Why I Love My Job

Carol Duncan - Australian broadcaster and journalist
My studio home

Sometimes I don’t.  Mostly I do.

It’s a funny thing – making people talk, tell me stories, things that perhaps they’re happy to tell me, sometimes they’re not.

I love feeling like I’ve made a difference.  Or at least tried to.

I hate the criticism that can sometimes come with such a public job.  I have wondered many times if I possess skin thick enough for this job.  But I also wonder if the thick-skinned ones really care … if they really *feel* what’s going on in a conversation with a guest.

A woman once wrote to me to tell me that a series I had done on breast cancer, for which I recorded my own mammogram, encouraged her to bite the bullet and get a mammogram herself.

She was found to have an early breast cancer.

She thanked me for that.

A tiny, immune-deficient girl now gets a little more attention from her paediatrician – because he heard her distressed mother on my program.

I’ve interviewed the rich and famous, the poor and voiceless.  Or at least they were voiceless.  Academics, researchers, teachers, politicians, unionists, children, mothers, fathers, rock stars, surgeons, authors, liars, abusers, rescuers, the terminally ill  … even a motor mechanic who is one of the world’s finest Celtic fiddlers!

Occasionally, not often, but occasionally … there are those that will use me, and my position, for their own gain.  Hopefully I will become wiser at spotting them!

It’s a privilege.

One that sometimes I intentionally abuse.  But I hope only in a good way.

Using my evil powers for good.

It’s all I can do.  I don’t know anything else.

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My Mother Hated Swimming

So why she wanted her ashes scattered into the sea, I’ll never know.

But she always used to say … to all of us … “I don’t want to be buried.  I don’t want anyone tied to a place.  Just scatter me off the heads.”

We used to go to this place a lot, mum and I.

Although she didn’t like swimming.  I do recall one 42 degree day that she finally came for a paddle.  Years ago.

I have always loved this beach.  I love being in the sea.

Although it is right at the heads, this little part is surrounded by rocks and quite sheltered.

My children swim here a lot.

I am proud of my boys – her boys – for coming with me.  I didn’t take them to the funeral, that would have been too much for them.

But this was perfect.

Beautiful.

She was right.

As usual.

Even when she wasn’t.

I think the death of a parent is one of life’s great fears.

As a child I would sometimes work myself into a right state … and cry myself to sleep.

But I am lucky.

I had my mother for 41 years.  My father had his for 8.  I still have him.

My mother collapsed and died at my feet.

I tried to resuscitate her.

I went to the hospital with her.

And I told them to stop.

STOP!

Because she would have expected me to.

And I knew.

She had raised me to know.

Her siblings called her ‘Skinny’.

She was beautiful.

And my mother.

Who had held me in her hands.

Who had spent night after night with her arm hanging out of her bed, in the middle of winter, because I needed her to have her hand on me.

To touch me.

This was what she wanted.

She knew.

She was right.

And I knew.

Because she had made sure I knew.

And that is the gift.

Knowing.

I love being in the sea.

Today the sea was warm.

Strangely warm.

So I fulfilled my mother’s last request.

Because I knew.

Life is complicated.

Joyous, beautiful, confusing, heartbreaking, ridiculous, wonderful, challenging, frightening, thrilling.

Love is everything.

Divine. Perfect. Flawed.

Worth every risk.

And you know it.

My mother knew it.  She took the risk.

It is the weekend before Mothers Day.

I am a motherless daughter.

A motherless son told me that what I did today was a very Hindu tradition.

Yes, it is.

It is also simply a beautiful thing.

And a wish granted.

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