Thoughts on writing Memoirs

When writing memoirs I may have to consider the feelings of certain living relatives. I feel with some memories it may be a good idea to fictionalize a bit, for instance, change names and perhaps places and dates. But on the other hand this may be a bit confusing for my descendants if they want to find out about the life of their actual forbears.

I am also in doubt how much I am allowed to tell about my friends or about people who briefly crossed my path. I went as far as changing names slightly of people I remember from the 1940s! This concerns of course my childhood memories. When I reblogged some of these memories I reconsidered and changed my friends’ names back to their real names.

In reading once more some of my old blogs, I kept coming across the name ‘Aunty Elsa’. Well, ‘Elsa’ was really ‘Ilse’. It’s only an insignificant alteration of the name. I guess anybody who would seriously study our family history later on would be able to figure out who this aunt was.

If it comes to surnames it gets even more difficult. There are some rather unusual surnames belonging to the people from the past that I am writing about. I must say I am a bit reluctant to disclose all these surnames.

However if it comes to my family tree I feel it is quite all right to mention all the proper surnames. From this follows that it is really okay to use all the relevant first names too, doesn’t it? I have to remember this next time I publish a bit more family history!

Cranky Old Man

A Dose A Day

377573_386992241368407_1591402724_nWhen an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its q…uality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?

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Australian Beaches


Ryan with Lucas at Stanwell Park Beach on Saturday, 24th August 2013



These pictures with little Lucas were taken by Ebony, the mum of Lucas, and I got them from Facebook. Credit for these pictures goes to Ebony.

Monika, grandmother of little Lucas, had her first birthday on the 5th December 1959.

This picture was taken on the 5th December 1959
This picture was taken on the 5th December 1959

The following pictures were all taken on Christmas Day 1959.

Birgit, a friend of the girls, with Gaby and Monika at Fairy Meadow Beach. Christmas 1959
Birgit, a friend of the girls, with Gaby and Monika at Fairy Meadow Beach.
Christmas 1959
Uta with Gaby Fairy Meadow Beach Christmas 1959
Uta with Gaby
Fairy Meadow Beach Christmas 1959
Peter with Monika and Gaby,  Christmas 1959
Peter with Monika and Gaby, Christmas 1959
Uta with Monika at Fairy Meadow Beach
Uta with Monika at Fairy Meadow Beach
This picture of Monika is from February 1960
This picture of Monika is from February 1960


Some bloggers may not want to read any more about the lives of Gaby and David.  However I am still at this stage where I keep thinking about it a lot. Recently I wrote two long replies to comments from ‘Words fall from my Eyes’ and ‘Island Traveler’. Just for recollection I want to publish these two replies here. They only touch on the lives of Gaby and David. But anyhow here is what I wrote:

Wow, Noeleen, there’s so much to remember. Both had kind, big hearts. But Gaby was very demanding. It did get too much for David over the years. He just wanted to be left alone. He led a very unhealthy life over many years and often drove Gaby’s carers round the bend with little bursts of energy, screaming, yelling. this sort of thing. But most of the time he would stay semi conscious in his room. A nursing sister who would come to see him after he had been in hospital for a while he would chase away. He would not visit his siblings any more. They just could not cope with him. The only person who could always cope best with him was his long time friend Steve. But even he could not do much for him after Gaby had died and it was apparent David could not cope on his own. However he strictly refused to make any changes in his living arrangements. until he collapsed last Christmas. Sheila, his neighbour, noticed and called an ambulance.

It’s very sad when someone ends like this. But I think he went peacefully. And this is a comfort. We do remember a lot of good things about David. He was the only person who would take on the challenging task of taking on a life together with Gaby, and he did so out of his big good heart. He stuck with Gaby right to the end. I think he had the feeling that he could not desert her. Yes, great honour to him! Dear, dear David and wonderful life loving and caring Gaby!


You are right, IT. It was quite amazing how Gaby always tried to be there for David. It must have been very difficult for her at times. Everyone kept telling her that David was too sick to stay at her place. He should be in a nursing home where he’d be given proper care. When Gaby died last year David refused to move to a different place. Any attempts by his siblings to help him were in vain. David just did not want to be helped!
For as long as Gaby was alive, the house got cleaned by Gaby’s carers. The carers often had a hard time when David was in a bad mood. If something displeased him, he would shout at them. We often wondered how Gaby and the carers could cope with all this.

