Of Pith and Pathos.

My mother and our Daughter in Holland around 2002

My mother and our Daughter in Holland around 2002

Heaven knows what lies ahead. As long as I can keep up putting a few words down and continue recognizing others I’ll be happy.I often see old people looking bewildered. Men more so than women. In shopping centres, one notices them being dragged along by still very fit looking wives.To realize they once were those proud bulls, pulling up at their pants, organizing their privates for the next battle. The procreators with ardent passions, ram rod unstoppable fornicators. And now…reduced to pith and pathos, limp and forlorn…so lost in decay and senility, being dragged along, shuffling through the dairy division of the shopping mall. What a vision of the future to behold!

I suppose there is justice after all. We die earlier too. Certainly in my own family’s case. Dad dies at 78, a happy smoker till the end having fornicated at least six times. Mum having done the same but wisely a non-smoker, lived till 96. Hale and hearty till the end. Now, there was a woman. She had an incurable habit of doing crosswords and keeping the household expenditure and income. She had a little red book in which all bookkeeping was recorded. Sugar 45c, bread 38c etc. At the end of the day she did balance the little red book. Not a cent would escape scrutiny. She kept that little red book next to the phone. If the amount did not balance she would go over the sums, study the shopping receipts, add it all up again, look inside her purse, recount the amount left over after outgoings, and would not go to bed till it all balanced or ‘klopte’ (Dutch).

We used to rile her, it was a family joke, my mum’s obsession with her book-keeping. Yet, it was vital for our survival. Those early years in Australia were financially touch and go. Dad could not care less as long as he could afford his tobacco. He used to put his pay packet under Mum’s dinner plate on a Thursday evening. She would give him his tobacco money. And that was that. Year in year out. Love has many ways of being expressed. Mum’s satisfaction of her little red book being in balance before retiring to bed. My dad in the knowledge that all was well , exhale his last nicotine laden breath before going to bed also, next to his wife and in a normal double bed. No queen or king size.

Every time I visited my mum in Holland after dad died it was a sign of her spirit and determination to keep going, that she still had her little red book next to her phone together with the crosswords.

Year in year out.


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26 Responses to “Of Pith and Pathos.”

  1. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Deja vu. I’ve read that first par before. My we are in a reflective mood.

    My mother had a quaint box with holes in. She would put money in every week in various slots to save for the bills, gas, electricity, telephone, television rental, whatever else. My dad paid the bills, but my mum made sure the money was there.

    My father would give her weekly housekeeping. My partner gives me his wage packet (when he’s working). Different times, different attitudes. And no smoking.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    I remember my parents having slots in the wardrobe for money saved up for their kids. That was in Holland before migrating to Australia. Things could not have been that bad!
    We never were given those savings after we came to Australia. Different times lay ahead.


  3. Silver in the Barn Says:

    Am I getting more sensitive or what? This post made me cry. Dash it, Gerard!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yvonne Says:

    Another read-worthy post, Saint Gerard!

    How are the hearing aids??


  5. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Damn, Gerard, I don’t want to be dragged through shopping Malls. –Curt


  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Oh, it is a matter of eating the right things and to keep your mind active. Surely you can do that? And, a daily walk of a mile or so does not hurt either. Keep a stiff upper lip, lad. 🙂 Nice post-Gerard. Makes a person think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Yvonne. Good food for mind and body keeps the doctor away. We just came back from our daily walk and shopping. Salmon cutlet tonight which they claim is a food for body and brain.

      Last night watched program on the sudden surge of aggravated assaults in the US and here. It peaked some twenty years ago and has since subsided.

      This coincided with lead in petrol peaking and then taken out of petrol.

      Apparently a lot of violence is sheeted home to lead poisoning during eighties and nineties.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. thevenerable1 Says:

    Come now: pull yourself together, Gerard ! – you’re off on one of your binges of being old and helpless again.
    Sighh …
    As long as you’re here relating to others, everything’s fine. It’s when you slope off and stop interrelating that we’ll start worrying.
    So look to it, m’boy !


  8. bkpyett Says:

    What a beautiful memory of your parents, particularly your mother. How strong she must have been! I can’t see you lost in the dairy section, pulling at your pants Gerard! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, they were great parents. I can’t imagine how it must have been to leave everything behind and go and live in another country so far away.With six young children.
      The only thing I will be pulling in the dairy section will be the butter milk from its shelf. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. rod Says:

    I have tried for years to get my wife to take an active part in looking after our finances and failed. You’re good at it, she says. How would you know, I ask her. She takes it all on trust, but I could clear our account and abscond to Vanuatu with the lot – and an actress. The thing is managing money is so boring!

    As for fornication, I’ve never been into that. I could say on public health grounds, but the reasons lie deeper than that.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it is boring and yet…I get satisfaction from walking out of the post office having paid another bill. There is a glint in my eye and a spring in my step. Why is that? What gene is lurking about. Is it a Dutch gene? What are its markers?
      My level of fornication is so so, no public health issue. It is just so much up and down.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Andrew Says:

    Mrs. Ha is the CFO in our house. She knows where she has spent it. I am the pack horse to carry the shopping under protest. My mother budgeted in much the same way. Jam jars for each – electricity, gas, food etc. A long time ago, it seems.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, budgeting used to be popular. Now, instead of frugal being king it is spending what is not there. Lately, mattresses are back in vogue with the old ones being discarded in car parks or at the back of the cinema.
      Beds ‘R’ ‘US’ is a very popular chain of mattress emporiums here in Australia. People seem to define themselves by mattresses now. Weird!


  11. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    To pull up roots and leave for a new environment must have been terrible for your parents Gerard. They seemed to adjust, and your mum would have prevailed anywhere with her attitude. It is true that we thrive on routine. When we relinquish that and independence, we’re done. Keep writing Gerard. Even though there are days when I just write crap, it’s important to keep our minds active, so I keep filling up the waste basket with stuff of no importance!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Kayti, and by the tens of thousands, the Dutch left home and hearth. My mum was the Goliath that made it work. However no stone of David got to her, ever. She defied the odds and lived many years back within familiar surroundings and her family in Holland again.
      A just reward.
      Yes, keep the words going… It is the only way.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Moving post, Gerard. Hmm, I’ve had a lot of close encounters with the ageing brain and body and I’m not very keen on the prospect either. One of the best things that happened early in our marriage was my generous husband handing over the management of the housekeeping of our joint account to me. My financial contribution in those days was negligible, but keeping the accounts gives me enormous peace of mind… and possibly a longer life?

    Liked by 1 person

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