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Video Interview by Redland celebrity Michelle Worthington

Video Interview of Hazel Barker, author by local celebrity Michelle Worthington.

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Video Interview by Redland celebrity Michelle Worthington

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An Angel in Heaven by Hazel Barker

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Reasons for writing this story.

I wrote this story in the hope that anyone who grieved would turn to God for strength and support. It is especially for women who have lost their babies to know that they are not alone in their grief. Experiencing something like the death of a child can only be fully understood for those who have suffered the same loss. My husband and my religious beliefs were a comfort to me when I grieved. We supported each other, and the Lord gave us the strength to bear our cross.

An Angel in Heaven Now

Hazel Barker

‘Our baby will be a boy and look like you,’ I said, smoothing my dress over my stomach.

‘Could be a girl who looks like you,’ Colin said in a teasing tone.

From the very first moment we met, there had been a strong chemistry between us. Colin was so supportive of me. As the days passed, I grew to love him even more. I could not picture life without him.

In February of 1971, during the first few months of our marriage, I had been unable to find work as a teacher in Canberra, so I took a job as a kitchen maid in a hotel and scrubbed pots and pans. The worst chore was cleaning ovens. I choked over the grease and stink of kitchen waste and could barely keep myself from dry retching.

A few months later, I applied for a job in the Public Service and was accepted. Life was wonderful! We were so happy! I carried Colin’s child, and my baby bump was growing month by month.

I was eight months pregnant in August, 1972, when I developed a loud, hacking cough. I would cough and spread my palms beneath my bump to protect our baby from the tremors that shook my body. Perhaps I knew, even then, that something was about to happen.

Each time I had a fit of coughing, a look of concern crossed Colin’s face and fear vibrated within me like an alarm bell. The general practitioner prescribed penicillin tablets, and on our return home from the doctor. I took the first dose. Within minutes, I rushed to the bathroom and vomited. A sour smell rose. I rinsed my mouth and washed the mess down the sink. Colin rubbed my back and brought me a glass of water, then he raced to the phone and rang our doctor.

‘Don’t worry. I’ll send a nurse around,’ the doctor said in a matter-of-fact voice.

An hour crept by. A nurse came by and administered a needle. After she left, I broke out in a rash. My skin grew red and angry.

‘It itches and burns.’ My throat felt tight and my voice was high pitched. I collapsed on my bed.

Within thirty minutes I lapsed into a minimally conscious state. I recall a nurse putting me to bed. There I lay, tossing from side to side, unable to distinguish between reality and nightmare. My sleep was disturbed by moans and groans. I vaguely recall Colin stroking my hair and speaking, drained of strength, as I lay helpless, unable to move my lips. My unconscious periods were interspersed by brief intervals of rationality.

One afternoon, somebody must have drawn the curtains because a shaft of sunlight pierced my eyes. A voice whispered, ‘You’ve lost your baby.’ 

‘My baby is born?’ My voice sounded weak and hoarse.

‘Well… you gave birth… but the baby’s dead.’

My eyes, although open, could not distinguish anything but light and shadow. Like a cold steel blade, the words pierced my soul.

Impossible! Our baby couldn’t have left us.

I checked my stomach – no longer firm and round, but soft and squishy. Nothing moved beneath my touch.

The baby I had nurtured within my body for eight months, is now no more.

Fear gripped me. Pain stabbed the back of my throat.

Is this a nightmare? Where are you, Colin? We have lost our baby! Did the little one look like you? We will never hear it laugh or cry or hold the precious bundle in our arms.

I soon collapsed into merciful unconsciousness…

In a haze of grief and medication, interrupted by doctors and specialists more interested in my vital signs than my state of mind, I remained in bed, too ill to go to our baby’s funeral.

In numbed abstraction, Colin attended the burial. The sun spread its warmth that day, and feathery sprays of delicate green broke forth. The earth burst into life, but would forever hold our baby, still and silent, within its womb.

After the funeral, Colin entered my room. I recognised him for the first time and flung my arms around him. ‘I haven’t seen you for so long!’ 

‘Been with you every day,’ he assured me with a hug. ‘I sent for your mother and met her at the airport… She’s waiting outside.’ 

Mum entered. A look of unutterable suffering spread over her face as soon as she saw me. In her puffy eyes, red from lack of sleep, I read a reflection of my own grief.

Each morning, Colin would drop Mum off at the hospital, and she would sit beside me and pray. I drew comfort from my mother’s presence but could not articulate my feelings of appreciation because I felt too weak to talk. My throat felt sore and it was painful to speak. Pain tore at my left side. Pain enveloped my chest with every breath. Pain wracked my entire body. I spent most of the day dozing, off and on.

After five more days in intensive care, the doctor removed the drip and I was shifted to another room. The illness reduced me to a mere skeleton, and I could only walk for a short distance to the toilet.

