I was sitting here and thinking about the people who have played a big part in my life, one of these people was my Grandfather, I would like to tell you all a little about him.
He was one of family of six children; he was born and raised in Dongara, which is an hour south of where I live here in Geraldton, I don’t know much about his childhood, but he always said that it was a good one filled with love and fun.
When Grandad was about nineteen, he was working with a camel team and that how he found his way to Mt Magnet and that where he was when he met the love of this life, my Grandmother. They married three years after they met, as Grandad would not marry her till he could afford to buy her a wedding ring, they had two children, my Mum Patricia (called Pat by all) and a boy Brain.
Grandad was working on Hill 50 gold mine when war came, so he lied about his age and when to war, as to him it was the right thing to do at the time and because the army where calling for engineers and that what he was, for part of his war service he when to New Guinea, after the war he stay on for another year to help rebuild, as he put it “a broken country”.
Now getting back in to Australia and out of the Amy, was much hard for him then it was to get in, as all his paper work to get back in to Australia did match the paper work he left with, because he had not told my Grandmother about his little white lie and so every time my grandmother had to fill out any paper work she put his right birth date on them, and now the army need to find a way around it, so now I have two lot of paper work for his time in the army. When Grandad came home it was to a country town that had change in many ways, but he always said he was lucky as he did get to come home and so many didn’t.
Like many men after the war he never bother to get his medals, years later I ask him if I could see his medals, as I always believe he had them, he told me he didn’t need medals to say he served his country. So I ask if I got the papers would he sign them so I could get them, he ask why I wanted them and I told him I was proud of what he had done, so I got the paper and he sign them for me and now I wear his medals every ANZAC Day.
I can remember as a kid, Grandad have a smile and a good word for everyone, it didn’t matter to him if you where rich or poor, black or white, everyone one was the same, everyone got a far go. But if you step over the line, this very quietly spoken man let you know, without even raising his voice, you just knew in your heart you had gone too far.
My Grandad and Grandmother own the paper shop, there house was built on to the back of it and that where they lived for many years, My Grandmother had a head for numbers, so she was the business women of the family and my Grandfather was the people man, he like to know what was going on in town and if there was any way he could help out he did. My Mum and Dad took over the shop from them when they want to give up working and that is how we as a family move back to my Mum home town.
In lots of way my Grandad was born before his time, he saw thinking in a way that they were not seen at the time, to him the Aussie Spirit (called mateship in his day) was most important, If you could help out in any way, you should and he would tell us that as kids over and over,” You never know when your turn will come and you will be the one needing help”, he said it didn’t matter what kind of help we gave, as long as we help out and it come from our hearts.
If as kids we complained about not having this or that, he would tell us to go look above the fire place in their kitchen, there we would find the saying he live by
“I had not shoes and did complain till I meet a man who had not feet”.
He told us over and over there was always someone who need something more then use and that we where the lucky ones, because we had people who love and care for us.
I remember many things about him and what he did, but two have stay with me,
There was a family in town who child who was born, disable, the problem could be fix with surgery, but they just couldn’t afford to have it done. My Grandmother said he come to her and ask if they could afford to pay for it to be done, she say, she told him, she thought they could find away to help, so that what they did. They knew they would never get the money back, as the family would never be able to afford it as they had six children, yet they still when a head and help them. Many years later I ask why he did it, and he said for the child, because the child did not ask to be born that way and that every child had the right to have a good start in life.
The second thing was his great love of his family, but most of all his love for my Grandmother, he love her till the day she died, every where they when, they walk hand in hand like young lovers, when my Grandmother walk into the room, my Grandad would smile a smile that told the room she belong to him and how much he love her.
When they were in there eighties, they left Magnet and move to Geraldton as all the family where living there now. My Grandmother died six year later, my Grandfather six months after her, I believe to this day he just could live without her. They had been married sixty two years and the only time they spent apart was when he when to War.
S.M. Mac Arthur ©