Gordon: It is said that God loves ordinary people and we know that because He made so many ordinary people. In the lives of ordinary people you see walk down the street are often stories that are waiting to be told. Tonight I have a lady in the studio with me who is an ordinary person but whose story is extra ordinary. Welcome to our program, Debra..
Debra: Good evening, Rev Moyes
Gordon: It's great to have you on our program. Let me start a little bit about your background. Where were you born?
Debra: In Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Gordon: And when did you come to Australia?
Debra: I came to Australia, well for a holiday at first, it was in 1980, and then I came to live in 1984.
Gordon: Okay, and did you meet your husband here?
Debra: Yes, I sure did. When I came on my first holiday in 1980 that's when I met Boris.
Gordon: It was a holiday romance?
Debra: It sure was.
Gordon: Isn't that lovely. So a holiday romance and when you got married you decided to come and live back here did you?
Debra: That's right
Gordon: So were you actually married in Port Elizabeth?
Debra: No, no I got married here in Australia. Rev McAlister of the Uniting Church performed the ceremony at Oatlands House.
Gordon: If you don't mind me saying so you are a young woman and you are very, very attractive.
Debra: Oh, thank you.
Gordon: And interestingly enough it's because you are attractive that you are doing the work that you do now.
Debra: Yes, that I love also doing
Gordon: I'll come back to that, just a little later. But you married, fell in love with Boris and you settled. Did you go through the normal things that young couples do in planning your home and getting settled?
Debra: Certainly yes, we started planning a family and John came along unexpectedly.
Gordon: So you were planning to have family but it occurred .. so you had little baby Johnny...
Debra: Yes, we did
Gordon: Now how did you go about getting your house? Because that would have been difficult with having a baby in the first year of marriage
Debra: Well we were renting for two years in Ryde whilst saving for a deposit on home.
Gordon: Isn't that lovely. What work did Boris do at the time?
Debra: He started off being a car salesman and eventuated into being the used car manager at Sinclair Hyundai
Gordon: Good. And what work did you do apart from having young John?
Debra: Well I was helping Mum teach dancing because she was a qualified teacher
Gordon: Well we've got this little picture in our mind of a new home and you've got baby John and Boris has had a couple of promotions at work. In fact you're family was becoming fairly perfect, but then you were pregnant again?
Debra: That's right with my little daughter, Terri.
Gordon: So that was lovely ... however there was a very sad day in your life tell me about that day
Debra: It was April 13th 1994. I came home from work to an empty house. I thought it was strange and immediately called Mum and asked where Boris and the children were. Boris had arranged to pick up the children from Mum and Dad's place after they finished their dancing lesson. Mum advised they had probably left about quarter to seven.
I then thought perhaps he may have taken the children to McDonald's for supper. Then I saw the police pull up in front of the house and immediately I knew something was wrong. The police came in and asked me to be seated. I just said "what's wrong? could you please tell me". I didn't want to be seated because you could see that he was hesitant in telling me. The more he was hesitant the more I kept thinking something has gone wrong and he said to me well your husband Boris has met up with an accident and John your son is deceased and
Gordon: ...that must have been just awful
Debra: ...I think I was in a state because all I remember after that was a lady constable running around with me, I was outside and it was still pouring and all I wanted was to get to a friend because I knew Mum wasn't there. I ran over to my neighbour's place, knocked on the door and said Johnny's dead, Johnny's dead and they couldn't believe it and
Gordon: .. how old was Johnny?
Debra: Johnny was nine
Gordon: Nine years of age
Gordon: He was just killed in this tragic accident
Debra: Yes, he was killed instantly and I was thinking what must have happened to Terri and they said Terri's in hospital with Boris as well. So I thought Boris is badly injured so is Terri and Johnny's dead. I felt confused and my mind was going at a hundred miles an hour.
Eventually the police got me into the car and took me to Blacktown Hospital. I was just totally out of my mind but as soon as I entered the hospital I had this beautiful sense of peace like being told from within I'm at peace. I didn't know whether that was John or maybe Terri but it was someone telling me "I'm at peace, please you be at peace." I went in and although my husband only had a scratch on the cheek he was a total mess.
I ran to him, held him and I hugged him and all he could do was just cry, he broke down and he cried and kept saying "I killed my children, I killed my children" All I could do was comfort him and tell him how much I loved him and that God was with us.
Then they took me to Terri and she looked a sight. She looked absolutely terrible. Every bone in her body apparently was broken, she had internal injuries, head injuries, and to see her hooked up to all these machines and instruments attached to her head and blood everywhere was just a sight to see
Gordon: Now you sat beside Terri all that day and all that night
Debra: Well the accident was at Blacktown and she was taken by helicopter to Westmead Hospital where she had to go into surgery immediately. When we got there and the surgery was done around about two in the morning. Then we were allowed to be close to her and that's when I was constantly at her side.
Gordon: And you stayed with her for how long?
Debra: I stayed with Terri for five days.