As soon as the doctor assured Mum the crisis was over, she returned to Perth. My heart ached for her. She had left me just when my health was improving and I could communicate with her without dozing off.

The days were long, and I yearned for the evenings, when Colin would visit me.

On the day I was discharged from hospital, sunlight streamed in through chinks in the blind. Birds sang outside my window. The hospital chaplain spoke words of comfort: ‘Ask the Lord to heal your wounds. Pray for strength to bear the loss of your child. Remember that Mary lost her child too. She understands just how you feel.’

My mother had always instilled into me the love of Mary. I prayed and asked for strength. Both moral and physical. God’s healing grace fell on me like snowflakes. I felt stronger. Perhaps my health will return, and we’ll be able to raise a family? 

Colin took me to the specialist’s surgery to check on my progress.

Speaking slowly to emphasise the importance of his words, the specialist told me, ‘You’re lucky to be alive. Your liver was being consumed by your anti-bodies and the baby had a brain haemorrhage.’

Turning to Colin, he said, ‘It may be too dangerous for your wife to conceive another child.’ He hesitated before adding, ‘Besides, she’s not a young woman.’

Dark clouds enveloped me. I’m in my mid-thirties, and Mum bore a child at the age of 48! Why can’t we have another child? I had thought my youthful dreams would be fulfilled when I found love, but now all my dreams were shattered. My joy extinguished.

For a brief period, it seemed as though the Lord had forsaken us. Still, I continued to pray for healing grace. I concentrated on getting strong again and took walks during the day. Colin accepted the tragedy with a stiff upper lip.

Months passed. August turned to October, and the skeleton trees burst into bud. The daffodils Colin had planted peeped out shyly to greet the warm sunshine. Slowly, my strength returned. We discussed the prospect of another pregnancy.

‘Would Mary have suffered brain damage from the bleeding?’ I asked.

‘Perhaps…’

‘She might have been like Herman,’ I mused. My brother Herman had been born with infantile paralysis and couldn’t talk or feed himself. He cried often – a piercing, heart-rending cry – and we never knew how to relieve his pain. Mary had been spared that much, at least.

Colin folded me in his arms. ‘She’s now an angel in Heaven now.’ His voice sounded thick and hoarse. ‘I’d rather have you than another child. I love you too much to risk losing you.’

When we visited Mary’s grave, great sobs tore at my chest as I wept for the first time. Colin clasped me in his arms and joined his tears to mine. Our tears washed away our sorrow as we recalled God’s promise in Psalm 34:8…

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

I felt as though a spring had been released within me. Our faith in the Lord pulled us through. His healing grace gave us the resilience to rise above our sorrow, and our love for each other would blossom over the next fifty years of fidelity. Fidelity to God’s laws, and fidelity to each other.

Feedback from ten readers of my story, ‘An Angel in Heaven.’

  1. I am grateful to you for letting me share your experiences and for your honesty and positive outlook. It was inspiring, and I am sure your story, ‘An Angel in Heaven,’ will be of great help to those who find themselves in similar situations.
  2. Your story captures the profound need to honour the lost love and promises that we will not dwell forever in this pain.
  3. After the loss of my baby, I felt intense anger, fear, confusion and denial. On reading ‘An Angel in Heaven,’ I learned to embrace the feelings as they came, to accept my loss, and turn to the Lord for consolation.
  4. I am sad for you and Colin and the suffering you had to endure. You are both such amazing people, I feel I have won a lottery, knowing you both. You bring such comfort to others who have lost children. Thank you for sharing. God Bless you both!
  5. Such a beautiful sharing of your grief my dear friend. I lost two unborn babies but not at such an advanced stage as your angel. The Lord blessed me with pregnancies straight after each miscarriage. I don’t know the answer to why we sometimes need to experience deep and profound sorrow but I’m grateful for the joys that counterbalance the pain of loss. All my love to you and Colin. You are certainly blessed to have him by your side.
  6.  I feel privileged to know you and Colin, you don’t deserve to have endured so much sadness and hardship in your life. It makes me feel very grateful for my family and the life I have lived even though I experience unhappiness at times. I will remember to count my blessings, thank you Hazel.
  7. Your story is heartbreaking, and beautifully written. It will offer comfort, faith and hope to many. Especially at Christmas, this special family time of year. So very sorry for your loss. Pray you will be reunited one day. But don’t be in too much of a hurry. Every Blessing to you and Colin my dear friend. 😘
  8. So sad to hear your story, Hazel. Very traumatic and you are very brave to be able to write this down. It shows other mums who have sadly lost their little bubba that they are not alone and that with prayer and hope, you all will come through the heartache, some having more children and some like yourself that haven’t been able to. Colin is such a beautiful and caring man and you have been truly blessed to have him by your side. Our love to you both. Xx
  9. My dearest Hazel, my heart goes out to you. after so many years the pain is as strong as it was at first. May the Blessed virgin comfort you and Colin. the little Angel will always be with you. Time may not heal all sufferings, but the Lord gives other graces to support the present absence.❤❤❤
  10. Hazel, you are an amazing woman…your story will give comfort to many women who have lost their babies.Your strength is admirable…you & Colin are such lovely people…so glad to know you both! 💖💖💙💙♥️

