Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Someone stole Step Mother's Playmates

My stepmother was born in Casterton, in south western Victoria, but before long she she was growing up in a tent on the banks of the Murray River that divides the states of Victoria and New South Wales.

Unlike myself who knows little of NSW laws, Step Mother knows more than I do. She knows about the country New South Wales in a way I don't. While my upbringing was not privileged, I did not go without and I grew up in a house and not in a tent on the edge of a river. Step Mother did it tough and who would blame her if she had a serious chip on her shoulder and at times offended almost everybody. That Father loved her far more than he ever loved Mother is to her credit. In reference to a previous post, the noise that emanated from Step Mother's and Father's bedroom was as horrendous to teenage lad, as it was marvellous.

Where am I going with this. I must complete it as I like what I have already written so far.

Father, Step Mother and myself were sitting on the riverbank of the Murrumbidgee River, dangling a hook as they say. I was about 19. Step Mother had squeezed out the adolescent black heads on my back and then told me I should have a girlfriend to do such a thing. Father then spoke of wonderful young nurse at his local hospital who might be an appropriate marriage prospect for me. It wasn't the last time he suggested a woman who might be suitable marriage material for me.

Some years later after Father died, Step Mother gave me a good serve for getting her drunk on whiskey the night before. What? I got myself drunk too! Some home truths came out and I asked her why Father never accepted me as being gay. The ever caring R, was as kind to Father as he is to rest of my family. Clearly Father knew we were in a relationship but he never recognised it. Step Mother could only reply with a fudged answer. Yes, Father knew, but he could not understand.

My father was very clever in a practical manner and also in a learned manner. He read books, he could fix anything, he could speak Latin and tell you the hypotenuse of the circumference of the radius, whatever. The records of his breeding cattle were meticulous. As a builder he would question architects about the foolishness of their plans and was proved correct. He played Australian Rules Football, danced beautifully and was on many local committees. When a new school Head Master began at the local school who the locals instantly disliked because he was young, had long hair, holey jumpers and played a guitar, Father defended him to the school committee and he stayed and in time became respected by all.  Did I grieve terribly when Father died? No, not really. I felt sadness and now I feel some loss as there are things I want to ask him about, but personally, I don't really miss him. Our connection was never so great and the year 2000 was a long time ago now.

I am not sure what I was going to write about now but my fingers have run fast. It began with Step Mother and so it shall conclude. Step Mother living on the banks of  the Murray River on the NSW side had Aboriginal playmates, who were also impoverished and lived in similar humble circumstances. Children don't see colour of skin or different culture. I am trying to think of a year, perhaps 1948. One day, Step Mother's Aboriginal playmates were all taken away by the authorities.

26 comments:

  1. Fathers of that generation seemed capable of anything. Are today's young Dads as talented?

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    1. Victor, no, they are not so clever, but many show great love and affection for their children, and I think that is more important.

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  2. I love your response to Victor. Showing affection trumps fixing things any day in my head. Perhaps because my father, talented in many ways, froze before admitting to any emotion - except anger.

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    1. It was a very different time EC. Most fathers were as you describe, I think. While there is nothing wrong with my parents, I wonder how different I would have turned out if received affection as children now do.

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  3. I'm going to ask you a strange question, I too had a step mother, my father remarried very late in life after my mum died, dad died about 10 years later and we have never heard from her since, my sister and I were rather surprised as we had made the effort to get to know her etc.
    After dad died his half of the house was hers as long as she lived there, it wasn't long before she wanted to sell up and move on and wanted us to give her the whole amt but his will stated if it was sold we would get a 1/4 share each so we stuck to our guns and insisted we got the money, my idea was that he never really trusted her do you think I was right.
    Merle..........

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    1. Merle, without doubt you were right. It was his will and how he wanted things. At times I think wills could be challenged, but mostly not. It is the dead person's wishes. Sometimes men can be quite stupid, but not always. I think your father did well for you and I think it is fairly clear he had a clear understanding of his relationship with your stepmother. To put it precisely, he did not trust her and he was right not to.

