Today is Mum’s birthday, and if she was still with us she would be celebrating her 93rd birthday. But that isn’t so, because Mum died when she was 79 years old, of bowel cancer. Mum always said that 79 was a hurdle to get over. She also said “Have TAB No4 in the last in Melbourne”.
Being 16 years old for a teenage girl is special, edging into adulthood, and this year will be very significant for you. You will leave school and begin a Secretarial course at the Cessnock Technical College. There will be 3 boyfriends who will take up a lot of your “day dreaming” time.
Dad will die on 2 May after having a fifth heart attack. He will get up on that Saturday morning and prepare breakfast for Mum, Pam and you/me and at about 8 o’clock he will suffer that fatal heart attack. You will stand in the hallway and watch as Mum begs him not to go. The realisation of that will not come until I sit here and write this letter, with tears streaming down my face. Sure, you will miss Dad but you will watch as Mum misses him so much. You will look on as she sets a place for Dad at the table and you will feel sad when she drops and smashes one of those apple salt and pepper shakers, it will break her heart.
Before I move on to your great life I needed to take myself back to being 16 again. Teenagers can be so selfish and self-centred, and we are no exception. Remember the time that Dad, Pam and you/me went to Oldfields to buy material for our next new dresses, and the beautiful large floral print on white background that you/I just had to have. Mum and Dad really couldn’t afford to pay 32/- a yard for that material. And, what about the day you/I whinged because Mum had only done a few rows of the thick red jumper that she knitted for us. Oops……I don’t think that has happened yet. Boyfriends and babies help get rid of selfishness, but it still does rear its ugly head now and then.
You know that surfer guy, Gus Hamilton, with the green Morris Major Elite, he is the third of those boyfriends that I mentioned earlier. You will marry him and you will love him for the rest of your life. He won’t often tell you that he loves you, but he does.
Without giving away too many secrets, there will be babies – more than you think, and you will be a “stay at home” Mum for most of their childhood. You will love being a mum. You will return to the workforce once the last of your children begins school. You will live in a time when two salaries are required to meet the financial needs of a family. At the moment you/I am between jobs, unemployed for the past 6 months, and we’re not enjoying this time. Being the “glass half full” person that we are, I am trying to convince myself that a new job is just around the corner.
Life will have its ups and some downs, but your optimistic attitude will see you through. Your fear of God will be replaced by a love of God (by way of a group program called Renew) and your faith will sustain you.
As I mentioned before there will be babies, and there will be grandchildren to love.
There will be travel, both in Australia, and overseas. The words of St. Augustine will become your “motto”, ‘To not travel is like having a book and only reading the first page’. Your Social Studies and Geography school books will come to life with places like Wyndham (the cattle industry hub in WA) – you won’t like it, Broome, Port Arthur, the Twelve Apostles, Rome and other parts of Europe, and the Yangtze River and the Great Wall in China. Remember all that “stuff” you loved about glaciers, you’ll see all that and more in Canada and Alaska. Yes, Alaska. Most of your holidays will be with Garry (Gus was only his nickname) and you are happiest in each other’s company. Most of the time anyway.
You will do and see things way beyond the thoughts of this 16 year old.
And now what advice can I give you? Not much really. You are an honest person and will always try to live a good life. Just remember to enjoy the fun times that life offers.
Thank you for making me the person I am today.
Would you like me to write again in 20 years time (you’ll be 84 then)?