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"I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine," says Mr. Hardcastle in Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer. I am sure that Hardcastle speaks for many of us. It's fun to remember. 

Our ability to remember is something we take for granted. For it is in the memory of the past that we gain an insight into what makes us who we are and what we will become. That trip down memory lane is one that we hold onto when the present road is unpleasant or boring. We can close our eyes and venture back in time to the familiar path to a well trodden trail that gives us snapshots of happier times.

As we age, " I remember " takes on a sense of urgency. It is though if our mind needs to share as much as possible before the lights go out. 

 

I remember my first day at school. I even remember what I was wearing. ( It was in the days before school uniforms.) I went to a small country primary school and it was customary to wear gumboots to and from school as we trudged through some fairly muddy places to get there. Inside my school bag I had a pair of slippers which were worn in class. I remember that my gumboots were red and everyone else wore black ones. Far from feeling different, I felt special. I had a self confidence because my gumboots were red! Today, conformity is everything and standing out from the crowd is not always celebrated or even tolerated. Just think of what we are about to face as unvaccinated - our point of difference is already causing us problems.

I remember my first pair of school slippers - they were in a soft felted wool and were also red. As I stepped out of my gumboots and put my slippers on, I knew that I was at school and it was as though I had clocked in and become a different person: my slippers signalled that I had left being my parent's child and instead had transformed into this magical thing called a " student. " 

When I put my gumboots on and joined my siblings to slodge along the muddy road back home, I was entering the twilight zone between family member and student. 

As the years rolled by, I often think how it seems that, as a child, the days were short and the years long. Now I find the days long and the years short. 

I remember when I used to get an orange and squeeze it so that it became all mushy inside. Then crack a hole in the skin and drink the juice. Orange juice has never tasted as good as it did when I made the orange into a bottle and sucked in that glorious sweet fluid. It was even better if you had put the orange into a creek or pond to chill it down after you squeezed it but before you opened it up. 

 

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I remember school milk - hot and starting to curdle and drinking it because I had to so that I didn't get rickets. We had kids in our school with rickets and they wore these frightening leg braces and I certainly didn't want to be like that. So down the milk went and I felt thankful that I was spared the horror of such a nasty affliction.

Who could forget the joy of swimming at summer's dawning? Leaping into the pond or sea and shrieking with delight at that mind chilling first bite of the water? Or the smell of the grass in spring when Dad had given the lawn its first haircut? The sound of the lawnmowers across the neighborhood on a Sunday morning whilst our Mum's were inside baking scones or pikelets for us to feast on when we got home from Sunday School?

When every day was a happy day. 

 

The smell of the Sunday Roast and stirring the gravy, made from pan juices and thickened with flour and seasoned with a small dollop of vegemite? 

I remember the secret love affair I had with the book I had taken out of the public library; sitting under a lemon tree or in the shade of the chookhouse pear tree, shooing away the dragon flies and devouring every glorious word of " National Velvet. " and wishing that I could have a horse like Elizabeth Taylor .

Most of all, I remember being loved. 

I remember being taught to respect my elders, respect my God, respect my flag and respect the police. I remember being taught to say " Yes please " and "Thank you " and "You're welcome. " 

And, yes, I remember laughing when Dad asked me to pull his finger and he farted.

Mind you, this hippo could give Dad a run for his money.

 

OK OK I know I shouldn't have put that in but I couldn't help it - sorry!  

I remember being cherished and cared for and cherishing and caring in return. 

I remember when I felt safe.

Thank goodness we can still remember when it felt good to just jump in puddles with our best friend. Maybe we need to do it more? 

 

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