Friday, March 27, 2009


In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.

Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow - where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as "twins" and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn't!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn't and taught how to use "women's stuff". I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn't have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then "bribing you" to take me out or "I would tell Mum!" I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn't sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that's just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house - the church - and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that "you had escaped!" I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn't think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob - and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks - even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn't make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren't there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx

And from Me -
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.

I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.

And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.

Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.


1 comment:

suzen said...

Hi Loz - I was glad I saved this for whatever reason.� Went to your blog recently and it won't let me comment - I noticed there were no other comments either.� The problem MAY be in that you changed the template?� When you get to the word verification part of the commenting (when I do) the little white box it is in is cut off on the bottom where you need to go to type the word (code) in to verify.� Don't know if you've been contacted by anyone yet, but I felt I should try to get ahold of you to tell you about this.� Have missed your blog!