A friend of mine’s Mother has just passed away on the other side of the world, in France. He has been over there for the last week to be there for her last days and will be coming home soon.
It seems we are all victims of the tyranny of distance to a greater or lesser extent. It brought to mind the times I was lucky enough to be able to spend with Dad after he was flown to Sydney before he died and to some extent, the sense of loss I feel at not being able to be there, when Mum died.
Doing this Blog has brought back many memories, the temptation to concentrate on the bad is always there, but there were good times; especially in my early years.
I remember the Sundays, visiting friends; usually many miles from home, large roasts and spirited conversations were the order of the day before we headed home late in the afternoon. Us kids would fall asleep in the back of the car, dozily listening to the two of you talk and laugh.
There were the other weekends when the old Austin Truck would be loaded with Chloe’s and Jerry’s horses; I would sit in the front with both of you, while Chloe and Jerry would share the crate with the horses and we would head off to a Pony Club Gymkhana.
I can’t remember where Steve was at these times, probably; he had headed off to Piano practice with Dawn who lived several Ks away.
One thing that has struck me even this early into my ramblings is, the distance we would travel to see your friends, we would drive past many neighbors in order to get where we were going.
In many ways I see now, we were almost isolated, living as we did, right in the heart of the largest German settlement in Southern NSW. As Presbyterians; we were not part of the strong Lutheran culture that surrounded us. We lived amongst our immediate neighbors but we did not live with them.
Occasionally as a special treat, we would head off on a wintry Saturday afternoon to see the local football team play at home or, almost as good; I would sit with Dad in the machinery shed as he tinkered with an obstinate piece of machinery, the crackly old battery radio, broadcasting the game.
Every couple of years in January, we would set off in the pre -dawn; crammed into the old Plymouth with a hired Caravan in tow as we traversed the mountains to the beaches of the South Coast. We would arrive late in the afternoon, erect the old army tent next to the Van and fall asleep with the strange sounds of the waves breaking on the beach below.
These were the good times and it has been worth starting on this journey to remember they did exist, the times when the family worked together and the growing tensions were put on hold.
I don’t know what really went wrong, probably a whole host of little reasons bubbled together to create the divisions that would tear the fabric of the family apart and leave us all damaged to some extent.
I read all the time, books about people surviving their childhoods. Almost invariably, there is a clear cut villain and a strong partner who holds the fabric of family together.
The roles were blurred in our family; just two good people fighting their own demons; lost in a jungle of debt, doubt, ambition, isolation and bitterness.
Neither of you knew how to escape.