How My Mother Changed The World
This is the story about how my mother changed the world. Well, at least a little part of it. What I remember most about my mother was the fire in her belly, an eternal flame shining a torch for democracy, equal rights and justice for all. When I look back now, I think she may have been hyperactive or bipolar or maybe she just had small person syndrome but there was definitely something different about her. If she’d been born in Europe during the Second World War she would have been part of the resistance for sure. She was that type of person. She would never back down from a fight or bend her principles for anyone or anything and she could definitely keep a secret. The things I found out about my mum when she passed away were enlightening to say the least. Well mind boggling actually. Her funeral was like a little United Nations – so many people from so many walks of life who I’d never met. We were expecting only a very small gathering. It seems my mother touched more lives than I ever knew and she had won the respect of many.
How she died was just as bizarre – a brain aneurysm while swimming. She sank to the bottom of the pool. It was twenty minutes before anyone noticed. My mother had swum 10 km a week for a long as I could remember. She was a water baby. Who would have guessed that that would have been her fate, her finale?
Only it wasn’t really her finale. My mother, brother and I had once discussed organ donation. My mother was adamant. “They can take my kidney and liver but nothing else and definitely not my heart.” she proclaimed. “My heart is my soul and it should stay with me.” When my mother was retrieved from the bottom of the pool she was taken straight to hospital and proclaimed dead on arrival. The hospital asked if we would consent to organ donation and of course we followed her wishes stating clearly that only her kidney and liver could be harvested.
On the way home we heard on the news that the Minister for Health, Michael Hinze, had been rushed to hospital earlier that day, heart failure. “Thank god we didn’t agree to donate mum’s heart. Imagine if it had ended up in that bastard. Mum would haunt us forever.” said my brother.
The strange thing was that when we went to the funeral parlour to view my mother’s body the funeral director commented on how charitable my mother was to have donated so many body parts. He promised to make her look beautiful regardless. What could we do? It was too late to make a complaint. We couldn’t rip the organs back out of their recipients. They were all anonymous anyway. Hopefully the organs all went to good people.
“How are you today Minister?” asked the specialist.
“Top of the world Do. Top of the world! Ready to get back to my electorate as soon as possible.”
“I’m afraid it will be a while before that happens. You need to take it easy so tell your advisers to leave you alone for a while or I will have to. It’s a mighty strong heart you’ve been given there. Make sure you look after it. Hearts like that are hard to come by. I’ll be back to check on you again later. I don’t want to see any government officials here.”
Visiting time came around and of course Hinze’s adviser, Charlie Fisher, eagerly waited with briefcase in hand filled with all the latest memos and Cabinet documents.
“So tell me Charlie what did you promise the hospital in return for me jumping the transplant queue?”
“New cardio equipment. I’ll shuffle some things around in the departmental budget. ”
“Well done Charlie. Well done. Let’s get down to business before the doctor returns and kicks you out.”
They discussed numerous policy matters coming before Cabinet, departmental issues and correspondence from the Minister’s electorate. They also discussed the proposal for more mental health funding.
“Pat McGorry is mouthing off to the media again about increasing mental health funding” said Fisher.
“We’re not giving more funding to lunatics. Talk to the Minister for Education to give him some university research grant to shut him up. Ouch.” Hinze put his hand to his chest in pain.
“Are you ok Minister?”
“I just had a very sharp jab to my heart. That bloody hurt.”
“Have you had one like that before Minister?”
“No, that’s the first. Get the Doctor. You better leave.”
“I’ll ring you tomorrow.”
“Fine. Just get the Doctor.”
Hinze was an extremely right wing Liberal. In the halls of Parliament House he was known to be a racist, chauvinist, overweight bully who would stab anyone in the back to get his own way. He was also known as the can do man, the man to get the job done when no one else could, any job. You rub my back and I’ll rub yours. That’s why he was so popular in his electorate. His electorate had the best roads in Australia; a well-equipped hospital; his favourite watering hole, the local leagues club, received sporting grants annually and the local schools had low teacher to student ratios. If you pledge your support to Hinze just ask away, the world was your oyster so to speak.
My mother, on the other hand, was a middle class hippy. She frequented protest rallies, signed petitions, donated to human rights charities, volunteered to help the underclasses and continually lectured my brother and I on the wrongs of the world and how to put them right. For reasons my brother and I never understood, she was a strong supporter of Palestine. She would say” Of all the conflicts in the world this is one that can be easily solved. Give Israel and Palestine statehood, tear down the wall and reinstate 1967 borders and all will be well. And get those bloody Americans to stay out of it.” We’d just reply “Yes Mum.” Though maybe it was a simplistic view, like many of her beliefs, sometimes problems can be more easily solved with simplicity. Mum was also a health fanatic. She never ate junk food and we were only allowed takeaway on special occasions. I don’t ever remember going to McDonalds with her. “Why would I take you to an American multinational company to fill up your arteries with fat? Do you want to be fat son?”
“Other kids go.”
