There is something about putting words down that relieves the spirit of falling into despair or should that be disrepair. Is it a bit like confessing ones sins? The sins of not having put to paper the words that keep piling up in the queue of ‘what the heart is full of, the kettle/pot boils over’. In any case, it is encouraging that the latest medical science seems to support the idea that keeping a mind occupied is good for the physically diminishing, failing and rapidly ageing, thus preventing the dismal slide into dementia and the inevitable nurse with the snapping glove on hand asking’ how is Mr Oosterman today’, had your toilet this morning alright, or would you like some boiled pears to encourage and beget a good motion on its glorious downwards journey? She, of course, would never use those words. That’s why I wrote them and not the nurse!
If there is anything that will keep one going it would be to avoid ‘the boiled pear’ question in aged Methodist ‘Even-Tide’ care facility. If the reader detects a somewhat sombre note amongst these words; you are right. The weather is grey and listless. Not a leaf is moving and even the lawnmower rattle, usually busy in verdant distant gardens filled now with Rhododendrons, is eerily silent. Luckily, for all the years having passed there is wealth of memories still welling up to be put on record just in case that facility slides into the gloved nurse and boiled pear facilitated morning motion as well.
The previous reference to the rhododendron is one such memory.
Many years ago and back into our life in inner city Balmain, I gave private art lessons in our home. I had previously taught art to adults in Holland and thus had some experience in doing that. One of my students of the Balmain period was a woman who at a younger age had worked as a professional ballet dancer. She was an exceptionally good artist but sought encouragement and companionship with the other students.
Then, one day she said goodbye. She had bought a place in the Blue Mountains. She had often complained about the inner city becoming popular with the professional lot. Lawyers, bankers and high earners were infiltrating and Balmain was losing its bohemian and artistic ambience and slipping into respectfulness with middle class ambitions and inevitable life-stylers keen on privacy and exclusion, seclusion.
Then about two years later we met again on a street in Balmain. She was beaming and when I asked what happened she told me she was back again in Balmain. Despite the gentrification of Balmain she felt the Blue Mountains was worse. When pushed she said; “I could not stand the incessant talk in the Blue Mountains about those bloody Rhododendrons and Azaleas.” “It drove me nuts.” The neighbours, first thing in the morning; “oh how good your garden looks, oh, look at Mrs Kensington’s Rhododendron with the rolling r’s and vowelled o’s”. “I love flowers morning mists and rich friable soils but…I missed the inner city.” I am ready now to accept the lawyers and middle class.
So, there you are. Nothing is ever perfect but we can keep on finding it. It is elusive, but..it is the search…more than the outcome.
Thank you for reading a few more of my words.
I feel better now.