My Family My Mob
You never know that your bedding is warm until you’re cold. It seems to me our world is a comparative thing, we use comparisons to measure everything. We get the knowledge of comparisons through living, we call it life. The more comparisons, the richer our lives. I have decided to enter my parents, Frances and Bill Williams into this competition.
I am sitting in Sydney watching the sandstone buildings rise out of the green grass courtyard. How foreign these colours are. There is nothing of the red ochre sand or washed out green of the peppercorn trees or the flat green olive scrub of my childhood, typical of western NSW, my home.
I do not know why I have taken this time to think about my parents and my home, maybe it’s because today I have completed my university education and because without a doubt my life has been a partnership of family “my mob” .
I have tried over the years to work out why my family works out while many others around me are failing. Where, in my community, alcohol reaps tremendous costs to my culture and disease and malnutrition will guarantee a shorter life expectancy than those of my of non-indigenous Australians friends.
How a shearer and a station cook created for us, my sisters and brothers, the best place in the world, the richest, most challenging and exciting space that I can imagine. How can I tell you about the laughter that they made? I can roll out a million clichés now about them and every one of them would be true. The games of footy on a grassless pitch in our street, the Darling when she is in full flood, their sharing of my history, my culture, of the dreamtime. The complete and total understanding of who we are, of where we sit on the planet of our 40,000 years. I think this gave us a pride in who are, to give us a strength and confidence in our future.
But allow me to tell you more about Bill and Frances as individuals … they aren’t perfect and are certainly no saints. I have seen some raging blues and tender make ups. I have seen all these things, they haven’t covered up life in any way, they have allowed us to experience it, the ups and downs, they have shared all the little things, all the things that connect us to each other that allow us to know who we are and who are parents are. Like when Dad told us about the first time he and Mum made love. It taught me about the difference between sex and love. I might add there was a lot of blushing and giggling amongst us kids. It is these little bits and pieces that seem to have embraced me all of my life. Things I cannot really remember but they are there and are unique to my family. They were not unique to Dad, Mum understood it to.
When Grandma died I saw her body, I saw my mum preparing her and I was asked to help. I have sat on a log with Dad watching him roll a smoke and tell me what it is like to be shearing sheep and a long way from home, a long way from his Fran, although he seems to call her Mum these days. Things are a bit different now Dad drives a bulldozer for the local Council and Mum is a teachers’ aid at my old school, I have actually been talking to her about doing her teaching degree.
Mum and Dad have allowed us to see the struggle, that we call life, its successes and failures.
I have found a famous David Moore photograph of an aboriginal couple, that looks nothing like them but which demonstrates the pride and wealth of the relationship of my Mum and Dad.
I think the richest thing we have in our DNA, is the strength of our family, we know life will be what we make of it, the choices we make will control our future, we are responsible for that and Mum and Dad have given us the strength and purpose to look forward. In short, they have taught us that we are as old as Uluru itself and as competent as tomorrow about our future.