Friday, May 28, 2010

Mother to Lakes Entrance

Back in the 1970s my parents separated. Father moved in with his new lady friend and I with him. Mother, who had never really done paid work, took a job as a live in housekeeper with my brothers and sister for a man and his two teenage sons who lived at Grassy Spur. I doubt any of you will know where that is, but for those of you with an equine interest, it is near Stony Creek.

After a couple of years she had had enough of fighting off the affections of the chap she was housekeeping for and moved in with her parents in Oakleigh. Three adults and three children in a two bedroom house did not work for very long. Tradie brother who was about eleven, was an absolute mess.

Her father bought her a house in Pakenham and although she was city born, she had grown used to country life and odd as it now sounds, Pakenham was then very much a country town. There were still apple orchards there then and the joke was packen em apples.

Through a lonely hearts column in a now deceased newspaper, no, rag, she had various suitors and she had narrowed them down to two. One was rich farmer who lived just outside Lakes Entrance and the other someone without money, prospects and lived in a rented flat in St Kilda. The deciding factor was that if she took up with the farmer, the kids would again be uprooted from school as she would have to move to Lakes Entrance. She decided on the one without money and he moved in in time and went on to become my step father. He was a good man and an excellent day to day father for my brothers and sister, but he was never a good financial provider. He did little more than pay board and used his car for my family's benefit.

Although my grandparents had a considerable amount of money when they retired from their market garden, inflation and secure but poorly performing investments reduced its value considerably. By time they died and mother as sole beneficiary got her hands on the money, not much was left. I often joke that Mother spent it all on shoes for herself. She has never been good with money but to be fair, bringing up three children is not cheap and I consider she did a good job of bringing up my brothers and sister. They lived to the same standard as most of their school mates.

And what does Mother think about her decision some three decades ago to go for the dependable, stay in control as head of the house and not move her children from school for a fourth time, or throw her lot and her children into the deep unknown in Lakes Entrance where she on the face of it, have had a very financially secure and stable life?

You couldn't get a straight answer to that direct question from her but she can often be heard to say, 'I wish I'd gone to Lakes Entrance.'


  1. The mozzies and regular flooding would have driven her to drink.

  2. What a fascinating story and it leaves me with so many questions. Are you writing a book? Why did you stay with your father and the others not? Hmm perhaps I will need to delve within the layers of this blog for more answers or await the next instalment.

  3. Anonymous11:53 am

    The old 'what if' question. Most regrets are around the things we didn't do, rather than those we did. On the face of things though I'd say your Mum made the best choice for herself at the time.

  4. Maybe Jayne. Especially the mozzies.

    No book Cheryl. I just occasionally post bits of old family stuff. Try labels down below for family and childhood. A lot to wade through though. I will write some more soon since you liked it. I went with my father for lifestyle choices. I was 15 and I hated being on a farm and wanted to live in a town. Mother stayed on the farm until it was sold.

    Yep MD, quite right. Her choice was ok really.

  5. I get the feeling your mother chose the one she loved, and that is priceless. I really enjoy your autobiographical posts too, Andrew.

  6. Thanks LiD but I wouldn't put money on it.

  7. Jayne, mosquitos thrive in ti-tree scrub, so posh Portsea is full of them too, God's Divine Retribution on rich people.
    Andrew, divorce is a terrible thing, but I have to say that your father (and his amour) certainly raised you pretty well.
    I know from personal experience that an emotionally traumatised woman should never be left in charge of a large sum of money.

    There is a movie about life's choices and where they might variously have taken us, it's called Sliding Doors, and it is such a good theme, I wish somebody would remake it without gloomy Gwyneth*Paltry in the lead.
    A great fill-in-the-blank game can be played:
    If I hadn't *****
    then I wouldn't have *****.

    oh yes indeed.

  8. You are right about emotionally traumatised women. When she received her inheritance, she was so relieved not to have to worry about money for a while, but the money did not last. She quickly sold her mother's house and the later regretted doing so.

    Now that would be a Kennedy quote.

  9. Anonymous3:52 am

    All too complicated for me - I got no way of figuring all this emotional stuff out, even in my own life.
    But thank you Andrew - a nice piece of writing.

  10. It is easier to do many years down the track Michael.

  11. Who knows what "Lakes Entrance" ,ight have done to the family - it might have been tough...but you guys all turned out okay I think...and you care and love her...
    we are where we are meant to regrets. The other reality may have been dreadful not wonderful because there was security...if the one she chose was a nice man...give me a nice man any day

  12. It could have turned out badly indeed MC. Nice is a word to describe late step father. Passionate or romantic, no.