A young boy’s world crumbles – I understand it now

Dear Mum and Dad  

It is a bitterly cold, windy day in Sydney, the Harbor is a sea of whitecaps and, the wind; while predominantly from the North East, occasionally swings to become a freezing sou/easter.

The small boats below, swing on their moorings. Sit there long enough and you will see a them turn “arse about” to face the prevailing winds at the time.

I am reminded of those dark days when we would get up in the morning, not knowing which way the winds would be blowing in our family.

Who would be “good cop” for the day? There were days when you were both “bad cops”, and; a very few, where the seas were calm and you both would be happy and laughing.

We learnt never to trust these days; things could turn nasty with one ill placed word or action and we would be plunged into a nasty standoff between the two of you.

Things had been fine before: I knew where I stood: Dad was the hard and sometimes brutal, enforcer, Mum, the soother and confidant.

Now the lines were blurred and I was lost.

Looking back, I can see that Dad was just as confused as we were, his frustration boiled to the surface and we were the recipients of his spite and strap.

He bought more land and spent more time on external positions, involving himself with Local Government and becoming entrenched within the stud cattle world. When he was out and about, he was landed gentry, when he was home; bitterness, Bank loans, Private school fees and the shortage of cash reduced him to an ordinary man.

All the time; Mum was depressed, marginalized and lost; bored and frustrated with the limitations of small village life and the not yet confident of finding her own way out of the fog.

Steven and Chloe were away at boarding school, Jerry was straddling the fence between the two of you and in any case, had no time for me.

Farm workers and Nannies would come and go through the revolving door powered by tension and anger, Terry was beginning to explore his own world, ever the farm boy; he would retreat to the sheds and tinker with odd bits of machinery and loose bits of wood or metal.

Bill Wilson was the one person I could rely on, I would find a quiet spot and we would sit and talk for hours.

School was in some ways, a welcome distraction; but even the magic of Miss F could not penetrate the walls I built and sport and lunch time, spending time with others; became chores to be endured.

I never minded the isolation, it was the intrusions into my world, I found hard to cope with.

These were the lost years of my childhood; fear replaced fun and fact subverted fiction.

I wish I could have those years again; Billy often tells me I am doing a Benjamin Button and maybe he is right, maybe I am rediscovering the child I lost!

It feels good.

Love

Bruce

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