The water is warm and still, just right for swimming.
It’s 12noon at the Kinka Beach end of the Causeway. For the past 40 minutes I have been teaching myself to swim. Marcello, Karen and Gareth were instructing me and laughing at my attempts. Twice my left breast hung out of the bra top to the immense amusement of the kids, and myself. Poor, poor Hecuba.
The Causeway is not aesthetic in the slightest; Perhaps I’m very uneasy about it because Dusty was hurt by a car here several years ago.
There’s no clean sand around. This muddy sand looks ugly. The numerous dogs swimming around makes one reluctant to play in the water. There was one persistent pug-like dog that kept swimming out to us and yapping in a slightly distressing manner. He wouldn’t get out, even when we encouraged him by carrying him to the water’s edge. Later we met the confused little dog on the causeway bridge and he was intent on some errand. It seemed to be of somebody else’s making or rather his pursuit or search was for someone who wasn’t thinking too much of him or his whereabouts.
Barbara enjoyed herself in the water. At home she was in a bad-temper and told my mother that she was not going into the water and so did not need to put on her swimsuit.
“Put on your swimsuit Barbara,” I growl firmly, overhearing the argument she was having with my mother. At the Causeway she wrapped a towel round her waist sarong-style and sat glowering on a bench. I waited until the rest of the family were in the water before approaching her.
“Let’s go into the water, Barbara,” I invite her.
“Noooo, I don’t want to get into the water,” is her reply.
“Ok,” I say quietly but with a grim note in my voice. “You can come in by yourself or I carry you into the water.”
She came in but sat at the edge of the water.
I went into the water and a little later Gareth lent me his air-mattress. Without a clear idea of what I was doing, I took it across to Barbara and encouraged her to hang onto it with me, to paddle in the shallow water. Barbara loved it. We spent a long time paddling, floating, kicking and moving around in the water. After a while I was able to leave Barbara on her own with it and she seemed contented and occupied.
Activities for Barbara:
- Getting grass for the garden, chook pen, outside
- Getting pine leaves and cones for the garden
- Making things
- Glass polishing
- Visiting the beach, causeway and shops
- Sticking pictures
- Being read to (tape reading onto Barbara’s tapes)
- Learning sums – games with cards, dominos, dice
- Tidying rooms
- Sweeping and mopping
- Cleaning the cars
- Washing up
- Laying the table
21st Dec 1978
It rained half the day. Sewed bikini tops most of the day. Karen cooked the evening meal, a fragrant brown stew; the smell made us all look forward to the meal. We had carrots in the stew and brown rice and peas served separately.
In the afternoon we cleaned Rolf’s garden in preparation for some temporary tenants. Like Rolf (but in a mild way) I didn’t want to hang around too long, nor did I want to see the inside of the house. All the parties that were held there, all the people who had come to that house, nostalgia, memories… the older one gets the more sentimental I suppose.
Gareth’s friend James was over this evening to help Marcello shoot toads. Gareth and James took an old plastic camping bucket, one that is made from flexible plastic, to put the dead toads in. Saw James much later. He was determined to stay at our place until midnight but Gareth wouldn’t invite him to sleep here. I told James he could sleep near Karen if he’d bring his sleeping bag from home. Off he went with the torch strap over his arm and our new torch in his hand. Gareth finally invited him to his stay in his room, so all was well for James.
Wore a special red bikini top for the date with Johnny. There were pistachios, rum and tang. We didn’t get too far in our discussions on what attracts certain women to certain men and vice versa.
A very good evening.
23rd Dec 1978
Let me list the jobs to be done today:
- Cakes to be wrapped and delivered as presents
- Candles to be finished and delivered
- Meal to be cooked
- Buy curry powder
- Deliver M.O.W. rosters
- Get plants together for Mirium
- Car maintenance
- Write journal
- Tidy desk
- Pay bills and keep ready
Notes and Links
- Click here to go to Home
- This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
- Barbara, my mother’s youngest sister, suffered from a number of mental health issues and was cared for by our family. My grandmother was always very protective of Barbara.
- Dusty was our much loved blue cattle dog. She had been run over by a car at the Causeway and suffered a broken hip. After her operation and recovery, she could not sit properly and walked with a limp.