Sunday, February 28, 2010


Mon and I circa 1974 My big sister turned 40 on Friday and we celebrated her birthday over the weekend. I wanted to share her story with you. Mind you this story is from my perspective...It is about overcoming the odds, never saying 'I can't', steely determination and large servings of love from a family that is always there.

My sister and I were born in Australia, but our first 8 or so years were spent idyllically in New Zealand. We both have such wonderful childhood memories from that time. It was a simple life, a good life. My sister was always a bit feistier than me. You would find her climbing trees and swinging off their limbs, jumping in puddles and getting into mischief. I on the other hand would watch in awe in my perfectly white frilly dress. She was fiercely protective of me and we were the best of friends. I referred to my sister as Mon, not quite being able to get my tongue around Simone. To this day it has stuck and everyone knows her as Mon.

It was the 18th December 1992, a week before Christmas. Simone was 22 and I had celebrated my 21st birthday in September of that year. We were organising our annual family get together for the coming weekend with Christmas day being just around the corner. I remember this day so clearly, a day that changed our lives forever.

I was at work when my Father called me to tell me that Mon had been in a car accident.
'Is she OK?' - This was not the first time she had been in a car accident, but all of them had been minor. Dad simply replied ' I don't know', and neither of us knew what to say or do. I rang the hospital to find out what was going on. The Doctor I spoke to told me that she had suffered a brain injury and was in a critical state, he urged me not to ring again and to inform other relatives not to call. I was in a state of shock. When I arrived at the hospital and enquired at the information desk, I was told she was in intensive care. I felt instantly sick......

Both Mon and I love this shot. I was completing a make up artist course and she was my model.

We also found out that Simone was in the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. She had sent me a Christmas card the week prior with a hint she may be pregnant. She was waiting to find out. To say this complicated things would be an understatement.

Like his mum, Trent also beat the odds...

All we could do is wait and pray and hope. Mum and Dad never, never, never gave up. They were there every day. I would see her every weekend and ring Mum every other day expecting her to say, she 'woke' up..I would imagine we would all have a laugh and tell her never to scare us like that again. But that is what happens in the movies, not in real life. Real life is much, much harsher.

My sister stayed in Hospital for 2 years. During that time she gave birth to her son Trent, she learnt to walk, talk, brush her teeth and hair all over again. When I think about that time I really believe that Simone's brain just had to shut down to heal. The Doctors did not give us much hope, but everyone is different and how they respond, rehabilitate and heal will be different each time. The Doctors gave us their opinion on what the rest of her life might look like and it was not that bright....

Simone and Trent sharing a birthday kiss

Well she is certainly a fighter, a very strong individual who came out swinging. She progressed from a wheel chair to a walking frame to a walking stick, to walking unaided. She learnt to drive again and has had her license for many years. She has skydived, rock climbed, spoken publicly about the effects of her accident in the hope of educating young drivers, completed a body sculpting competition, and has blown everyone out of the water with her determination.

A story within a story. My Sister was the first disabled athlete to compete in a body sculpting competition. It was covered by the local paper as well as channel 9's sports Sunday.

We first met Ron Oxley at his Gym in Penrith. Mum took Simone there when she eventually came home to live with them. Ron has played such a big part in this story. He trained her for life and whipped her into shape. He pushed her hard and was one of the forces behind her every motivation. From walking to driving to abseiling and beyond... Ronnie has a special place in all of our hearts, and he won Mon's...Love ya Ronnie xx

Not once did I hear my sister say 'why me?', not once did she ever think she couldn't do what she wanted to do.

My wonderful parents
Mum and Dad of course have been through every up and down of this journey. Throughout this time they just stayed with Mon. They believed, they had faith and most importantly they had hope. As a parent you know that you would do whatever needs to be done for your child, but actually seeing this in action is amazing. It is a display of strength and love like nothing you will ever see. I hope for those reading this you will just know that this type of love and strength is in your heart and in the heart of your parents. I hope that you don't have to see that love and strength tested and put into action, the way that I did.

Mon with Mum and Dad at her 40th
So the story of Mon continues. She is a working mother of a 17 year old boy. she is planning to participate in a fundraising bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne. A leisurely 900 km!! Stay tuned for that one.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mon, we love you xx


  1. I came over to say thank you so much for the wonderful message you left me on my blog this week, I was truly really touched by it, there was something about the way you said that was just very kind and I appreciate you taking the time to say it.

    What an amazing story though about your sister Simone and your incredible journey for you all....and thankfully she made such a wonderful recovery.

    Best wishes from a Simone in London, England :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by Simone. So much of what you say rings true for me. Yes my sister is very much a fighter.

  3. Lise, you tell an amazing story which should be a book or a movie. Such courage and what a will to live and thrive. Your family is simply awesome. I will follow your blog because I think you are someone I would love to know better. My very best wishes to you and your family from Texas. xx's Marsha

  4. Marsha, such kind words, thanks for coming on over. Yes it's a story alright and that is just half of it!! I started this blog with my travel pictures and Amalfi features in some earlier posts if you are interested in having a look. Your photos just take me straight back there. Looking forward to getting to know you better too. Lisexx

  5. Quite a story Lise... its people like Simone that redefine the self-limiting thresholds that we place on ourselves. Its people like Simone that enable doctors to use as examples and give others hope for the future. Can't help but feel that your parents must be special people to have produced such kids. My best to Simone and you ;-)

  6. Hi Michael. You are right about my sister, she just doesn't believe that she can't do things (something i'm still learning!!). My Parents are special people indeed. Thank you for your lovely comments xx