Sunday, October 28, 2012

Was it as good as we thought it was ....

A not-so-maudlin trip down memory lane ….

I’m in my 70’s now. I am retired tho’ Rhonda still works – curse of the new world economics, I s’pose – Kat is all grown up and has two sons of her own.

Today, Sunday, I was awake early – sleeping late is not my ‘thing’ these days as I prefer an afternoon nap of an hour or so.

While the house was still quiet I got to thinking on days gone bye. I tend to lean towards being a ‘melancholic’, being fundamentally introverted and deep thinking. I worry about things like not being on time for an event and I get preoccupied with being the perfectionist (I hate typos and fret if I find I have introduced one lol!), so much so that I do tend to become so involved in what I am doing I lose all contact with the surrounding world and forget to consider others. Often I have been doing something while I wait for Rhonda, for example, to start the washing up only to come out and find she’s already done it, or, while waiting for her to prepare a shopping list before we go shopping to discover her having been sitting at the table for fifteen minutes waiting for me.

Any-hoo-dee-doo-dee, that’s all off the point. I was thinking back to the days just after we were married. We had arrived in Canberra in the early 1970’s and life was full of so much promise. Accommodation was very hard to find in the town of that time and what was available was very expensive but the hospital I was to work for were desperate to engage me. Rhonda was pregnant with Kat and had stopped nursing.

The hospital medical superintendent at my new hospital offered us a year’s lease on a married quarters apartment on the proviso we purchased a government block of housing land and began to build ourselves our own home – which we did - a "win-win" situation for both he and myself. The nursing administration found Rhonda a temporary position as a receptionist in the hospital School of Nursing. Things were looking good but times were also tough. Australia had just come out of recession and the economy was starting to blossom again. We divested ourselves of our second car – Rhonda’s ‘little baby’, her first new car – and sold off a lot of our excess furniture, pouring all our income into the home we were building.

Our new home was (then) way out on the southern periphery of Canberra in the Tuggeranong Valley – a place where no-one yet resided – and people questioned us to why we were moving “…. So far out of town, in ‘the sticks’…”? But to us it was a dream, the opportunity to build and own a new home, something we would have found impossible to do if we had stayed in Sydney and we would have probably remained in a rental apartment block if we had stayed in Sydney.

We had our ups and downs, of, course. Kat was born – the first child born from among that hospital's residential area. My mum died, which really cut me up, and my father was also to die not long after (I lost my best ‘mate’ when he died.) We did get into our new home – the first occupants of a new urban development area -  and we spent years fitting it out, carpeting, curtains, furnishing, landscaping, manicuring gardens, putting in a portable pool and a ‘play gym’ set for Kat, watching her grow and go to school nearby. We socialised with neighbours (who were, in the main, young family couples like ourselves) and enjoyed our breaks away to the south coast beaches whenever the opportunity presented.

They were ‘halcyon days’. Those were the days of learning to be a parent and a family and doing parenting and family things. A couple of my friends had also moved down from Sydney so we formed a little group of Sydney expatriates and did things together like weekend barbecues and picnics out along the Murrumbidgee River or the Cotter Reserve. We made lots of friends at a time when Canberra was a very ‘family-focused’ city.

Times changed. Kat grew up and fled the nest. I took on a brief career change into teaching. Rhonda had returned to nursing. We became “DINKS” – Dual Income, No Kids! – and were moderately well off.

We sold our home and bought and moved into a townhouse which, coincidentally, had been built in a new sub-division in one of the localities we used to picnic with friends. Trees, creeks and paddocks were now roadways, concrete and brick homes and macadam carparks. We purchased a holiday cabin at the coast and thought that one day we would move to the coast in preparation for our retired years – a venture we later reneged on owing to the social dynamics of growing older in a coastal region deplete of  the necessary ‘caring resources'. We were able to weather the worsening financial situations of the late 1990’s, early 2000’s.

I went back to nursing, in a round-about way, working in Injury Management and Occupational Health Services (I later became the Safety Officer for several local government councils). Rhonda kept on soldiering on at nursing as her career. Eventually, we found our way back up ‘over the mountain’ and living once more on the southern slopes and tablelands, ‘God’s country’ for us!

Those halcyon days were long gone, a thing of our past, and there was no going back. We accepted what we had as our lot, a thing of maturity I suppose, and always now to look forward and rarely back and to think of what always would be 'best for us'. We learnt that we could indulge ourselves and enjoy life's finer offerings without feeling any 'guilt'.

Still, every now and again it is good to sit and reminisce of those seemingly warm spring and summer seasons, the colours of autumn and the warmth of a log fire in winter. Those days were the days of ‘wine and roses’, when your world was wide, life was good and you thought you had it all.

Do I regret it? Not at all! Would I do it over again? Most definitely! Would I change anything? With the benefit of hind-sight, 'Yes', there are a few things I would undo, mostly mistakes I made that complicated what was otherwise a good life!


AstridsSoapbox said...

What a beautiful and touching reminiscence. You had me smiling and remembering my own walk into maturity. Lovely post John.

JohnD said...

Thank you!

The Elephant's Child said...

When my mother first came to Australia from the UK she went into Government Housing - in Yarralumla. Everyone said she was mad, living so far out. One bus into town in the morning, another out at night. 1952. She stayed in that house. Was widowed. Remarried and had me. Widowed again. And yes, by the time she died Yarralumla was certainly not 'so far out'.

JohnD said...

Yarralumla, today, is prime lakeside residential estate! Properties there are rarely advertised 'cos agents have a list of 'would be' buyers.

Cindy@NorthofWiarton said...

Thank you for sharing that part of yourself, John. I do so admire you and Rhonda, have I ever said?

"Just Me" xx