Café After Closing is Emma Jane O’Farrell’s story, highly charged, emotional and sometimes humorous.  Emma was no stranger to conflict or controversy.  Her school years reflected her home life.  A tyrannical nun, priest and her parents’ behaviour, made her question whether there really was a God. 

A cruel twist of fate dramatically changed everything for Emma, sending her on a downward spiral.  She tried to end her life, but failed. 

Her mother unwittingly forced her into a loveless and abusive marriage to mentally deranged Les Carter.  Four children were born during the twenty-year marriage.  One crisis after another followed Emma wherever she went.  Whist searching for the reason why her life was going in the direction it was, Emma discovered something that would change her forever. 

This story is fiction, based on actual events that did occur. 

In Store Price: $AU34.95 
Online Price:   $AU33.95

ISBN:   978-1-921406-33-1    
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 467
Genre: Fiction


Author: Jeannette Maree
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2008
Language: English


Chapter 1  

     Upon reflection I realised that for as long as I could remember, my life had been one conflict after another. I felt that it resembled a room that had been ransacked, and to put anything back into its proper place was made difficult by the emotional damage. It was just too painful. Rummaging through the debris of my mind searching for whatever was still salvageable, had become harder and harder to do. So the chaos was left for another day. Failure to tidy up the disorder had become a serious stumbling block for me to overcome. I knew that eventually I would have to face the ghosts of my past and take responsibility for them. Being aware of that was one thing, knowing the remedy was another.  

William O’Farrell and Sarah Bernstein are my parents. They met and married in England during World War Two. Dad had served in the Royal Australian Air Force as a rear gunner before his plane was shot down. He parachuted out of the plane just before it crash-landed, breaking both legs severely. Having to endure endless operations, months wrapped in a plaster cast and hospital confinement, my father kept himself entertained by causing havoc in the ward. He would slip chocolate between the sheets and then wait with great expectation for the nurse’s expression of utter disgust when she straightened his bed, roaring with delight at her frustration of bearing the brunt of his joke. Although his right leg ended up permanently stiff and shorter than the left leg, he said he was grateful that his life had been spared and believed that his rosary beads and his faith in God had saved his life.

The evening Dad met my mother, he had snuck out of hospital with the help of his mates and gone to the local dance. My mother accidentally bumped his leg when she passed by him and he slumped over and screamed in pain. His cheeky blue eyes and blonde crimped hair must have made an impression on the raven-haired beauty. They married before Dad was repatriated back to Australia. 

Try as I might, I couldn’t imagine my mother as a carefree young woman in love; she was a mystery to me. Whenever I asked my mother about her family, the answer would always be the same and so would the irritation in her voice. “All that is in the past, Emma. Leave things alone, why don’t you?” Years later, I found out that when her parents were alive they lived in England, close to her two younger sisters. My grandparents were Spanish. Grandfather was an Oxford University Law graduate and her mother’s death certificate was written in Hebrew.

On their wedding photograph my parents looked like any handsome, happy couple, all smiles and anticipation of a happy future. What had happened to spoil their illusion? I have scanned my memory, and failed to recall any display of affection by either of them, but out of their union came four children.

Tina May was born in England during an air raid and consequently lack of oxygen at her birth left my sister slightly mentally disadvantaged, but photographs of her bore no evidence of any damage. She was a pretty child, with dark hair and soft large brown eyes.

My only brother, Peter James arrived eighteen months later; he needed three operations to correct his right eye muscle. Although the operations were successful he lost the sight in that eye.

Then I, Emma Jane O’Farrell, followed my brother eighteen months later with an inherited, Mediterranean genetic blood disorder which was not diagnosed until I was fourteen. My early childhood was absorbed in hospital stays, visiting doctors, undergoing tests, and blood transfusions in search of a name for the mystery illness. At one point, it was thought that I had the dreaded leukaemia. Apart from an exceptionally pale complexion and lack of energy and a tendency to chubbiness I looked fine. Chubby children in the fifties were considered to be healthy. 

I was six, when Mary Joy was born. My mother’s pride and joy had blonde curls, hazel eyes and an engaging smile that captivated everyone. She doted on her perfect child. We were soon to discover however, that my baby sister wasn’t perfect. Her frightening crying fits caused havoc in our household, especially when she would hold her breath and pass out. We would all stand rigid, if she looked like she was going to cry, waiting for the inevitable and heaving a sigh of relief when it did not happen. Mary frightened me and I detested those times I had to watch her, because I didn’t know what to do if she cried. I was afraid that I would be in trouble if something happened to her. My brother adored her and was happy to take her with him when he did shopping for Mum.

We lived in an outer suburb of Sydney. I would often enter our home with trepidation, wondering whether or not there would be trouble that night. Dad’s alcoholism and Mum’s bitterness for the life she didn’t want made our home a battlefield. I was too young to understand what caused their unhappiness, but I wasn’t too young to be disturbed by it.

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