Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Durelle'sescape Fromthevalleys; New Book Tells the Story of a Pilgrim

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Durelle'sescape Fromthevalleys; New Book Tells the Story of a Pilgrim

Article excerpt

Byline: ZAC LUKE

SIX decades after she and her siblings were abandoned by their parents, the emotion is still visible on Durelle Dean's face when she tells the story.

But the more she talks, the easier it is to understand why her feelings are still so raw.

One afternoon in 1951, the then six-year-old Ms Dean and her three siblings got off the school bus and walked in the front door of their dairy farm in Te Awamutu on New Zealand's north island to find the place empty.

"We just came home one day from school and the house was quiet," Ms Dean recalled.

"My sister started crying and I could hear her so I went in to see what's wrong.

"She said, a[approximately]Mum's gone away and she's not ever coming back'."

Ms Dean's 12-year-old sister had found a letter from their mother on her bed, saying she had left for good.

Later, their father came home and found the four children sobbing together.

"When our Dad came home he got really brushed off with us crying," Ms Dean says.

"He said a[approximately]stuff it', and so he went, too."

And so it was that four children aged between six and 12 were left entirely to fend for themselves.

"They were very unhappy," she said of her parents. "They made us the prisoners of their war, because they were really angry."

After their parents left, Ms Dean and her brother and sisters survived off the money from the dairy farm which her two older sisters continued to work.

They kept their parents' departure a secret, but it wasn't easy. Simple things were complicated.

"I got the chicken pox, and I had to stay home ... when I returned to school, the teacher said, a[approximately]You need to bring a note from your mum'.

"I didn't know what to do. I didn't have a mum.

"So I didn't say anything, I went back to school the next day without a note and then she demoted me to the class below, and I just sobbed and sobbed. …

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