[1 June 2021] Many years ago we had a neighbour in a wheelchair for a few months. He was seemingly independent and lived on his own. He would come home in his converted car at all ungodly hours and would on these occasions often have a female companion with him.
As he was catapulting his laundry over the washing line one afternoon with mixed success, I popped my head over the boundary wall and offered to help. Oh no, he said, this is no problem at all – the Anglo Boer War was much worse.
Strange how I can still hear him speaking those words to this day.
And during this past year with COVID and all its challenges I thought of that young man and his absolute resolve to live a ‘normal’ life despite his handicap.
We arrived in Australia on 2 June 2017. It was mid-winter. We entered Windy Warrnambool on a Friday night by train. The next morning greeted us with the biggest blue sky imaginable, there was no wind and the sun bathed the breakwater stone in a splendorous yellow. The trees could not have been greener nor the air crisper.
This glorious weather did not last into the next week and I would soon learn that winter in Victoria is relentless, albeit totally predictable and manageable.
When I look back on the past four years now, I think, was it not for COVID, the honeymoon might have lasted. We met interesting and inspirational people, made new friends and saw exquisite places. Everything was new and the mind was filled with wonder. To top it all I spent unforgettable holidays in South Africa twice a year with our children and grandsons.
And then of course. ‘It’ struck.
My latest journey around the sun had plentiful yin and a handful of yang. Let me list 10 things that I have however learnt:
- Family is everything.
- If we can’t hug each other, there’s always a tree.
- There are thousands of bushbabies in Australia – of the human kind.
- Travelling interstate can be almost as exciting as international travels.
- You can lose five friends in one year.
- Some Spotless Crakes are ‘not so secretive’ and will allow photographs.
- A simple balcony extension will require bucket loads of patience.
- Watching Archie Roach perform brings a little understanding of Aboriginal grief.
- Planting a tiny native garden will attract a rainbow of birds.
- Family is everything.
My fourth year as an immigrant was what it was.
Here’s to the next 12 months then – embracing the foreign, continually seeking, holding on for better days.