The train to Rookwood

Here an old post for another run.
The Train to Rookwood


The Train to Rookwood.

The Kerry O’Brian’s interview with Woody Allen last Wednesday night on the 7.30 report would have to be one ABC’s best coups. Woody’s interviews are collector’s items as he is notoriously shy of publicity. His answers to Kerry’s question were quirky, witty and to the point. His best was towards the end when he seemed to reject the notion that getting older equates to the getting of wisdom. The questions of why we are here and what the point of life was, he remains modestly unsure. Whatever he gained through all the years, he would gladly have exchanged it all for; quote, ‘wiping 35 years of the calendar’, and adding with a distant look, that he would probably make the same mistakes all over again.

This might have been a bit tongue in cheek but made me think how much profit there is in getting older. Surely there has to be some reward for having survived all the misery and sadness of having lived through so much uncertainty and the many difficulties. It is not unreasonable to assume that one becomes better with the passing of years at coping with some of the misfortunes and events that could, with foresight, have been avoided, and that the benefits of getting older begets us the wisdom to not repeat errors and mistakes into the future.

We plod on with expectations of improvements, and hope that with age, we will undoubtedly get rewards for the courage, determination and resilience in having cobbled something out of our lives. When enough time has lapsed we can have the luxury of reflectively taking stock and do the accounts, and hopefully find out that, by and large, we stayed the course and that we had achieved the things that we sat out to reach with the positives having outweighed the negatives.

When young, and bursting with enthusiasm and raging hormones we recklessly hurled ourselves into the future, taking and accepting risks, relationships and partners all at once and with wild abandonment. We brazenly and bravely fought to make our mark. Nothing would stop us and we blindly believed that hard work and enterprise would ensure a stake in prosperity and much goodness, not just for ourselves, but also for our offspring and others. Deposits would be made on house and car; schools for kids were booked years in advance, and inexorably with the passing of a few more years, we would reap rewards by climbing into even better and bigger houses with more bathrooms now and larger cars with DVD player hooked from the back seat for kids to watch Shrek when driving to somewhere and anywhere.

Did we not also take in our stride the misfortune of family life gone off at a tangent or astray, with lives, like forgotten letters in the drawer, damaged or lost through accident, illness and inherited gene, and the scourge of modern age, addiction to evil substance?

Now, with the advance of years beyond the half century, we fully expect that wisdom and experience will now guide us to calmer waters and ease us into a nice and comfortable latter part or even, with the luck of robust health and benefit of not smoking anymore, to old age. We paid our dues and the mortgage man is now finally sated. The credit card we will still keep on sailing with, just in case of the unforseen, the failing car or broken and worn washer-dryer, a trip to Venice or even Chile’s Santiago.

Having steamed through that post mortgage, and for some, post marriage years, we have now travelled to the beginning of an advanced age with the cheerful Newsletter and Senior’s card in the post. The Seniors Newsletter has holidays for the advanced seniors at Noosa and a plethora of advertisements for those handy battery operated electric little carriages with shopping tray at the back. Are we to zoom in and out of shopping centres soon, using lives’ ramps up and down? With the sheer numbers appearing on footpaths now, it won’t be long and there could be outbreaks of motorized wheelchair-rage, could it not?

Please, don’t get impatient. Just hang in here for another eighty or so of words, when at age eighty or so, we are almost there, indeed, we have arrived. How did we fare? It is time now to have one more go at something, perhaps golf or, dread the thought, bowling with cricket gear in white and with men wearing neatly pressed pantaloons but suspiciously bulging when bending to bowl. We left the old Continent decades ago and for some are now in incontinent territory.

.Once more, we listen hear and hum the forlorn ‘Le piano du pauvre’.

I am nothing, I excist

Only in the generous eyes of others

Somehow, with The Train to Rookwood now at station, we have so far stumbled, bumbled but stoutly plotted on. Time has finally arrived, with casket to carriage, no time for regret.



Even to memory

Appears and goes away

With a scull

For a nod

The Train to Rookwood.

Poems; by friend Bernard Durrant.

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14 Responses to “The train to Rookwood”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Wee- doggy this is a good one Gerard. I fully relate to most of what you have written. Yes, one does expect to grow old and that somehow things will be better. Life never gets perfect.

    But in my books somehow freedom from worry seldom leaves my overburdened brain. At times I feel that life has passed me by and I have yet to fulfill all those things that I have wanted to accomplish. Such as learning to play the native Indian flute and accomplish more with my photography. Oh well. I suppose I simply need to be grateful that I am alive and that I am not a cranky and creaky old person.Just old with a few ailments that medication helps. 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, as we get older we wished we were wiser. But…in my case the reverse. I fell over a few weeks ago and still I run up-stairs two steps at a time. I want to prove I am fit enough and yet I stumble. Coming out of the shower, a vision so horrible, like an overfull beige ice cream melting over its cone.
      I’ll be lucky to remain out of the commode.
      Thank you for your kind words giving me a reason to keep going.


  2. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Do be more careful Gerard. I surely want to be able to keep reading great and funny things that you write.

    Falling in very bad for an older person.I fell in early March of this year when I was tripped by a group of cats that were running in front of and in between my legs. I fell in the little house that I had built especially for my rescues- quite nice with concrete floor and a huge run. Anyhow I think that fall was the downward spiral for me to ill health for months coupled with mold in two Ac and then becoming very allergic to many foods that I had been eating.

