Sunday, June 08, 2008

Forty Years is Quite a Long Time 

I’ve been coming to Brisbane for forty years. I came here in 1968 for the first time with my friend, Joyce Connor. We decided to try an Australian beer and unknowingly walked into the Regatta Hotel bar. We were told we could only be served on the patio (and this after Sigrid Thornton’s mother had chained herself to the bar for women’s rights there, we learned later.) See picture below.

Forty years is a long time. I was surprised at my sadness at my mother’s moving from her home for as many years. All these years I’ve been coming to Brisbane thinking this was not my home; this is not where I grew up. My children, Natala and Sheila, know only this place as their grandparent’s home. But me, I was only passing through.

I will miss the old home. I took as many pictures as possible and posted them on my Flickr site in a Mum’s House (set) folder. I will also miss Milton Road. The first time I was there with the family we were driving up from Melbourne and couldn’t find it. A young woman who had just got off work at midnight hopped in our car and took us there! I will miss being able to walk to La Dolce Vita on Park Road and visit Mary Ryan’s bookstore. I will miss the Night Owl a few blocks the other way and the Auchenflower train station in the other direction and the Wesley hospital where my father died. I will miss the memories of my dad in that home. He is not here on Swann Rd. although it is beautiful; a view of the city with tight security and a manager and caretaker and where the employees of the Body Corporate mow the grass. I’m glad my mother is not in a “home” or a sequestered "village" where everyone is old. I’m glad she’s next door to my sister, Margo, and they can sit and crochet together. I’ll come back and learn a new part of Brisbane—the Toowong and Indooroopilly Shopping Centres are still here—but it won’t ever be the same again.

There is still a lot to see and do in Australia. I’ll have to drive the Capricorn Hwy, which follows the Tropic across Queensland. I missed Surfer’s Paradise this time, being winter. Still have to fly to Darwin and down to Tasmania. Go out to see Ayer’s Rock. And, of course, come back to visit with Mum. Soon.

I learned a few things about being eighty-seven years old:

I was surprised when Hilary Clinton said there had only been three Democratic presidents (in her memory). I remember sitting close to a radio in Madras listening to the results of John F. Kennedy’s election, the first Catholic president. There were no women announcers on the radio back then.

Hilary Clinton said in the suspension of her campaign speech today: “Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time…it's got about 18 million cracks in it ... and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.” (Here's the text of Hilary Clinton's speech).

Sometimes I think there is more news on Australian television regarding American politics than in the USA. When we vote in November, the world will be watching.

Post a Comment