November 1995

Denise was the oldest of six children, she was married to Carl who was the first man who had stayed long enough in her life to marry, being pregnant had not helped, she needed to escape her home life, and therefore fled from the frying pan to the fire, a fact that she realised within the first year of her marriage.

Anne on the other hand was not yet married to Sam, who was filling a void in her life, her brother was married with his own child, her mother was living interstate, and her dear dad has passed away when she was younger. Neither Sam nor Carl deserved to have women of the calibre of Denise and Anne.

It was Christmas 1975, when Denise, who was seventeen at the time and Carl who was twenty had spent the entire week at his parent's home in their absence. During this time they had fully consummated their love, they were elated at how happy they were. During Christmas celebrations they had told their families that they would be getting engaged at the end of 1976 and married probably a year later.

This happiness was short lived as Carl started to show his true colours, then Denise realised that she was overdue with her January period by the time the end of February came she knew it was too late. It took another couple of weeks to pluck up the courage to go to the doctor; it was only done, after Denise had informed her mother of her doubts.

Once the pregnancy was confirmed Denise's mother began pushing for a quick wedding, after an abortion was ruled out. Denise refused to oblige until Carl got a job. In early April Carl began working as a furniture removalist with a small company. The marriage ceremony was held at the stark registry office, with a small party at Denise's mother's home. Her mother had told neighbour's that the party was for her birthday, as she was ashamed of Denise's condition. Denise wore a knee length bottle green dress which was as far form white as her mother could get. Carl wore a brown corduroy suit. Denise and Carl spent the whole day fighting, when they reached the registry office she was positive this was a mistake, yet she heard her voice say that she was entering into this marriage of her own free will. Aware that she had nowhere to run and her mother was blocking the exit.

Carl, who was an arrogant type, befriended his offsider/driver Sam also twenty, who on the surface was meek and mild, he seemed to be totally comfortable around Carl; they started to socialize after work in the pub. Sam had a girlfriend Anne who was eighteen. Anne was never sure of her opinion of Carl; he seemed a little too opinionated for her liking. Never the less he was Sam's mate therefore she was going to have to tolerate him.

As Sam and Carl's friendship grew they were spending more time together, one day Carl invited them home. Anne was a little unsure she was wondering what type of woman Denise, was why she would be married to a man like Carl, she thought that the pregnancy must have a lot to do with it, or the alternative was that she was an arrogant bitch, the thought made her shudder. Denise on the other hand knew very little about Anne except for the fact that she went to Rose Bay High School therefore she knew a lot of people from her childhood that she would sooner forget. This thought had her on tender hooks about meeting Anne.

As Sam, and Anne pulled into the lane way of Carl's home. Anne felt uneasy, wondering what on earth she would have in common with Denise, how they would get along. A heavily pregnant Denise opened the door to allow Sam and Anne into a small sunny flat. Both women felt a little unsure of each other, they had exhausted their conversation within a few minutes after establishing who Anne knew and how well she knew these people. Denise wasn't prepared to share her thoughts on these people in case she offended Anne.

As the evening dragged on the men sat and joked, leaving the girls in uncomfortable silence, only stopping their conversation long enough to demand another beer. Anne by this time had come to realise that Denise was a mouse, who did not seem to totally comfortable with her husband. Her earlier thoughts about the pregnancy came to mind, she wondered what type of life a child would have with an arrogant father and a mousy mother.

Denise on the other hand was envious of Anne she had a great figure she definitely wasn't pregnant; she outwardly showed confidence in herself. At some stage during the evening Carl and Sam had decided that they would like to go to Orford on the following Saturday for a change of scenery. As Saturday morning dawned Denise was feeling a little unsure about traveling all that way in the panel van. Someone was going to have to sit in the back; she hoped that it was not her. After the long journey with a stop at the Buckland Inn for a drink, the couples arrived in Orford.