    But I am better now with careful diet and new ACs but the road to better has not been easy and i have some arthritic problems that are now worse. I am grateful that I am walking and stand erect ahd still have some brain cells. Not sure how many but they are.still clicking. :-).

    Anyhoo the point I am trying to make- if there is one- is that falls are hard on the old body even if no bones are broken.. Something about the jarring of the body shocks one’s system and it simply does a number on an older body..


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Keep up the good spirits. I like your pluckiness and stamina. I’ll try and accept the passing of years, just a day at a time (or a single step at a time.)


  4. roughseasinthemed Says:

    The problem with growing older is that the mind and the body grow further apart. I don’t think my mind has ever really advanced from 25 so it’s most confusing when the body is more than double that age.

    And oh, the falls! What happened to being able to roll over and pick yourself up? You know about the ankle, but six years ago when the big dog pulled me over on a cat hunt I was out of action for even longer with my right arm incapacitated from fingertips to shoulder.

    I look much the same, but the body is sooooo slow. i don’t even walk as fast. As for going upstairs, it’s a good thing we live on the first floor in Gib and have a single storey place in Spain. And going upstairs with shopping is even worse. What is wrong with my legs???? They used to be brilliant. And my balance? That was great too. I used to be able to skip about on rocks and stones like a happy little goat. Now?

    And even though I don’t do anything I am tired. OK, so maybe I get up at 6am to take the little dog out, but I struggle if I don’t get my old person’s nap during the day. If I’m like this iin my 50s, goodness knows what the later years will be like if I get there.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that’s how it goes. I reached the stage of falling over a few months ago by getting one leg stuck in the other leg’s pyjams. A most disconcerting experience. My forward motion stopped in its track. I think women out live men, so, I suppose they do take better care. Your 6am walk with the dog is admirable.
      I always sleep at any given time. I can sleep standing up much to the consternation of a man who was talking about his superannuation. “Is your husband alright”, he asked Helvi?


  5. Patti Kuche Says:

    Gerard, I have mixed feelings about this whole business of getting older – I know I look much older than I feel, but as you say there is much to be said for stoutly plotting along although I never expected to be living on the top of a five floor walk-up in NYC at any age!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      If you look much older than you feel you must feel like a teenager ready to concur the world. Walking up five floors (with a weighty camera) gives me an inkling as to your creative and energetic outbursts.
      I go a single storey to my type writer at least twenty times a day still taking two steps at a time. Alas, a few nights ago I stumbled sprawled on the top landing. Yes, age does creep in.


  6. berlioz1935 Says:

    Oh, what are you all on about? What old age? A bit of demintia and you wouldn’t know the difference. The doctor promised us, the other day, he would try to keep us pain free till we are ninety five. Isn’t that a good deal? After that,he hoped, we would die in our sleep. With this prospect we enjoy the present. Perhaps dementia will overtake us before that fatefull day and wrap us up in the mantle of ignorance.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that’s true. We all stand in awe of the Master of longevity.

      Berlioz,. what is your secret? You are renowned for not only your physical prowess but on the higher philosophical level as well. How can any of us ever reach that dizzying level?

      Ask anyone along the Illawarra region and they will point to Berlioz.

      No dementia for you Berlioz, you’ll remain the pole vaulting champion of us all. 😉
      I loved you last article and photos.


      • berlioz1935 Says:

        Calm down again, Gerard. Apropos, Rookwood, it is a frightful place. We have been twice there in the last year for memorial services (our daughter’s and her late partner’s) and were in fright to get lost there. I can tell you, I never want to end up there.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I have never been inside the Rookwood cemetery but I believe it is a historical place. I loved the way people used to be on the Rookwood cemetery train line near McDonald Town ( Haslem Creek) to see off their dearly departed. Hence, ‘on the way to Rookwood’, meaning a funeral. Fancy a special railway station for the transportation of caskets and funerals. It is being restored, I believe.
      Also, the saying; ‘feeling as crook as Rookwood’. Feeling very sick.


  7. auntyuta Says:

    Both services, that Berlioz was talking about, were beautiful services, reflecting on the lives of the departed and indeed celebrating their lives.

    Rookwood is huge, huge, huge, and you can easily lose your way. There are that many sections. Arriving by train you would have to walk quite a bit. But we were there by car. So it wasn’t so bad for one is allowed to drive in.

    We had major problems last year in Leipzig (Germany) when we were looking for my grandfathers burial site. He died in 1947. His site was surrounded by more recent burial sites. It was sheer luck we could find it at all after a long search.

    Rookwood was easy compared to what we experienced at Südfriedhof in Leipzig. In Rookwood we found our way around by car. To both memorial services we made it on time.

    You say: . . . at age eighty or so, we are almost there, indeed, we have arrived.

    Well, I was born in 1934 and Berlioz in 1935. So both of us have not very much longer to go to eighty. Still, I think there may be a bit more life after eighty!! 🙂


  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, indeed. Eighty is sometimes the beginning for some people to start doing the most amazing things.
    The “train to Rookwood” was published by the ABC in January 2009 and had 360 replies.


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