Every Tuesday morning, I leave my 89-year-old mother with a wave, a cheery goodbye and a “See you next Monday”. It’s an act of faith we both indulge in. So far, our faith has been rewarded. Her advanced years, significant memory loss and now COVID-19 haven’t combined to thwart us. Yet.

Every Monday is different. I’m never certain what I’ll find when I get to Mum’s place, but I can be confident there will be something to occupy — Poirot-like — my “little grey cells”. …

Being a long distance grandmother has its compensations. Every morning since corona-lockdown, I’ve woken to images of my son and his young family managing their splendid self-isolation in northern NSW. There are five of them and they’re in this together: mother, father, toddler, newborn and Norman. (Norman is a greyhound but try convincing him.)

The sun rises early in their part of the world, and they are usually up to greet it.

The still-warm autumn mornings find them on a quiet stretch of beach near their home, making friends with crabs and discovering bear caves. I watch video of the almost-two-year-old running, falling, picking herself up and running some more towards her father to show him the treasure…

I’m on the train to Flinders Street Station, heading for my first silent reading party and already I’m nervous. The STFU (Shut the Fuck Up) Reading Society’s official Facebook page reads: ‘We host silent reading parties because we want to allow for […] introverted or anxious people to join a no pressure social activity with zero expectations of social interaction or conversation if it’s not wanted!’

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

It’s a sociophobe’s dream but the stuff of nightmares for people like me, who talk our way through unfamiliar social situations until we feel at ease. Conversation lessens our discomfort in the presence of…

What happens when shared memories are no longer shared? When — even as you are living a wonderful moment with a loved one — you know you will probably be the sole keeper of its memory?

Great friends

Lately I’ve been spending precious time with family at both ends of the age spectrum.The Christmas break has given me the opportunity to see more of my eight-month-old granddaughter and my 87-year-old mother. Sometimes both at the same time. Along with my daughter, four generations spanning 87 years sitting on the same couch in the same room. …

There is a story in Helen Garner’s 2016 collection of short stories Everywhere I Look titled ‘The Insults of Age’. She rages against the condescension masquerading as kindness directed towards her: ‘Are you right on those stairs, Helen?’, ‘How was your shopping, ladies?’ and the final un-take-backable ‘Helen. You. Are. Seventy-one.

My first ‘insult of age’ happened three years ago in France. A friend and I visited the Scriptorium — a museum of ancient manuscripts — in Avranches, Normandy.

‘Good morning, ladies,’ said the nice young woman at reception. (How does she know we aren’t French?)

Bonjour,’ we said. ‘Deux…

The transition from ‘writer’ to ‘author’ is strewn with rejection emails. Being proactive, resilient and willing to learn from your mistakes will serve you well on your path towards publication. A healthy dose of optimism doesn’t hurt either. I have just completed my first career plan at an age when some of my friends are considering retirement. Here I am, sweating on my CV, while they are swanning around in their four-wheel drives with golf sticks in the boot and a caravan attached. How I pity them.

It’s over a decade now since I first submitted a piece of writing…

My 86-year-old mother is an atheist. Her garden is her place of worship; her abiding love the simple beauty of Australian native plants. Since my father’s death six months ago, the garden has given her refuge and solace. The familiar rituals of gardening — digging, mulching, planting, weeding — give her comfort. Grief hasn’t kept her from sleep. After a day in the garden, she falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

Every Monday night since my father died, I stay with Mum in the home they shared for 55 years. In the colder months, we light…

Elizabeth Quinn

Elizabeth is a Melbourne writer and blogger. She is the founder of www.diywoman.net and is an aspiring children’s and YA author.

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