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  4. That's so sad Andrew about the aboriginal kids being taken away. It ties in with the rest about your father being a bit distant. My own father was the same.

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    1. Rubye, taken away for their own good, no doubt. I have very mixed views about the policies then, which are black and white for most people now. ie such a thing should never had happened.

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  5. sad that your dad didn't understand your relationship with R, but even without understanding acceptance is possible if one is willing. My dad died in 2000 as well.

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    1. River, he certainly accepted and the benefits that came to him by R being such a caring person. It is something I should think more about, but I don't really care to.

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  6. It was so interesting reading this post as it made me think of my father who died when I was 20. Although there wasn't much money around I had the necessities of life but I never knew love or affection from either of my parents. I don't ever remember the word love being used and also recall that I was never allowed to hold my parents hands or link arms. Something I accepted as not being unusual. When I became a parent I realised how different my upbringing was in those days. The gap between my parents generation and my own is enormous. I know they loved me in their own way it was just never demonstrated or acknowledged. Perhaps this was the same for your own father.

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    1. Fun60, yes very much the same. My parents loved me. Of that I have no doubt. But people weren't demonstrative then. When I cross a road with my niece, she automatically reaches for my hand. I don't even remember that. She often has cuddles from her parents. I don't recall cuddles at all. I hope you gave your own kids a lot of cuddles, but if you didn't, well, you didn't have good role models in that area. I did note in England now, it is much the same as here, with great affection between parents and their children. But then I also wonder, did our upbringing make us more resilient?

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  7. Many people back then had more difficult lives (ie poverty, illness, hardship, living conditions etc) and I wonder if this made them 'harder' people?? If parents have nothing within their belief structure to accept a situation (ie child 'living in sin', baby born out of wedlock, gay child etc) then sometimes it is easier to accept the situation by failing to confirm it. So if they don't 'know' officially because they haven't asked, then that allows them to accept by default. Still, it's a form of denial, but maybe the only way their belief system allows them to accept??

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    1. Also Red, it may sound a little heartless, but if you have half a dozen children you might not quite treasure them quite as if you have two. I am not sure that people were harder, but they certainly did not show emotion like they now do.

      I see what you mean and I take your point. The 'g' word has never been discussed with my mother even. I suppose she refers to R as my partner to other people.

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  8. This is a fascinating glimpse into your family and into social history. Glad things have changed, but wish they were now completely better. My heart does warm to some of the relationships I now witness between fathers and sons. So much less common when I was a kid. Oddly and admirably, my cold, judgmental father accepted my being gay and immediately welcomed my partner into the family... more than 30 years ago. He really surprised me.

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    1. Mitchell, it was a conversation I never had with my father, although he was quite accepting of R but then he was quite a socially tolerant person too. I assume your mother was ok about it? They usually are.

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    2. My father was actually easier than my mother. He asked, "Are you happy?" I said, "Happier than I've ever been." He said, "Then who the fuck cares!?" My mother talked more and said some unkind things over the years, but came around and is now incredible.

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    3. It is so narrow of 'straight' people to think their way is the only way. I know I would have been cool if any of my 3 adult children were gay. When I observed to my dtr age 40 that my grandson 5 might be gay she went a funny colour and a funny shape and now we don't speak. I hope you have all seen the film In And Out (get it now if you have not).

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    4. Mitchell, funnily as I was writing that, I thought, I bet I am wrong about your mother.

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    5. Em Stacks, time will tell with your grandson. I have seen the film but it was some time ago.

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  9. Great post dear cameraface, keep em coming.

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    1. Thanks Ann. Your approval means something to me.

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  10. Excellent post Andrew you communicate in a very succinct manner.. must admit to enjoying all comments and your responses above also. My dad was affectionate but having three daughters couldn't have been easy :)

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    1. If I can brag Grace, I have very intelligent commenters who also have loads of common sense, a rare combination.

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    2. Good about your dad, Grace. Of course for your father there was his one difficult daughter.....

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  11. There are dads of these days who are capable of being compared with mothers. They both have equal rights in the eye of law for their child.

    Regards,
    Kristo Jackal
    DUI Attorney Tampa

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