The men immediately decided that they wanted to stay overnight in the little cabins that they had spotted on the highway. Denise had to wonder if this had been planned. Once the men had confirmed a cabin, arranged some linen etc, they all headed off to look around the town, what there was of it. After a short trip, a stop for food which was eaten on the beach, everyone headed for the local hotel, where they stayed for the next couple of hours.

Later when they returned to the cabin Anne and Denise made a meal from the purchases at the corner shop. Sam and Carl were by this stage extremely drunk. Carl was showing his true colours and caused an argument with Denise, who was embarrassed and ran off into the darkness. After a while Carl followed her. When they returned a sulky Denise, was not in the right frame of mind to be sociable, which reflected the mood for the remainder of the evening. The ride back the next morning was uncomfortable for Denise who had lain awake most of the night. She was experiencing pains, Anne was concerned that they were premature labour pains; after all there were only four weeks to go. Once they arrived home Denise went to bed and slept the remainder of the day, after this the pains stopped.

Both Sam and Carl were country boys; at every opportunity they would drag their women home for the weekend. Sam would take Anne to Port Arthur, while Carl would take Denise to Huonville. Denise and Anne felt very comfortable with this pattern for the first year or so, and then they began to change, wanting to do different things with their weekends. Anne was able to make a stand about still being young and carefree she wanted to go to parties and dances, do the type of things that young childless couples do. Denise would have loved this luxury, however, due to the birth of her beautiful daughter Tiffany was unable to enjoy this thought, all she could think of was feeds, nappies and she, or the baby would next sleep.

During April 1977 Carl came home to advise Denise that he and Sam had found a rather large amount of cash, he wanted to take Denise interstate to live, and she could see her father who she had not seen for at least five years. It was not until many months later that Denise had realised that during the last few weeks in Hobart, she and Carl had seen nothing of Anne and Sam.

Denise was so excited about this move that she did not give enough thought to where the money came from. Over the next three weeks they hurriedly made preparations and moved to Western Australia. Two days before Carl and Denise were to leave Hobart. Denise became aware that Anne and Sam were to be married on the day they left. She felt a little hurt at the time and wondered why they were not invited to the wedding. Carl didn't seem to care fobbing it off.

In hindsight, the girls had been kept apart so that they would not have the opportunity to discuss the money, which when all was said and done was stolen. It was only while they were in transit to Perth that Carl advised Denise that Sam and Anne were also moving interstate to Melbourne where Anne could spend time with her mother, this made Denise very nervous it seemed to confirm that the men had stolen the money.

Denise and Carl did not have the strongest marriage this was apparent when Carl spent all his time on the train across the Nullabour flirting with another young woman. Even on their first anniversary, Denise was stuck in the cabin with baby Tiffany who required her regular sleeps. During their time in Perth Denise was glad to be around her Dad and his family, while Tiffany delighted her grandpa continually.

Carl was continuously working late then coming home drunk. After a few months Denise who had miscarried a child she didn't know she was expecting, felt isolated and lonely, she accepted the attentions of a neighbour named Bernie who was also from interstate. Eventually things got out of control Denise committed adultery, an act she was immediately ashamed of, the friendship dropped after that as she was not brave enough to leave Carl, a major mistake that Denise made was to tell a friend, who eventually told Carl.

Bernie kept making contact with Denise telling her that she was lovely, but a little overweight, he only made a move on her because she was unhappy, and she had said she would like to leave Carl. When Carl found out he belted both Bernie and Denise. It was at this time that Carl decided that he was moving back to Hobart and taking Tiffany, Denise could make up her own mind what she was doing. On the day they were to leave Perth Denise went to the laundry room to do some last minute washing and drying, while she was there Bernie came in, the two of them just stood there looking at each other, if only Bernie had said how he was feeling, or asked Denise to stay she may have given it a lot of consideration.

Denise had just found out she was pregnant; while she knew the child belonged to Carl she was only ninety five percent sure. Carl blew this doubt out of proportion giving Denise hell all through the pregnancy. It was only when Amber was born, and looked just like Carl that the matter was put to rest.

