April 1997: Meg

Dear Granny,

It’s been about a month since I last wrote. I still haven’t heard from you, so I’m writing another imaginary letter. I wonder why you don’t try to write to me anymore. I’ve put all your old letters in my life box, with my bear from when I was born and Pa’s stopwatch, and some other things. Dad thinks it’s ridiculous to have a life box when I’m only eleven, but Mum thinks it’s a really good idea, and sometimes when I come across something really special she suggests I put it in there to keep. She’s very understanding.

At school we had an Entertainment Stars dress up day. It was heaps of fun. It took me a little while to think of whom to go as. Elizabeth went as a clown; Melanie was a circus ringleader (Caroline did that last year when we had a circus dress up day, I went as a popcorn machine that time). I decided to go as Groucho Marx. No one knew who he was, except for the teachers! So I spent the day doing his funny walk, pretending I had a cigar in my mouth and chasing all the girls. It was really fun!

Last month we had Lilly, Geoffrey, Adam and Freya over, which was fun, but I get kind of sick of having people around all the time. Trying to talk and play with people when you really don’t want to isn’t much fun. We did do one really fun thing though. On the Saturday, Lilly and Geoffrey took us to Mt. Noorat. We got a bit lost at first, but then we found a place to eat our picnic lunch. Then we climbed up the mount. At the top it was really windy. We threw cowpats (dry ones) off the top and sometimes they came back like boomerangs. We had a great day.

Easter was kind of busy, I guess. Mum’s always really flat out over that weekend, of course, doing heaps of services. I went to my first ever musical. I felt so sick before we went, I was really scared and nervous about doing something I’d never done before – I didn’t know how I would handle it. The idea of sitting in the dark with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know was just too scary. I was excited to go as well though, and Mum convinced me I would be alright. We went to see ‘Godspell’. It’s about the Easter story, except all the people wear hippy clothes. It was so good. I even cried when the Jesus guy got crucified. It made Easter seem different this year, more real. I’m glad I went.

We had a five day weekend for Easter this year, coz there was a Curriculum Day on the Thursday. I got some eggs, and a gigantic soft bunny, because things are going to be changing this year and Mum wanted me to have something to cuddle. She’s been getting sent options for a new church to move to, and is starting to talk with the Presbytery minister about where she might want to move on to. We’re not going back to Melbourne though, because Dad wants to stay in the country. I’m going to miss Cressy when we go.

On Easter Sunday we got up really early (at 5.30am) to climb Mt. Elephant before dawn. We were some of the first people there, so we had to wait for the gate to be opened. Me and some of the other kids climbed the gate anyway, and started walking. It was really cold, but I had my scarf and gloves on as well as my coat. Everyone arrived and the four wheel drives started taking the old people up while we all walked. It’s a hard walk, and I really hate the last part. It’s really steep and I always think I’m going to fall. I wanted to go up in one of the cars this year, but Dad told me not to be such a wimp and to just climb like everyone else. It was really pretty up there. It was so quiet, and then after the service we stood and watched the sun come up over the world. I felt happy but also kind of sad, right deep down. I wondered what you were all doing when I looked out over the world. I hope you had a good Easter. I guess you had lots of chocolate.

I really miss our Easters with you and my cousins. We don’t have outside egg hunts here, but Mum puts little eggs around the dining room and lounge room, which is a lot of fun. But I don’t get as much chocolate these days. Oh well, I guess Dad’s right and I don’t need it. And at least I get some at Easter. The only other time I get sweet stuff is when he’s away and Mum and I get fish and chips and rent movies and eat too many lollies so we feel sick. We hide everything when he comes home again.

We got to do something this year that I’ve always wanted to do since we lived in Cressy. Every year everyone goes to the Mud Bash, and I’ve never been allowed. This year, because it’s our last year here, Mum said we could go. It was up near Mt Elephant, and was so much fun. There’s a big track running all around and up and down different parts of the mountain, and people race motorbikes around it all day. It was so exciting hearing the whine of them zooming around and seeing the mud go flying. There were heaps of people there, all in the middle bit of the track, and there were vans that sold food and drinks and some stalls. We had a look around and got some pies and Fanta. I saw Melanie and Elizabeth, and I was allowed to go off with them for a while, we climbed up past the track and sat on a rock on the hill so we could watch the whole thing. It was so pretty because the sun was out and the grass was green underneath the dead grass, and everyone was happy. I was glad we got to go before we leave Cressy.

