A simple life, well lived

My “prince”, Ron, died eight years ago.

He died on Valentine’s Day and as he lay ill he said: “Don’t cry, I’ve had a wonderful innings and life.”

Both 10-pound Poms, we met through an aunty of mine who lived next door to him.

My parents, sister and I had migrated three years before and the aunty wrote to my father that a nice young man was coming to Melbourne and “would we show him a little English hospitality”. Well we did – I married him after a five-month courtship.

Ron was born to a rather dour 50-year-old man who had four grown children he hardly ever saw.

His mother was 22. Both married for convenience, I imagine — it was the Great Depression and people did what they could to survive.

A baby girl came first and, four years later, Ron.

His dad was never a hands-on father, but they talked a great deal about politics, socialism, communism and the “working man”.

Abraham was an artisan cabinet maker who earned £3 a week and whose furniture sold for hundreds. He left the house at six in the morning, travelled on three buses and got home at seven in the evening.

They bought a house in London with a £60 deposit and lived there all their lives.

When the war came, the 14-year-old Ron was evacuated to live with a specialist doctor. She had a house in Somerset, a flat in Chelsea and “rooms” in Harley Street.

She had taken in another young boy and when she had a dinner party she would bring them down and parade them as “my evacuees”. Ron later told me he would nearly die of shame. But she meant well and taught him marvellous ethics, manners and values.

Just short of his 18th birthday he volunteered for the Royal Navy. He served on a frigate and saw service in Malta, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone and then on to the Pacific and Geraldton and Perth, where he fell in love with Australia and vowed to come back if he survived.

Survive he did and we met, married and had children and grandchildren. We lived in some pokey dumps and ended up in a swanky retirement village. We knew sorrow and joy, and through it all we had faith that we could and would make a “go of it”.

Looking back on almost 90 years, I think I have been blessed with life.

I love Australia and the fact that my family and I are migrants and I don’t ever want my children and grandchildren and those yet to come to forget that.

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