The Swinging Sixties
Mum turns sixty-five next month and has a social calendar that Paris Hilton would envy.
She's the beloved grandma of three children (so far), a regular church goer, CWA member and helps out regularly at the Lifeline second hand store in the lovely seaside town of Victor Harbor. My father - owner of three sheds (one of them a triple car size), recently built in a fully-lined room for Mum to sew, sort through toys and work in and it's been nicknamed 'The Playroom.' After finishing the job last week, Dad left in the landcruiser for two weeks' away camping, hiking and bird-watching with his old buddies in the Flinders Ranges.
Mum's not one for staying at home and feeling lonely; she's making the most of her time solo. This morning's phone call went like this:
Moi: Hi Mum, how are you? How did the launch of your playroom go?
Mum: Good thanks Bubblies (my nickname, earned as a fat-faced baby that still pops out of her mouth every now and then). Sixteen of the girls came over. We cut the toilet paper ribbon and then had tea and scones inside. They're all extremely jealous you know. Your Dad is so clever building this room out in the shed for me. It's lined, got heaps of powerpoints, new carpet, the old kitchen cupboards, new curtains and he's painted it all for me.
Moi: Did Dean Brown (ex-SA Premier, now local opposition member at Victor) come?
Mum: Surprisingly not, because he normally goes to the opening of a jam jar. Wendy swears she saw Elvis though and the satellite link-up to Pierce Brosnan went down, unfortunately. Probably a good thing, in hindsight, because you know how excited we can all get; especially when we're all sugared up and had too many cups of tea. We do like a good laugh you know.
Moi: Yes indeedy, you and your buddies remind me of those giggling ladies in the Tena incontinence pads commercials. What are you planning on your doing in your playroom?
Mum: You mean apart from luring in Hugh Jackman?....(pause)....where do I start? I've got four boxes of toys to sort through for the Lifeline store; there's hats to make for the next musical; I'll be able to practice my singing without disturbing your father and I've moved in the old kitchen benches for my sewing machine and I'll be typing up the minutes---
Moi: What minutes?
Mum: For the Fellowship group. We were up until 1am last night.
Moi: Doing what? Getting drunk? Key swapping?
Mum: No you cheeky thing - we were planning our next fundraiser for the manse's new floor coverings. I'm going to be a model for the Black Pepper boutique.
Mum: Oooh yes and the frock salon in the Woolies' complex also asked me to model their new range of summer fashions the week after. Janice said that she saw me in the parades last year and liked my graceful style.
Moi: Wow Mum, that's great! Hang on a minute - graceful style? This, from the woman who cracked her ribs at the church camp when she fell from the tarzan vine across the creek and bounced off a log?
Mum (laughing): Yes, I think that Elle's too old and Megan Gale's too busy. Oh dear, that reminds me. I'm going to have to phone Maureen and tell her that I've double-booked myself and won't be able to make it to the CWA choir practice tomorrow afternoon.
Moi: Why not?
Mum: Because I'm going to be singing the solo at church on Sunday, and Alan said he wanted to go through it with me on his organ.
Moi: Organ, hey. Who's this Alan chap when he's at home? Does Dad know?
Mum (tut tutting): Now now. You know Alan, he was the musical director of our last musical - No No Nanette. I'm still taking those tap lessons you know.
Moi: Ah yes, the one where you were the youngest member of the chorus?
Mum (musing): It's so hard to find young people willing to join us in the musicals.
Moi: Well Mum it is a retirement town. While I've got you on the phone, can you come over next Wednesday? Carly's school is having Grandparents day and she's posted you an invitation this morning and would really like you to come.
Mum: Next Wednesday, next Wednesday..... I'm on the cordless out here in the playroom, so let me walk inside and check the calendar. Hmm, let me see..... I'm on for a shift at the Lifeline shop in the afternoon, but Dulcie owes me a session, so I'll ask her to do it instead. I've got to be careful though. Dear old thing doesn't know her Incredibles from the Finding Nemo characters so I'll make sure that the bags of toys are sorted through the night before.
Moi: Thanks Mum, you'll really make Carly's day.
Mum: I've set aside a bag of toys for her. I've finally found the Lilo character to go with the Stitch she got last time, and Mr Bubbles is in there too. I've still got my eye out for Nani and Bleakley. We get in lots of Barbie dolls, but no clothes. They're all nude and I'm not sure I have the time to be fiddling about with sewing up tiny little outfits, so they're just sitting here, staring at me. It feels a bit too kinky to be selling them like that at Lifeline.
Moi: I don't blame you. How's your eye going? What did the optometrist say?
Mum: He's really pleased. It's amazing that it was only operated on two weeks ago and it's not blurry anymore. I can drive and no longer look like a drug addict with one huge black, watery pupil. It was attracting more than a few funny looks at fellowship you know.
Moi: Yeah, I can imagine. I'm sure the whole town knows of your reputation for the hard stuff. You know, you're the only person who waters their iced coffee down before you drink it!
Mum: I tell you what - how about I stay for the night and we hit the shops the next day? From the target and K-Mart brochures in my letterbox it finally looks as though there's some summer clothes that will be OK for a non-stick insect over the age of 40 to wear. I'll have to be back in time for the monthly Fogey Feed at the Grosvenor. They do a huge buffet; and your Dad will be home in time for it. You know how much he loves his 'All You Can Eat' places.
Moi: Yeah I do. He was the only bloke who cried when Sizzler went bankrupt. Remember when he said he wanted to die with his mouth open under the chocolate mousse tap?
Mum (snorting): Yep! He's been very good lately though because he's in training for the Masters' Games. He's found his team for the over 65's basketball and been practising his goal shooting at the high school. His team won their finals game the other week. Now they're back up in the A-grade which means they'll have to sit out the season because they just don't have the legs to play against all those teenage boys.
Moi: No, not with his arthritic foot, Mr Wilson's hip replacement and Dennis's recovery from testicular cancer. It's a shame that there's not a B+ basketball grade for the poor old farts. Anyhow, I'd better head off - see you next week!
Mum: Mmm hmm. And while I'm there, I'll just have a little go at the weeds in your back garden.
Moi (very weakly): Oh no, you don't have to.....
Mum: I know. I want to.
Moi (gratefully): Oh, OK then.