There was a moment a few days ago when a couple of older family members took an afternoon nap, and I was awfully tempted to join them. But I had work to do.
I think my family has been slightly bemused by me working from home this week. While they’ve all mostly had fairly manual jobs, by their reckoning, I spend my life listening to the radio, having phone and video conferences, and writing and sending emails. They’ve been surprised by the length of my day, and by the fact I can simultaneously have conversations with them, AND do my job.
While many people take a break at this time of the year, it’s one of my busiest. I still try to come home every year, and for the most part, will work from the local office during the day, and see my family at night. But this year around, after almost a year of working from home, it’s been great to be able to use the VPN, and spend a little more time with my family.
Aside from showing signs of ageing, they all seem well. I’m no longer the younger family member; I’m more around the middle these days. The older family members are relying on me more, and the younger ones are looking up to me for advice.
There was a funny moment the other day when a younger family member had the sudden realisation of where I fitted into the family. He’d previously only known me as “Uncle Jim”, without really understanding my place in the family. He also seemed surprised to discover that I’d travelled around most of the country and much of the world. “You’re a bit more interesting than I’d thought”, was the look that appeared to cross his face.
Earlier in my life, I couldn’t wait to get back to Sydney after coming home for Christmas. You know what it’s like when you’re young and you think NYE is the most exciting night of the year? . But now, I’m looking more towards a retirement life in Lismore, and I’m enjoying hanging out with my family.
One of the lovely highlights of each year is sitting around with my family, going through some old photographs, and digitising them. Every year, it seems there’s a new collection of photographs emerging from a biscuit tin, envelope or such.
It’s also been lovely to catch up with extended family and some old school friends. There was one I’d hoped to catch up with, but didn’t hold much hope, as his partner has recently developed a spinal injury, and they’re spending a lot of time in care and rehabilitation. But we caught up for a glass of wine, which was lovely. I ran into another old school friend at Office Works. I also visited one of my aunties. She’s now 92 years old and still living at home, with strong support from her children. She’s still physically very healthy, but showing some signs of ageing. Though her memories remain fairly strong, she’s not very good with names. “What’s your name, again?”, she asked me several times. Once we had established that, we were able to continue chatting.
I’ve been to the shopping centre a few times, but haven’t seen anyone I know. The same at the Worker’s Club and at the Civic Hotel. Twelve months ago, The Civic was celebrating “Tropical Fruits”. Things were a little more downplayed this year. And downmarket!
“The shopping centre looks better than this time last year”, I told my friend Paul over a glass of wine. Nearly four years ago the town was devastated by a major flood, and many shops shut down permanently. Paul says things still haven’t fully recovered, but there didn’t seem to be as many closed shops as the last time when I was home, which was half way through this year.
As I’ve wandered around town, I’ve kept looking at things and remembering how they were different when I was growing up here. Such and such shop was there, the phone boxes were there, that’s where the tennis courts were. That kind of thing.