Waiting for Maree to come back
ASHLEY Huskisson is picking pumpkins at his Kenilworth home.
The soft-hearted farmer has gone through some tough times and is virtually broke, but that hasn't stopped him giving away the plump orange vegetables to charities like the Salvation Army, so they can pass them on to those less fortunate and in need.
He even lets the local bandicoots eat whatever they want.
It's an ironic scenario, as Mr Huskisson and his children could probably do with a little help themselves.
The pumpkin seeds were planted with his long-term partner, the love of his life, Maree Blacktopp, by his side.
Those seeds are now bearing ripe fruit, but he's been picking them on his own.
Ms Blacktopp was jailed this week for a staggering 75 criminal charges; all committed as a result of her addiction and use of prescription narcotics.
The drug use stemmed from painful back injuries caused in a car crash in 2003.
Her use of painkillers at the time ballooned into full-scale drug dependency.
Among numerous property and traffic offences, she was also charged with fraud over the impersonation of a doctor so she could get her hands on prescriptions for morphine-based narcotics.
This serious offence tipped the Maroochydore Magistrates Court in favour of actual jail time.
Their 15-year-old daughter Alicia, who was in the court for the sentence, broke down.
"I can't live without her."
Mr Huskisson was not surprised at the outcome. He'd been fighting a see-sawing battle to help his wife for years. His main concern now is for their four-year-old son Kazaria.
"The bond that they were forming when he saw her straight, it's like looking at a different face altogether; when she's on that s***, her face changes, you can see it so clearly," Mr Huskisson said painfully.
"When she's straight, he gives me up for dead. He loves her, absolutely idolises her, and it's going to be a bit hard to get on without her now."
The family's story is one of heartache, but also of unwavering love and commitment. It also demonstrates the absolutely addictive and potential destructive power of prescription drugs.
"We tried everything. I took her to meet ex-drug addicts, then we went to funerals of kids who had OD'ed and what not. She took 84 pills the day before New Year's, and that didn't kill her, she just got over that," he said.
"I've pulled her off the toilet twice when she's OD'ed and been blue, brought her back to bloody life twice, and that's bloody heart-breaking to do that."
Mr Huskisson says they also tried drug support agencies, but long waiting times for access got the better of them.
"The whole system is wrong. What junkie is going to wait three months for an appointment to go and get better? That's ridiculous, you want help and you want it now. You don't need it in three months. You need help now.
"I don't know much about addiction, but boy oh boy, it's like two different people. There's got to be some better avenues or easier way. Why should you wait three or 12 months. That's just asking people to go out and get on the drugs and do crime."
Life for the family could have been so very different. Ms Blacktopp received a payout for the car crash and Mr Huskisson also received compensation for a truck accident.
But their so-called nest egg is gone, the result of her spending a staggering $295,000 to feed her habit in a matter of years.
"She blew 70 (thousand) up her wing in three months and I had $225,000 and that lasted, how long, a bit over 12 months and that was gone," he said outside the Maroochydore courthouse this week.
"We've got bugger-all now. I've got a borrowed car now. She wrecked every other car. We borrowed a car to get here."
Despite the setbacks, Mr Huskisson said he remained determined to keep supporting his partner and get her "straight" again, as soon as she got out of prison in early October.
"You still love her?"
"Yeah, for the rest of my life. I'll get her back and she'll be right, and we'll start again."