Thursday, 12 May 2011

Forays into other climes

Here I sit rugged up, with a heater nearby, and feeling quite cold. Yesterday I returned from several days in Canberra, where the temperature dropped to minus 5 overnight. Yesterday's day temperature reached only 11 degrees. Suddenly the weather over much of the southern and eastern states has become extremely cold, and there have been early and heavy snowfalls in the mountains. And it is only May.

Fortunately a combination of optimism, prudence and foresight prevented me from chucking out all my cold weather clothes when I moved here.  I took my very warmest old clothes, including my purple woollen coat, and wore many layers. But still I shivered.

It was a comforting and comfortable visit, spending time with my son and daughter and their children, and many old friends too. The autumn air was clear and bright, and the city looked beautiful.  Being with family and friends felt very healing.

I stayed with my dear friend H, in her warm and comfortable home, with an electric blanket on the bed. She has two cats, Fred and George, who are brothers. It was lovely to sit and talk together with a lapful of purring cat. These cats are well known in the neighbourhood as they range far afield and H is always getting calls from concerned and helpful people who ask has she lost one or other or both of the cats. H was widowed eleven years ago, and it was good for both of us to share experiences and emotions. (There seem to me to be many more widows than widowers. Perhaps I am encountering the wrong sort of random sampling.)

We met about 30 years ago - I had to add it up - when I was on an exchange programme at her workplace.   She is a warm, loving, competent and intelligent person, with a kind and generous heart, and has hordes of friends. She was busy rehearsing for a concert of combined choirs, including the choir I used to be in, on Sunday, as part of the Canberra International Music Festival. I went to this concert, and saw many of my chorister mates. It was a wonderful occasion. The choirs performed the Requiem by Victoria, one of my favourite composers, and sang the premiere performance of a Requiem by our Australian National Treasure Peter Sculthorpe, now aged 80. It was a wonderful work, a true Requiem, intensely emotional and deeply moving, which brought tears to my eyes.  After the concert, while lots of us were having coffee, I was able to approach the composer and tell him how wonderful his Requiem is. Once upon a time when contemporary music was played, I found it difficult to enjoy or appreciate, but I find the later Sculthorpe works to be profoundly beautiful.

It turned out that it was possible to see another old family friend. She is the widow of one of my father's old friends, and they were very kind and loving to me over the years. Her husband died 17 years ago. She is 88 now, and still lives by herself, albeit with some help from family and carer services. Essentially she manages most things, although she no longer drives. She seems to remember everything, and is writing very detailed memoirs. They will be worth reading. While I was visiting another friend who lives nearby, I asked to use her telephone directory to check the number. My friend knew her: their families were friends and colleagues, and when I visited my old friend, she told me she had known my younger friend since she was born. The connections and complexities of human relationships never cease to be amazing.

Of course, it did not take very long after my return yesterday afternoon for everything to spring up and beat me around the head and shoulders. Some things will have to wait, as I am taking off again to Adelaide. This will be much better than agonising and worrying, and letting things agitate me.

For everything there is a season, and a time and purpose under Heaven. Sufficient unto the day thereof.


molly said...

It is good you can do this now. Visiting with family and old friends is probably the best thing for you at this time. Knowing you have all those loving connections will help ease you into your new situation. Best of luck!

VioletSky said...

You seem to have many 'friends for life' that you have kept through your moves. You are fortunate to have such treasures.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Molly here, too. And I think the reconnection with family is all part of the process, connecting with those around us and re-establishing the support system. Human contact is so very important. Thinking of you x

Relatively Retiring said...

Well done for all this. It seems to be a valuable part of the process. In the first year of my widowhood I felt a need to re-establish many old friendships, and it's been an enriching process. Somehow it reminds you that you are still a person in your own right.

Pam said...

That all sounds very lovely (apart from the cold).