At this very moment she’s somewhere above the Netherlands, getting ready to leave the plane and be greeted by her daughter, at Schiphol, Amsterdam.
She’s just slightly on the other side of her mid-seventies and she has spent December and January with old friends (The ones that are still alive!) here in Australia.
Ron, our neighbour, here in south-western Sydney, calls her a funny old stick and means that as a compliment, regarding her energy and sense of humour.
Yesterday, I took her to Sydney’s international airport where a friend, Hans, joined us.
We had such a fun chat, for an hour or two, after the luggage had been checked in and before it was time to go.
Hans and I had been boys, in our very early teens and she was in her early twenties, when we first knew each other, living for a short while, in the migrant hostel, in Pozieres Ave, Matraville, in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs.
As always happens, 50 years melted away so easily and lots of incidents were recalled that had taken place from 1956, 1957, onwards.
We immigrants were thrown together in these hostels (My parents and I moved through four different ones.), which had belonged to the army and where privacy was very basic. Where there were new beginnings and where relationships were born and broken. (Think of Lord of the Flies .)
She had been invited by another of my friends from those early migrant hostel days and stayed with him, in Canberra, as a base, but they tried to drive to Cairns, but rain stopped them, after they’d visited Hans’ mother, in Newcastle. They’d been to Albury (Now a museum, where Bonegilla Hostel used to be) and various other places.
She joked ( What else can you do?) about how ironic it was that she’d hoped to visit an old friend (The first U.K.-born Australian who befriended us, in 1956), as they drove into Queensland (before the rains stopped them) but found out that he’d just passed away.
Passing back through Sydney, she’d hoped to visit an old fellow-Dutch migrant, but he’d passed away in December (‘07).
At least she’d been able to surprise my father (90), in the retirement village, at the beginning of her tour. He was not fooled by her St Nicholas mask!
He recognised her. She visited him again, just before she returned to Holland, promising to be back next year.
Just as we all arrived in Australia, in 1956 and eventually bought a black and white t.v. set, because her daughter, then 6, had a childhood illness, in America , a t.v. show, called Make Room for Daddy, went to air and that later became the Danny Thomas Show and, in it, Hans Conried, made appearances, as visiting Uncle Tonoose, a character, who dropped in on relatives and reported on the doings of the other relatives.
My visitor from Holland reminds me of Uncle Tonoose, keeping the network alive that was established when we were all thrown together, in the mid-fifties. We’re not relatives (as in the Danny Thomas Show) but shared so many life-changing experiences.
There was lots of laughter, yesterday, at the little table, in the departure section of Kingsford Smith Airport.
She’ll be back next year, she said , so eat your veggies and exercise. We want everyone to be here for the next visit.
And then there’s the T.V. series, from the U.K., As Times Go by.
In the Danny Thomas Show, Uncle Tonoose had a tendency to want to arrange for various relatives to find their life-partners. By the time I finish writing this and doing the cutting and pasting, she’ll have set foot in the Netherlands again and life will be back to routine.
For all of us.
It was really good fun!
Like a special treat.
I really do hope that she does it again next year.
She’s in her mid-seventies. Was in her early twenties when we all migrated, from the Netherlands to Australia. She was in Australia, again, just now, keeping the network alive. Mainly my generation (who came as young teenagers) because some of the people she wanted to drop in on, only recently passed away. There was laughter. Emotion. Gossip. Fun. Hope she does it again!