Aunty Betty texted me on Jan 22 to invite me to lunch on Australia Day. I assumed my cousin (and Betty’s daughter) Samantha and her partner Bill would be there and I accepted the invitation gratefully.
I cooked a pasta bake on the morning and rang Betty to tell her I would be late. I had tradesmen visiting, doing things to doors and television aerials. Betty mentioned the neighbours were coming and I asked who else would be around. She rattled off the names of some of her friends from poetry circle, all of whom were in their 70s or 80s. I ventured, ‘Are Samantha and Bill coming?’ They were not. I thought about cancelling, blaming the tardy tradesman, who for once in their lives were on time that day. But I didn’t really have anything better to do so off I went.
So it was me and the oldies. I stayed only for an hour or so but it was nice to have a good feed and hear the stories of the olden days. One woman, Jill, was 87 years old. She was clearly Aunty Betty’s idol. She had written a book about animals as therapy, dogs especially. She was accompanied by her son, Maurice, who was lovely. He had bad teeth and wore a white hat with a flap at the back. Very practical for the Melbourne sun and very unfashionable. He also had pens and a set of earphones sticking out of his shirt pocket. The earphones seemed to go up and around his neck but I couldn’t see where they ended. They weren’t in his ears.
I wondered if he listened to audiobooks.
At first I couldn’t work out if Maurice was Jill’s husband or what. When they get to that age, it’s hard to tell how old they actually are. I can’t really tell the different between 90 year olds and 70 year olds. Is that bad?
The other two couples told some interesting stories about their honeymoons. And old Jill narrated a fascinating and horrifying time when she, her late husband, Maurice and their two dogs were involved in a terrible car accident which involved crashing into a tree, bouncing off, and rolling around, ending upside down. There were some scratches and a sore back but everyone walked away, including the dogs.
When I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open, I made the decision to make a swift and confident departure. I believe the whole party had been comparing electricity bills for at least 20 minutes by then. One couple had managed to avoid paying a bill for four years.