Its a very moving experience to scrap book.. to create a memory book about someone.. I have been creating a scrap book for my mother since last year.
I didn’t touch it for a long time. Shifting house and just not picking it up again. I don’t know why. Working on it again these last few months.
I share a house with my parents so I have had to be careful creating it when she is not around. I think I have kept a good secret. Probably wonders though why I have taken a few more pictures in the last little bit and not shown them to her afterwards 🙂
This blog post is about one of the pages I decided to create only just last night. I only have 3 pages till its finished so closer to the end now than ever before but this one is totally different to any others. Planning stages yet but I have already written a poem which I will share here below..
It is my Mother’s 63rd Birthday today. But I still have work to do on it. My parents have recently gone on a well needed holiday and my mother is happy to receive her gift when she returns so I have had a little more time to work on the last few pages.
With all the creative learning and expressing I have been doing I am finding new ideas spring into my head that I have never contemplated before.. Its exciting and wow amazing.
This page will be about my mothers childhood. I have not done the album/book from beginning to end of her life.. more randomly as I am going through. This is a page about the early years and I have had such an experience doing this that I must write it down already.
There are no photos of my mother before high school that I have seen or am aware of. That’s huge. None of my mother, her siblings and parents together. The only other photo I am aware of and have seen is one or two of her father, my grandfather and he was on his own.
Immediately I have had to recall memories and things that my mother has shared with me over the years. I started searching online for pictures of families and children in the 1950’s.. That is the year Mum was born and the time period I am writing about.. My poem is about the early years and my own interpretation of what it was like for my mother and her siblings. Of course I don’t know many details. So I have to imagine and go off what I know and of course my own perceptions of what I have been told..
My parents raised me together, I had a good and happy childhood, they told me they struggled with money and there were financial difficulties but I was never aware of it as a child. They both bought their first house when I was very young and the only one born at the time so I know they were better off then many. So again what things my mother told me were told to a happy, secure child who didn’t know the struggles she did.. Perhaps it was worse for my mother, perhaps it was better. This is just my interpretation.
Its hard even to write this. There are things I wish I could say but would not. Things that might help others understand and fill in the gaps better. But I’m not so sure it is my place to say things about the dynamics of the family. None of my mother’s siblings are connected to me on face book where I will share this blog post but I have cousins that may see this and read this and you are more than welcome to share this with your parents.. I don’t know what my cousins know or even my own siblings of my mother’s story. Nobody but my mother has talked about her past with me. My Nana has since passed away.. Her name was Dorothy and she was not like me at all. She was a private person and held many things inside even to the grave.. Perhaps my sister and I have talked a little over the years. Maybe through this post things will be said to me I didn’t know. I hope though one day more of the truth will come out because even though this was in the past.. Its our family and wether we like it or not its important and precious and its our history. We bear the blood of our grandparents and their parents.. I think family traits pass down wether we like it or not and affect us as children, grandchild and yes great grandchild and so on. But unfortunately many families take things to the grave.
So from my poem and even what little I share here you are going to have to imagine too.
They were poor, not 3rd world country poor, but as far as I can gather it was six children and one mother for a majority of the time and in Australia there were no benefits for single mums that there are today. My Grandfather died when my mother was around 11 years old. From what I have been told of the early years he came and went and was not there all the time or even some of the time.
No relatives ever visited so that says something major right there. No photos and lots of kids so you don’t have to think very hard to imagine how difficult life might have been. Not sure when my Nana was able to work, how old the children would have been if she left home to work and how she supported them? I know sometimes the oldest daughter looked after the others. That was not easy on her or them but what else could a big family do?
I have looked for images about families for the lay out. I wish I could paint or draw a family shot but I don’t feel confident enough to do so and I don’t feel I could do it justice. So I will find pics that symbolise to me this beautiful family..
All of the pics I felt with any colour did not reflect how I felt that this family would have experienced life. Colour Tv’s only came into Australia in 1967.. but I feel they would not even have had Tv or maybe even running water and electricity in the early days. I don’t know its just guesses. I found the black and white images I came across evoked the most resonating imagery.
What I picture is ~ Kids doing chores because Nana couldn’t possibly do all the menial labours of raising kids and keeping a home without their help.. I mean no mod cons back then. I can see boys in overalls.. with patches. I can see kids playing in fields and collecting special treasures.. I can see chickens and a dog.. Chopping wood for boys. Cooking over a wood stove.. I can see sometimes there would not be enough food.. I can see Shirley who was the oldest daughter with a child on her hip, she is older than my mother.. I can see my Nana confiding in Shirley perhaps when she wasn’t old enough for the weight of it simply because she’d need a listening ear to tell about her every day life. I can see that she grew up way too fast. I know as a single mother myself. You do tend to talk more personally with the older ones at times because they are there..
I see that Nana would have been tired.. very tired at the end of the day and I don’t see her smiling if a picture was taken. No parent wants their kids to struggle and I don’t think her life was easy but she was proud of her children. I see hardship on their faces but I know they were not poor in spirit because Nana had a backbone..
All of my mothers family are survivors and my Nana wasn’t a weak lady at all.. She did the best she could without the support of family around her for whatever reasons.
I see tough love and care in her working hard to take care of them. I see the kids respecting her because they always have. I see that Nana might have been strict because if she didn’t they would run wild.
I see children sharing beds.. I see them trailing along worn paths to school along country roads.. perhaps there were days there was no lunch to take.. I see that each child would have had their own unique things that they hid away. When your in a big family you need to hide your treasures.. and the less you have the more special your own things are. I see them fighting but I imagine the four boys would have stuck up for each other. In all schools the poorer kids get looked down on.. it happens unfortunately. It would have made the boys toughen up and I imagine fights and difficult moments but as I considered all these things.. I couldn’t help the thought that they had each other. I mean how precious would your siblings have been when they were just about all you had.
Perhaps this is the first ever written account of these early years.. So it feels even more important for me to do this. I rarely see any of my mothers family. One uncle close by I see the most, one of Mum’s younger brothers.
I have learned a lot about the closeness of siblings by watching the bond between my mother and her brother Harry. My mother gave him a home for quite some time.. so I enjoyed getting to know him better. My mother was so loving I sometimes cried. I imagined back that the bonds they formed in those difficult early years gave them deeper love in honouring one another now. My mother would lay her life down for her family and she does and has in many ways. I saw my mother tenderly love and treasure her brother through very difficult times in his life which I think helped turn his heart to GOD and help him know he is precious.. I truly believe the early years must have deeply impacted all 6 of the siblings and shape who they are today and would have impacted us too no doubt. Its a healing place for me personally giving me more understanding how my mother is and how she raised me… I hope these memories might also be a healing place for others too and a time to think about and learn about our family history..
But We Have Each Other~
The nights are long…
The baby whimpers.
The night air is cold…
Our tummies can growl loud.
But we have each other…
We snuggle under threadbare blankets.
Little bodies share a bed top to toe or two or three in a row…
Sometimes Mother has to work away from home.
Oldest sister in charge…
But we have each other.
Long walks to school…
We all do chores when old enough.
Our clothes can have patches…
Father comes and goes and doesn’t stay.
But we have each other…
We fight, yell, and play tag.
Make up our own games…
No relatives visit us.
But we have each other…
Mother does her best.
She gets tired and we try to stay out of her way…
We have our own precious treasures.
Few gifts like other families when its birthday or christmas…
But we have each other.
Four brothers, two sisters.
Our Mother who loves us…
We often move from place to place.
Life isn’t easy and we are not rich in worldly goods…
But we have each other.
By Sharon Peart