Hugh Jackman was eight and living with his parents and four older siblings in Sydney’s northern suburbs. He enjoyed scrapping with his brothers, he told The Sun, even though his father discouraged fighting. And every night he would scan the world atlas, he said in a biography, dreaming of places to go and planning his career as an airline chef.
One day, while preparing himself for school, his mother Grace said goodbye to the kids in a way that was different. She was wearing a towel on her head from the shower. She chose her words carefully, there was a certain look in her eyes, and eight-year-old Jackman knew something he didn’t understand was happening.
When he returned from school that afternoon, Grace was not home. The family received a telegram the next day: she’d arrived back to her home in the UK.
“It was traumatic,” Jackman, 49, told Who magazine in a new interview this week. “I thought she was probably going to come back. And then it sort of dragged on and on.”
All of a sudden it was the six of them – sisters Zoe and Sonia, brothers Ian, Ralph and Hugh, and their lawyer father Christopher. “Dad used to pray every night that Mum would come back,” the actor told 60 Minutes in 2012.
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“I remember her being in a towel around her head and saying goodbye, must have been the way she said goodbye. As I went off to school, when I came back, there was no one there in the house.”
Jackman’s parents arrived in Australia in 1967 as part of the “Ten Pound Poms”, Daily Telegraph reports. After his mum left, she would visit the family once a year. “It would be like a family holiday. I remember going to the beach,” he said. “There was a chance of a reconciliation at that point but she never came back for good.”
Now, Jackman understands that his mum was suffering from undiagnosed postnatal depression at the time of her departure, The Sun reports.