The last few months of his life David received very good care in  Parramatta Nursing Home.. He was not allowed alcohol; and cigarettes he could afford only very few and had to smoke them in some outside area, wheeling himself out there a few times every day. He could not eat very well any more. It turned out there was something wrong with his gall bladder apart from many other things. But he was not an angry man any more. He didn’t give the staff any trouble. I think they liked looking after him.

For years David had always told me: Don’t worry, Mama! I could not make him change his mind about anything. 

The youngest brother of David, Anthony, took very good care of David after he collapsed last Christmas and ended up in hospital again. During the two months in hospital they had to amputate his left leg below the knee. After this he spent the last months of his life  in Parramatta Nursing Home. It’s good to know that he did get proper care there and was able to die peacefully.

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Gabriele (Gaby) was Peter’s and my first born daughter, an extremely lively child who was struck down by poliomyelitis on her fourth birthday. She ended up being a quadriplegic. She also had breathing difficulties and needed to sleep in an Iron Lung. Towards the end of 1989, when Gaby was 32 and David 40, they moved in together into a house provided by the Department of Housing. David became Gaby’s main carer at this stage. But David was never Gaby’s only carer. At that stage Gaby was always provided extra outside help. And when David needed a break, there was always one carer who could sleep in Gaby’s house overnight so she wouldn’t be alone in the house. When we were much younger  Peter and I would sometimes stay together with our youngest daughter Caroline in the house for a few nights so that David could have a break. When David was supposed to go on holidays for five nights, he often would return already after three nights. That would then mean we, Peter, myself, and Caroline, would be able to drive back home after three nights already.

Well, this is just a bit about the lives of Gaby and David.

RIMG0877 (2)
Peter and David in an outside area of the Nursing Home
David was allowed to have his lunch outside. But he hardly touched it.
David gave me this Mother’s Day gift on the day Peter and I visited him. He said he had bought raffle tickets to win this to give it to me. I was very touched by this.

Here is ow another recollection I want to add:

With some departed loved ones you get the feeling that it was time for them to leave. You are grateful for the times they could be in your lives. But when the time runs out you have to accept that they really want to be somewhere else. In my family’s case I think they are at peace and with God, which is a great comfort. I am very touched by what both families did to give them the last rest. Both our daughter Gaby and her long time carer David led rather difficult lives. But there were times when they could greatly enjoy each other. And Gaby was always very life confirming and always found ways overcoming some of her disabilities. Last year Gaby died rather suddenly but knowing her disabilities not all that unexpectedly. She died when she was the most happy. David survived her by a bit over a year even though he had been in extremely bad health for many years. David’s family gave him a very good funeral and I was very touched by this.
When our daughter died so suddenly last year it was our family who put together to give her a good parting. Sadly David had neglected to inform his family. So they weren’t part of the celebration of Gaby’s life. Yes, I feel very sad about this. We shouldn’t have left it up to David to inform them. Somehow we thought because he had informed us about Gaby’s passing he would be able to ring someone in his family too. But he didn’t.
Last Mondays celebration of David’s life somehow made up for it now. We were able to talk to David’s four brothers and three sisters.

Thanksgiving for the Life of David

There was a Prayer Service this morning at Mary Mother of Mercy Chapel, at Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery, a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of David.

David’s four brothers (two from Sydney, one from Tasmania and one from Melbourne) as well as his three sisters (the sister all from the Sydney area) had come. So we were able to meet all of them. David had been the eldest in the family. The youngest one, Anthony, had been looking after David’s affairs while David was in nursing home care during the last months of his life. He probably saw to most of the funeral arrangements too.

Our two daughters, Monika and Caroline, came with us to the service at Rookwood Cemetery. These funeral services get people together. A lot of these people we would otherwise never have met. Extended family members, neighbours and friends had come too. David had such a great family. Now that David is gone, it feels to us that maybe we won’t meet any of his family again.

