Working predominately at night I rarely encounter the generation from war time Australia. So it’s always a surprise and an honour whenever one of these old diggers climbs aboard and puts some perspective into the hustle and bustle of life.
Early on Saturday evening I swung into St Vincent’s Hospital to find an old fella around 80 years old. He hobbled to the door using a walking stick and gingerly got in. “I knew a cab would show up if I waited long enough,” he said. With plenty of taxi work on the streets I guessed he’d been waiting awhile.
We headed off around the block, directly behind the hospital where the families of rural and regional patients stay in self contained units. When I asked how they were the old fella grumbled, “They’re up the shit.” I took this to mean the dislocation of being away from home for the last six weeks whilst his wife battled throat cancer.
He was a farmer on the far South Coast off a sheep and cattle property of 1800 acres. “She kept me going for forty two years whilst we paid it off,” he said, “no matter how tough it got. Sometimes I’d want to chuck it in and get a salary job in town but she wouldn’t hear of it. She kept me going...and now I’m losing her.”
As his voice faded off and I wondered how traumatic it would be moving from the serenity of rural life to downtown Darlinghurst.
I asked who was looking after the farm whilst he was in Sydney. “My two sons do most of the work now.” A glint came into his eye. “They both married sisters,” he offered proudly, “and built a house each on the property. When I suggested that he was lucky to have them there he agreed, “Yes, I’m blessed.”
Then opening the door he paused. “You know, the two sisters are my best mate’s daughters...how about that?” he chuckled. “Bingo!” I laughed...