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Book Launch Anthology 20/20

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At CWG Book launch 5th November 2020

 

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Hazel at book launch 5th November 2020

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Maggie at CWG’s Anthology Launch 5th November 2020

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Launch of 20/20 Vision Stories – ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

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ANTHOLOGY 20/20

Anthology

Maggie and Hazel holding Carindale Writers’ Group Anthology

20/20 Vision Stories

Looking back, looking forward, from 2020; stories of humour,

horror, history, herstory, hilarity, humanity and humility.

Celebrate 20 years of the Carindale Writers Group’s written best.

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Colin’s Story

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Colin as a toddler

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Colin’s parents Albert and Eve Barker

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Colin at thirteen

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Colin as a sea cadet Portland, Victoria

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The story commences in Portland, a small Australian town in Victoria. COLIN BARKER and his parents ALBERT and EVA BARKER have migrated from England after the war. Books, the beach and the bush are COLIN’S sole companions as a young child. His mother has mood swings and his school mates bully him, making him withdraw within himself. All this changes once Colin enters High School. His parents give him a bike, he finds friends and joins the sea cadets. He longs to join the Royal Navy and studies hard to achieve his goal.

The Depression Years cast a shadow upon his future, and Colin is compelled to cut his studies short. He tries his hand at rabbit-trapping, helping out as a farmworker and doing odd jobs. Finally, he succeeds in getting work as a messenger boy in the local Post Office and has visions of rising to Postmaster. Once again, his hopes are dashed when his parents move to Canberra.

Frustrated, the young Aussie battler struggles to fulfil his dreams. He joins a rowing club and buys a car, hoping to build his own home someday, but he is called up to serve in Vietnam. Colin is spared when he collapses and is rushed to hospital. Colin’s plucky spirit carries him through one crisis after another, and the unexpected turns up.

Little does he realise that love awaits him when he returns to Portland to visit old friends. He meets HAZEL, falls in love, and marries.

COPIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM ONLINE BOOK STORES LIKE:

BOOK DEPOSITORY, BARNES & NOBLE, AMAZON etc.  

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Hot Off The Press

 

Count Your Blessings. Colin’s Story

by Hazel Barker

 

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Now available from:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository etc.

Signed copies available from the author.

CONTACT

candhbarker@bigpond.com

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Bouquet presented to the author from Victoria Point Writers.

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ARMOUR BOOKS RELEASES Count Your Blessings. Colin’s Story

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by Hazel Barker

October 2020.

A true story of perseverance and courage

Two-year-old Colin and his parents are thrown into a new and harsh environment when they immigrate to Australia from Nottingham, UK.

They travel as Ten-quid-migrants and, after roaming round in the bush they settle down in Portland in rural Victoria. Primary school brings taunts, jeers and bullying to the young boy. He finds solace in books and is torn by two loves – the bush and the sea.

The music teacher at High School initiates a love for music, but the Depression Years cast a shadow upon his future. Will he be able to continue his studies or be compelled to quit school?

Colin’s plucky spirit carries him through one crisis after another, and the unexpected turns up…

Count Your Blessings is a moving narrative of real people and real places, the characters that live in its pages will bring joy to your heart and tears to your eyes. The story adds to the tapestry of world history and leaves a trail for people to follow and learn that life is not a bed of roses but a journey through happiness and sorrow.

Excerpts from Hazel Barker’s books have been published in several anthologies and won awards. Parts 1 & 2 of her memoirs have been finalists in the 2017 and 2019 CALEB Competitions, respectively.

The narrative is compelling. The voice of the narrator is warm, and the plot unfolds naturally. The mother’s anger and mood swings are both terrifying and compelling. We really feel for the child protagonist and his tendon operation. It is a gorgeous memoir.

Sandra Thidodeaux

Lecturer in Literary Studies and Creative Writing,

Charles Darwin University.

 

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Book Feast, March 2020

Join MC Jenny Woolsey and local authors, Dr. James Lergessner, Jacqui Halpin, HAZEL BARKER and Martin Kari to talk about writing memoirs, reading and libraries at this community event for all book lovers.
TIME AND DATE
Thu. 19 March 2020
6.30 pm to 8.00 pm AEST
LOCATION
Strathpine Library
1 Station Street
Strathpine, QLD 4500

CALEB Prize for Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child

 

 

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Finalist for CALEB 2019

FINALIST for Omega 2019

Finalist for the Australia and New Zealand wide CALEB AWARD of 2019 

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CALEB AWARD 2019

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