The child and his mother – sweet love turning sour

Hi Mum

It is a beautiful Autumnal day in Sydney, the harbor glistens and the throaty, diesel throb of the ferries is the only sound to penetrate my eyrie.

I watched Q and A last night, you would have loved it; five independent thinkers with not a politician in sight. They are all here for Sydney Writers week; philosophers, activists, a rap poet, and the co founder of Medicins Sans Frontieres; I could imagine you looking wistfully at the screen.

I think I need to say sorry.

In thinking and writing about my life and your role in it, my anger has dissipated, tempered by an understanding of your frustration and isolation, as well as; the joyful memories of the early years I was in danger of forgetting.

I can only try to imagine what it was like for you in the early years of your marriage, especially after Steven was born.

Your husband was  fighting the Japanese, thousands of miles away and you were locked into the isolation of “Calare” and the desolate meanness of your “in laws”.

Pretentious bigots, patronising the working class girl with a thirst for learning who had infiltrated their family. You didn’t fit with the insulated “cake baking, dress making world” they had crafted within the secluded farming society of Pleasant Hills, a tiny hamlet perched on the edge of the outback.

By the time I arrived eight years later, these abominable people had moved from the farm and I would only see them on “official visits”. Even as a very young child; that was more than enough!

You and I had some idyllic moments in those early years; Steven and Chloe would be at school, Jerry would be out with Dad in the paddocks and it was just mother and son, rambling around the big house on the hill.

We were kindred souls then; misfits in a misogynistic world of sweaty males.

I would play in the sun on the back verandah, listening to you singing sweetly in the kitchen. I would confide in you, telling you of the latest antics of the mystical Bill Wilson.

Bill was the man I created from the magical depths of childhood, he would shield me from the cruelty of my father and the bitter disdain of my elder brother.

Your marriage was fraying, burdened by debt, ambition, isolation and four children at home, but your love for me, seemed boundless.

You were an artist in search of an easel, my father was a bellicose man with little patience for your book reading. He sneered at your disdain, for the more practical pursuits of the other wives within our tiny rural enclave.

Over the next few months I will write to you often; some of those letters will not be kind, but at least I can now remember and rejoice in the good times we did have.

They were truly precious.

Love you and I hope wherever you are, it is replete with books and golden dawns.



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