I come from a rather outgoing family. My mother and father were friendly affable and social types. They loved to drink and laugh and talk to people. I had a brother who brought home lots of friends, so our house was a welcoming place.
My aunts and uncles on Mum’s side were all talkative, amusing and liberal. Since those far off days of growing up in austere Britain and steering through the liberal 1960s and all it offered, life is something I continue to take as a challenge and enjoy as much as possible. My mother and father taught me how to extract fun from the hardest circumstances.
The generations have evolved and the family has grown, but we are a dying breed. I notice my family still has all the wild traits. Sadly though, we have lost many of the joyful and special characters.
One of my children has one foot in the other camp in that he is more reserved and cautious, but on the whole we plunge in and take what life offers. We know how to party when the occasion presents itself. I still love rock bands at 80 and have two tattoos. Okay, they mightn’t cover a whole arm or leg as tends to be the fashion now, but I’m proud of them! I also can behave in a decorous manner when I have to.
My husband comes from a family that had opposite traits. His was reserved, quiet and contained. His relatives never moved from the road where they lived. Some are still in the same place 50 or 60 years later. They stayed in the same jobs and didn’t travel much. One adventurous uncle was a little more intrepid, but on the whole they were a very staid and quiet clan. Which is probably why my husband found my crazy family so appealing.
My nieces are wonderful and show all the verve and vivacity I admire. They have both led interesting lives — and still do — working in Africa, keeping camels, moving around the world, trying new things, helping animals in need, taking risks, throwing great parties, bringing up children who are willing to have a go and explore new things. One has been a trauma nurse and has worked in a hypobaric chamber, the other has had several careers and leads a more unconventional life. My cousins are also special, one was a stunt man in early films in Australia. He was in Mad Max too. Another cousin has been to the outback and looked after remote communities, running a café and feeding Aboriginal kids before school. Her husband did all the repairs and kept the place running well. They go fossicking for gems and live in the north of Australia. They both meet challenges head on.
My brother lived perhaps too wildly. He was in a rock band and like to drink a little too much. He was fun company though and lived a very precarious life. He did not make old bones, but that is the way it happens, a bright flame goes out first.
We are like chalk and cheese in our backgrounds. One partying hard and the other self-contained and quietly sipping tea in the house they bought in 1940. The world needs both types, it needs the steady and solid person, and yet welcomes the adventurous ones too. We all have our place. I love the meetings with our closest niece, such laughs and fun, but I also need the quiet people; those you know will still be having salmon sandwiches with a cream tea on Sunday.
The comfort of the reliable is a great thing, we all need some things to remain the same. The stability is like a safety belt when we fly too high or crash after a wild time. The perfectly arranged meals my mother-in-law made remain in the memory, the blancmange in a rabbit mould, the mashed potato in little round mounds made with an ice cream scoop. I am happy we have had both in our family!