Sunday, October 18, 2009

From Mother's Wardrobe and a Fire Story

This is a photo of Mother's parents when they married. Lucky I take after my paternal side in the hair department. The bridesmaid is my grandmother's sister and the best man is my grandfather's brother. They later married too.

Of course my great grandfather was there to give my grandmother away. My grandmother's formidable and stern mother is not in the photo.

My grandmother was a slave to her older brothers and sisters. She had a hard life as market gardener's daughter and then a market gardener's wife. When asked by my grandfather if she would like a hot water service installed in the early fifties, she settled for a kitchen sink heater and a chip heater for the bath and continued to heat water in an outside copper for washing clothes.

She was never shown any affection and so nor did she ever show any. She was wonderful to us, her grandchildren, just not demonstrative. She was quite characterless and had no interests aside from her family. Her only excitement in her old age was a game of Beetles or Whist with her church acquaintances.

I don't seel any connection between the woman in the photo to my grandmother. She was old and slow moving by her late fifties when I have my first memories of her. She outlasted my grandfather by a couple of years and died at the age of 74 in 1978. She was treated very badly by the staff at Cabrini Hospital in Malvern in her last days. To be treated with indifference and not noticed was her lot in life. She knew her duty and always did her duty. Tradie Brother and Sister won't have strong memories of her, but ABI Brother and I do. I hope she knew how much we loved her.

My grandmother grew up on a market garden where Monash University now sprawls. Their house was on a rise. Mother recounted to me just yesterday how her mother and siblings on summer nights used to watch the fires burning in the Dandenong Ranges. This sounds like it was a very frequent occurrence.

I fear for the Dandenong Ranges. When it used to burn, there were farms and small villages. The last really bad fire in 1983, Cockatoo, was not even really in the Dandenong Ranges but adjacent to them. Now houses are sprinkled right across the Dandenong Ranges, as perhaps they are across the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It might not happen this year or even next year or the year after, but it will happen. Insure highly and get out is my advice.

But, my opinion I strongly hasten to add, just because it might be one of these new Code Red Days, unless there is actually a fire burning in an area where it could come to you, a case of the Boy Who Cried Wolf will quickly arrive. Don't tire or wear yourself out needlessly evacuating. There has to firstly be a fire that may affect you.

PS. I am astonished to be now watching on story about fires in the Dandenongs on last weeks Stateline as I just tidy this post up a bit that was mainly written a couple of days ago.


  1. I used to get so damned cross with peers who treated patients badly and I certainly let them know it.
    I'm sorry to hear your grandmother didn't have such a comfy end as it could have been.
    Scary thing is someone or other did a study a few years back and the majority of the fires in the Dandys are deliberate.

  2. Jayne, I think my mother had a rant at staff....probably the wrong ones.

    I didn't know that about the fires, but no surprise.

  3. Andrew, I hope your MUm did rant at the staff, and even if they were the wrong ones I am sure the right ones would soon have heard. I agree with Jayne, ther is no time of place for nurses to treat anyone like that..and I do not stand back and watch it, I develop a quick tongue at the right time (old age, hehe).
    The fires at the Dandenongs scare me. My mum's cousin lives in the thick of it up there in Olinda, he has a castle like place he built int he early 70's. The undergrowth is abundant...and I think if there is just one flicker or spark, that would be it. Insure high and get out..yep you are right.
    The picture is great to see of the wedding. I always look at photos and wonder whatt he day was like, how long it took to get ready, what scent the bride wore and the colour of the flowers and so on. I love the frame btw.

  4. Cazzie/Jayne, she was dying. All she wanted was a drink of something, anything wet. Just her lips wetted would have done so that she could lick. Back then they were mostly catholic nun nurses. Too much trouble for a dying woman. Probably my original reason why I hate the catholic church.

  5. Andrew - it was the cruelty to a dying man which still eats at me - as with your granmother - somethng to ease the dying - how can a human being be so cruel to someone about to die and in the suffering that comes before. I do not, can not and hope never will understand people who are cruel in this way. I wish all the nurses who cared for your grandmother and my lovely gentle husband had been like our Cazzie and like my eldest sister - the one with the cat...this was a wonderful post Andrew - softly written and with understanding.

  6. Thanks MC. I did have tears in my eyes a bit when I wrote that. At least her medical treatment was ok, unlike Don's. At least the Cabrini has changed.