Last year, I was asked by John Jeffery (better known to everyone who knows him as JJ) to help get his autobiography ready for self-publishing. This week, Paula and Me is finally available for purchase and JJ has been good enough to let me post the introduction to his book on my blog.
If you’d like to read the whole book, it’s available for sale as a paperbook or an ebook through the following links on Monday’s book review.
It’s been said that everybody has a book in them and it’s just a matter of sitting down and writing in order to get it out. For me, there was a crucial moment between living the life you’re going to read about in the following pages and writing this book. That moment was an old work colleague and friend suggesting that the action-packed life I had led would be an interesting read for my grandkids.
There was just one problem. I’d never written anything before and I didn’t know if I could write. But there was only one way to find out. I had to give it a go. So in typical JJ style, I started making notes at three o’clock one morning as I lay in bed unable to sleep. Six hours later, I was still typing away on my laptop. Maybe that old work colleague and friend knew what he was talking about, after all.
As more and more family, friends and acquaintances found out I was writing my autobiography, it seemed like everyone wanted to read it. All the people I had met along the way – the ones who were still talking to me, anyway, which was most of them – were curious about the places I’d been and the things I’d done. I reckon a lot of them were also wondering whether they’d be in the book. A few of them are. More than a few.
But, of course, the story of my life is – for the most part – the story of my life with Paula. We were married for forty-two years and together for more than forty-five, since I was nineteen years old. I hope this book will instil in every reader’s mind what a remarkable wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunty, cousin and friend Paula was. I dragged her from Melbourne to Papua New Guinea and back to Melbourne and then on an endless journey around country Victoria, regional Queensland, remote Western Australia and outback Northern Territory. Most women would have waved a white flag and said, ‘Enough is enough! Take me home!’ But she never did.
We were rarely separated during our adventurous, nomadic and fun-filled lifestyle… until we were rocked by the news of her diagnosis with motor neurone disease. Paula had previously battled and beaten breast cancer but this was something different. This was a disease without treatment options, without a cure, without hope. This was a death sentence.
We experienced the peaks of unbelievably happy moments and the troughs of emotionally tough times throughout our journey. And despite the inevitability of a tragic ending, our love and devotion for each other remained as deep at the end of our life together as it was at the beginning.
This book is the most honest account I can give of how we lived our dreams working and travelling throughout some of the wildest parts of the outback and the top end of Australia, even while Paula’s health was slowly deteriorating unbeknown to us. My choice of language may seem a bit crude at times but what else would you expect from a bloke who was rude, obnoxious and full of bad manners until his wife inspired him to become a loving, caring, generous husband and father?
It is also a tribute to our family and the lifelong friends we made along the way. During the times that it seemed like doom and gloom might set in, when we briefly considered simply lying down and surrendering, it was family and friends that gave us the support and strength to keep going, longer than any of the medical experts ever envisaged.
Enjoy the story and prepare for the tales that only I could tell.