(In which William and Annie spend time making a baby’s room.)
The next few weeks went by slowly and pleasantly. The weather in Jersey at this time of the year was so warm and comfortable that I felt little urgency about going home. Back in Australia winter was on the wane but the Coronavirus wasn’t. Down south in Victoria there had been an explosion of cases that reflected in many cases the selfishness and stupidity of some people and a total disregard of their responsibility to their neighbours. People were being tested and then going off to work without waiting for the result instead of home quarantining as they were required to do. I actually felt safer here than I would at home. But looking ahead for the Australian summer the whole Corona problem is going to run alongside bushfires and other catastrophes.
I began making enquiries about any restrictions or difficulties there might be and went online to have a look. Old people shouldn’t have to use a computer if they don’t want to. I prefer face-to-face contact even if I’m required to wear a mask. At least you can still see the other person’s eyes. There’s a travel agency about a kilometre away from the house so I made a morning of it and walked all the way. They were very cooperative but only made my life more complicated. If I could get a flight into Brisbane I might have to pay two or three times the usual cost. That would be if I wasn’t very flexible about dates and times. On top of that I would need to stay in isolation in a hotel room, at my own expense, for fourteen days. The more I thought about it the more I realised that I would be better off staying put.
I saw less and less of Annie and William. They were spending a lot of time renovating a bedroom and turning it into a room for a baby girl. It was painted out in white with pink highlights. I called in to say hello now and then but all I achieved was to get in the way. William had shown a fair degree of skill in the shed at the back of the garage and was busy making a cot.
Annie’s car was traded in for something bigger and Vera knitted. She knitted tiny little jackets and slightly bigger jackets and then large jackets and tiny little booties and bigger ones and all the time she was knitting into everything she touched a sense of anticipation.
Life continued. The whole of the adventure into looking for myself – for that is what it became – had come to a close. Other things came to a close, as they are wont to do. I received an email from an old friend of mine. It concerned a stock agent that had been quite important in the running of Margany Station. His job was to come out and inspect the cattle and advise us as to the best time to sell – how long to hold onto them – whether to truck them across to Charleville or maybe even take them south into New South Wales. As we got to know him we learned that he was not working for us as much as he was working for the buyers.
I had wanted to go in and have it out with him but I kept putting it off. My friend was emailing to tell me that the agent had died. It was a chance I had lost. I got to thinking how Annie had put off confronting her anger about the Germans and how in the end she had come to understand and to forgive. But I hadn’t confronted my nemesis – if that’s the right word. I had never told him how I felt; I’d never asked him to explain or even to admit. In all truth I don’t think I wanted an apology from him. Annie didn’t want an apology. That way she could go on being angry. What she found instead was an understanding.
So the stock agent was dead and gone. Would it have served any purpose? I wonder? I don’t think it would have actually. I think, if Annie had never got an apology from Dieter but had still got to adopt this baby girl, then she would have eventually been as happy as she is now. Sometimes it achieves nothing to rip open old scars.
If I had never met her she would still have survived. I’m sure of this. She has a great husband in William and a very clever mother. Life may not have been smooth sailing but those yachts in St Helier Harbour accomplish nothing if they stay stuck in the harbour for fear of a cold front coming in from the Atlantic.
The one thing I avoided, as far as I could, was getting involved in the adoption. I wasn’t negative about it. In fact it was a very positive thing in all ways as far as I was concerned. It’s just that I think I’ve poked my nose in other people’s problems too much and I just wanted to enjoy Jersey for however long a time I have left.
Molly is funny sometimes. The other day there was some tradesman type of person sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. I was walking through and the fellow stopped me.
“Are you Jack? You might want to look at this.”
Molly just smiled.
“What is it?” I asked.
“A bit of building they want me to have a go at,” the fellow said.
They were architect’s drawings of an extension that had a bedroom, a small kitchen and bathroom and a sitting room.
“We are just getting a quote Jack,” she said. “The way things are in Australia you might never get home.”
I really didn’t know what to say. I was torn between here and home. I think I wanted both. I wrote to my daughter, the one in Queensland and told her the problem of airfares and entry restrictions and she wrote back saying it was all very obvious from their end as well.
“Don’t come home if it means getting exposed more easily to the virus. If you get it you’re in big trouble. We’d rather you stayed where you are if you’re safe.”
Her two girls added nice granddaughter type comments on the bottom and emailed some photographs of themselves. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been away but they did look older than I remembered.
I told Molly what they’d said.
“They don’t want me to go home if I’d run a greater chance of getting the virus.”
“That’s sensible. I don’t want you to go back anyway. Do you want pasta for dinner tonight?”
“Yes I would love pasta.”
“Well, do you want to make it? The children like yours better than mine.”
I’m going to need to be careful with Molly. I can see clearly that she is a lot cleverer than I am.
…..to be continued.