Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Mum

Sunday October 5 was Mum's 70th birthday. The family gathered to celebrate the occasion with dinner at Elmars in the Valley, a German restaurant in the Swan Valley.
Everyone had a great time, especially Mum.
Afterwards we met back at Alan's place for coffee. The kids shared their feelings and memories about their Nan then I read a poem I'd been composing over the preceding couple of hours. It started with the idea of sharing 70 memories of Mum which The Hair listed in the car as we drove over to Bridgetown to pick up Walter. I then had the bright idea of turning it into rhyming couplets!
Here's the result.

The Ballad of Jacqui B.

A long time ago, I don't remember when
But by the calendar three score and ten
1938 was the year
That my Mum first appeared
Somewhere around the town of Hurstbridge
In a little house without a fridge
Alec and Elsie brought forth Evelyn's sister
And named her Jacqueline Muriel Burmeister
Some time later they moved to Northcote
To a house at 373 Clarke St
Down the road to school at Westgarth
Up the sidestreet to the park
A great place to play but don't be late
When Pa whistled from the gate
One day Graham copped a whack in the head
A boy had kicked him his sister's said
Up to the park stormed Nan, a neck to wring
Till they confessed "it was the swing"
In Melbourne, Footy's king of the pack
And the Burmeister family were yellow and black
Cheering on the Tigers in the rain and mud
Watching the exploits of Captain Blood
Back in the days of carts and horses
Following with a bucket awaiting nature's forces
One day a milk cart too long lingered
And crushed Mum's hand, hence her dodgy finger

A few years later Jacqui's eyes were drawn
To a handsome dark haired young man
Peter and Jacqui soon said "I do"
The day Jacqui first used shampoo! *
Not long after to Birchip they moved
A place a long long way removed
From family friends and civilisation
Not much to do except procreation
Thus first child Alan was born
Mum gave birth all alone
The nurse had retired for the night
And Father Peter was nowhere in sight
A litter of pups took his attention
While Alan made his ascension
Other towns followed as did more kids
Vicki next then Mark** and Squid***
The family moved down to Geelong
On Aberdeen St they belonged
Peter and Jacqui parted in Cook's centenary
And both headed for different scenery

Wiggs Rd Moolap was Jacqui's new home
Casa Moodella with an acre to roam
As a single Mum Jacqui worked hard
raising four kids, working at a garage
Weekends at Northcote, holidays at Nathalia
to see the Gallaghers and Nanny "Falia"
Riding bikes her back covered in flies
"Leave them there they're not in my eyes"
Collecting blue willow china plates and bowls
Replacing Mark's thirteen worn out soles
Driving the Morris Minor to Barwon Heads
Up the hill it felt like lead
After several attempts that were very stressful
In reverse she was finally successful

In 1974 Jacqui moved west with Arthur in toe
Across the Nullabor the Valiant did go
To Burnside St Bayswater rented from Neil and Joan
John Forrest High was our new school and home
From there to Watermans, West Coast Highway
Home decorating? She did it her way
With million dollar views up and down
Painted out with mission brown
New friends the Mentleins, Udo and Viv
Just up the highway from where we lived
After a year of turmoil one son was transported
To live with his father in a town called Rosewood
But another child arrived when Shannon was born
One new kid in the family and one kid gone
At Christmas one year for my Spurs obsession
She got a book signed by Spurs, a precious possession

Talking of obsessions I'm reminded
Mum was once addicted to Eucalyptus Diamonds
Her art and craft interests are myriad
I well remember her ceramics period
Now her home is over-run with bears
Family photos surround the stairs
Santas and Christmas decorations
Are just some of her fixations
On the other hand some phobias I should mention
Number one on the list the "Deadly Huntsman"
Many's the time she's been bailed up by a spider
Paralysed by fear by herself beside her
There's something else that could terrorise
Dogs, especially those BIG in size
One time on our way to Phillip Island
She and Lorna were cornered by a giant canine

Some years back Mum got the urge to see
The home of the brave and the land of the free
Off she went around the world
All on her own, a single girl
To Britain first, and Shakespeare's home
London, Oxford and the Cotswolds roamed
Then off she flew to see New York
And listen to the yankees talk
The Empire State and Central Park
Befriending Joshua and the Clarks
Seeing all the wonderful colours of Fall
New England's treasures she loved them all
Keith and Michelle said you're welcome here
In the home of John Deere
San Francison was a real highlight
The hills, the bay, the street-car lights
Then finally down to San Diego
To visit a very special amigo
Paul and Vicki were splendid hosts
And showed her the Californian coast
It was a trip jammed full of memorable places
Special people and friendly faces
The travel bug gave her a good hard bite
Twice more with bags packed she's taken flight

Without a husband, all on her own
Jacqui said "I'm not meant to be alone"
I'm the sort whose made for marriage
So Udo placed an ad for a German motor carriage
He answered the ad in the personal column
And scored a ring, a bit like Gollum
When "Poor Walter" went down on bended knee
She netted husband Number Three
They went together to Germany
To visit old friends and family
Then back to Mum's favourite place
Two more trips to the United States
Even though she's 70 now
I suspect that still somehow
She'll dip once more into the cookie jar
And go back again to America

Mum's special gift is hospitality
Her Christmas dinners have earnt immortality
Ham and pork, roast veges and trimmings
Everyone's plate over-brimming
And just when you've recovered from that
Out come the pancakes to lay you flat
You can rock up unexpected at any time
And be fed a banquet every time
She's moved around from west to east and east to west
Till finally now she loves Fridgetown best
Her beautiful little house set on the hill
With beds and bears and love is filled
The welcome mat's out, the door's not locked
The fire is warm and the pantry's stocked
Mum often welcomes travelling guests
And provides a comfy place to rest
But the guests she wouldn't trade for quids
Are her children and grand kids
Now Walter and Jacqui are the elders of our clan
Our wonderful Mum and beloved Nan
We love you dearly, we honour you
We thank you for everything you do
Your love is unconditional, it's never in doubt
Nothing we do could ever wipe it out
What's without question is your loyalty to friends
Your love and generosity never ends
You put other people first in every situation
Your commitment to family is beyond estimation
We wish you Happy Birthday in your 70th year
And many more to come, for Mum we give three cheers.

* Shampoo was a new invention, up until then people washed their hair with Velvet soap
* Marcus (that's me)
* Bruce


Peter said...

WOW!!! I'm impressed.

Jacqui said...

Thank you Marcus, and The Hair for the suggestion, love you Mum