Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mother's last train trip

This is compiled from what I recall Mother telling me at the time and what Mother recently told me.

Many people in Pakenham did it and Mother was no exception. The good folk of Pakenham used to catch the country train from town to Pakenham even though the train was pick up only at Pakenham. The reason was that it was faster, being an express train, quieter, there was a conductor on board and it was less likely that there would be rowdy youth on the train.

At various times there was a clamp down on Pakenham people who had a suburban train service but used the country service. Mother of course, took no notice of any clamp down. Into her sixties she was still a user of buses, trams and trains.

Now she has the luxury of a bus going past her house that can take her in two directions, most importantly to the local shops, but she says she is past using public transport.

The last time she caught a train was from Flinders Street Station. She waited at the usual country train  platform for the train that was due about 5.30. She waited a good while. She thought it was late. It did eventually arrive. After Dandenong Station the conductor checked her suburban train ticket and informed her that there had been a timetable change and the next stop would be Warragul, a good half hour on from Pakenham.

Mother was loaded with shopping bags as well as her own handbags, plural. She put on a sob story to the conductor that her husband would kill her if he had to drive to Warragul to pick her up from the station. Whether the train was going to stop anyway or not I don't know, but the conductor indicated to Mother that it was making a special stop just for her at Pakenham and she needed to be ready to jump off really quickly as the train would only stop for a second or two. Mother was in panic mode and jumped out of the train so quickly she half fell onto the platform on top of her parcels.

She then carted her parcels to the phone box to ring the home phone for Step Father to pick her up from the station. She just rang the home phone and someone would come to pick her up. No need to pay for the call.

My mind boggles if she had gone on to Warragul and had to find change to make a phone call to Step Father to collect her. I am sure she would have called on the kindness of strangers to help her. Mother is rather good at that.

So there you go. That was Mother's last train trip, and apart from going on a couple of trams under our care when she expressed an interest in seeing Docklands one Father's Day, it was her last public transport experience.

I think there is only one more Mother's last posts to go. It was the last time she walked to the local shops and  it is not particularly amusing or pretty.


14 comments:

  1. Clever lady she sounds like fun.
    Merle........

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    1. Merle, she certainly used to be. There is a glimmer of the past at times.

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  2. Nicely and affectionately written

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    1. Thanks John. I need to work on being able to say positive things at her funeral.

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  3. what John and Merle said ditto.
    Bless the nice conductor being very kind and sensible.
    The 'rowdy youth' on trains could be avoided by giving them cars of course. Every boy needs a car for his 18th birthday. Vandalism would be reduced too.
    Ballarat line is no longer a 'country' train with so very many STOPS before SoCross it is just a very very long suburban line.

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    1. Ann, I bet the Ballarat trip is no quicker now than when it was steam trains.

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  4. Poor mother, half falling off the train like that. That's a scary moment for her, no wonder she stopped going by train. But at least they made that stop for her that one last time. So is Warragul a half hour from Pakenham by train or walking? Half an hour by train is a heck of a distance.

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    1. River, half an hour by train or car. I expect the train had a reason to stop, aside from Mother. The conductor put the frighteners on her to stop her catching the country train. It was effective, but I don't think it was the reason she stopped using public transport. It was the beginning of her world becoming smaller.

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  5. Poor Mum, that would put me off getting on another train :) I went into the city on Friday evening by train it was fantastically easy.. The train was clean and best of all cool, it was high 30's outside AND you alight right in the middle of the city..I really should use it more often!

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    1. Indeed you should Grace.

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  6. That would be my last train trip, too! "Be prepared to jump..." What a picture.

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    1. Mitchell, sounds a bit humorous now, but I expect Mother was in a state of panic.

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  7. I suppose we don't always get the chance to realise that something our parent does is a last event for them. Not at the time they do it anyway.

    My mother, by then deep into dementia and mostly unreactive to interpersonal contact, smiled at me as I waved her goodbye on what turned out to be my last visit with her at her nursing home.

    Even as it happened I felt it significant because she hadn't displayed that level of emotion to me in some months. I didn't know at that moment that the next time I would see her would be four days later when she was unconscious with heart failure and within a couple of hours of death.

    That smile remains firmly in my memory.

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    1. That was moving Victor. My step father did the same the day before he died. I did not understand the significance of his smile the last time I saw him.

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