My mother was adopted out at the age of 2, and didn’t re-establish contact with her father until she was in her 30s. I met my grandfather a handful of times as a teenager, but after leaving home, I had no contact although he did come to my wedding in 1995.
Because of this very limited contact, Wednesday night driving from Casino to Newcastle was the first real chance I’ve had to talk to him. I took the opportunity to learn about his life and what he’d done. He told me about his family, some of the jobs he’d done, places he’d lived. He told me about his marriages and his daughters. He also told me he’d joined the army in 1943.
At first, since he ignored the question “What did you do during the war?” I thought his wartime experiences might have been so horrible he didn’t speak of them. Later though he started to tell me stories, and I realised he must have just not heard me when I asked.
See, during the war, my grandfather signed up in Western Australia, was sent east for training, and then served out the duration tending the bowling greens at Victoria Barracks in Sydney.
Well, I guess someone had to do it.