Veronica Parry '58

My Life Comes in Clumps of Seven

My life comes in clumps of seven. Being in my seventh decade, I ought to be able to say seven things about it. Disorganized as I am, I will try.

Yes, I was born at 7 minutes to 7 on the 7th of July 1940. Everyone but me finds it extraordinary. I am but a dot on a seat and broke as usual so don’t come at me about lucky 7. Lucky to be alive, I will admit, and lucky in love most times.

To me, yet not to others, it has been an adventurous life and yes, I do want to share it. I hope it will inspire, to be a tribute to my children as well as to my ancestors.

I might begin by exploring 7 episodes at random then see what happens. July 7, 1977…now what am I to do with that? I meditated in a hand made geodesic dome on a mountain slope outside Armidale, NSW. Though a new mother at the age of 37, I was allowed a precious 7 minutes alone in the dome. Yes, it was special being told my purpose here was to serve, but I wouldn’t have called it spectacular. The nappies were still soaking in a bucket of cold water.

When I was 7, I was in second grade in a Catholic school where the nuns were cruel and the priests drunk. The Navy brat, ever the outsider, was given a back seat, usually in the cupboard. That’s how cruel it was. Yet, I learned. My father showed me how to do short division. But when I could not produce the remainder of the dividend, I got whacked again.

Milk bottles of sin grew inside me daily despite going to mass daily and getting kicked out of the choir. Still, I got that mean Mother Margaret back. I figured out a way to look beneath her copious black robes and to peek at her scrawny neck. I bet she beat herself daily with her thick wooden rosary beads. She sure beat me with them. How I survived to the seventh grade, I will never know.

But thankfully I was released from hell and sent to public school, a pure leap into heaven. My parents, heroes of WWII, moved into an estate, complete with a car and a supermarket. We kids were free to roam and roam we did.

At 16 I lost my virginity to swank Butch Edwards. Yes, it was in a car at night on a hill where we were watching submarine races. It was hard and it hurt. I bled and decided to become a nun. For you see, I loved God and God loved me. He gave me great teachers and friends to last a lifetime.

The war had ended and there was a chicken in every pot. Spoilt rotten, the whole mob of us was given the best, even a brand new high school run by a woman who saw to it that our lives were full. Many of our teachers were only a few years older than us. Some told stories of their experience in a war told world. We were wrapt.

Then came the Vietnam War. Four of us never returned. Yet we partied on in delicious gowns and dates galore. Hearts won and broken, we graduated and went on to higher studies.

Yes, I got married at the tender age of twenty. God knows why. The fear of not being chosen yet again, I suppose. Thanks to the draft, it didn’t last long. I immigrated to Australia, met Ernie and lived with him in sin. Such were the times.

Yet, there was the pill at last and sexual freedom; protests to bring the boys home and feminist liberation. We even became hippies…Yippee!

How I loved my baby brother. Bob and I were 11 months apart. We survived the bombs of Pearl Harbour and shared a sand pit in Laguna Beach California after being passed from hand to hand for years. Life in the bottom drawer we called it.

I was five when my baby sister was born. Brother and I found her ugly and went out to play in the cherry trees of Portland Oregon.

When Lani was a few months old, my mother learned to drive and single handedly drove the three of us in the blue Chevrolet all the way down the Pacific Coast to San Diego. I was the navigator. That was the Navy way and we loved it.

At 88 years of age my mother Kay stopped eating and breathing. My last words to her were Thank You". A true heroine. It was the women who won the war.

With every move from one Nissan hut to another, a box of food was left as were clothes and friendship. How they carried on without their men, I will never know. But they did and when the men came home, they didn’t like it one bit. Rosy the Welder wasn’t easily put down.

 

At 27 I was at my prime as a zoologist in Australia, my fathers dream came true. He served his time on a submarine out of Fremantle aboard the SS Swordfish. He made seven war patrols to the Bay of Japan, sailing silent, sailing deep. The Fremantle families welcomed the Yanks, married some of them and let my mother know that my dad was still alive. They simply made a toy kangaroo out of a Navy blanket. No wonder my mother stayed true and I eventually made Australia my home.

