Again I have been absent; again I have what I believe to be a good reason to have been absent.
At the end of the day life is life and the blog is a part not all of my life.
The last couple of months have been pretty tough for me. The matriarch of our family passed away. My Oma and one of the most wonderful people I have ever been lucky enough to have known. It has left me with a far bigger hole in my soul than I could ever have imagined and as such my thoughts have not been on the little things like this blog but on dealing with the loss but also the legacy of my grandmother.
Add to this, in this ‘lucky country’ there has been the usual frenzy of fear mongering about the job situation and the economy. The problem with this fear mongering has been it offers no solutions. It only offers a very negative view of the world and as the name indicates generates a sense of fear.
Society Says; Don’t have a job you will destitute, don’t rely on the government safety net they are taking it out from under the most vulnerable. It is a great way to keep people complaint and on edge. Makes them much better workers and willing to give up there all ‘for the dream’.
Even I have found myself thinking of this in the last few weeks, it percolated into me while I was busy off dealing with the grief and loss in my mind.
At the end though a few things have reminded me of the real situation and have allowed me to look at things with the legacy of my grandparents world view and the way they dealt with and lived with the world. My grandparents knew what was important. They lived through a world war, knew hunger, travelled to the far side of the world to a place they probably knew less about than I know about Mars in the easy knowledge age we call the internet.
One of the photos’s that always strikes me at events like my grandmother’s funeral is a photo of my grandparents standing side by side near the Bonegilla transit centre. In one hand they each held a small suitcase in the other the hand of one of their two daughters. This was it. All they had in a place so far from family and friends.
It is very confronting image and yet a very positive one for me, they made a choice for a new life and tough choice made for the sake of their children and their future.
My grandmother had some money on her arrival. She worked on the transit ship to Australia as a teacher earning a few pounds to help with the new life.
And it was hard. Share crop working on a farm with two small children, my mother talks of grandmother canning/bottling beans and fruit and anything else they could lay their hands on, growing gardens, milking cows they lived a frugal life but one with their kids and their children in a place of peace after a time of trouble.
Even when they moved to near where I was born to allow their children a better standard of education they lived frugally, nothing wasted, again gardens, they had some land. My grandfather a wheel write by trade built the house they lived in first one half then the other. They grew more comfortable both had good jobs they were still frugal, never cheap but always frugal. The effects of the post war period in Germany had a huge impact on my grandmother. Trying to feed two small children in such a time affected her deeply and the even when I was a teenager my grandmother still had a year’s worth of canned and dry goods in the cupboard. She would cycle these forward, nothing ever went out of date and she just did this.
Such hardship is not a common way of life now, or is it? Unlike my grandparents who could work as accepted refuges in this country, current refugees don’t have that luxury they live on $6 a day after expenses a lot of the time. Single parents have their safety net ripped out from under them, expected to do the impossible and find work and manage children, a task we as two parent two income family find hard at times.
True a lot of it is caused by a lack of skills of outsourcing our requirements or thinking a job will buy them the dream. Don’t get me wrong my grandparents where very, very keen for all their children and grandchildren to have educations, jobs, careers. Make your way into the world be independent. But after what they lived through they knew that you had to rely on yourself as well. Like it or not you cannot isolate yourself from the world.
The biggest advantage that my grandparents had was community and now the biggest problem I would point is as the complete lack of community. For the most part people no longer help out their neighbours or their community. A lot don’t even help out their family. This is great if you want to sell a product or a service. Less so if you want to be free of the fear that the media is peddling.
And it impacts on all aspects of life, even the much vaulted permaculture folk. I see few if any offers to teach skills to people like refugees or those on newstart. Skills that by their own admission have the power to do great good in the world. We feel we need to get a value for our time and for ‘our’ skills and knowledge. We make islands of one and other even here in the lucky country.
So the legacy that I got from grandparents is to be a part of society, even if you don’t agree with everything about it. Be self sufficient, have good skills, build community and work with it be that your neighbours, your friends or family. Work hard and be careful with that bit of money that you sell yourself for each day. It is after all a part of you that you sell each day.
And the gifts. More than can be numbered
Let start with all of the above. My grandparents showed me how they did it with the lives they lived, how you make your own path and walk it with pride. They taught me skills I use now to look after my own family and probably the most important thing they taught me how to look at the world and realise how much potential is there and how lucky I am to be here.
The fear that I and others feel from time to time is reasonable given the complete lack of positive news often seen in the media. But it is not reasonable to sit back be afraid and do nothing about it.
Today is the start of 44th year on the planet. So as I sit here with my fingers still stinging from the 4 stock pots full of nettles I just processed I am going to try to move forward and use the memory of my beloved Oma to remind me of where I need to go and how lucky I am to have had her as a guide. All I can do is try to live up to her memory and try to pass on these things to my children.