Luke was five when he found out he didn’t have a Mum and Dad. He had grown up in the Longtree Orphanage since his birth mother left him on their doorstep when he was only 10 weeks old.
At three years old Luke was a bubbly, bright little kid with no cares in the world. All the sisters at the Orphanage fondly called him Chatterbox because he was always babbling away as a three year old does. He got on well with all the other children at the orphanage and had such a kind nature that he was never picked on.
One day some of the older children were telling each other about their parents and how they had ended up in the orphanage. Luke hadn’t even understood what a Mum and Dad were until the other children had brought it up. But because Luke had never had parents, he didn’t miss them either.
By eight years old Luke was top of his class at school but he still didn’t have a home. Lots of kids around him had been given homes but not Luke. He wasn’t worried - he’d never experienced any life other than the one at the Orphanage and as far as he was concerned, he was happy. The thought of being picked by a family and having to move into a new house scared him.
A year later when Luke was nine he was interviewed by a family that already had a little girl. He thought this interview would be just like the rest of them and that he’d never hear from them again. A few weeks later and Luke was told he was going to live with the Patterson’s.
The Patterson’s were lovely people. They adored kids and after their first adoption of a 3 year old girl they decided they wanted a boy as well.
Mr Patterson was a partner in the law firm Simpson and Patterson and Mrs Patterson was a devoted mother. They lived in a big house on a lifestyle block just outside the city. The family wasn’t short of money and nothing was ever spared.
On his tenth birthday, Luke got his very first bicycle. Mr Patterson spent many of his Saturday morning’s teaching Luke how to ride. Luke and his little sister Emma would bike to school each day and have races with the other kids in the neighbourhood. Luke loved to ride his bike during the fall when the streets were covered in leaves. He would race down the street and send thousands of leaves dancing and twisting behind him.
During the school holidays the family would go away to their holiday home by the beach. They had a great batch right on the shoreline. Days were spent fishing and paddling and crawling over the rocks to see what sealife they could catch in the rockpools. Mrs Patterson would sit on the deck keeping a close eye on her precious children. She would sit there for hours doing her cross-stitch with a smile on her face. She felt blessed that her family was complete and that her children and husband were happy.
This was a whole new world for Luke. Luke liked his new life but in some way he felt detached from it as well. He was sure he loved the Patterson’s but he’d never experienced love before.
In the summer of the next year Mr Patterson had three weeks off work when he got an ulcer. The doctor said it must be stress that brought it on but Mr Patterson wasn’t convinced. Work was great - sure he had deadlines but nothing really ever got him stressed.
A month later and Mr Patterson was admitted to hospital. His ulcer had flared up again and he needed to rest in bed for a few days. But as the week wore on Mr Patterson got worse rather than better. The Doctors didn’t know what was wrong. They tried different antibiotics and medicines but he wasn’t responding to any of them. On the Friday afternoon Mr Patterson’s body gave up fighting.
Apparently Mr Patterson was one of the very first cases of the virus. No one knew at the time.
Mrs Patterson was a calm and very organised woman. Although she was terribly distraught at losing her husband she seemed to put on a brave face for the children and started getting on with life.
The whole thing hit Luke hard. It had been two years since he’d moved in with the Patterson’s. He finally realised he had grown to love them. He missed his father coming home at night and playfighting with him and tucking him into bed.
Emma wasn’t taking it well either. She would sneak into Luke’s room each night and sleep in his bed. They’d always been close because they understood each other and both knew how lucky they were to be taken in by such a nice family.
But Mrs Patterson wasn’t coping. She asked her sister, Aunty Pat to come and stay. She helped out with the household work and kept the kids busy and finishing their homework each night. She would take them to the park and the shopping mall and give their mother some time to herself.
But as the days passed, Mrs Patterson got more and more depressed. She would cry late at night on Aunty Pat’s shoulder. Luke and Emma would lie awake at night hearing her cry.
They did their best to make her happy. They made sure not to fight between themselves, they’d pick her flowers from the garden and they would even get Aunty Pat to help them make her chocolate brownies in the weekends. She would have good days and bad.
Unfortunately Mrs Patterson wasn’t going to get better. Aunty Pat sat Luke and Emma down and told them that their mother wasn’t going to be around much longer. The doctor had been to visit the previous day and said that she’d been so run down that she’d caught a virus. They had seen a few cases of it recently and the doctor was pretty sure she had it. She had a week at the most.
Strangely enough Mrs Patterson was happy in those last few days. She told the kids she finally felt at peace knowing that the end was near. She was happy knowing that she would soon be reunited with her husband but also sad that she had to leave behind her two beautiful children whom she loved very much.
Mrs Patterson asked Aunty Pat to keep the house running in the meantime and they both decided that the best thing for Luke and Emma was to keep things as normal as possible. Aunty Pat would move in permanently to the family home and look after them.
For Luke and Emma their dream had faded. They had known what it was like not to have a family and then they had been lucky enough to be adopted by the best family they could have asked for.
Now they were back to feeling alone again. Aunty Pat was great but the house was missing the family of four that had had so much joy over the last two years.
It must have only been a couple of weeks before Aunty Pat started showing signs of the virus. She was a strong woman and was determined that she wasn’t going to be sick. She carried on as normal but slowly she got weaker and weaker. Luke and Emma put her to bed one night and gave her a cup of tea. She promised them that if she wasn’t feeling better in the morning then she would phone the doctor.
When the kids woke in the morning, Aunty Pat wasn’t up and about like she usually was. They found her still in her bed.
They decided not to tell anyone. They packed up a few of their belongings and headed off to the orphanage.