I have lost many people, pets, clothing, little treasures of all sorts over the period of my life to date and I dare say I will lose many more in what is still to be lived. The most recent significant one of these was about two months ago when my dear old aunt, the last of what I call “my grownups”, passed away peacefully. I cried a lot during the writing and reading of her eulogy but in amidst this grieving there was a great sense of relief for her, a joy that there was now an end to her physical suffering. Knowing that makes it easier for me to move on without further pain as it has done with all of the people and pets in my life who have passed on. It was for whatever reason their time to go and they are now at peace, as should I in knowing that. The memories will live on in my mind for as long as I have access to that.
The loss in my life that I continue to have problems with however is the not knowing what I really lost when my parents abandoned me at the age of three. For much of my life I viewed this as a so what, ho hum event, just get on with it, they just left, but I see it differently now. Abandoned is a strong word and one that I have only started to come to terms with in my later life after a lot of personal development training, counselling and meditation. The circumstances were, as I broadly understand it, that my mother left the family home in Moonee Ponds and fled to New Zealand when I was about 3, not long after this photo was taken. I am not sure whether I was left there or was staying with my grandparents in Maldon. Sometime after her departure my Dad left for New Zealand in pursuit of her leaving me in the care of his parents in Maldon. They did get together again for a period of time in Napier and set up in a small corner shop. I do have a vague memory of my grandmother explaining this to me and that they had asked for me to be sent over to join them. However my grandmother said we would wait and see how long they lasted this time before she would risk me going to join them. I can see now that she was rightly concerned, and for that I am eternally grateful, that if they separated again how would I be looked after in a, to her, strange country. This was about 1950 and travel between Australia and New Zealand was not as simple a matter as it is today. From a small country town like Maldon it was viewed as an enormous undertaking so how could she step in and care for me at such a distance if they did separate again. And separate they did within a year or two. Both of them however stayed in New Zealand and my Dad only returned briefly to Australia for Grandma’s funeral in 1962. I was left, no abandoned, to be brought up by my loving grandparents in Maldon.
Now in later life I look at my grandchildren growing up in loving, caring homes with constant parental influences and shared experiences. Let me not mislead you, I felt constantly loved and cared for by my grandparents, but there is the generational difference for one. I remember my grandfather retiring from work when I was very young. These were a couple who should have been enjoying their retirement together without having to raise a young child and find the resources to do that from a pension not designed to cover it. There were certainly none of the solo parent type support services available then as there are now in our community. I know that there was very little financial support provided by my father, and I do recall my grandmother being very worried about how they were going to cover the cost of school uniforms and books when I started secondary school. It was the only time I can recall her sounding cross about my father. There weren’t any luxuries of course and sorry Grandma, I did feel embarrassed about going to school with patches in the knees of my trousers.
But it is not the physical environment that I am referring to here but the loss of the emotional environment that only a mother and father can provide, or even one or the other if not both. The bond like no other between a parent and a child, the life lessons learnt as you grow together, the fundamental knowing as a child that you are loved by another person that can probably never be matched by any one other than your parents. The safety net of care that provides carefree experiences for the child. The conditioning that is built by these experiences as the child matures and which sets up so much of the behaviour of the adult.
What did I lose?
** Stace says: This is my day 4 assignment as part of the Writing 101 course run by WordPress. The prompt was “Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more”, and the twist, “Make today’s post the first in a three-post series”.