Dad’s signature was an ‘X’
Writing my genealogy. One of my earliest memories is of me sitting on an upturned four-gallon drum which was lying on its side, reading a circular letter that had arrived for Dad. I will never forget how proud of me he looked as I read it. Dad and Mum often said how they wanted me to learn what they did not get a chance to. It is from my parents who could not read nor write, that I learnt the importance of formal education for a better way of life and for a future that may well fill my grassroots dream, remembering that dreams are many, come and go and change like the weather. The Genealogy/Family Tree is a document which takes a journey back in time trying to capture our old people’s history of kin, culture, community, and connection.
For me, the seeds of determination, perseverance and pride in my Aboriginality and culture, were first planted at home. From my strong foundation, I remained true to myself and was most grateful for my parent’s commitment to me as their child.
Their experience of not having an education remains a painful one for me and the fact that they missed out on one of life`s treats. Yet they were survivors. They moved on proud and strong and greeted each passing day as something to be grateful for despite life’s hardships of being their own best advisors, being self-taught and self-educated. Their real-life experiences were a bonus and made them multi-talented and switched on to any new decisions they had to make. As a couple and parents to their growing family, they each kept up with the many challenging circumstances that they had to face.
My parents enriched my life and the lives of my older sisters and brothers with their enthusiasm and personal eagerness and interest in our education.
From them we learnt how to listen carefully, always understand, and be respectful. We learnt how to learn, how to find out about things, and from them we learnt how to put our learning to good use and practice what we preached.
Their lives were a powerhouse of strength and belief in their heritage which they had passed onto us. I write this book first, with Mum and Dad in my heart. Their lives achieved high marks – with high distinction
The Family Tree I aspire and write to is for my immediate family sons and daughters their families, my nieces nephews and their families, my first and second cousins and their families, my aunts and uncles and the marriages of family ties and their partners that are not bloodline. Through it shines the gift of education, a dominate factor in the tree`s creation. The Family Tree is important, it has power strength and determination throughout its mixture of Aboriginal mythology. The education it, show cases where two people my parents, who without an education had planted this dream long before anyone of us were born this is my spiritual and inner feeling and of course the outcome of this Tree`s life. Learning from my parents was easy; Listen, Learn, Do It.
The Genealogy, Family Tree is a document which takes a journey back in time of invaluable insights into our old people’s family history of kin, culture community and connection.
I decided that I would make the best of what I had and used the experience to further help my employment prospects.
Despite all the hard times that I encountered along the way, I never lost sight of my dream. My dream was to one day have my own house instead of the tin shacks that Aboriginal people lived in, with a tap, so I could stop having to fill up the 44-gallon drum from the nearest tap (which was never near), a light to switch on and off and perhaps one day write a book!
Yet, as I look back, I know that, although poor, it was a time in my life full of love and family togetherness. Following the deaths of my brother and my dad and my grandfather, all within a month, it meant that suddenly we were left without our menfolk. Life was a struggle, but our dear mother kept the home-fire burning brightly. She led the way for us women by firmly holding together as the overseer of our family and our home.
Catastrophic grief, we dealt with it our way. Following our traditional healing and real-life experiences we worked and shared responsibilities through shoulder-shoulder in sharing the home needs. This big family loss meant that I had a platform to help those who also experience the sadness of living a life without, our immediate menfolk. From early teachings and learnings, I considered myself lucky to have had been exposed to these life skills experiences and training beforehand.
This meant that we were together, deeply, and spiritually connected, and we followed the values of our old people`s traditional undertakings of respect, and respect of us as women, my sister, mum, and me. Our interconnectedness for each other was most important. Together, we battled and maintained strength to stay standing despite the sorrow of real-life daily encounters that we had to live and bare.
I didn’t know it at the time, but later in life I reared my own family went to university and gained a Bachelor of Health Science (Community and Public Health) which further enhanced my skills, passion and knowledge. I was fortunate that my cultural and real-life experiences became part of my professional skills as I was able to put them to good use in the various roles of within a wide range of my career pathway.
I firmly understand the callous conditions and treatment that my parents and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people faced – and continue to face. My parents were directly affected by the harsh government policies of the time. They faced the bad times of the Great Depression, World War 2, and what rural life demanded.
Yes, both my parents were deprived of an education but still moved on. Each were self-taught, self-educated, and lived on despite the circumstances that they knew only too well. They were survivors. And I too survived. It is gratifying to look back and see how they were able to hold their heads high. They were strong, smart, proud, and honest people. They instilled in us good values, strong work ethics, respect and appreciation of others and walking two cultures together.
Yours and mine.
Yes, my parents’ signature was an X. For Experience.