

She asked again if I needed help and I replied in a strong voice:

Immediately, please!

 I sat down again. Still no response from other passengers, none of whom was looking anywhere in particular.

The abuser continued yelling: 

 Go on call the cops I don’t f…… care, you f…… dogs ….you f…… c….

Then he stood up threw his backpack over his shoulder and looking straight ahead, walked past me down the aisle muttering to himself, until he heard the click of my phone camera. He turned his head slightly in my direction and shouted

Go on take photos you f…… dogs Call the f…… police  you f…… c….

He then walked through to the next carriage. I watched him through the doors, standing facing his former carriage, his mouth still working.

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Annes mobile 065

Annes mobile 065 2

The photos are not very clear as my hands were shaking and I was not brave enough to take a photo lest I should provoke this maniac further while he was in full violence mode. The backpack was quite distinctive though, with a bright blue pattern and he was of medium height and solid build.

At the next stop a young woman with a pram who had been sitting in front of me said as she passed by:

Thank you for what you did.

The Indian woman turned and explained in her very soft voice:

We were speaking very quietly, it’s not as if we were speaking very loudly….

I stood up and replied:

You are free to speak your own language anywhere you please.

As the young mother exited the train the young man behind me suddenly lept up and ran out of the train as two policemen walked past the windows. Just before the door closed I heard him describing the abuser to the policemen.

I wonder why not one other person stood up with me on that train. I know we have to be careful, the man may have been armed, but do we just sit there and allow a woman to be verbally abused and maybe have her head smashed in? This man was angry, and that anger was palpable in the carriage, as was the other passengers’ fear. I wonder too, if anyone would have come to my aid if the abuser had turned his attention to me.  But then I have pale skin. Perhaps my anger was visible and audible too?

As my train journey continued, I wondered if we were all a bunch of cowardly hypocrites. Oh yes, we all share our outrage on social media (in safety) at the injustice of racism, but when it comes down to it, should we just pretend nothing is happening or should we stand up and say ‘enough’! Is there safety in numbers? I certainly don’t have all the answers.

I don’t know what the outcome of this racist attack was, or if cctv was used by police to identify the man, but I do think it was a very serious incident and I can only imagine how terrified that couple was.

Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory 16 April 2015 All Rights Reserved

***This page is copyright to author Anne Frandi-Coory. No text or photograph can be copied or downloaded from this page without the written permission of Anne Frandi-Coory.***

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Author Anne Frandi-Coory with her small daughter

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Kevin

Kevin

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Yes I know. Many of us have been through a divorce and it is one of the most difficult times we have ever had to go through.

But you can guarantee that for the children involved, it will be something they will never forget, for better or for worse.

So, our children must come first, because the decisions we make on how we go about the divorce proceedings, will affect their lives profoundly.

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Anne and Anthony at first Santa photo session

Anne and Anthony at first Santa photo session

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For all the criticisms I may have had about my ex-husband and the father of our four wonderful children, he never let spite get in the way of any decisions we had to make.  Our three sons were teenagers and our daughter was 11 years old at the time of our divorce. He took our two oldest sons to live with him and I cared for the two youngest children. However, the children moved freely between the two households at holiday times etc.

 

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The point I am coming to is this. Please don’t separate siblings from each other permanently.  The bonds between them are vital because they will need each other in the years ahead. Please don’t use your children as pawns or turn them against each other. Emotional blackmail is absolutely soul destroying for all concerned!

 I didn’t have to read about all of this in books. I and my siblings have lived it.

Our mother, Doreen, had severe bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes which was diagnosed when she was in her thirties. Her psychiatrist and youngest sister, Anne, believe her childhood traumas brought on the severe manifestations of the disorder.

Even though Doreen wasn’t able to care for her children there was no doubt she loved us. (If you want to know more about her story, please read post: Letters to Anne Frandi-Coory. But both our extended Lebanese and Italian families abandoned her and her children.

Doreen had 6 children in all. Hers was a desperate quest to find love and a family. Three later children were taken from her and adopted out. Her oldest son Kevin lived with her in between her frequent bouts in a psychiatric hospital when he was just a small boy. His was a lifelong devotion to her. I was her second child and my brother Anthony her third. All three of us were placed in various orphanages; Kevin whenever Doreen couldn’t look after him (she was either working or in hospital, no benefits in those days). Records show that I was ten months old when I was left at the Mercy orphanage in Dunedin and later, Anthony was left there when he was seven  months old. Both of us were incarcerated in various Catholic orphanages for most of our formative years.