Gordon: And what happened at the end of that time?
Debra: Terri caught an infection and she died. And what I also want to mention is that I was praying and asking God that if it's His will that Terri has to go, I will accept it.
Even though the surgeon said to us at the time he could guarantee us one-hundred percent that Terri would live but could not guarantee how she would live. But somehow I knew that I just couldn't take that. I couldn't take his word and that's why I had to pray asking God for acceptance if Terri has to go. Then for some reason I knew she was going to go.
Gordon: This must be a mother's worst nightmare to see first of all her son killed and then her daughter die over a period of five days while her husband also is in hospital. Did you feel very alone at that time?
Debra: I didn't feel alone as I knew God was with me and my mother and father and my two brothers were there.
Gordon: So you had the support of your family. You then had to face the awful business of a double funeral of both of your children. Tell me about that.
Debra: Boris was very headstrong that we had to bury John immediately that week and not leave him in the mortuary but I said, No. We have to hang on. I don't know what is going to happen to Terri.' On the Monday, five days later, Terri died. We had to arrange the funeral. It was very hard having to go to the funeral parlour and choose coffins. We did it with the help of the people at the funeral parlour. They were absolutely wonderful.
Gordon: So you had this tragic funeral of both your children. How did Boris handle all of that?
Debra: Not good at all. He was blaming himself all the time.
Gordon: Was this becoming a constant nightmare in his mind?
Debra: All the time. He was in another world, crying out all night in his sleep. He often woke up sobbing.
Gordon: We can understand that but what we can't understand is the kind of pressure that Boris had on his mind because he was blaming himself.
Debra: Yes. All I could do was support him, show him how much I loved him. It was terrible for me to look at Boris'face every morning. It was agonising. I can still see the pain on his face now if I close my eyes. We had so many moments when we could sit and speak but now we sold our house and moved into mum and dad's house at Blacktown.
I can say that those seven months after the deaths of John and Terri were absolutely beautiful. We were drawn so much closer. We spoke like we've never spoken before to each other.
Gordon: The tragedy drew you closer together but the trauma was still in Boris' mind.
Debra: That's right. We had seven months of being together and on 8th November I received another visit from two policmen. They came to mum and dad's house and said that Boris had taken his life.
Gordon: He couldn't take any more.
Debra: He took a gun from the workplace belonging to the boss, saw the opportunity and took it.
Gordon: So you faced December in 1994 having buried both your children and your husband. That is absolutely awful. What was the state of your health at this time?
Debra: I was pregnant.
Gordon: You were pregnant. When was your baby born?
Debra: She was born 15 February, 1995.
Gordon: If I wanted to write this story, I just couldn't put all of these details together. You buried your husband while you were still carrying your new baby. How did you go through the birth of that child with no husband or other children around?
Debra: For the first six months when Boris was around it was terrible. I was in and out of hospital, couldn't keep any food down and lost so much weight. I was under 40 kgs when I was five months pregnant. I looked terrible and that also got to Boris. I knew I had to keep myself up for him. I tried my best. He helped me during those six months. Then I guess he thought I was well enough to cope on my own. He always said I was a strong woman and that my faith will get me along. That was why he felt comfortable in what he had to do. After that, being on my own, I had a lot of joy in my heart believing I had a part of John, Terri and Boris and by the grace of God I am thanking him for this baby.
Gordon: What difference did her coming make to your life?
Debra: It made a great difference. It didn't cover the hole I'll always have that void in my life, I'll always have that little patch that's not fully healed but it made me believe there's a purpose for me in life and that God has put me here for a reason. I have this baby and God would not have given me this baby if I was not meant to be here.
Gordon: And your Mum and Dad?
Debra: And having Mum and Dad living with them, the support, I can't thank them enough. I am thankful to God for giving me such wonderful parents. They've been absolutely wonderful, they've been my support from the word go, right until now and it's still going on.
Gordon: In the last twelve months you've had to face up to the reality of earning a living and getting back with your life. What have you been doing?
Debra: I've started my job with Grace Bros as a cosmetic consultant and I dearly love the work.
Gordon: I'm sure a lot of our listeners are saying "Debra I heard you speak and I just thank God for your faith and your courage and pray God will bless you from now on."
Finally what great lesson has come to you over these dreadful two and a half years?
Debra: The lesson I feel I am trying to project is to reach out to others now. I want to love, I want to care, I want to just be out there to help whoever needs my help and just to enjoy life, to love every minute of it and to always know that God is there no matter what happens, no matter how terrible your situation is God is there.
Gordon: Debra has not only been speaking to us tonight but she's one of our regular listeners and she's part of our family here at 2GB. Would you pray for Debra, my ordinary person with the extra ordinary story. God bless you, Debra.
Debra: Thank you very much Rev Moyes, it was a pleasure talking to you and to everyone else. Thanks.
This is a copy of the file available on Wesley Mission's Web site. The address is: http://www.wesleymission.org.au/tra/watts.htm