My father meets me for the first time at the wharf
The clean out of my cupboards to prepare my house for new carpet after 20 years has yielded some wonderful “finds”. A couple of days ago I found an envelope which my mother, who died in 1991, had kept and had obviously given to my father to keep for me. I found it when he died in 2006 but I had never opened it…until now.
Dated 29 April 1955, a December birth is expected
As with so many women of the time, with husbands away at war or absent for other reasons, my mother managed her pregnancy in Sydney on her own, away even from her family who were based in Western Australia...a world away in the 1950's.
My father learnt of my birth via military cable
My father arrived back in Sydney on the 19th December 1955, a little over 2 weeks after my birth.
And these cables, telegrams and letters, so beautifully written made me think about the immediacy of communication that we have in 2011. With military personnel from countries all around the world on peacekeeping and other missions their communication opportunities to “speak” with their loved ones are so different to those of 55 years ago.
My parents had to communicate via telegrams and letters. The telegrams at least gave a certain feeling of “immediacy” but the fuller, more detailed letters often took weeks between writing and reading. My mother would carefully calculate where she expected my father’s ship to be at a certain date and work back to know how long before she should post her daily letters.
When I was a little girl I remember my mother, sister and me recording our voices and our stories into reel-to-reel tapes which my father could play on his heavy recording device. And I also remember the absolute excitement when we received a tape from him, which we would play over and over again, so that we could remember his voice.
With electronic technology so rapidly changing and evolving our communication opportunities the sense of the spontaneous excitement of good news is now normal. And while the romantic notion and excitement of cables, telegrams and long awaited letters is from a by-gone era it is part of my inheritance and I bless my parents for it.
My mothers hospital wristband dated 3.12.1955