Most of Mrs O’Shaughnessy’s children live in Victoria, but a daughter, Caryll O’Shaughnessy, is a Byron Bay GP who flew from Queensland’s Gold Coast late on Friday. She was flying home on Sunday night.
Dr O’Shaughnessy, 62, said she worried whether she would be allowed in to Victoria after the new Sydney cases were revealed.
But she understands the Victorian government’s moves to restrict travel.
“Everyone’s worked so hard here [in Victoria] to get down from more than 700 cases [in a day] to zero,” she said. “They’ve done the hard yards.”
She didn’t want to put anyone at risk. “If [Victorian Premier] Dan Andrews had said don’t come, I would not have come.”
However, she said Byron Bay, in northern NSW, was more than 700 kilometres from Sydney’s northern beaches and had not had a COVID-19 case in months.
“And I knew that flying from the Gold Coast and not from Sydney I was going to be OK.”
Like most of us, the O’Shaughnessys have missed family members’ weddings, births and birthdays this year.
In July, with aged care COVID-19 cases and deaths rising in Victoria, Sally O’Shaughnessy moved out of her aged care facility in Sandringham to her former home in Sorrento and was cared for by her granddaughter Lucie, 40, whose wedding floristry business, Lulu Bird, had to suspend operations.
Mrs O’Shaughnessy said she was quite content in the six weeks she was there.
“If I’d been cut off from my phone, I’d have been in trouble.”
She put her granddaughter on to betting on horse races and they bonded over TV soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful — just to laugh at it.
Mrs O’Shaughnessy remembers the polio pandemic, and in 1959 her father died aged 61 from the effects of tuberculosis. But she said COVID-19 “was a different thing altogether”.
“The way it’s spread around the world is just horrific. It’s hard to comprehend.”
She said the latest Sydney outbreak had “shattered” Melbourne people. “We just thought, ‘Oh, gosh, no.’ “
But at the family lunch, Mrs O’Shaughnessy was seeking “peace, harmony, goodwill and everybody being happy to see each other”.
Daughter Caryll said her mother was “incredible”.
“She’s incredibly resilient and hardworking. She’s always given us the sense that whatever problems or insurmountable obstacles there are, there’s always a way through.”
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Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.