I don’t know the full truth as to why I, Kevin and Anthony were not adopted out as well, but the one thing we three had in common was that we had three different fathers who were all brothers from an immigrant Lebanese family. My father Joseph Coory adopted Kevin when he was about two years old after he and Doreen were married, and of course I was his only child. He loved us and did his best, but his family were adamant they did not want us in the family home. Anthony was completely ignored and neglected until he was much older but cannot remember any of his past traumas. However, they show in his demeanour and on his face.

Getting back to sibling separation, the reason for my writing this piece.

We grew up in different orphanages and had different lives with many years passing between each brief contact.  We could never support each other through the very tough years because we didn’t have that all important bond of growing up together or being in close proximity.

It has taken us years to overcome our childhoods but we have done it all ourselves with no help from drugs, drink or family support. Without the luxury of having each other to share our tears with.  I am sad about that but I am also proud that we have refused to be victims.

I believe the deepest cuts were those inflicted when our mother abandoned us and we were separated from each other. Please don’t do that to your children.

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© To Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 15 June 2013

Heritage listed Catholic Church in Christchurch (Getty Images)

Manchester Street-one of the worst hit  (Getty Images)

Published in The Australian Writer issue #374 February 2012

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***This page is copyright to author Anne Frandi-Coory. No text can be copied or downloaded from this page without the written permission of Anne Frandi-Coory.***

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Anne Frandi-Coory

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I was living in Melbourne when the Christchurch earthquake struck on 4 September 2010. My daughter Gina, her husband and baby son, were living there at the time.

The first I knew about the September quake (without realising it at the time!), was when my daughter sent me a text:  “We are under the table, and Jack thinks it’s great fun”.  After getting out of bed at around 4 am to search for my bleeping mobile, only to find this message from Gina, I promptly turned the thing off, muttering “I will have to have words with that girl about the  time difference”, and staggered my way back to bed.  When the news automatically came on our bedside radio clock at 6am  announcing the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in  Christchurch, I leapt out of bed, wide awake, the full realization hitting me.  I had gone back to sleep ignoring my daughter’s text.  I was used to Gina texting at all hours of the morning after Jack was born, mostly to tell me how gorgeous he was, but often to ask advice about his sleeping and feeding routines.

Panicking, I managed to get through to her and calmed down when I heard she and her family were okay and that their house sustained no damage. At that stage, no-one in Christchurch had died as a result of the quake and damage to buildings was minimal.

However, I was in Christchurch when a devastating earthquake hit five months later on 22 February 2011; Gina and her husband, Paul, were not. They were off to an education conference in Rotorua and I was there to look after Jack,  a 20 month old with attitude.  On Monday the 21st, Gina and I had spent the day with Jack shopping in the CBD, (post earthquake, almost demolished) having coffees and snacks at cafés, and generally having a wonderful mother/daughter day out.

On Tuesday the 22nd, Paul and Gina left me with Jack early morning to catch their flight to Rotorua.  At 9.30am I left the house to take Jack to his usual private day care.  Gina works Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and we decided it was better for Jack if we kept to his routines while his parents were away.  I was a little nervous when they left, because I recalled that the last time they had arranged for me to come over from Melbourne to look after Jack for a week, Paul snapped his Achilles tendon and their trip away was cancelled.  I wondered what my little charge had in store this time to get his parents back.

After dropping Jack off, I did a few messages  and returned to the house in Avonhead to settle down, while Jack was away,  to some serious writing on my laptop for my next book.  Deep in thought, re-reading what I had just written, I felt more than heard, a loud rumble and then the whole house heaved, seemingly all over the place. I leapt up and raced to the nearest door frame with double french doors dividing the dining room and lounge.  I gripped onto the door jamb to stop myself falling as the glass doors swung back and forth on their hinges.  The quake went on for many seconds and slowly settled into faint tremors.  I immediately sent Gina a text “earthquake, all ok”.  That was the last communication with her until that evening, and I learned later how important that simple message was to her, as she could not contact anyone in Christchurch for some time.

