A truckie love story with a happy ending
IN A letter detailing how Robert Ettery first met his wife, he described her as his "UHF goddess".
But it hasn't been all peaches and cream for the couple who had to overcome cancer in order to start their married lives together.
It's funny how timing and luck can change your life forever.
For Robert that happened on a normal day in November 2009.
He was driving along the Newell Hwy at Coonabarabran in New South Wales when he heard the "sweet dulcet tones of a lady trucker" coming up behind him.
"I was driving a heavy B-Double truck northbound for Simon National Carriers and the 'lady trucker' with the gorgeous voice was driving a Single semi-trailer northbound ... we just got to the southside of the Pilliga when I called her around me," Robert said.
The first time Robert heard her voice he thought it sounded pretty good and he decided to "engage this goddess of the UHF airwaves in conversation".
It wasn't just Robert enjoying the conversation, the "lady trucker" liked what she heard too, dropping her speed to 90kmh to travel with him through NSW.
At Goondiwindi the pair parted ways, he to Brisbane via Toowoomba along the Gore Hwy and she to Warwick on the Cunningham Hwy.
"At one stage on our trip together, some smartie suggested 'we get a room' but we ignored the idiot and continued our dialogue about our dreams and aspirations," Robert said.
For the pair, who wed on May 9 at Peak Crossing, ditching the bridal waltz for Swanee's Lady, What's your Name? couldn't have been more poignant.
"This is exactly what I said to her just before we travelled into Narrabri," Robert said.
"The goddess with the gorgeous voice was named Carolyn and she has been the love of my life ever since then."
The pair never met on that first trip, although Robert said he saw fleeting glimpses of her when she overtook his truck.
"I never laid eyes on her but her voice was captivating."
When he got to Brisbane Robert Googled the company she worked for and faxed their office with "some rubbish excuse to hand over my contact details" and waited for a reply.
It took a while for her to get back to him.
What Robert didn't know was that morning, his goddess' husband of 20-plus years told her he was leaving her for a woman half his age. By the time she got home he would be gone.
Processing a failed marriage took time and four weeks later Carolyn got the courage to ring Robert.
"I was standing in my house in Victoria talking to my electrician and plumber about my hot water service when my phone rang and I heard the gorgeous voice of my UHF goddess, Carolyn."
Playing it cool Robert told Carolyn that he "remembered" her, later that day they had their first "short" five-hour phone call.
Carolyn told her now-husband about her marriage problems and about how on the day they first started talking he had lifted a dark cloud of depression from her.
"My idle banter, idiotic dialogue and stupid ideas on life had impressed her," said Robert.
"After a couple more five, six and eight hour phone calls, Carolyn asked if she could visit my place in Gippsland for a holiday over the New Year period to get away from her hurts and problems.
"I was ecstatic and set about turning my bachelor pad into something that could be inhabited by a member of the fairer sex without becoming crook.
"A couple of days later, Carolyn called to say she wasn't coming. Her family, or should I say her mother Joan, felt that I could be an axe murderer or worse still, a politician, for all anyone knew and Carolyn's life could be in jeopardy.
"Carolyn's answer was to invite me to Warwick to celebrate New Year with her family and friends. I would have less chance to murder her with an axe with her mum around.
"I stepped off the aeroplane at Brisbane Airport on December 26, 2009, at 6.37pm, and laid eyes on Carolyn for the very first time and I haven't taken them off since then."
"She was gorgeous then, and still is to this day.
"The feeling was mutual and we travelled back to Warwick and the obligatory first port of call was the in-laws for a once over."
He met Carolyn for the first time at 6.37pm and by 9.30pm, he met his now mother- and father-in-law.
Robert got the tick of approval and on January 28, 2010, he moved from Victoria to Warwick permanently.
"I've never looked back."
At first Robert worked with Carolyn driving to Brisbane and back each day.
Three months after he moved to Warwick, Carolyn found a lump.
After much "poking, probing and analysis" she found her self in the Mater Hospital for a five hour long operation to remove ovarian cancer.
That operation in June, 2010, was successful and by mid-August she undertook chemotherapy.
The treatment made them both sick, the chemicals leeched from Carolyn's pores and made those in close proximity ill too.
Therapy took its toll. Carolyn's beautiful hair fell
out in clumps. When it was time to cut her hair, Robert shaved his head too and has kept the style to this day.
Times got tough, Carolyn couldn't work from June 2010 for a year and Robert had to make ends meet.
"Between Carolyn's family and me, we got her to appointments, tended to her pain and cared for her during the bouts of sickness that is the chemotherapy treatment. I took one or two days a week off from my casual truck driving job," said Robert.
"Two months after Carolyn started her chemotherapy, on October 14, 2010, my boss sacked me and replaced me with one of his mates ... who 'needed a job'. Apparently, my excuse for not being available seven days per week every single week to deliver dog food and flour was not good enough.
"Luckily, I fell back on my transport management roles from Victoria and we carried on for a while with that until Carolyn regained her strength enough to return to work.
"We had always said that we wouldn't get married as the old 'once burnt, twice shy' analogy came into play.
"However, after I almost lost her to that insidious disease, my view and hers changed and I promised her that after all we had been through, I would make her my wife, come hell or high water.
"And now, that has happened.
"Carolyn still has her quarterly check-ups at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane with all clear results so far.
"She has a fantastic job in Toowoomba doing what she enjoys most, truck driving.
"I was back truck driving but have taken up a transport management role that was offered to me recently with a large national Queensland-based transport company which still allows me to drive trucks whenever I want."