Thirty-one years ago, I changed schools. I was only one term in to grade one at Merrimac Primary School when we up and moved to a more country-ish town called Coomera. Back in 1981, Coomera didn't have much. There was a milk bar at the caravan park on the corner of the highway, a police station and a small grocery store (well there was probably more, but as a six year old those were the most important!). My parents built a huge 52 square home on seven and a half acres. We had dams, stables with horses, chickens galore and an aviary with all varieties of feathered friends. There was a slow moving little creek that ran through the property and up until our pool was built I have memories of jumping in the creek or being dragged around the dam. I won't go in to the time that dragging ended up with me being taken to hospital for my first set of stitches - let's just say that dams also have rocks and reeds growing under the water!
The local primary school was quite some kilometres away. Over the other side of the highway, where not long after we moved, Dreamworld opened right across the road from said school. My Mum would get a job there in the early 80's, along with lots of my friend's Mums, and some afternoons after school, we would wander across and dump our bags, and go through the back gate to spend a couple of hours on rides and water slides. Yeh.....life was pretty tough.
Kids would come from miles away to this school. Literally. We would be picked up by the bus, mostly outside our own house - because neighbours were so far apart! And we would all congregate at this same school. It was here that I met the majority of my closest friends - even now, after all these years.
I wasn't what I would call a popular kid. But I also wasn't not popular. If you get what I mean? My entire school life was spent bouncing from one friend to the next, one group to another. And without sounding up myself, I think I was a pretty well liked kid. I don't recall being teased (well, until high school when some smart ass boy asked me if I'd been sunbaking under a flyscreen?) or pushed around, I just went to school, learnt and had fun.
The reason I'm sharing all of this with you today? Well, last Tuesday I decided I needed to send my Dad a hamper for Christmas. You see, his Doctors have given him the "thumbs down" to travel to Melbourne for the festive season. His health has been shocking since his little heart episode. In fact, I'd been holding my breath until Thursday just gone, when what I think was a bone marrow biopsy (I say think because my dear old 69 year old Dad cannot for the life of him give me the proper names for all the tests he's been going through!) came back with nothing! Hoorah! I'd spent ten days freaking out because his doctors thought he may have bone cancer. Now, it's just waiting on further results for his heart, kidneys etc etc.
Anyway, back to the hamper....... I went online and was quite frustrated by the options laid out before me. $70 for a crappy little hamper with crackers, red wine and other bullshit added in. No good for my Dad who doesn't drink red wine, is not a fan of crackers and doesn't stand for bullshit. So I headed over to the old faithful Facebook and popped up a status to all my Gold Coast friends, wondering who lived close to my Dad? A couple of girls I went through school with popped up and a certain lovely lady only lived ten minutes away and was more than happy to put a hamper together for me AND drop it off to my Dad! I was thrilled!
I messaged her a list of possible items - XXXX beer, Violet Crumble, fruit mince pies and a little pudding. And lots of fresh fruit. This wonderful human being went above and beyond for me, and blew me away with the end result. She delivered it to my Dad yesterday. Now, she had not seen my Dad for probably 25+ years, so to go to a near stranger's home and deliver a gift with personal touches is a big ask! But she did it. And she gave my Dad a hug and a kiss from me too. AND sms'd a photo for me too! Dad was surprised. She said he was speechless. Well, until he figured he had some company and wanted to have a chat.....
|Dad with his loot!|
I'm sharing this because I want to remind everyone that the Christmas spirit is in fact well and truly alive and kicking. When I posted the photo on FB yesterday afternoon and did a public thank you to my friend, everyone I grew up with was chuffed. Another of my life long friends messaged me and I sat in tears with gratitude for the friendships that were formed such a long time ago. I don't know what was in the water in those little towns in the 1980's, but whatever it was - it helped form a great bunch of children, who have grown in to a wonderful group of adults who are just plain AWESOME!
And just keep this in mind, next time you're travelling down that huge and busy Pacific Motorway on the Gold Coast - Just when you're passing the McDonald's and big stores that line those towns, think of the hundreds of country kids who kicked around in the dirt and had no idea what a Maccas was. Imagine us crossing the two lane highway to get to our school bus. And try to picture a much simpler time. Because that was my childhood. Well, part of it anyway.....