Meanwhile a twenty first birthday notice appeared in the daily paper from Sam from his parent's it was apparent they had also returned to Hobart. It was wonderful to know that they were back but neither knew where they were living. It was a couple of months later when Carl came home to advise Denise that he had run into Sam, he had their new address, they were going to visit after tea.

Anne was delighted to see Denise; she was later taken aback at how much Tiffany had grown the sight of Amber totally stunned her. Anne at this point in her life was not interested in having a child. She was working at the local alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre; she was a little tire of coming home to find her husband would eventually roll in inebriated. Anne told Denise about the wedding, and how fast it happened, then they went to Melbourne where they lived for about six months it was not Sam's lifestyle, so they returned to Hobart, they didn't discuss the money, both seemed to have conveniently put it out of their minds. In hindsight, it was apparent at that time she and Sam were not happy. Sam had slipped back into going home for the weekend to go fishing routine. Carl was also dragging Denise and the children home to mum's nearly every weekend.

Anne got herself a German shepherd to care for which she called Kostas, a coincidence that would in later years amuse Denise. At a later stage Carl got a German shepherd called Hansa the children loved him, an amusing thing that stuck in Denise's mind was that Amber had no fear of large dogs, when she saw a little dog she would scream.

Anne's loneliness and needs grew, she needed to know what her future held, so went to see a clairvoyant who told her that she and Sam would part, that fact was no surprise to anyone it was a matter of when. Anne and Denise seemed to be maturing in very different ways. Denise was proving that a mouse could be a damn good mother, while Anne was establishing a life style that was totally hers.

Anne entered into a literary phase discovering authors like Virginia Andrews, Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz and James Hardy as she finished books she would pass them onto Denise. The passion of the written word was to have a similar impact on the friends. The downside of the literary period in their lives was that they also became engrossed in Mills and Boons romance novels, it broke both women's hearts that love could be so beautiful, while they were so miserable, fantasy and reality were blending. It was at sometime during this year that Denise and Carl broke up due to Carl finding another woman, this was a relief as life had not been good since the adulterous night in Perth. This affair was also short lived. Denise meanwhile enjoyed her new independence and strengthened a little, her confidence grew, and she met a new group of people making up for some of her lost youth. She was after all only twenty two.

Anne and Denise did not see much of each other during this period as Sam and Carl were mates; he got to keep the friends. Denise became the little mouse he left behind. Anne was also hearing Carl's version of events which had led to the break up, which unfortunately lead to an argument one night between Anne and Denise after Carl and Sam left Tiffany and Amber with her and went to the pub. When Denise's boyfriend came out to see her, she asked him to take her to Anne's to see if the kids were there, neither had a phone.

After about six months Denise had lost a lot of weight, some confidence had been restored, she started going to a local disco, and met a man who taught her about her womanhood, he treated her as an equal, this man loved and adored Denise, she returned these affections wholeheartedly. Meanwhile, Carl who had long since lost the woman he left his family for, was looking in from the sidelines, and decided that he still loved his wife and wanted her back, he made all sorts of false promises. Denise after a lot of thinking decided that the children needed their father and allowed him to move home.

When Sam and Anne moved into her mother's house, which her brother and his family had vacated in order to move into the country, Anne began to feel more comfortable which in some way compensated for the lack of attention to her faithful dog Kostas. Anne was now working full time in the catering section of the local hospital. Denise was stuck at home with Tiffany and Amber totally miserable, it had only take a small amount of time to realise that allowing Carl to return had been a huge mistake, she began to pine for her lost lover Danny, who had disappeared never to be seen again, she should not be so easy in a place the size of Hobart.

The patterns had changed; Sam and Carl were now spending most weekends together while Anne was working. Denise was dragged out of her house early, having to get her housework done, and taking the kids to a child free house with a large dog in the back yard and keep them entertained for the day with a limited amount of toys. Denise was totally miserable, Anne who by now had heard both sides of the story behind the break up was a true friend to Denise, she listened patiently as every weekend Denise would tell about the wonders of Danny, who she had let slip through her fingers and how sad she was. Carl had by now become a right monster. By this time both women were totally disillusioned with marriage.