“Others kids are fat and their parents have low IQs. Look at your beautiful, healthy, slim body”. Our pantry and fridge were junk free zones – no soft drinks, lollies, or chips. “Junk in, junk out.” She would say. “Your body is a temple – treat it well, respect it”, was her regular spruik. Going shopping with my mother was embarrassing. She would peer into others people’s trolleys then whisper to us “See, that’s why they’re fat. No discipline whatsoever.” For all her spruiking I guess it did rub off on me. I’m a personal trainer.
Hinze and my mother were polar opposites but she was going to change all that. You see my mother’s soul was inside that man and there was no way that she was going to let him compromise her beliefs.
In the two months since Hinze had stolen my mother’s heart she had been retraining his behaviour patterns through reinforcement techniques. If he ate junk food she would make the heart race ‘til he felt dizzy and sick. If he said something racist or politically incorrect he would receive a jabbing pain in his chest. She had the final veto on every decision. He was often seen holding his chest prior to a Cabinet vote, the pain only easing when the vote met her approval. No more taking the lift either unless he wanted to feel faint. It was now the stairs for Hinze and his entourage.
“Make me a doctor’s appointment Charlie. I keep getting chest pains”
“Minister, we have run a number of tests and all is going well. No signs of rejection. In fact, the wound is healing remarkably well, quite impressive given your weight and previous medical history. Good to see you’ve lost some pounds.” said the doctor.
“Why do I keep getting chest pains?”
“Maybe you need a healthier lifestyle, less stress. There’s no other explanation”.
One Week Later
“Charlie I want you to look into who my donor was.”
“It’s anonymous Sir, Health Department protocol.”
“Stuff protocol! Buy the hospital some more equipment and give the doctor a bonus. The payroll system has been stuffed for months. It shouldn’t be hard to hide.”
“I’ll see what I can do Minister.”
“Don’t see, just do.”
“Yes Sir. I’ll get onto it.”
The following week, Fisher presented Hinze with the donor’s information.
“I’ve put together a dossier for you, Sir.”
“Her name was Jillian Webster. For all intents and purposes we could call her a socialist. She was a single mum, two sons, a writer and ESL teacher. I’ve included many of her articles in the dossier. An Arab lover, well Palestinian supporter to be precise, made donations to various Palestinian charities. At her funeral she asked for no flowers but requested everyone to buy a Palestinian an olive tree. Can you believe that? Bloody weirdo! Anyway, her phone had been tapped for months but no evidence of terrorist activity. She dies of a brain aneurysm at 46. Pretty ironic really, drowned in a public pool even though she was super fit. Oh, and she didn’t consent to donating her heart. A bit of a MILF by the looks of these surveillance photos”.
Charlie held up her picture to show the Minister.
“So you’re telling me I’ve got a communist hippie, towel head lover inside me, my God. Well at least she was good for something in the end. Ouch.” Hinze received a massive jab to the heart.
“Are you all right Sir?”
“No I’m not. Just as well I’m an atheist otherwise I’d think that bitch was haunting me. Ouch”. Hinze received another jab to the heart the pain not easing for many minutes.
“Tell Michelle to hold all my calls I need to rest. You can go now.”
Over the next few months, Hinze increased mental health funding, approved a wage rise for nurses and took steps to reduce hospital waiting lists.
A Cabinet reshuffle was looming. Hinze had his eye on the foreign affairs portfolio. His daughters were now living in Europe and his wife was missing them enormously.
“Prime Minister, I want to put my name forward for the Foreign Affairs portfolio. My electorate is becoming more and more multicultural. I think it would assist me to hold my seat if I’m seen to be doing something in the global forum.”
“You sure you just don’t want to visit your daughters more often at taxpayers’ expense.”
“Well there’s that too.”
“I’ll give it some consideration Michael. You’ve achieved a great deal as Minister for Health. You sure your heart can handle all that travel.”
“I’m fitter than I’ve ever been Prime Minister.”
“I’ll keep that in mind Michael.”
Hinze always got his own way. It was announced a month later that he was the new Minister for Foreign Affairs. His first junket was to New York to the UN. Palestine was seeking statehood. In the past Australia had abstained or opposed Palestine’s statehood bids. My mother was swaying Hinze’s every decision. In the past he never gave any time to his Muslim constituents. They were pretty much ignored. Now he welcomed them with open arms for a price of course. The local Arabic community was now making substantial donations to the Liberal Party.
“Prime Minister, we need to discuss the UN vote on Palestinian Statehood.”
“Michael you know we’ve always abstained so as not to offend the US”.
“I have a large Muslim constituency as do you Prime Minister. With an election looming I think this could be a vote winner.”
“You need to look at the bigger picture Michael.”
“If we don’t win Prime Minister there is no big picture.”
As a result of Hinze’s persuasive powers, Australia pledged its support for Palestine statehood and worked behind the scenes diplomatically to influence other nations to do the same. This was monumental in Australia’s political history as well as the Middle East’s.
Hinze went on to become PM. He oversaw many other monumental changes in Australia, mostly for the better. During his reign, the life expectancy of the indigenous population increased, unemployment dropped, education standards rose, access to health services improved and in general, the opportunities for the average Australian were enhanced. He became one of the most respected PMs in Australian history. No one would have predicted that Hinze of all people would have become so well regarded. That new heart of his just kept kicking along stronger than ever.
And that, my friends, is how my mum changed the world. Well, at least a little part of it.