Sunday 11 November 2007

Preserving memories

Faithful readers will be aware, I'm back in my childhood playground of Christchurch, further away from the Equator than I'd prefer, as Cairns heads into another wet season and the onslaught of 85%+ humidity.

For the record it's around 6 degrees here at night - like the Tablelands in summer.

The last three weeks have been a mammoth exercise of sorting, collating, cataloguing, throwing out, dusting, cleaning, and making mother's home safer and healthier in her senior years. She's just had her 85th.

It's a delicate task this cleaning, especially when it's a home full of life's memorabilia. I've come to the rescue in a hope to make these years more comfortable for mum. I've bought together hundreds of photos. Every photo, every image tells a story. I'm starting to hear stories I've never heard before as they trigger events and tales from the past in her amazing memory bank. Therefore putting together a few photos takes on the task of building a pyramid. We haven't had one night that hasn't ended before 2:30am.

Other clippings and special pieces are all being put in a collection of scrapbooks. I've found our Plunket baby books. I was a 6 pound baby, but when discharge, was 5 pounds and 10.5 ounces. Work that out. My head was measured at 13", chest 12" and my Fontanello was the size of a 1 shilling piece.

Also discovered our school reports, oh, what great reading!

I know anyone who's been in this space before, will valuable the importance of family and the contribution parents make to one's life, something that many don't appreciate till we are in our mid-life.

Today, my younger brother Chris, and his partner Jane, and their two mini monsters, Oliver and Courtenay turned up, armed with cleaning bucket and rags. Chris and Jane run a very successful kitchen and building business, and arrived with a trailer big enough for a Cairns Council clean out.

I've had great joy in creating a "memory wall" of mum's (and mine) most special photos, across the last three generations of our family. It's a moving experience. I've still not come across Dad's funeral photos yet. It was 10 years ago last month when he passed away. I'll share with you separately, some tales of his life.

With four boys in the family, and now a couple of grandchildren, there are a raft of images and interconnecting stories.

Now our little family house, set on a quarter acre block, hosts it's own gallery along the passage way. Here I've put together nearly 100 images, the most special ones out of around 1,100 that are now all collated into albums. This is important stuff to do, and something that I've had on my list for a long, long time.

The garage was also cleared today, and before we turfed most out, I snapped this photo of the remaining preserving jars, home to a collection of home-grown apricots, prunes, blackboy peaches and rhubarb. We living on this stuff back then. We always seemed to have an ample supply of vegetables and fruit for desert every evening, and it all came from our garden here in New Brighton.

Life's changed. Life got faster and less forgiving about the simpler things. Life's got more greedy.

You tend to do a lot of perspective thinking when undertaking such tasks like this. It's grounding. It's moving. It's sad and it's happy. But it need to be done.

I hope to be back home soon, however this is important time to be here. Mother had a huge fall a couple of months ago, and weeks of physio have not given her much relief, so an X-ray tomorrow with lead her to a possible operation in the next week or so.

Anyway, must get back to it all. Will chat again soon.


Anonymous said...

Yes, life has become faster and more greedy. Best wishes to your Mum and lets hope she has a speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

I like Christchurch. When I was there a few years ago, I met up with that grumpy mad old Wizard of Christchurch, who told me to..."pus off!" Hehehehe.
Is he still there??

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhhhh the Wizard of Christchurch. Is he still alive?
I think J.K. Rowling would have liked to have met him.

Anonymous said...

where is new zealand? is a country or something?

Anonymous said...


There's nothing as important as family - particularly those parents who are now in thewir twilight years and needing comfort and succour. I wnet through your experiences just over a year ago, with an ageing father (87) who was also stricken with cancer. He lost his fight earlier this year. Allow your mother to enjoy what days she has left with yourself and your siblings. Political histrionics can resume at a later time.

Anonymous said...

I remember my dear old Grandmother, lying in the Atherton Hospital in November 1975, just days off dying.
When I told her dear old Gough had been sacked by the Governor General, her eyes opened wide in alarm. "Nooo, no, no," she shook her head visibly upset.
My Grandmother lived her life aware of the world around her, and always very aware of her responsibilities to participate in the democratic processes in this country and of her obligations of being a caring, conscientiousous citizen.
Just because our senior citizens are old and their bodies are frail, it doesnt mean they suddenly abandon their role as CITIZENS.
I can think of so many million Australians who live out their lives totally disconnected from the world around them, who will never express an original opinion, who will never stand up for any issue, or defend a principle, who have no fundamental philosophies (apart from stroking NUMBER ONES private parts). They live their lives as passive consumers and their lack of awareness makes them oh so easy to manipulate, exploit
and control. A prime example in recent years is the war in Iraq.
How easy it was for John Howard to tell that dreadful lie. 'Weapons of mass destruction".