Thursday, October 02, 2008

Now that's what I call a learning journey

I had a wonderful talk to my Nana today between Canberra and Cooma. I don't think I've ever had such a concentrated amount of time with her, without distractions of some sort. And I learned a hell of a lot, about Papa and about her. And about me.

These are some of the things I learned about Papa:

-- When war broke out, he and his brother tossed a coin to see who would go and who would stay and mind the farm. His brother won, but they both went.

-- Papa was in El Alamein, Tobruk and New Guinea, among other places. He saw a lot of things, and only ever talked about some of them if he'd been well lubricated. He & his brother served together at one point. His youngest brother eventually went to war as well, but he didn't make it back. There is a War Memorial plaque for him on my parents' farm.

-- Papa actually went to the same high school with my mother; she went during the day with the other tenagers, and he went at night with the adults. That high school building is now my art school.

-- When he was in the public service, he travelled a lot for the Department of Agriculture (or something). So I guess he got his fill of travel then. At one point he was surveying the wine industry, and used to bring vats of it home. Good man.

-- I asked my nana what made them move from place to place - did they get bored? Did Papa say he wanted to move, or did she? She honestly couldn't remember. Apparently they would just see something advertised in the paper and would get all excited about it and just up and go. I'm sure he'd have a different answer, but they were/are such dreamers, I can believe it.

They seemed very well suited. She supported him, no matter what he did, but managed to keep a sense of self within the marriage. He was deep, introverted and quiet. She is warm and calm and essentially uncurious, and just let him be, which was perfect. I think if she'd tried to dig deep and understand his problems, he would have imploded. I think they were very lucky to stumble across each other, which is what happened. They met, liked each other, and within a few months/weeks/whatever, she was pregnant. Her new (enforced) mother-in-law gave her hell. But they had a long, happy marriage together, and I think in those early years, if they hadn't had opposition to buck against, maybe they wouldn't have been so bonded.

And now I have Bumblebee back in the house. It's lovely to see him. Even the cats are perkier!


naomi said...

What a rich day you had - thinking of you xxx

Mummy/Crit said...

Wow, sorry to hear all of this, but as you said - bitterwsweet, great for you to learn these stories of your family. Bugger that you have to learn them the hard way.

glen said...

I've just discovered your blog and I like it.

My father was also in El Alemain, Tobruk and New Guinea. I wonder if he knew your Papa.

I saw a lot of family history die with the pssing of my parents and their siblings. My father and six uncles served in WW2 and all but one returned. Their stories are gone now. So are the stories of the women they left behind.

I regret that those stories are gone.

Mrs Slocombe said...

Sadness and yet you don't make it seem so: that seems to be your gift: I condole you. My dad was at Alamein too, as I told Frannie at the War Memorial the other day. She wasn't much fussed.That's a nice town you got there. Take care.