So, here I sit on a Tuesday gaming night. The Darlinge and Eric just had a most 'spirited' debate about whether Eurasia was actually a continent or not. Honestly, you'd think it mattered....
I am currently trying to work out just how I am going to juggle getting the kids to school on time with standing on the front lawn of Parliament House to see the Apology to the Stolen Generation(s) live.
I desperately wanted to take the kids, but Gracie in particular hasn't got a great deal of tact and a voice like Foghorn Leghorn... Plus Matthew is too worried that he'd get into trouble from his School for being late (which he wouldn't but he won't be convinced).
Part of me is still uncertain about going. Perhaps it is better to witness our Aboriginal brothers and sisters getting a loooooong overdue apology from a distance. It is their day after all. Whilst I've been waiting for it since 1996, they've been waiting over 60 years in some cases. So frightening.
Will they resent well wishers and supporters that are white? Will they see us as bleeding heart, patronising white bastards? Or will they be glad of the support, and opportunity to be a part of this event?
I don't know. I doubt if I'll get there in time anyway. But I should try.
I had these sorts of misgivings a long time ago in 1988, when in Sydney I joined in a march on Australia Day, protesting the treatment of Indigenous Australians. But I did march, and (thanks largely to very unruly dark hair) was accepted as one of the mob. But again, it was a mixed day, wanting to show support for a people desperately wronged (as the Stolen Generations were) and not wanting to be seen as a interfering intruder.
Even in 1988, to me it was not so much an issue of land rights, as about children being stolen from their mothers and fathers, their family and their culture.
Another reason to try and go is out of concern for the reaction of some of the people attending both black and white. It's going to be joyful. But for some... I don't know if there's going to be the sense of closure that has been craved these past years. For others the huge sense of relief to finally hear that it was not somehow their fault, that the Government was wrong to do what they did - well, it may just be too much. Suffice to say Anglicare has put out the calls for trained counsellors to be on hand...
I know that on a personal note, there is a large hole in your heart when members of your family are taken away from you.
When I was 18, my brother and his second wife split up in a really ugly way. Mum and I had had a huge part in raising their children, especially their youngest girl, when Karen simply couldn't cope. As an adult and especially as a mother, I can now see classic post natal depression, as well as the beginnings of alcohol problems.
I still maintained a good relationship with the mother for a while, but when things started to get even nastier I decided to sort of withdraw a bit. Then it all fell apart. The last time I saw my darling niece, she was crying in the back of her Dad's car when he drove them home after one of the last access visits.
That's it. No recourse. No contact. Just a fucking big hole in my heart for years as I would pass kids in the street and wonder "Is that Ben? Is that Kristen? Do they remember our silly nicknames for them? Does she remember giving me chocolate coated kisses in David Jones in Newcastle, when people thought I was her Mum? Does he remember going completely mental with joy when I played the Split Enz song "I See Red"?
I would watch Mum getting sad on their birthdays, knowing that there was only one set of natural grandparents allowed to her grandchildren that she adored, and it wasn't her or Dad. That and the lies that were being spun about her son in order to keep them 'untainted' by our side of the family.
The empty bit gets smaller over the years. They weren't really mine after all. I was just lucky enough to have and hold as an adoring aunty for a few years. But it's still there in the background. They both made contact with Dave a few years ago, but both have been damaged by lies and stories. At least I've got a photo now. I wish I could see them though. But it's not my place to go barging into their already unsettled lives. Hopefully, one day they'll find me. The www makes this world a whole lot smaller. Calling Benjamin John and Kristen Lee...
Great. Now I've thoroughly depressed myself.
I have to get to bed. Big day and much ironing and making of lunches has to happen before I can even think of trying to go....
My two babies BTW, do go mental when I play "I See Red". It's the chorus that really gets them going.... Try it out on a toddler near you. I'll bet you dollars to cents they'll be doing a Donald O'Connor up the walls by the second chorus.