Sunday, December 07, 2014

Out of wedlock

Yesterday, we sat in a circle in the lounge room of a cousin who lives near the beach at Sandringham where we commemorated the life of another cousin, who died ten days ago on the other side of the world in Holland, at the age of sixty five. 

I did not know this cousin well.  She was older than me and our paths rarely crossed, apart from during my brief visits to Holland and hers to Australia, but she is lodged forever in my memory and imagination. 

I don’t remember when my mother first told me that this cousin had been born out-of-wedlock.  Such a loaded expression ‘wedlock’, as if the institution itself is some sort of guarantee of imprisonment or security. 

My cousin was born in 1949, not long after the Second World War, and she lived then with her mother and for a short time, her father, who at the time was married to another woman.  He did not stay around for long. 

Imagine this at a time when illegitimacy and infidelity in marriage were far more unacceptable than today. 

We have such a craving for certainty in life, such a desperation that people and events meet our expectations and we look down on those who fail to comply. 

On another note, in my large extended family, the children of my many siblings, there is one in particular to whom I draw your attention.  She has joined me in keeping a blog.

Hers is a special blog because it deals with life and death at its core. 

I don't want to speak for my niece other than to draw you to her blog, A Loquat Tree.  She speaks well enough alone.  

Maybe if someone visiting here reads this blog, they might find a way of helping us all in the vast blog community to find a cure. 

I’m big on people working together, as much as I also snuggle into the notion that conflict is a good thing.  It’s necessary in order to allow for growth.  It’s not the conflict itself but the way it’s handled that determines its ability to be constructive.

And I am in conflict about sharing this blog with you because of other peoples’ sensitivities and concerns about privacy, but it seems important to go ahead anyhow.

I talked with one of my sisters yesterday, a sister and a Facebook friend, and she joked about my predilection to go on political rants, particularly in aid of asylum seekers. 

I thought then maybe I should stop shouting in order that my message be better heard. 

But in these two instances, that of my niece and the asylum seekers, I’m not shouting for myself alone. 

I’m shouting for all those of us who are vulnerable, who struggle and for whom life has dealt a rum hand. 

It could happen to you, or me or anyone of us, but these people by dint of circumstance - fate, chance, accident, whatever - find themselves in impossible situations, and they must deal with them as best they can.

As always, it helps to share the load. 


And then like my Dutch cousin, who – despite, or maybe because of her tough beginning in life – was a wonder at helping others, we die. 
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