Carl and Sam decided that they would spend a weekend away at Sam's parents, going fishing etc, leaving Anne to spend the night with Denise and the children. This was the first of many nights that they were to stay over at Anne's while the men drank themselves into oblivion. Anne was very supportive and patient, although tired after working all day then coming home to find her home invaded yet again, with assistance from Denise, she cooked up a meal for six then settled in for a long evening. Once again her patience must have worn thin, she was aware that Carl did not give Denise adequate money to provide for his family properly, the fact that the four were free loading every weekend should have been enough to make her snap. On the occasions that Anne was looking extremely tired or agitated Denise would try harder to keep the children quiet, and she herself would be content to watch TV or read.

At this time neither Denise nor Anne could drive so, whenever the men left for the weekend they were basically stranded, this was harder for Anne, she was suddenly being left with Denise and two kids, if she wanted kids she could have her own. Denise was also fully aware of the sacrifice her friend was making although there was a slight strain on the friendship it survived. During this time Anne and Denise began to call in on an old friend of Denise's who lived near Anne. Sandra was a zany character, the three got on like a house on fire, Sandra's children kept Tiffany and Amber amused allowing the woman a reprieve.

Denise decided she wanted her driver's licence, so she would be able to get around more freely with the children. Once Denise got her licence Anne decided that she should also become more independent. Anne who had her own car had total independence, while Denise who temporarily had her own car enjoyed a small time of total independence which reverted to few and far between during the times Carl would allow access to the family car.

On one occasion when Sam had vanished for the weekend Anne informed Carl that she was invited to a party at the weekend, she wanted Denise to go with her, and stay at her house overnight. Denise at this time was the more confident driver, so Anne wanted her to be the driver for the night. The women had a wonderful night; it was only after they returned home after a detour to a bottle shop in the city that they saw the headline of the "Saturday Evening Mercury" a dangerous prisoner was on the loose from the local prison. They put on a brave face for a little while until they heard noises outside, then for the first time in many years decided they needed at least one of the men around. At two am in the morning Denise drove at break neck speed from Anne's home at one end of Hobart to hers at the other end. Carl felt that this situation was amusing and milked it as much as he could, the next day Denise, Carl, Anne and the children headed to Port Arthur to surprise Sam. They had an enjoyable afternoon and for the first time in many years the group seemed content.

The feelings of this day were very short live as both marriages were on rocky ground by this stage; many Saturdays nights were spent drinking more than any of them should have with the children asleep in Anne's spare bed as usual. Anne had been forced to part with Kostas the German shepherd due to continual escapades during the day while they were at work. Hansa's owner had reclaimed him as he considered that Carl was not caring for him properly. After a while Anne felt the need to get another dog and opted for an Old English Sheepdog which she called Lennon.

Lennon was named naturally the slain Beatle. Anne could identify with John's ideals she became engrossed by John and Yoko, and purchased many of their tapes as well as any written material that was available. Cynthia Lennon's biographical novel was purchased and passed on, as were all good books for Denise to read. Denise had a hard time getting used to John and Yoko which was a cultural shock from the early Beatles that were more her cup of tea. Eventually Denise was a moved by John and Yoko as Anne, she could never really take to Yoko's singing style. Meanwhile little Tiffany was growing up and loved Aunty Anne's choices of music, there would be many occasions when she would be up late in the evening dancing around to tunes like Karma Chameleon with Aunty Anne who showed her how to dance just like Boy George could.

