Things have changed for Brad-Lee and Ethan. Earlier this year Brad-Lee had a brain haemorrhage. It meant that his life as a musician and working in a hair salon had to come to a sudden stop. Double vision, difficulty walking, there were a whole lot of new challenges to meet.
Brad-Lee’s partner Ethan – “yeah, it’s spelt like a boy’s name” – explains how “I had to shut down my practice designing graphics for TV and live events.” Ethan needed to adapt to working part-time whenever she could, while fulfilling an entirely new role as a full-time carer for Brad-Lee and their infant daughter Salem, now just a year and a half old.
Ethan acknowledges that “on paper what happened to us sounds like a sad story”. But talk to Ethan and Brad-Lee and what you get is a blast of good will and shared happiness the likes of which it is rare to encounter any time. And while no one is claiming life has been easy, especially as the pandemic and lockdowns intensified, Ethan says “it’s been so strange that in such unfortunate circumstances a lot of things have gotten weirdly better for us.”
Coming to the Addi Road Food Pantry in Marrickville over these last few months has been a big part of that transformation. “I wish we’d known about it sooner. We’re eating better than we have in a year,” she says, “and we’re spending more time together with one another and with our baby.”
“The Addi Road Food Pantry has been an absolute godsend.”
Ethan admits “I am more of a diva in the kitchen.” As a result, Brad-Lee has become the de facto chef at home. He says shopping at the Food Pantry has made him more creative with meals. “What’s available here often changes. It’s actually exciting to go to a grocery store and think about what to buy – and what I can come up with,” he laughs.
“The cognitive impairment caused by my stroke makes cooking more of a challenge for me,” Brad-Lee adds. “But having to be creative about what I can manage has actually made me a better cook than I was before!”
It’s not just the variety of food, or how much the low-budget shopping at the Food Pantry helps them make it through each week. Ethan says “the staff here are sweethearts”. Brad-Lee agrees. “Because we usually come on a Monday, it brightens the rest of the week for us.” He laughs again about “some of the interesting characters we get to chat too while we line up as well. The people here really make it.”
“And today there are lots of cute puppies Salem would love too,” Ethan adds.
The couple will go home fully loaded after their shop. Spending $5 can get you something like $25 worth of groceries, fruit and vegetables, and sourdough bread. It’s well worth it from their point of view. Ethan says that “although Salem is only sixteen months old, she’s a size 3 and eating like a six year old! She’s keen on growing. The Addi Road Food Pantry has been an absolute godsend.”
It’s time for a photo. Brad-Lee steps around Ethan so he can stand beside her and balance himself with the walking cane in his right hand. They embrace one another at the hip and stand tall.