I was scanning some pics for my mum, she has written her autobiography and wants it in a pictorial format, showcasing her life with thoughts and images. As I was digitally documenting her life from the marriage of her parents to her youth, I couldn’t help noticing the gentle souls who had perfumed her life with memories. At 75 she seemed to remember clearly and often fondly her educators, employers, friends, family, and yes off course her loves but most importantly, places.
Now I know that as an Australian the nomadic gene is quite strong, I mean we are all offspring’s of travelers, but somehow the thrill of discovery resonates strongly in her life accomplishments. She is keen to dedicate pages and pages to her travels, for upon those dusty roads I think she discovered herself. While I might disagree why she wants to put in pictures of café’s and famous landmarks, after all, better quality photos exist on the internet, I think I understand.
These landmarks aren’t just witnesses of mankind’s urge to celebrate milestones, they are an ancient need to remind oneself of where we came from, what we have overcome and more importantly to leave a marker to be remembered by. Together they form a shared heritage, the town’s accomplishments, and my mother’s journey, from birth to form.
As I rummage through old school magazines, tattered and frayed, they offer me a peek into the world, not unlike my own, their views as relevant today as they were sixty years ago. The headmistress takes it upon herself to exhort the students, “From community, we have our livelihood, culture, and protection in a reign of law: to the community we owe a just return of loyalty and service!”
Whatever the adage or style the message is clear, be not takers but givers. This is what our culture of obligation is based upon to find meaning and purpose in life through service to society. Sadly we have failed to impart that onto the younger generation and some of us are sadly drifting away from that concept that shaped our progress and saw us explore the moon and beyond.
As I rummage through vintage satin printed cards deciding which one to immortalise in her book I am enthralled by the detail and labour that went into making a company Christmas card. The irony isn’t lost on me as I have just returned from purchasing a $3 birthday card from the shops. The fact that she has treasured them for over fifty-six years tells a lot about how little acts can imprint itself onto one’s heart and mind. How integrity isn’t in the grandiose but sometimes in the littlest of things.
As I plough through scanning black and white photos, I glance at a few, noticing that they have faded and succumbed to the realities of time. As I touch them up, easing the crease lines, filling up blank spots, one feature stands out that hasn’t faded, the commonality of us humans. Even in pictures seventy years old, we lived, laughed, loved, cared and most importantly held onto memories.
One of those pictures spoke to me, a happy bloke, with his dog and a giggling little girl clutching a freshly cut bouquet of succulents. It’s her smile that captured my soul, that euphoric grin and the gay abandon with which she pointed her left feet, with her toes barely touching the ground as she leaned towards the equally blissful gentleman. Not a fan of ballet I suddenly discovered a new appreciation for the art. Captured in that moment was the unspoken bond between a Father and his first born, the circle of life so beautifully encompassed.
All of our toil, our achievements, our aspirations lead us to an end where we leave behind a legacy, for those embarking on what we have spent a lifetime discovering. While most of us hope the best for the generation starting out, mostly, we pray that they don’t repeat our mistakes but mainly we want to inform them that it will be alright. Don’t beat yourself over a mistake, you’ll make worse ones along the way; no heartbreak lasts forever; no matter what anyone says it’s never the end of the world; love yourself especially if no one else will; aim for the stars, don’t live a life of regrets it passes quick enough; and look to the heavens ever so often, it’s too late when your time is up, you’ve missed the whole point of living.
That’s what Mum’s book is all about, the journey of January’s child, the journey of a sixties girl, raw and undiluted. Along the way we meet kind family members, inspirational people, fun loving souls, charming men, pretty girls, and we discover life in Australia sixty odd years ago.