Tags: family, friends, gratitude, reading
Every week, Cee poses us five questions. In answering Cee’s questions, we share a little of our world with fellow bloggers and readers. Thank you, Cee. Here are Cee’s questions for Week 45.
What is your favorite color?
Blue has always been my favourite colour. Very predictable I suppose, as it seems about half the world has blue as a favourite! The blue I love best is the deep blue of the Australian sky that we especially see in autumn. Stunning!
In what do you find the simplest of joys?
Both my husband and I find all our joys in the everyday things around us – we couldn’t afford anything more anyway, so it is good that it keeps our focus on the small things.
We love our many kids (8 between us) and grandkids (11 and another on the way), but they all live at a distance from us. So, getting a photo of them at their daily lives and activities, or a drawing from one of the grandchildren, warms our hearts. So does speaking with any of them by phone or Skype. In the meantime, we truly relish what nature shares with us.
Would you prefer a reading nook or an art, craft, photography studio?
My study is crammed with books and scrapbooking materials and albums, as well as my computer desk where I do a lot of my writing. It is rather crowded, but I can get by with the space I have for those.
I have a nice comfy chair in the lounge room where I can read. However that is where the TV is. I rarely watch TV, so when I go there to read, hubby is really good to me and wears earphones to listen to it. It would be lovely if I could have a bigger study so I could have my comfy reading chair in there too.
What is at least one of your favorite quotes?
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week we visited an old friend in hospital after a bowel cancer operation. We are always amazed at 92-year-old Jean and her positive attitude to life. We are grateful to have her as a friend.
We are going to visit some of my husband’s kids and grandkids tomorrow, and will also see some of my siblings. I am particularly looking forward to seeing my younger sister, as we haven’t been able to spend any time together for over a year. It will be great to catch up.
Tags: family, family support, kith and kin, migration, separation of families
Kith: Old English cȳthth, of Germanic origin; related to couth. The original senses were ‘knowledge’, ‘one’s native land’, and ‘friends and neighbours’. The phrase kith and kin originally denoted one’s country and relatives; later one’s friends and relatives. This is the only way ‘kith’ is used nowadays.
Familial relationships used to be the basis of community in past times, and still are in small village societies where people still live in smaller groups. Such communities are mostly made up of ‘kith and kin’, who depend upon each other for security and support, especially in difficult times.
Grandparents would often care for children so that parents could provide for their families. But as societies grew larger and more sophisticated, this interdependence lessened, especially with the industrialisation of western societies. People paid others to do what family normally would have done.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,, periods of huge waves of international migration, families lost that cohesiveness. They were split apart and millions never saw their children or their parents again
That was the case for my father when we migrated from England to Australia in 1954. Dad never saw his parents again. Mum only did because her parents and brother followed us out here. I have never seen any of the relatives we left behind, and most of them are now gone.
There has also been considerable migration in the past fifty years within countries as family members have to move to find work. My own five sons were scattered across Australia at one time. Four of them have settled closer together now, though one still lives overseas. But they all live too far away for me to see them more than two or three times a year.
There do appear to be indications that families are again having to rely on kith and kin for support. With the high cost of childcare, and the need for both parents to work, relatives, especially grandparents, are increasingly taking on the role they traditionally had.
I just wish my sons lived close enough that I could, at least occasionally, be a minder for my grandchildren.
How much contact do you have with your family? Are they scattered, like mine, or are they close by? Is it better to have some distance between you and them, or would you prefer they were close by?
© Linda Visman 12.04.2014 (360 words)
Tags: culture, Eurasian, family, indigenous people, migrant, mixed race, remote area, teaching, writer
2. I dislike all forms of institutionalised religion, especially those that insist you must believe only in their doctrines. I think these have been the cause of a great deal of anguish and violence in the world. I was brought up a Catholic, but it was my parents, not the church who gave me a moral foundation; the church just gave me a lot of guilt.
3. I am a serial monogamist: My first marriage lasted sixteen years; my second relationship lasted twenty good years; I have now been happily married, for the second time for nine and a half years. 4. From my first marriage I have five wonderful sons and six beautiful grandchildren – another due next month. My husband, who was Dutch, has two sons and a daughter, and four lovely grandchildren. We are a very Asia-oriented family; which is a good thing given Australia’s proximity to Asia. Of our combined (eight) children’s spouses, one is Japanese, one Chinese Malaysian, one Chinese and five Caucasian of Anglo descent. Five of our ten grandchildren are Eurasian.
5. I have two brothers and two sisters, and we are all older than we want to be.
6. In this country I have lived in two states (NSW and South Australia) and one territory (Northern Territory), in regions ranging from sea to central desert and other inland areas. I love it all.
