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Kirkbrae


Every weekend, we went...up Mount Dandenong Road, until the forest closed in
-dark/uniform - and, then...opened-out again, briefly, in to the right....


as we turned in to Kirkbrae

You could tell it was aretirement village - well before such things became commonplace. Because, there were no young people there - or even any middle-aged. Just the sweet/sour smell of old ladies - and a few gentlemen...not that the war had left many to the peace that this place promised.

And, you could tell it was Presbyterian/Scots. Because the old ladies were upright - bearing their burdens internally and, with no shameful show... Nothing disturbed the peace of this place, as their elders died - not unmourned - but the remainder, nonetheless, refused to break down...under the weight of deaths unending, in a place that they must (still) now, call home...

for countless years

My paternal grandmother was one such, her beloved husband gassed & buried-alive in the trenches...and, never, in full health ever since. But he worked - of course - until, he died of the after-effects, with nary an acknowledgement by officialdom that his death had any relation to this service.


  and, this was before my father was full-grown...and, so, I never met the man
but, I did meet his widow


Mary Mabel was a marvellous old lady, when I met her...and, I still remember her with surpassing fondness to this day. She was conservative - in the right way - but broadminded also...and she never confused love with (foolish) indulgence, which lesson I think I’ve managed to learn, finally...albeit somewhat late in life.

We played draughts, and ate strange biscuits never seen at home - sliced in two, and smothered w/cream & jam. And, amidst such beloved memories...I never remember her telling me off. Nor do I remember my (bullying) elder sister ever being present - despite the fact that she undoubtedly was. And, this - perhaps - this is one reason why I remember Mary Mabel in such a glowing light.

Because parents...when accused of being unfair, are vulnerable to such games, especially when played by an elder sibling in full command of accusatory rhetoric. But my grandmother was not. She saw, exactly, what my parents could not...that these accusations were invariably unfair to the honest - and never let my sister get away with them, in her particular territory.

But, I’d hate to think that my love for my grandmother was purely predicated on such. And so, I prefer to remember her just the way I once did...as loving me for what I was - a genuinely nice kid, with no real flaws...and, one who could safely sleep like a log, as he had no real sins to weep over...


and...that this picture would not last-out puberty, sadly
was no fault of Mary Mabel’s...nor my own 


still, throughout all the failures of my later lives - and, amidst all their futile
 self-recriminations - I look back, fondly,  upon my grandmother’s love
and...I, still, remain proud





John Henry Calvinist