Love Meg.

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March 1997: Granny

Dear Meg,

What exciting news! Amanda rang me a few weeks ago to tell me she is having TWINS. She knows their sex but won’t tell anyone as she wants it to be a surprise. Tony doesn’t want to know. She was bigger than she should have been and the ultrasound showed two. She posted up the video and we’ve been able to see them and they’re only 5” long – it’s hard to believe they’re live little babies. We are calling them B1 and B2. Danni thinks it is wonderful she is going to have two babies. She doesn’t like looking at the video though as she thinks they look horrible – you can only see bones. Peter saw the video with his family when he visited last weekend and he told me “Aunty Amanda has two skeletons in her tummy”. We are all excited and I guess they’ll need me to help out when they’re born.

Since being here in Sydney I’ve taken Louise twice a week to her artistic roller skating and at the competition last Sunday she won first in her figure skating and second in her free choice. Amy has been chosen to be one of the relay team at Homebush Bay in June for an International Athletics Day. She’ll have to go to practice every Wednesday now. Steph won a scholarship to Bedford Business College in the city and is learning skills which will equip her for a top secretarial job at the end of the year. Justin has been chosen to be in his Uni soccer team. He’s started his engineering degree course.

I’ve been swimming at Balmoral Beach with my friend, Linda Faye; swimming at Cronulla with my sister Rita; swimming at Mt Druitt pool quite a lot with Louise and Amy as it’s been quite hot. I’ve stayed over at Aunty Beth and Aunty Lila’s and swum in their pool too. Doris, Rita, Violet and I had a sister’s day out at Darling Harbour last Friday.

I’ve had lots of phone calls and cards from my family and friends for my birthday. Each time I pray your mother will contact me but it didn’t happen. I do love you and her and pray constantly she’ll see and speak to me again.

I guess you’re getting quite tall and I’ll be your ‘dwarf’ Granny now. Aunty Lila is coming back on holidays with me and we are going to Sovereign Hill and to the Twelve Apostles. I bet you’ve used your local pool a lot this summer as it’s been so hot.

Lots of love and God bless from

Granny.

March 1997: Meg

Dear Granny,

I couldn’t send you my last letter. I still wonder what was in the one you sent to me. I asked Mum, but she said Dad threw it out and that we should just believe he was protecting us. Why did you have to be so mean? Mum said it wouldn’t be a good idea to write to you, in case Dad got angry again. I get so scared when he gets mad at me, but I’m going to write anyway. I will just hide the letters. Then I can feel like I’m still talking to you. I hope I see you again soon. Maybe I can give you these letters then.

School’s pretty good this year. We’ve got composites again, but I’m used to that now. At least this year we’re the Grade 6’s. We’re back with the same people we were with when we were in ¾ composites. I’m in Mr Polson’s class this year, but we’ve got the dividing doors open half the time, so it still feels like Ms Carter’s my teacher too. I like Mr Polson, he’s really funny. He can get angry too, like the other day when George was leaning back in his chair and chewing on his white out pen, Mr Polson told him off. George kept doing it, and then when we were all quiet doing our maths, he started making weird noises. We looked up to find he’d rocked forward on his chair and accidentally bitten the end off his white out, it had all splurped into his mouth. Mr Polson looked so mad, his face went red, but he just grabbed George’s arm really hard and dragged him out of the room, I guess to go wash his mouth out. It was really funny.

