What follows is a short story from Rosemary’s past. After talking with her, I have taken our discussion and turned it into a series of small stories highlighting the incredible life that she has led. Direct quotes from our discussion are highlighted in quotation marks. All else is a retelling written by yours truly.
Life in Perth seemed perfect. Rosemary and Bill had their own home and close friends. Bill’s job was a good one. Yes, it still took him up and down the coast but the journeys were shorter and when he came back he would always return with the biggest prawns Rosemary had ever seen (it was a speciality of the region up north). The children were in a good school and making their own friends.
This was where Rosemary thought they would stay, if not forever then at least for many years into the future. That was, until they received word that Bill was wanted back in England. They had been in Perth for only two years and it was already time to leave?
“I think they felt we were getting rather big to keep moving around the different places. It was getting a bit expensive for them because they always paid for our stuff to move with us.”
I suppose with four children now that is understandable.
Well, Bill was nervous. They wanted him to go into personnel work. This was not what he was used to. He had no experience here. He was a man in the field, travelling and working with people from all walks of life. He didn’t belong behind a desk. What would he do? It would be so different.
But as a senior member of the company and the teams he was on, he did have experience working with others and organising groups. Rosemary was quick to remind him of this. And anybody who knew him knew he was brilliant with people. So maybe it would be ok.
Anyway, they had a month to leave. It was always sudden, these moves, and Rosemary found this particularly difficult. This was their first home. Your first home is supposed to be something you keep for a long time, something you build memories in, something your children grow up in.
So they said goodbye to their home, goodbye to their friends. In one final act of generosity before they left their friends all agreed to look after Rosemary and Bill’s children for a few days, splitting them up between three families, so that Rosemary and Bill could travel northward and explore western Australia. They had, after all, been far too busy with life and work to have any sort of holiday like this. And aside from the boat journey to Melbourne, Rosemary couldn’t remember the last time her and Bill got to spend time just the two of them, going off on their own little adventure.
Rosemary was completely taken aback by the offer. Nobody, not even her own family, had offered to take care of the children while she and Bill took a short holiday. It was the last (second to last, but I’ll get to that) act of kindness Perth would grant her.
And so they left for their mini holiday. Ironically, Rosemary doesn’t remember much of it – it was a long time ago after all – but she remembers it fondly. And it has reminded her throughout the rest of her life to try and offer the same kindness to others. It taught her a lesson in hospitality that she has never forgotten.
The final act of kindness given to Rosemary and Bill actually came when they were due to leave. Strikes within the airlines forced flights to stop and after selling their home, Rosemary and Bill had nowhere to go. Again a friend came to the rescue. Rosemary and Bill were a big family by that point, but still they were invited into their friend’s home to wait out the turmoil.
And that was their time in Perth. The strikes ended and they left for their flight. No security in those days and even as they were climbing the airplane stairs, friends were handing them gifts to take back. Of course they forgot something, and Bill had to run to the plane doors and yell across the tarmac to their friends telling them they still had Rosemary and Bill’s winter coats. It was November and while Australia was hot, Europe was not. They didn’t exactly want to be arriving in sun shirts and flipflops.
It was a sad time for Rosemary. England seemed such a dreary prospect after such a lovely time in Australia. But she was looking forward to seeing her old friends and her family. And at least the journey back would be an adventure. In those days, the flights were never nonstop and one ticket meant you could leave the flight at any of its destinations, stay a few days if you wanted to, and continue the journey on a different flight. All on the same ticket. Can you imagine?
So there was always that to look forward to.
Stay tuned for more stories from the life of Rosemary. Please note: these stories will not necessarily hold any chronological grounding. They are designed as snippets of understanding into the life of Rosemary and while some will hold chronology, others may not.