On The Verandah

Sitting on my chair in the bright sun with a blanket on my knees, watching the world go by from my verandah, it’s not uncommon for me to look back at my earlier life. You watch the world changing right there, beyond the front fence, and it is natural to compare the new with the old. It is then that I think about my younger self in my previous lives as toddler and boy and teenager and immature man. Of course, it is an immature older man that I have become now. Not even quite middle aged any more, as middle aged people are often active and adventurous, but I am most certainly neither active nor adventurous. I am tired and sore and life has been hard on my body. I have missed many of the highlights people talk about. I had to work, you see. That’s what I was doing instead of waving the kids goodbye at their first day of school or seeing them in the play. There was one nativity play I remember seeing. Both the girls were shepherds and they did a very good job too. But mostly I was working. We started early and finished late. I was never home in daylight and so many events just happened without me. They had to. Polly took charge without me. She was a mum and a dad to the girls a lot of the time and it can’t have been easy on her. People sometimes talk about being a housewife as though it is easy. As though it’s lounging around while things are done for you. But it’s not. My Pol worked as hard as any man I knew, and she never complained. Well, hardly ever. I kept working until I was past retirement age. Had to be careful about not telling them my real age, so I could go on working for a few more years. I wasn’t about to stop when there was more work in me, and the longer I worked the more Pol and me had to retire on. Both my knees got smashed up in the factory though. There were injuries over the years. It’s natural. Big, heavy equipment. People drop things and blokes get hurt. By the time I finished I was walking with a stick and couldn’t straighten my back. That’s what I got for a lifetime of effort. Bung knees and a sore back and hands which can barely make a fist. That’s the reward you get. That and a gold watch, which I don’t wear. I might break it. Or lose it. So I keep it safe, with the rest of my safe things, and my papers. I look after all my important things. I watched my grandkids grow up and that was the greatest pleasure of my life. Polly and me would look after them after school and later on they would stay with us during the holidays. Stay at Poppy and Gran’s place. We would all catch a bus to the city and see a movie or we would go the park and fly a kite. The kids loved it. Lucy and Madison loved it. And at home they would make pancakes in the kitchen with their Gran while I listened to the races on the radio, and they would bring their pancakes to me to taste and they were lovely, just beautiful, and I would garden with them in the backyard and show them how to grow tomatoes. We would eat sugarsnap peas and the girls loved it. I didn’t get to do these things with my own daughters but I did with my granddaughters and it didn’t matter so much that Poppy was a bit slow around the backyard. The girls didn’t notice. But I don’t get around much at all now. The days are short and the nights are long. And I sit here, watching. New things happening all the time.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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