1963; nearing the end of a childhood

 

A letter to my siblings.

Dear Steve, Chloe, Jerry, Terry and Margo

I used to think our family was pretty normal, but I guess I am not the first person to realise just how strange their upbringing has been.

As I have been writing the “Early Years” the letters I have written over this time to each of you, to Mum, Dad and others, have marked specific times I remember from this time; from the very early memories and then, heading towards my twelfth birthday.

What have I learnt after having gone through the sometimes painful task of detailing these Early Years?

Lesson One 

I was put off haircuts at a very early age, and the ensuing years; have done nothing to change my mind on this most trivial of things.

Lesson Two 

I have tried, not always successfully; to live a life free of pomposity and elitism after having seen the example of the Abominables and the effect these dreadful people had on our mother and our parent’s marriage.

Lesson Three 

The importance of mentors has become clear to me as I recalled the time with John, Miss F and Mr Frankland.

How much poorer would my life had been if I had missed the simple joy of sitting with John, and he; having the patience to indulge the mutterings of a small boy?

What would have happened to a small boy had not Miss F made him feel special and provided an escape from the bitterness and acrimony of the family?

How important was the intervention of Mr Frankland; instilling in me the love of reading, spelling and numbers that has stayed with me for my whole life?

These were the people who made the time and, devoted the energy to making my life better and I thank them ever so much

Lesson Four 

The magic of being able to retreat into my own cocoon with, or now; without an imaginary friend has always given me an escape when the world has pressed in upon me. The times I spent with Bill Wilson were some of my happiest childhood memories and even today; the magic of just being with me has never left me; there is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely, somehow I learnt this from a very early age.

Lesson Five 

I learnt from a young age a love of the land, the smell of the soil and the feel of the wind. In my mind, even today; I could walk every metre of the farm, know every contour, remember every paddock and every dam.

People were hard to understand but the land was easy to love!

Lesson Six 

I understood the value of honesty and love in a relationship and, the effect; the lack of these could have on the growing child torn between parents.

I had lived with this and I should have known better. This is the major lesson of my childhood and the fact I betrayed this, in later life; is the biggest regret I have with my life.

I wish I had learnt this lesson better, but it is hard to regret the years I had with Sascha before I realised the damage a marriage built on a lie can cause.

The hurt I caused my own family; Sascha and the kids, is something I still struggle with. This was a lesson learned, but ignored for far too long. I can only hope, the example of love without bitterness we have been able to demonstrate in the years since our separation has healed some of the pain.

Lesson Seven 

I learnt to hate aggression and violence, hopefully; I learnt this better than the last lesson, but I know at times; I have failed at this too.

Lesson Eight 

I learnt to hate guns and the always lingering potential for tragedy these can have.

Lesson Nine

I learnt to distrust organised religion; the fire and brimstone of our own church and the examples of hatred I saw in other religions, spoiled my love for a truly spiritual God, I am sorry this happened.

Sadness and Joy 

Our childhood was robbed of the joy the land should have provided, our relationships as siblings, were marred by festering anger and we never really knew each other as kids.

The joy my relationship with Terry and Margo and to a lesser extent; Chloe, (due to distance and circumstance) now brings to my life, is something I am very humbled by.

With Love

Bruce

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