7. During the 1990s, I was a teacher, head teacher and principal in two schools in Aboriginal communities located far from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Those years were hard in terms of the effort I put into my work, but I loved my time there. The people are very welcoming and they know when they are being bull-shitted. Like any people, if you’re straight with them, care for and respect them, they will love and respect you.
8. I have wanted to write all my life, but until I was 57 in 2005, I thought I couldn’t do anything other than essays and reports (though I did them well). Then my husband encouraged me to try creative writing. This has opened up a well-spring of stories, poems and novels. I have published one YA novel, two children’s novels are almost ready for publication, and I am well into another YA novel. I have also been writing this blog since January 2010, and it has been great for both myself and my writing.
Is there something about you and your life that’s a bit different? Share one interesting fact about yourself.
© Linda Visman 3rd April 2014 (445 words)
Tags: Alzheimers, family, microbanks, missionary, poinsettia
I stayed at my sister’s house for a month so I could care for Dad. He is ninety-one years old, blind, lives alone, and has Alzheimer’s. My sister is Dad’s primary carer, but was away with her husband, doing missionary work in Tanzania. They were setting up micro-banks in remote villages, so the people there can set up their own small money-making projects.
I was at her house over May and June, which is early winter here in Australia. The poinsettia in the front garden was in full brilliant colour.
One day, after a rain shower, I grabbed my camera to capture the brilliant colour and the lovely water drops.
Beauty is everywhere!
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: 1930s, 1940s.1950, family, memories, music, RAF, singing, songs, WWII
I shared a special two hours with Dad today. I went to pick him up and take him out for lunch. He doesn’t get out of the house much, being blind, deaf and not very strong. After all, he will be 91 in nine days.
As I drove down the freeway to Kiama, I faintly heard Dad singing. I listened, picked up the song – an oldie from his young days – and joined him singing it.
From that song, we went on to sing other oldies, all of which I knew too. We sang all the way to Kiama, and then, softly, we continued to sing together as we waited for our lunch to arrive. During one of those songs, tears came to Dad’s eyes and his voice broke. It was “I’m singing a song for the old folk”. Dad was remembering his dearly loved parents, who died when I was very young, and I was remembering my mother
After lunch, we drove home through beautiful green dairy country instead of on the freeway. As I drove fairly slowly along the back roads (virtually no traffic), we sang again. Dad sang the same songs over and over. He has Alzheimers and his short-term memory is exceedingly poor, so he couldn’t remember he’d already sung them. But he was happy and, to me, it mattered not at all. I sang along with him every time as if it were a new song.
He seems to remember these times when we share the past more than he does the everyday present moments, and they mean a lot to him. It was a very special time for me too. I felt privileged that I could share it with him.
When we arrived back at Dad’s home (he lives at home alone, as my mother died eighteen years ago this week), we chatted about singing, and how it raises the spirits and unites people in a special way. He said how wonderful it was as a boy and young man to hear his father’s lovely tenor singing his favourite songs from the music hall shows and the radio.
Dad has always loved singing and, in the sergeants’ mess, when he served in the Royal Air Force in WWII, he would sometimes start up a song. Others would join in and soon, thirty or more men would be singing together – popular and humorous war songs, even love songs. Dad said it was a very moving and unifying experience.
When they’d sung themselves out, one of Dad’s mates would say, “Thommo, you can’t sing to save your life, but you really get us all going”.
I remember when I was a child that we would sing together when our extended family got together, both in England and in Australia. We would sing for ages, and this is why I know so many songs from the 1930s and 40s. When we went driving in the Australian countryside in our old car, we often sang too.
Mum often had the local radio on when we were kids, so we also picked up a variety of songs from the 1950s. And even though the songs from the 60s were those of MY generation, she loved many of them too.
Later in my life, there were times when I hardly ever sang. They were the down times, when life wasn’t easy, for various reasons. Then I met my second husband. He loves to hear me sing, even though I do not have a good voice. (None of my paternal father’s offspring and descendants have inherited his lovely singing voice).
Now, I love to sing again and, when I do, I am uplifted and strengthened.
But singing with Dad is something special, remembering parents, grandparents and mates, and good times once shared, all now gone except in our memory.
© Linda Visman
Tags: Baby Boomers, childhood, family, history, memory
I possess very little from my childhood; not the only doll I ever had, that the dog chewed up, nor bits of the wooden scooter Dad made one Christmas. I don’t even have the things that I was really keen to hang on to, that were important to me then; things like my Missal (Mass book), my First Communion and Confirmation medals and certificates, and especially the books I loved.
