After her husband left them
she brought up their daughter,
working each day at the local
cinema complex office, her earnings
paying for rent, utilities, food,
clothes, daughter’s school costs.
Her daughter grew up, went out
to work, became pregnant.
Her son’s father soon left,
as her own father had left.
Daughter and grandson left town
with a new partner. Mother was
comfortable in her new office job.
Daughter and grandson settled with
new farm worker husband on the
farm with two babies. All thrived.
Turning fifty mother’s body began
to fail: asthma, lung infections
heart weaknesses. She reduced her
work hours, reduced them again.
Her brother in his fifties, such a
healthy eater, cycling, running,
was defeated by relentless heart
and lung problems. Soon passed away.
Mother deteriorated further, kept
falling. No government help for
her care until she is far gone.
She now lives in the farm worker’s
house with daughter’s family.
seven years’ wait for old age pension
at sixty five …. If she lives that long.
The price of a family home will
purchase occupancy rights in a
retirement village: villa, apartment.
buying small leaves some of your
sale price to pay monthly fees
till the end of the resident’s life.
On our shaky isles’ home ownership
over fifty is common. Big companies
build retirement villages
to care for us in our old age.
In our little regional city they
are building a fifth village.
On a large vacant lot across the road
they are expanding my own village.
So many retirement village price i
places for such a small city.
But a lottery nonetheless for
a home in our old age.
I own mine through my share
of our parents’ home price in
our sprawling megacity’s
inflated house prices.
Many older people still pay
rent after low paid jobs
poor health on sickness benefits.
The home lottery is cruel
to the frail, the very old,
to those in poor health,
on sickness benefits.
Vaccination time !
Vaccinate the whole population
to stem the spread of Covid 19.
First the older age groups.
All senior relatives in their
seventies had two vaccinations.
Next middle aged jabs began.
Mum loudly vowed that poison
would not go into her body
or her children’s bodies.
Nana’s strongly principled beliefs
expressed strong horror.
Mum, equally principled, responded
angrily, the huge uproar heard
by the twelve year old nearby.
the first time she had heard such
a major adult disagreement.
Next time Nana parked at their
house five year old little brother
rushed out, asked if she had
been jabbed. “Yes,” she had.
“People who get jabbed are mean !”
he told her.
Nana adores her grandchildren,
fears her bad heart will sever
her from them early.
A gaping rift in the heart
of the family.
Mum is still angry.
Nana is still shaken.
Little brother is a tough guy,
five years old, a big school kid,
like his sisters all his life.
After school he proudly reads
his books to Mum. He is even
writing after cautious beginnings.
His sisters always wrote on the
magnificent cards he created
with felts and stickers.
Down by Dad’s office he digs
and tunnels through his dirt pile
with lots of water from the hose
helped by his classmate
from down the road.
He builds wonderful creations
at his workbench with all its
extras put together by Grandad.
He uses nails, scraps of wood,
and surgical plates from Mum’s
At weekends he struts around
with Dad, two men together
as Dad works around home.
Best of all Dad takes him to
the mega hardware store to
buy Dad stuff, and wood scraps
for the fabulous work bench.
On Mondays at Nana’s after
school he eats Nana’s yummy
afternoon teas then curls up
with her on the couch to read
from his favourite stories.
For three years the twelve
year old has closely focused
on horses, on riding lessons
every Monday after school.
As soon as her scooter delivers
her home she cleans last week’s
mud off her riding boots changes
into riding clothes, finds her helmet
jacket, box of afternoon tea.
When Mum returns with the
other two from school she is
ready to be driven across town
to the horse school paddocks.
The bedroom she shares with
her sister has posters from her
monthly “Horses” magazines over
much of the walls but a little
space has been spared for her
sister’s school awards, certificates.
Under the windows the long
bookshelf has a vast number
of pony club stories, beautiful
horse books which she joyfully
reads and re-reads.
Money is requested for birthday
presents to be spent replacing
riding clothes which her bean
pole figure keeps growing out of.
Also more books about adventures
with ponies and horses.
On Mondays after school
the ten year old does thirty minutes
maths – or more – with Aunty Jo
while the twelve year old and
little brother go out elsewhere
then thirty minutes handcraft.
With dyslexia in both her parents’
families passed on to her
Aunty Jo gives her one on one
time after school on Mondays.
“Extra school !” says the ten year old.
Maths is quickly sorted, completed
then various hand crafts chosen by
the ten year old to strengthen her
unco-ordinated finger skills.
Aunty Jo gave the ten year old
an origami book for her eighth
birthday. It was too hard for her
Mum and Nana told Aunty Jo.
“Teach her origami ! She’s so keen !”
Monday sessions after maths vary.
Sewing kits, origami, crochet, origami,
knitting, origami, cartoons, origami.
Origami keeps returning. Aunty Jo
gets stuck as much as her pupil.
After many origami library books
the ten year old now searches
origami on the internet.
Aunty Jo started this. She gave her
that first book, showed her key
phrases to search origami instructions.
They will be battling origami
for a while yet.
Unsteady mother moved around
on a walking frame. Also in
her beloved little hatchback
painted in long silver and yellow
streaks across its body, with
BUZZ in bright red capitals
along each side.
Until she had a heavy fall,
landing hard on one side,
cracking ribs and pelvis on
the other side. time in hospital.
…… Frustration !!
Two weeks boredom in her
retirement village flat, after
moving in two weeks late.
Keeping still – it hurt to move,
Pain and sleep medication.
…… Very Fed Up !!!
Daughter refused to bring BUZZ
car to village from her home !!
Driving not allowed while
on all that medication.
Big sorting out between
mother and daughter !!!
Mother exhausted rest of the day.
Taxis to and from shopping plaza,
walking frame in the boot.
Two cousins with their Mum
Auntie Lisa came to stay with
Nana for a week. Also their
lively little puppy because their
Dad was cranky with his
expanding business, with new staff.
Too busy for a very sociable puppy.
Nana loves her children, grandchildren,
but erratic heart problems have drained
her energy to deal with them.
Especially when their tiny puppy
went steeple chasing round the
living room from arm to arm
of chairs and sofa.
For the girl cousin’s birthday they
rugged up puppy in Nana’s garage
with a large bone in case of
boredom or starvation. It works.
They spent the evening with their
cousins, with varying takeaways –
Macdonalds, gluten free, diary free.
Followed by a shrieking session
on the trampoline for digestion.
“Five kids with five balls on the
trampoline,” called Auntie Jo.
No injuries. No problem. Later
they came in for cake and presents.
The birthday girl loved her craft
present from her cousins, was
ecstatic with the money from
her senior relations. It will be
spent on riding lessons.