There were many occasions when Denise had to wonder whether the couples were actually mixed up Carl and Anne had similar music interests, they were the outspoken partners in each relationship while Sam and Denise preferred the quieter styles of music, they seemed to be the followers. Denise went as far as to think Sam depended on Anne as a partner, and Carl as a friend. Once this fact became a reality then she had to admit perhaps she was the same relying on Carl and Anne. When Carl told her one night that he and Sam had discussed taking each others wives out for a meal Denise was disgusted. These thoughts plagued her for a long period of time, eventually one night she had drank too much, Sam as usual had gone to bed early. Denise was worn out and went to bed, she stewed for a long time because Carl had not joined her, she wanted to check on what was happening. After sneaking up the passage and standing there for a while, things were very quiet; she burst into the room and totally shocked both of them, who were sitting there talking. If either thought much of that night they never discussed it seriously with Denise. Carl had told her what a fool she was, he had always given her the impression that he thought a lot of Anne, then when the jealousy reared up, thought she was an idiot. Although Denise did not trust Carl she was unsure about Anne, her self esteem was so low she considered that maybe the only reason Anne tolerated her having them around all the time was because she fancied Carl. It took her a while to realise how wrong she was.

Anne was so taken with her dog Lennon that when the opportunity came up to get another sheepdog she jumped at it. This dog was called Pirate. This was the beginning of a period of denial.

Denise had always been a little on the large side, and was gaining more weight due to her unhappiness. In a last ditch attempt to lose weight and regain some dignity Denise had a stomach stapling operation, which helped a little because Carl was taking notice of his wife again, to the extent that she became pregnant a third time. Only Anne could see if for what it was, an attempt on Denise's part to have something that she could hold and love, a baby would have to love her. Denise was now so entrapped in her own little world that she failed to see her two beautiful daughters cherished their mother. Tiffany was ready to start school, Amber would go in another year, and she could have some freedom, try to get on with her life, now she had to wait another six years.

As her pregnancy progressed Denise was becoming more determined to try to make her marriage work for the children's sake. After Jacob's birth Anne and Sam had parted company both became independent visitors to Denise and Carl's home. Sam had continually called in while Carl was at work to ask Denise for suggestions on how he could attempt reconciliation with Anne.

This trend continued for about a year, eventually Sam began to develop a life elsewhere. Carl who has always had a soft spot for Anne saw this as an opportunity to spend time with two women his ego was sky high little did he know that both women despised him. Denise and Anne were still spending time together, even though Anne had befriended a colleague from work who also had dogs and was showing them. Anne spent many hours at Penny's Collinsvale house. During the next two to three years she did not see much of Denise. She always knew she was welcome if, and when she wanted to visit.

The friends always made a point of spending some time together over the Christmas period, during this time the world stayed still, nobody else was important they would look forward to the time when the children were all in bed, they could sit down and have a couple of drinks and talk. Even Carl knew better than to interrupt the girls sessions together, a bond had been formed that no one could penetrate.

This trend continued on for the next couple of years until Anne decided that her future was back in Melbourne, she was tired of her life in Hobart and she was continually running into Sam whose family was getting nasty. Denise was sad to see Anne go but knew if she was develop as a person she had no choice but to move on to the next phase in her life. Destiny was calling Anne needed a total change in her life. In years to come the purpose for this would become apparent as her mother's health took a turn for the worse.

During the Lennon/Ono period of their lives Denise had adored the Happy Christmas the War is Over song on the Shaved Fish Cassette. Anne gave it to her as a farewell present, a gesture that brought tears to Denise's eyes. If she ever doubted the depth of this friendship that they shared now was not one of those moments. Denise was once gain a little envious and longed to go with her. On this occasion Denise had said goodbye to the second of her long term friends who had moved interstate in a matter of twelve months. Rose who was a neighbour of Denise's when Tiffany was a baby had moved to South

Australia. Denise now felt isolated and alone.

One Anne had arrived in Melbourne her life had taken an entire new turn, the social structure was very different the city was continually beckoning some rainy day friends had emerged, Anne merged into what could only be termed as a low period in her life, where she was doing things that perhaps she would not have done if she was still in Hobart, most of her actions were related to her new found freedom and independence. Sherry was a strong person in many senses was luring a lonely Anne into a world that was very fast, although Anne was a willing participant she was not one to easily lead, her influence was not the best, especially when she needed to be able to carry out her full time work duties at the Children's Hospital which was not the sort of place that you could not be fully alert. Anne was not stranger to hospital work but she could never get used to seeing little ones suffer, and felt worse if one passed away.

