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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My family

For the first time in 11 years, I saw my parents again. They've gotten older, as one would expect, but apart from that, not much has changed at all.

They still have the 'poverty thinking' I've talked about in a previous post, which hasn't been easy for them to escape from anyway. They are on a pension, and get absolute minimum income from the government. This means they're unable to save, and as I said to Deidre yesterday, they had no money 20 years ago and even less today.

While we were there yesterday, my mum complained - something she's always done - about how I've been enjoying a good lifestyle while they've had nothing. (This is a typical statement from someone with poverty thinking. Instead of thinking about how they can improve their lives, all they do is complain about how others have what they don't.) Some time ago, their electric kettle broke, and being unable to afford another one, they've been boiling water in pots on the stove. Their washing machine also broke some years ago, and they've been doing their washing by hand ever since. Oh, and their TV was 20 years old and they could only get 2 of the 4 channels that were available.

None of their complaints were hints in any way, and were instead just the normal complaints of what they lack, but Deidre, being the adorable and caring person that she is, last night suggested to me that we get them a washing machine and a kettle. I thought this was a fantastic idea, as I had also thought of it but didn't mention it to Deidre, thinking that it wouldn't be something she'd agree to. Instead, she suggested it to me!

So this morning, after we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel, we went to a couple of places in Berri that sold or rented washing machines. Our plan was to rent a washing machine in our name and get them to deduct the monthly costs from our credit card. Nice idea, but they refused, saying that we needed to be living in Australia for some time, have a good stable job, and a good credit rating. And they wouldn't take credit payments from credit cards.

So there went that idea... We couldn't rent them a washing machine, and we couldn't afford to buy them one. So we did the next best thing.

We bought them a brand new TV, electric kettle and a 3-tier cabinet for the TV, delivering it all to their door. They were so surprised! Mum was almost on the point of refusing it, but there was the box for a brand new TV sitting on her lounge room floor, with me opening it up, so she was just saying thank you, thank you...

I set it up and tuned it in, and she was so excited and happy to actually get all 4 channels! She was telling dad he'd have to cook dinner for himself now, as she'd be too busy watching TV... hehehe. I helped dad move the old tv into his room (they sleep in different rooms).

Then we took them out for coffee and snacks, chatting and stuff, before I took them back home. Saying goodbye, I handed mum a birthday card for December 22nd, which she said she'd open on the day. I also handed her envelopes to give to my brothers, which had a xmas card and more money for them in each of them.

In all, Deidre and I gave $110 to my two brothers, and spent $250 on my parents. It wasn't enough, but I know it's made their lives happier for it...

I'm thankful for being able to see them, and also for being able to give something to them, which I've never been able to do before. Deidre and I are planning on saving up over the next 6 months and organising a washing machine for my parents, paid for by credit card over the phone and to be delivered to them.

I only hope that it will make their days a little easier in their old age.

I told mum yesterday that I wanted to buy her a trip to Sydney, which has been her dream holiday, which she's never been able to do. I told her she'll have to stay alive for a few more years so that she can achieve her dream. I think that coming to see her after so long, and being able to buy her the gifts that we have, has helped her see that I'll be able to do it for her in the near future.

I'll have some good memories to last a while. I got to see my parents again. Dad is 80, and had a heart attack 13 years ago that killed him for a couple minutes. After a heart operation, they gave him no more than 10 more years. He's lasted another 13 instead.

I don't know if I'll see him again.

Posted on 12/14/2005 09:47:00 PM Backlinks


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4 Comments:

Anonymous Deborah said...

I'm glad you got to see your parents again, Alan. My parents are young, but they live halfway across the country from me. So, unless there is a wedding or a funeral, it may be a decade before I see them again.

12/15/2005 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Thanks Deborah. You might want to take the opportunity to catch up with them before you never see them again, or at least tell them the things that you'd like them to be the last things they hear.

I try to remember that, whenever I talk to my parents and even to those who I'm leaving behind, for one reason or another. Will this be the last thing they hear from my mouth? I'd better make sure my words are meaningful and memorable.

:-)

12/15/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

Alan,
This was very touching. It must have felt great to be able to do something for your parents. So many fascinating (to me) details like the water boiling in pots, the separate bedrooms, the tv only getting two out of four channels, and your father having been relatively old when you were born (42 by my estimate). Made me think about what I want to be doing when I'm elderly.

For some reason, it was odd to hear about anyone getting just 4 channels of television. It's been many years since we got our tv signal from conventional broadcast.

12/16/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger passion said...

Yes very detailed story about your parents' life indeed. I don't think four channels on TV is not that bad though, as my TV only has four channels too and I think it's normal!! Hubby and I never thought anything wrong with it!! lol

12/18/2005 10:47:00 AM  

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