At 31, against all odds, I produced a son. And at 36 I produced another one. Now I am a grandma, Nan Star to Max, now aged 7.

Geoff Witlam brought the boys home and encouraged us all to find a better way to live through education. We grabbed the opportunity to explore alternatives and became the first Aquarians. The Age of Aquarius had dawned and we explored every nook and cranny of it. By the age of 47 I was a devotee of Siddha Yoga. We were sent to Nimbin NSW to establish a community for meditation. Thirty years later I am still on that community known as Siddha Farm. As an elder I am proud as punch of the Aquarius movement which now flies under the banner of sustainability.

By 57, times changed drastically for my family and me. The divorce happened. My sister died, I cried and was soon taken to the desert to mourn and to begin anew. Three ladies, two old cars and a dog formed a company, on a mission to share a bottle of wine when we got there, where ever in the world ‘there’ was.

There turned out to be Broome, W.A. We arrived in time for Shinju Matsuri and staircase to the moon. Then it was good bye to my companions and hello to the monsoon, Cyclone Rosita and to Jim.

At 67 I was still in Broome tripping the life fantastic, tanned at Cable Beach and fattened by endless lunches. I still miss Broome. I had my 70th birthday there at the Broome Historical Society. All the children came. We searched for hidden diamonds and feasted on free ice creams and profiteroles. I was showered with gifts that still enfold me with their sweetness and love.

My 71st birthday was celebrated here on Siddha Farm around the warmth of a bonfire and friends. How odd that Jim and I found our way to Siddha Farm. We drove over the Top End just to check out the family home never expecting to settle here. But it was springtime and the flowers, bees and glow worms won our hearts and we stayed.

 

Birthdays were and are always special to me. As a teenager in San Diego they were celebrated at a beach party, complete with bikinis, hulla hoops, surf boards and the Beach Boys…Good Vibrations. I fell in love with every boy I met but none so wonderful as Brian Cole of the group known as the Association. I broke Brian’s heart by coming to Australia. I still cherish his love letters and his songs, ‘Misty" in particular. Meeting Elvis when I was 16 was a treat. He gave me wet pants and an autographed photo which still has pride of place in the lounge. I played "Love Me Tender" to baby Max who still is a fan of Elvis. Max even started school with an Elvis back pak.

 

My enemies have been plenty especially during my Black Dog days. Fortunately I don’t remember them. My friends saw to that. I am greatful to them and always will be. Feel good, inside and out. Fight to the death and take no prisoners, I say and do. So, it’s over to you Jim, Sam, Sonia, Chris, Mitch and Max. Know thyself in order to know others for heart beats like heart

 

My coming to Australia nearly shattered my family. My sister nearly died due to bad breaks in the car I left her. My brother joined the Marines, my parents divorced. How I would love to hear their version of it but I guess I never will. I have returned to the U.S. a few times and had good times as families do. However, I have spent most of my life here in Aus and am proud to be a citizen.

Now it is a vast family spanding many nations, the English, Welsh and Irish. The Sunday phone calls are all in different dialects but they always resonate with love, especially the Irish. We cousins carry on as cousins do. Our family tree is vast, spanning ancestors who’s names we know and whose tombstones we respect.

 

Wherever I go in Australia I meet my Aboriginal Aunties. They even call me Aunty now. Many like Gemma Spratt (sic) in Broome knew my dad. Here in Nimbin many Bunjalung welcome me to their land saying "you Belongin here, this is your Belongin place". "But brother, I have only been here 30 years or so". "That’s long enough, Aunty", and so it is.

Can I see ahead ten years from now? I suppose I can. I would like to melt into the land, give the goannas a good feed. The jarjums would get a kick out of that, so would the kookaburras.

On my bedside table there rests a toy kangaroo and an Easter egg. Guess that about says it all. Jim is home, there is a fresh pot of mulberry jam to taste and I look forward to dinner.