During this period Kostas who befriended, and took care of Anne as her beloved German shepherd had done all those years ago, fell in love with Anne, she cared about him, however she was wary about becoming entangled in another dependent relationship. Especially with someone who was not at liberty to ask for her love.

After life in the fast lane for nearly a year Anne decided that she wanted to go back to Hobart for a weekend, she contact Carl to arrange a surprised for Denise. Denise who was at this time working part time as a cleaner walked in on a cold August night to find Anne sitting in her lounge room. They spent nearly all night talking and drinking about all sorts of things. Denise was a little concerned about the things that Anne was telling her, the major alert came when Anne told her about her new man Kostas, he was married. Denise still had part of the mouse in her, part of her was judging, while the other part was concerned. She was not aware of the event that within a month would change her outlook on life.

In the light of day Denise could fully see that as much as Anne was saying she was happy with her life, she wasn't. Carl fuelled the feelings by openly criticizing Anne's behaviour, Denise could see that Anne was deeply troubled, she seemed like a lost soul, it was now her turn to list and try not to judge. After that weekend when Anne went home, aware of the fact that Denise and Carl had judged her, she never actually vocalized it she knew she had been judged she felt sad. It was at this point that their friendship hit rock bottom, neither made an attempt to contact the other. Denise and Carl moved to a new home. Denise had moved into a new chapter of her life that was to turn her whole world upside down.

During a few years Denise's life had taken an rather large turn, within a month of Anne going back to Melbourne Denise had stumbled into a situation where she came into contact with a man with the most amazing eyes, when he smiled he lit up her world. Although Denise did not know who he was, she thought about him constantly, it was a couple of months before she saw him again, for the next year she would only see him on the odd occasion, then, as if by magic he would appear nearly everywhere Denise went, much to her delight, she was much to shy to approach him, but he certainly made her heart flutter. By this stage she had started working as an Administrative Assistant for a hydraulic engineer. Once again she had lost a great deal of weight and felt alive for the first time in years.

As Christmas 1987 approached Denise was seeing this man almost every day, she was in love with him, yet they still had not made any contact, just passing dazzling smiles to each other. Denise was constantly dreaming of this man, she knew at some stage they would be together. During her Christmas holidays she was feeling very depressed because she was unable to see him, Carl was being unbearable. He even beat her up, which had not happened for a long time, as she rubbed her sore neck; she vowed she would not be around for much longer.

It was the first day back at work in 1988; Denise was standing at a bus stop when her dream man appeared in front of her, he introduced himself as Paul they chatted for a while. Denise floated home she was able to cope with anything now. She had taken to walking every day in order to assist her weight loss program; she was not surprised when Paul approached her on a bicycle that evening staying with her while she walked. This was to become a daily occurrence, within six weeks Denise had left Carl. Paul however remained married, by this time Denise was so in love that she was prepared to take what she could get, for the next two years a special relationship emerged that neither had any control over, both knew they were wrong, but could not control their emotions. Due to the fact that Paul would not leave his wife, he was trying to control his emotions were Denise was concerned, so he urged her to go out and meet new people. Denise obliged with a heavy heart and ran into an old acquaintance Keith, who invited her out. She went on to have a relationship with him that was both sexual and destructive, he had a drinking problem and treated Denise appallingly, all through this relationship Paul was still visiting Denise's home, they were as much in love as ever. After about nine months Denise ended her relationship with Keith as she felt that she couldn't cope with him while she loved Paul, it was shortly after this event she consummated her relationship with Paul. This was a step that should not have been taken, they spoilt the magic of their relationship because now Denise wanted Paul in her life full time, it was not long after this that his wife found out, and Denise bid farewell to Paul, who she considered at the time to be the love of her life.