Another cool thing about this year at school is that we run the canteen. It was an idea our teachers had, because the usual canteen ladies were retiring (I think they didn’t have kids at the school anymore or something). The council were accepting applications, and so we put together a presentation to show how we would run the canteen, and had to present it to the selection people. It was a bit scary, being in a room alone and trying to be all business-like, but a long story short – we got the job! There are four of us – me, Elizabeth, Andy and Scott. We have to organise our class to collect the lunch order bins every morning (we have a roster), and then we add up how many of each item we need and count the money. Then we call the people who cook them and place our order (I find that the scariest part – I’m always worried I’ll say the wrong number!). They deliver them and then just before lunch time we go to the canteen and we have to sort the lunches into the lunch order bags, which is fun. We wear gloves and everything. Then we go around and deliver them. We also have to handle the money and make sure we keep track of it all. We have a money box that we take to the office once we’ve placed the orders in the morning. We also have to make sure all the lollies are kept up, so we don’t run out, and we have to serve at recess a couple of times a week. It’s hard trying to work out how many snakes and things people get if they say they want 45cents worth etc. But it’s heaps of fun. We even got in the newspaper!

On Saturday we got new curtains. They are a nice light green. I didn’t want the curtains in my room to change, I liked them the way they were because the sun  and moon could still shine through them. Dad told me not to be stupid and so childish, and that it was really rude for me to want to ask to not have new curtains. So I had to have them. The rooms look completely different now. They look really fancy, specially compared to our old furniture. The curtains are really thick and no light comes through anymore. It gets very dark in my room at night now.

We had our swimming fun day last week. I didn’t have much fun for most of it, because it was freezing cold, and Mum said she’d come and she wasn’t there all day. I was really sad and angry at her. I swam my races and did really well, I came first and third, but no one was there to cheer me except my friends. We had our student/teacher raft race; we’ve been planning for it all year. Every year the teachers win, and we wanted to win so badly. We thought we had a really good raft, and we planned who’d go in the water around it, and who’d paddle from on top. I was in the water at the front. It was really hard work and I thought maybe I might drown. Pulling a raft is way harder than just normal swimming. Everyone was yelling and screaming though, so I just tried really hard not to cry and kept swimming. The teachers won, so we were all really sad. I was so cold, and I had no warm clothes to put on. So I huddled down behind the raft when we got it out of the water, and tried to stay warm in my towel. The only thing warm was my eyes, because I was trying not to cry. And then Mum finally got there and made a big fuss about me being cold and got me warm. She bought me a pie and cheered me up about not winning against the teachers. She was very impressed with my ribbons, and seemed upset she’d missed it.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble breathing lately, and when I exercise my lungs hurt a lot. Mum took me to the doctor and he told me I have asthma and prescribed some Ventolin to start me off and see how I go. We went home and told dad about it and he said that doctor was dodgy and probably had a contract with Ventolin because so many kids around here supposedly had asthma. He didn’t want me turning into a hypochondriac like Mary and her family. Dad just thinks I’m unfit and that’s why my lungs hurt.

Love Meg.

February 1997: Granny

Dear Meg,

I am not allowed to write to you or see you, or speak to you. You don’t have a choice until you’re 16 so I’m going to write a journal for you to have one day, so you can read of my life and other family members’ during the time you could not communicate with us. I want you to know you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Your mother is too.

Christmas holidays just zoomed past. For the first time since I’ve had my house at Foster, we have had a really hot summer. The surf has never been better. There are so many people on the beach. It looks peculiar as I’m used to so few there all the rest of the time. Nicky learned to use her boogie board and could ride the waves well. Peter would only kneel on his board at the edge of waves and got washed off all the time. Angela loves the water but gets cold very quickly. Aunty Amanda actually went in this summer (she hardly ever swims). Danni doesn’t like the waves but Uncle Steve got her right out in the waves and she wasn’t scared.

I’ve built a room at the back of my new garage. It has a toilet and shower too. I’ve called it “Gwely” (Welsh for “bed”) and a friend has made a name plate for it. It will be very useful for family and friends to stay in. Amanda, Tony and Danni stayed in it over Christmas.

I had 10 days up in NSW staying with my friends at Vincentia on Jervois Bay. It was very relaxing with swims nearly every day. It is a very lovely part of Australia. I even had a game of golf!

