My parents were old when they were alive.
They were old when I was born… actually I better rethink that statement, at 43 I am only 2 years off their age at my time of birth.
They were born back in 1922, when the word depression was more commonly ascribed to the Great Depression. In those days you just sucked it up, were happy to have a meal on your plates and go on with the job of living.
Dad was a city boy, oldest of 8 children.
Mum was a country girl, and only child.
When World War II broke out, the government acquired a large portion of my Mother’s family’s land to use as an infantry training base. There is a hill in the artillery range that is still named after my family. My mother and grand mother used to greet the new recruits at the train station after their trip up from Melbourne, make them cakes, write to them when they were overseas and of course, take them dancing… anything for the boys.
That’s how my mum met my dad, at a local dance.
Dad got shipped off to the Middle East, then pulled back to Australia, narrowly missing the fall of Singapore as the ships were delayed. After a bit of training he was assigned to the 39th Battalion, the ones that were fighting on the Kokoda Track. However it wasn’t his destiny to die by the side of those guys, he was grabbed and put in a special unit, one which officially didn’t exist until about 20 years ago.
This unit was a group of individual commandos, taken behind enemy lines and left for months at a time, reporting Japanese troop movements, confusing the Japanese with false allied movements etc. Along apart from the Japanese, the Fuzzy Wuzzies and the mould and insects of the Papua New Guinea jungles.
As I mentioned at the beginning, by the time I was born, my parents were old. I also had 4 siblings… 20 years between the oldest and me.
To my young eyes, we had the perfect family, sporty, Scouty. We did picnics, went camping blah blah blah.
I idolized my dad when I was young. What more could you ask for in a Dad. War hero, loved camping and fishing, coach of both cricket and footy teams, could build or repair anything (including three houses). As time went by though, I started to dislike him, by the time I was a teenager, I flat out hated him. I realized our home wasn’t a happy home and he was the obvious target.
He was always drunk.
Mum was always vacuuming.
My siblings happily complied when he threw them and their possessions out of the house.
I remember years later, after he had died, at a family function his siblings all approaching me teary eyed about how I was just like my Dad.
I stood like him.
I walked like him.
I spoke like him.
In fact, if I had ever been in the possession of an army uniform, I would have looked just like his photos at the same age.
Being rebellious, I told each and every one of them that I wasn’t like him at all.
Finally one of his sisters said something that made me pause.
Not since you’ve known him, but when he was your age, he was the kindest, most generous (and damn good looking) guy you could meet.
Yeah, OK, I added the damn good looking bit…
It was the Great Family Depression
That’s when it clicked, I wasn’t the Dad I had known, I was my father before the war, before all those things that marriage and families and life in general can sour, but for one thing, I was already incredibly depressed… I didn’t know that, but then, I just didn’t know what depression was.
You didn’t talk about depression in my family.
PTSD hadn’t been given an acronym yet.
Psychiatrists were evil, only there to line their own pockets through a lifetime of counseling (this was very obvious, as we were now getting American TV shows, and they all said the same thing).
So it lived on… unspoken.. untreated.
Just to encourage me to write a bit more.. donate… go on.
Just to encourage me to grow it a bit longer.. donate… go on.
Click on me so Dad will by me more Chocolate Mo’s!
You can give via Visa, Mastercard, Amex or Paypal.
Paypal, perfect for those abstained coffee donations
Gnomer and Out!
Other Posts of mine on Movember:
- Shave and a Haircut: Movember
- Just in case you thought I wasn’t serious
- Depression in the family: Movember
- Youth gone wild: Movember
- Married with child and depressed: Movember
- Depression in the workplace: Movember
- Talking about it saves lives: Movember
- Better Off without me
- Aware People are Supportive People: Movember
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