However, within a year Denise had met up with a man Edward who she had known fleetingly as a teenage, and had not real time for, she admitted to being a snob who felt that he was not up to her standard. Over the next six months a friendship developed between Edward and Denise at some point in this time they had fallen for each other. They began a relationship that was to surprise them both, their friendship changed to love neither knew when it happened, in the beginning Denise was frightened of hurting Edward who had been thrown out by his ex-wife, who promptly disappeared with his children. Denise had now walked away from two men voluntarily and was not sure that her feelings for Paul were sorted out. As time progressed she was becoming more besotted by Edward who was treating her like a princess, he would give her the world if it was his to give, within a year they were married, and very happy. Denise was now a very confident woman who had done a lot of community work, she was becoming respected as a doer, she was in training to upgrade her qualification to ensure that she could get the type of career that she now knew she was capable of.

It was during this time that Denise was thinking of old acquaintances she decided to make contact with Anne, so she wrote a letter, sending via her brother. When Denise was picking up the children from Carl's he laughed at her, telling her Anne would not want anything to do with her, how wrong he was within days Anne had written back, then Denise was on the phone catching up. Anne's first comment was that she was so pleased that she had eventually woken up and left Carl she was saddened that the children were hurting. When she informed her that she was still seeing Kostas, Denise now totally understood and was glad.

The next piece of news however was distressing, Anne's beloved mother Diane was very ill; she had developed Motor Neuron Disease. Anne was working full time then going to her mum's to prepare a meal, bathe her and do whatever else was required. Denise now took on the role of listener as Anne had done so often.

Anne and Denise now sensed that for the first time in their lives they were on an equal footing, they had both reached a point of maturity, they had lived through enough to understand how the other was feeling, and this became special.

Around eighteen months later Anne came to Hobart to visit her brother; she was able to spend a couple of hours with Denise. They were both extremely nervous, after an initial glance gave each other a hug, the years melted away, as they talked almost non stop. Once Anne met Edward she knew that this man was a much better match for Denise, she could see that she was happier that she had ever seen her. During this visit Denise took Anne to see the children at Carl's house. Anne was delighted with the fact that he had aged so much faster than any of them. Regrettably the time passed so fast and Anne had to go.

Once again the women had to be content with phone calls. The topic of one was quite amusing Denise had run into Sam in the City one day and all he could talk about was Anne. He had remarried and now had a daughter; his new wife hardly got a mention. Both women thought that the situation was a little pathetic, feeling sorry for him because they knew that the past should remain in the past. Sam was trying to live in the past.

Denise passed on updates in her life, she was having hassles with Carl who had all the children living with him, Denise had put a clause in the divorce agreement that the children be allowed to reside with the parent of their choice, they were not to suffer any more than necessary, little did she know that she would do all the suffering. Carl had become the master of emotional blackmail the children could not see through him. Mum had done the wrong thing therefore it was black and white she did not deserve to have them around meanwhile, Dad needed all the support they could give him, he gave up work in order to bring them up properly, the fact that Tiffany was in High School, Amber was nearly finished Primary School and Jacob was in school meant that they were old enough to be cared for by Tiffany for an hour or so after school was irrelevant.

As the months progressed Diane's illness worsened, Anne felt the need to give up her job in order to give her the full time care that was required, and she became isolated and lonely to a certain extent. She had by this time got herself a Rosella which she called Rocky to keep her company after a while he was lonely so she purchased another bird called Pooh.

Denise was by this time thankful that Kostas was there to support Anne when she felt the drain was too much, he became a very important support person to both Anne and Diane. Denise listened to Anne on many occasions beating herself up, she was angry with herself for becoming frustrated or angry with her Mum. She needed all the reassurance that what she was doing required the patience of Job. Human nature proves that we can't always act appropriately; we do last out at those we love. No one knew the enormity of the talk of caring for a sick parent; co could not accuse Anne of not caring except for another who has done so. When a carer has an independent free mother, the thought of such a secluded lifestyle becomes less appealing. Anne however pulled it off with dignity, style and devotion.