I was up in Melbourne when the bad fires were happening. I’d gone up to Maisie’s 90th birthday on the Sunday. I was supposed to go home on the Monday but my car blew up and I had to stay until Thursday. It has been the hottest summer in many years and those days were the hottest ever. Luckily Amanda didn’t go to work and she, Tony, Danni and I loaded up the two cars – one with Tony’s photographic gear and the other with photos and personal gear. We went to the Kings all afternoon and for dinner and stayed overnight with Maureen Martin. The fire came to within one and a half kilometres of Amanda and Tony’s. It was quite scary seeing the smoke billowing. I was glad your father, Ken, wasn’t living at Upwey as the fire was there too.

I sat in nearly 40° heat all day while Amy was competing at Little Athletics – poor kids. Justin has moved out into a flat with two other guys and will be going to NSW Uni to do engineering. I’ve watched Louise doing her roller skating. I’ve run Steph to work and she loves her office.

Well, sweetheart, I trust you have a good class this year and good friends to be with too. I love you very much.

Love and God bless from

Granny xxxxx

February 1997: Meg

Dear Granny,

Dad got so mad today. He got a call from school – they said a letter from you to me had arrived at the school. He was so angry and wouldn’t even let me read it. What did you say in the letter? It must have been something pretty bad, I have never seen Dad that crazy. I don’t understand. Dad says we can’t talk to you anymore. He says it’s because you don’t believe Mum about what happened with Uncle Mark. But you’ve known about that for ages now. Dad didn’t let us have our Christmas presents from you either; he gave them to the op shop, without even letting us open them. I think that’s pretty mean, but he said you thought he’d made all the stuff up that Mum told you. So I guess you must’ve said something mean like that in the letter.

Anyway, other than Dad getting scary, I’ve been having some fun. On Saturday Mum, Dad and I went to the Folk Festival. On the way there we saw the plane from the ‘Russian Roulette’. It was really spectacular. When we were at the festival we kept bumping into people we knew and talking to them, so it took us ages to get to the stalls. Finally we got there but we didn’t buy anything much. Dad said I didn’t need any more junk cluttering up my room. Throughout the day I went on the camels (one of them spat at someone), the coach rides (someone lost their hat), and I also bought a really pretty necklace with the letter M on it. The person on the coach ride got their hat back. We went home at 9pm, because I was light-headed from too much sugar. I had a really great day.

On Valentines Day Mum and I watched a video. All this week I’ve been doing Prep Reading with my friend Elizabeth (because we’ve read all the books we could, we get to go down and help teach the Preps how to read). I enjoy doing it. I’m also doing Meals on Wheels this year. We have to go to the hospital kitchens, help pack up the dinners and then we get driven around to the old people’s homes and give them their food. They’re all really friendly, but one old man has a scary dog that barks and doesn’t let you get out of the car. There’s one really nice old lady who gives us biscuits, she’s really blind though and sometimes mixes us up – she called me Will the other day. I feel a bit sorry for her, but she seems happy.

We went abseiling the other day with the Guides. Mum came too. The first cliff wasn’t too steep, so we all went on that one. It was hard work climbing up there. Most of it was alright, but then there was a bit where you had to climb up a straight bit of rock. I got stuck at one point, coz I got scared. Mum said I looked like a koala clinging to a tree. I got up eventually though. I went down the cliff twice. The scariest part was going over the edge. You have to stick your bum out like you’re going to sit down, but it’s just air and your harness. Once I was on the cliff, I was alright. We climbed up to a higher cliff after that, but it was a straight drop and I was too scared to try it. Mum did though, and she said there’s a bit half way down where the cliff just disappears and you have to slide down your rope with nothing under your feet. Scary! I’m glad I didn’t do it!

abseil

I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to send this to you. Dad made me tell him if I’d had any other letters or anything from you, which you know I haven’t. He was pretty scary when he asked; he stared at me really hard like I must have been lying, and kept asking me and asking me. I don’t like this. I wish you hadn’t sent the letter and said whatever you said. I want you all to be friends again.

Love Meg.