Not knowing of the hell that engulfed the CBD, I raced for the car in the driveway, my only thought to get to Jack.  Before I left, I had tried ringing the carer on the landline and mobile, but neither worked.  Ten minutes driving on almost-empty roads, got me to my destination and I arrived to find the carer and her charges under the substantial dining table, watching cartoons on a tiny laptop.  Jack was serene, as though it was perfectly normal to sit under the table.  I joined them.

In between the aftershocks, I got up to watch the horrors unfolding on TV in the adjoining lounge.  The earthquake was of a lesser magnitude than the one in September;  6.3, but shallower at 5 metres, and centred at Lyttelton.  Much of the CBD, where Gina, Jack and I had spent most of the day before, was all but razed.  Gina told me later that as the news got through to her and her colleagues, all Christchurch residents at the conference just wanted to get home to family and friends.  But there were no flights to Christchurch that  day.  All control towers and runways had to be inspected.  Back at the house in Avonhead, after spending an hour and half drinking comforting tea at the carer’s, I speedily carried Jack from the car  into the dining room, closed all the doors and removed the chairs from around the dining table, to enable us fast access under the table.  I gathered nappies, toys, books and anything else I needed for our enclosed space.  I had no electricity and no phones, and no battery radio.  That was the worst time, because I felt so isolated.  I managed to find enough food for Jack and I that didn’t need cooking. I took Jack  to bed at about 7 pm after playing with him and reading him stories, in between grabbing him and diving under the table during each aftershock tremor.  Singing Jack’s favourite songs had him swaying and laughing.

Down in Jack’s bedroom, I dressed him in his pyjamas and lifted him into his cot.  I dragged the single bed in his room over beside the cot and lay with my hand through the bars, holding his little hand.  Jack thought this was great fun and fell asleep without a murmur.  Tremors kept me awake most of the night so I was  in a state of  ‘fright and flight’  while Jack slept on.  The next morning Gina managed to get through to speak to me on  my mobile, relieved to hear we had made it safely from the carer’s home and that the house was undamaged.  They were hoping to board a flight late that morning to come home.  In the meantime, she told me that all drinking water had to be boiled and not to flush the toilets because raw sewerage was flowing into the estuary and it was probably seeping into the city’s water supply.  The best news of all was that there was a transistor radio and torch I could use, on a top shelf in the pantry, put there for just such emergencies.  Also, there were several bottles of drinking water in the deep freeze.  I told her that although there were few cars on the road when I went to pick up Jack, on the way back, cars were bumper to bumper going in the opposite direction, probably frantic drivers travelling to loved ones and picking children up from their schools.  Many schools were badly damaged in the quake, but no children were injured or killed.

Meanwhile, still holed up in the dining room, waiting to hear from Gina, I received another text message saying that they were on their way to Christchurch, when a man on the plane, worried about family he could not contact, had a heart attack, and the plane had to return to Rotorua.  Gina and Paul finally arrived back at their home at 4pm on Wednesday, relieved we and the house were fine, but distraught at news that many colleagues had lost their homes and some acquaintances were missing or dead in the rubble of the city.

The next day we travelled to Cromwell in Central Otago, five hours drive away, to Paul’s family’s holiday house.  We were lucky to be able to escape the city, but we were all on edge, thinking of what was happening back home.  After eight days, we returned to Christchurch and the growing total of the dead pulled from rubble.  There was no peace to be had and the after shocks reminded us of the ruin of one of New Zealand’s most picturesque cities.  Over 10,000 homes cannot be rebuilt because of the liquefaction of the land under them.  The violent tremors liquefied the land pushing  the sandy-silt  up through roads and  buildings.  Many families whose homes were destroyed, are living in caravans, cars, halls and tents.  Many have left the city.

Post earthquake, the fanatics and soothsayers had their say in letters to newspaper editors  and on radio talkback.  Apparently God destroyed Manchester Street because it is alive with prostitutes at night.  One has to ask why God would destroy the rest of the city as well, trapping people at work in multi-storied buildings, and flattening countless family homes.  Then there are the churches.  Why did God turn  Christchurch Cathedral,  Baptist churches, Anglican churches,  Catholic churches, Protestant churches, to name a few, into piles of rubble?   Is it possible that the earth moved because of a fault line in the earth’s crust?  I prefer that scientific explanation myself.

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© To Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 10 March 2011

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Christchurch CBD 22 February 2011 (Getty Images)

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