The plea for donations keeps coming.
More money to rescue more animals. More money for relief organisations like the Red Cross and the Salvos. More money needed to rebuild and repair houses, schools, businesses, farms and livelihoods in rural communities.
My husband is a generous man. He supports many organisations doing wonderful work all over the world and at home with hard earned finances.
The greatest gift he’s giving this week is himself.
A donation of time and energy.
He has flown south to help battle bushfires with more than 200 volunteers from rural Queensland brigades.
Instead of reaching deep into his pocket, he dons his yellow uniform and forfeits income as a solo business operator to work alongside fire fighters from across regional Australia.
Andrew used to travel a lot for work. Our children are older now, so we don’t miss him quite as much as we did when they were little.
To have daddy gone for a week was huge. Not only was I solo parenting, we homeschooled too, so there was no reinforcement at the end of a long day with a handful of children at different ages.
I longed for emotional support and physical help loving them. Reading the bedtime stories and tucking them into bed with fresh love and a kiss. Doing the early morning toddler shift when I was too tired to rally after a broken night rocking a baby.
This week he is on risky night shift taming a monster down south. Another one.
He fought fires here in Ravensbourne late last year then flew south to Nowra with a local team in January to back up the fire fighters on the south coast.
This time it’s Canberra. As I write, there has been at least 80,000ha of bush burnt. That must be a fair chunk of the ACT.
The fires have been relentless this summer. Everyone is aware of that.
What many don’t think about is the fire fighter’s family at home.
While dads are out on the fire front, mums are holding down the home front.
They do their part for the cause by carrying the family load in order to free them up to go.
One of my young mama friends farewelled her husband again this past week. She bravely shoulders the responsibility for four young children and homeschooling too.
My daughter-in-law does this every week as she regularly waves our son off to work as a professional full-time fireman. She is a hero too.
I salute all the mums with little ones. As they wave daddy off, they turn to pick up parenting duty single handedly.
Our men are helping with the back end of the fires. My heart goes out to the women who continue to wait and wonder when their men will return safely home from the raging front line.
It reminds me of wartime. The enemy is a fire breathing dragon and the battle seems relentless against the onslaught of destruction to flora, fauna and even whole towns.
These long weeks, and now months, are a glimpse into what others experienced over years, watching and waiting, wondering when or if their menfolk would return home.
We experience a micro-glimpse of restless sleep, oversensitive to bumps in the night and hyper-alert as a solo parent needs to be when there’s no reassuring offsider to share responsibilities for the family’s safety. We feel vulnerable and fragile. Humbly aware that safety and wellbeing is never something to take for granted.
It is tiring for the teams who have already been at the fire front fighting fierce flames for days in the heat and the hot wind. Someone still needs to monitor the back end of burnt land. Massive logs can smoulder for months. Mop up work needs to be vigilant and thorough.
Monitoring the blaze is often tedious work, with long, boring hours of maintenance, keeping a watchful eye out for sparks and embers, aware that the wind can change and danger is a real possibility.
That’s where these back-up crews come in, bringing relief and reinforcements.
A heartfelt donation.
*Of course, I realise there are women involved in fire fighting too. Full-time and volunteers. For the purpose of this piece, I am writing from a wife’s perspective with her husband is away.