The situation took its toll on Anne, she had put her own future on hold and was becoming confused as to what she waned, she had by time purchased a little property in Southern Tasmania near her brother, and was talking of coming home with Diane. As Diane became sicker the plans kept altering. Denise knew that as much as it would have been wonderful to have Anne back in Hobart she would suffocate. Kostas was also to be considered he was of proud Italian background he would not walk away from his family; he had however taken Anne into his life as an extended part of his family. Anne and Kostas were soul mates they needed each other, the support he offered during her mother's illness proved to everyone concerned the depth of his feelings. In the last few weeks of Diane's life, Anne had come to terms with how she felt about Kostas, she knew that she loved him deeply; no matter what happened to Diane she would not return to Tasmania yet. When Denise was told this her reply was "I know" the comment astonished Anne. Denise explained that she had not yet been able to live her own independent life Hobart was too small and quiet. Her spirit still needed to be set free, she would not be happy until she found out what her purpose in life was.

In August 1995 Diane lost her battle with MND after a funeral service in Melbourne, Anne came back to Hobart with her brother and his family for a memorial service at Holy Trinity Church, this day will always be remembered as the day Anne won a battle with the Anglican Church, she wanted the John Lennon Song Imagine played during the service the priest had a problem with the lyrics. Anne was paying for his time he gave in however the service was not one that Diane would have enjoyed. The older people who attended may have felt it was a fitting tribute to her life. However younger family and friends were dumbstruck at how wrong the whole thing was, Anne voiced a wish that the service be carried out in her brothers backyard with a barbecue following, this would have been more suited to Diane's nature. After the service Anne and Denise had a meal with Sam who had joined them, he had recently split from his second wife, and lost his Dad. The threesome had a strange lunch as they reminisced. Sam was totally astounded by the growth in them both, while he seemed a little awkward, a fact that Denise loved, she reflected on how different their lives would be if the two couple had remained intact. There was no sadness that this had not happened, only a sigh of relief. After seeing Sam in this atmosphere it became obvious that the two women had matured at twice the rate of their ex-husbands. This thought made Denise feel sorry for the men, but delighted for Anne and herself.

During this stay Anne spent a couple of days with Denise who was delighted to have her company, however while Anne was with her, Denise had to give into the fact that she had been going through a stress related time at work, sat exams at TAFE and conceded she needed a break. Anne who as this time needed to step out of the role of carer, stepped right back in, ordering Denise to rest, while she took over the household duties, and prepared meals etc. During this time the women spent some quality time together, and were able to fully realise how much their friendship meant to them. During this period Anne could not help notice how the mouse had totally changed, she was now a confident go getter and loving her life.

The atmosphere in Denise's home was something that Anne was not used to there were no children underfoot making demands on Denise's time, Edward was wonderful just stepping aside and letting the women enjoy their time together. Anne away knew Denise was definitely in good hands with Edward. Denise let Anne go home knowing that she also had the love and companionship of Kostas to keep her afloat during what was going to be a hard period of adjustment.

Denise was fully aware that when Anne went home she would need time to rebuild her strength, and a new life, she thanked God that Kostas was there to help her though this new period of life. The bond between Denise and Anne continues to grow as they have reached the stage where they can openly tell each other the secrets of their hearts, they constantly challenge each other, and these are the sorts of things you must go through, the highs and lows periods over many years to achieve. These women have grown from two strangers thrown together by two egotistical men looking after their own wants and needs to build a friendship when they had very different outlooks on life. They had to find their own identities as individuals in order to realise what a true friendship means. In order to build an existence where they could like similar things, to survive broken marriages, rekindle the friendship in its own right, then watch it blossom in to a very special relationship that will last their lifetime.

They have been , are now, and always will be friends for life. Amigos Para Siempre'

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Rhocar

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