Both Gaby and David were of course always part of our family life. However, as David’s health suffered more and more, he often did not come to our family gatherings any more. Gaby had known David for more than 30 years! Their lives were often quite turbulent. Now, I am sure, they are at peace.

We are never going to forget how David made it possible for Gaby to live an independent life in her own home. It takes a strong character to take on the responsibility to look after a severely disabled person as our daughter Gaby was. The strange thing is, that towards the end when David frequently had to stay in hospital because of disabling sicknesses, it was Gaby who more or less looked after him! She would visit him every day in hospital, taking her companion dog along too for the hospital visits. David loved this dog.

How did she do it, you may ask. Well, she was just a very resourceful person. Despite all her disabilities she was always full of life and did whatever was possible for her to do. She was a great talker. whereas David never talked much about his feelings. He would sometimes scream and shout when people tried telling him what to do. When I would say: David, you should go and see a doctor. He would just say: Mama, you worry too much!



From the car I watch Peter and Caroline how they try to find out the right way to the chapel.
From the car I watch Peter and Caroline how they try to find out the right way to the chapel.

It’s such a huge cemetery, you can really get lost.


Now Monik.a joins them in trying to find out the right way
Now Monika joins them in trying to find out the right way


In the end we made it to the desired chapel right on time.



Photos for David


Today I selected a few photos to give to David when we next see him. Before I inserted the photos in a little photo album, I scanned them all. I want now to share these photos with my blogger friends. David did get to know Gaby while she lived in Ferguson Lodge which is a place for disabled people in a wheelchair. In this place people were well looked after. However it was institutionalized care. Gaby was very happy when in 1989 David made it possible for her to move into her own home. She was 32 at the time and Davidwas 40.

The picture of Peter holding baby Caroline was taken ca. March 1979, visiting Gaby at Ferguson Lodge with friend Ron Bates.

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Monika did bring Lucas along to our place yesterday (Sunday). We were very happy that Monika managed to make time for this afternoon visit.

Monika feeds Lucas some yoghurt with honey.
Monika feeds Lucas some yoghurt with honey.

Monika took the top picture. Lucas gave her a big smile when she said “strawberry”. For some reason he finds this word very funny!

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And here now are pictures of the shoes that Caroline and Matthew bought for themselves recently. They walked the other day all the way from Waverly (Eastern suburb of Sydney) to the city. Probably some five km. They said they can walk very well in these shoes. They’re very happy that they bought them.




The weeks go so quickly. I can’t believe it’s Saturday again. Last Saturday we were at that conference in Sydney. I think on the Saturday before this I went to the swimming pool. Actually I would love to go to the swimming pool again today even if it is a cloudy day with no sun. The water in the pool is always kept at 24C.

I definitely have to go for walks again today whether there’s sun or not. Last Thursday it was pouring. So I missed out on my walk on that day. But Peter drove me to my heart moves class, which was good. Marta. our instructor,  had to cancel.  But lovely Janet was prepared to take her place on short notice.  Janet said Marta had a pinched nerve, I think she mentioned her back. My pinched nerve is in my right wrist. It’s still painful. However because I take these pain killing  tablets now  it’s easier to cope with the pain.

The doctors want to give me a pain killing injection into my wrist. I am very reluctant to agree to this. Months later they want to operate on the twisted nerve in my wrist. I want to ask for more information on this before I take any steps regarding the injection and the operation.

– – – – –

The other day I walked with Peter around the reserve and I took some pictures from the back of our backyard fence. The trees in our backyard have grown a real lot as  can be seen in these pictures. When we moved here in 1994 there were just a few seedlings planted. We never imagined these seedlings would grow as much! The reserve is adjoining our property. Kids play soccer there on certain days. In some of my pictures you can see where the kids have their playing fields. I concentrated on taking photos of a number of huge trees in the area. I love  to go for walks along these trees! There’s also a nice little playground at the other side of the reserve.  When we first moved here to this place, we sometimes went with the grandchildren all the way across the reserve to this little playground. Now all the grandchildren have grown up, the youngest being fifteen. Maybe one year old great-grandson Lucas may get a chance one day to stroll around the reserve. This would be very much to my liking!