In the 1950s, we were a struggling English migrant family of seven (five kids), living in a tiny three-roomed house in a tiny village in rural Australia. Dad added a room to the house when our uncle and aunt and two cousins arrived from England to stay with us until they could get their own place, and another when our grandparents followed them.
My little brother, the fifth child, was born not long before they arrived. There was little room for thirteen of us, let alone old toys and papers, and that sort of thing didn’t ever seem that important to my parents anyway. It didn’t worry me at the time either; I was only a kid. But times have changed since then.
I would love to have the books I treasured as a child, examples of my writing or school work, anything at all in my handwriting. The only original things I do have are a few report cards, my references from secondary school, and the three certificates I received during my education – one on leaving the convent primary school where I was female dux, one at the end of my third high school year, and my high school matriculation. The only example of my writing that I have consists of one article, printed in the second annual magazine of our high school, in 1963.
In 1969, I went back home for a visit after I had married and was teaching far away. I do not remember seeing anything of mine in the house; not my book collection, including Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, nor the WWII model aeroplanes (Dad had been an RAF fighter pilot in the war) and model vintage cars that I’d had in my bedroom. Strange as it may seem, I never asked where my things had gone.
Another strange thing: when St Paul’s, my old primary school, celebrated the centenary of the St Joseph sisters in 1983, they produced a booklet about the teachers and the school. There were only three teachers, all nuns, when I attended, though it is a large school now. Daybreak, the Centenary booklet, contains quite a few old class photos. Both my sisters and both my brothers are in there, but I am not – and we could never afford to buy school photos.
Similarly, at the state high school my husband and I had attended for five years, many student records were destroyed in a major flood about twenty years ago. The only records lost were those from the exact years we were there, 1961 to 1965. It is as if we had never been there – apart from my name in the school magazines I was able to buy.
In many ways, I feel like I have lost a major part of my childhood. Most of my ‘history’ has gone. It doesn’t help that I also have only a fragmented memory of those times.
Perhaps as a result of all this, I tried not to throw anything out that belonged to my five children. I don’t know what they still keep from these items – all 5 being boys, and movers about the country to find good careers, I suppose they haven’t bothered – and somehow, I only have a few of their things myself.
Thirty-five years ago, I began researching and putting together the family history. I have written a book, in two editions, about our family antecedents, including historical and social conditions of the times. It focuses in greater detail on the individuals since about 1850. Years of research made me well aware of the importance of records in establishing the life of any individual in any time.
But to know a person, we need to have more of them beyond bare genealogical details. And that has led to my being designated as ‘family historian’. In order to save what I can of us as individuals, I have become a hoarder of my own memorabilia and anything associated with my family. I have only a few of my parents’ small possessions – which are virtually all that remain of their lives, apart from memories that fade over time. These too will be lost as my generation and our children die out.
My published novel, Ben’s Challenge, and its sequel, Ben’s Choice, my current work-in-progress, are based on childhood memories and experiences in the area in which I grew up. I wanted to pass on the knowledge of those times to the children of today, especially to my own grandchildren. Instead, I find that the first book has ignited memories in older folk who lived during those times, and they have enjoyed being taken back to their childhood.
I think the books may also be a search for my own past. Perhaps I have never gotten over the loss of what was really my own childhood identity.
What items do you treasure from your childhood?
© Linda Visman,
Tags: Christmas, family, friends, gifts, joy, love, peace, security, thankfulness
We have just had a simple lunch out on the verandah – toasted sandwiches with a cup of tea.
It is so lovely out – a beautiful Australian summer day; warm but not hot; breezy but not really windy; not as humid as it has been; sunny and bright; and still clean from yesterday’s rain.
The beauty of the place we live brings home to us, even more than usual, how very fortunate we are.
We have peace and security, in our family, our home, our neighbourhood and our country.
We have plenty to eat, regular and clean water, the clothes we need, a comfortable bed and a home of our own.
We have reasonable health, even after several scares, and we have good medical care.
We are blessed with lovely friends and decent neighbours, as well as families we love and are proud of.
We have worked hard through life, and can now enjoy retirement in a delightful place where people come for their holidays.
My husband and I exchanged gifts this Christmas morning; gifts that were bought with love and thoughtfulness.
We were able to speak by telephone with our eight children, who all live far away, and with their older children; to share in their day just a little – enough to know that we are loved, and to tell them of our love for them.
There is a sense of gentle peace all around us today – no cars going by, no noisy parties, and even the local dogs aren’t barking for a change. The twittering of the numerous birds only adds to the beauty.
We have so much to be thankful for – and we are thankful for it.
I hope that anyone who reads this has had the good fortune to experience the same peace, joy, love and thankfulness.
That is what Christmas is about – even for a non-believer.
© Linda Visman