BROTHERS – Peter

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Peter, the baby, was a darling little boy with curly blond hair, blue eyes and cheeks that the old ladies passing the end of our driveway could never resist stopping to pinch. Being 4 years younger than me, Pete was too young for a lot of the games we played, but luckily for him we had wonderful neighbours with a son his age. The back, side fence was generally scaled more than once a day, as the boys moved from house to house in their schoolboy quests. I’m certain there was talk of building a tunnel at some stage but probably a gate would have sufficed.

That is not to say that we didn’t all enjoy spending time with him. I remember playing hide and seek with him at our old house in Mont Albert. There were so many rooms with nooks and crannies particular to that style of home. At the age of four, he hadn’t quite worked out the concept of this game and would tend to hide in a corner with his eyes covered by his hands believing that if he couldn’t see us, we couldn’t see him. The little giggles anticipating being found were always a bit of a give-away too.

It was probably only a year later that his hiding skills increased exponentially. One day we were playing hide the slipper (like a treasure hunt but with Mum’s red, fluffy slipper). It was his turn to hide “the prize” and he soon returned, proudly announcing that he was ready for us to start searching.

We explored the entire house; the sooty old fire places, the musty cupboard under the stairs, under creaky beds, inside cupboards and even opened the tiny doors leading into our possum and spider filled roof spaces. I’m sure that Mum was happy with the amount of time we were occupied with this funny little game, but I’m also certain she was bemused by the mystery of her missing slipper when night fell and one foot was doomed to remain cold.

We gave up in the end. At first we just thought Pete was playing the game very literally and wasn’t prepared to divulge the spot marked by an X. However, by the third day we realised that he had simply forgotten.

The slipper remained a mystery, but I hate not being able to find something. Every now and then, I would think of a likely place we had missed. What about amongst the polished shoes in  Dad’s old sandalwood-smelling cupboard, or behind Mum’s fairytale wedding dress that hung inside the spooky, dark cupboard built into the roof? No luck. My little search actually went on for years as I couldn’t believe that a bright, red slipper would just disappear like that. Mum bought some new ones.

Thirty years later, my parents sold that lovely old home. In helping to move, I lifted an old wooden TV stand and there to my delight was “the slipper”. Strangely, we had moved the TV to different rooms many times, but had dragged the stand rather than lifting it. That red slipper had slid and rolled in its cave like a fish in a trawling net. It’s funny how the least important things in life can bring so much pleasure, but I also felt inexplicably sad for that 30 year stowaway; protected from the dust and sun, with barely any signs of wear. Now, it was without a partner and was destined for the rubbish. Surely it had earned a lifelong position nestled amongst new friends in the back of Mum’s cupboard?

Peter was a wistful and sensitive little boy. With a bolshy, tactless and intolerant teacher in his early years of school, it wasn’t an easy start for him. However, as the teachers improved so did he.

When he went into High School, his writing was pretty disorganised and messy. I remember Mum and Dad asking me to tutor him in Maths in year 8 or 9. I really enjoyed this intimate time with my little brother as he was so willing and respectful of the help I had to offer. When I saw the much improved results in his report, I felt so proud of him.

Pete came into his own in year 11 and 12, where he had the freedom to chose his subjects and focus on the Sciences. He did well enough to secure a place at Melbourne University and specialised in Genetically Modified Foods. However, like his brothers, Peter had an urge to sample from the platter of experiences the world had on offer. Never being one to follow the crowd, his year of deferral involved something more unique than the usual choices. Having always been concerned with the environment and the often selfish choices made by humanity, he headed for Borneo. Here, he volunteered at a Wildlife Rescue Centre for Orangutans and was able to apply his support to the conservation efforts that protect these critically endangered and intelligent species.

On his way home, in the course of a starlit New Years Eve, he met the beautiful English woman who was  to ultimately become his wife. On his return to Australia, Peter worked hard at his studies. He is now well recognised in his field and holds the position of Senior Policy Analyst at The department of Primary Industries.

http://www.globalteer.org/volunteering-with-orangutans.aspx

BROTHERS – Tom

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In the neighbourhood that we spent most of our youth in, there was a definite shortage of girls my age. Fortunately for me, my brother, Tom, always made the time to teach me the important things in life according to his own experience. These consisted of, riding a bike, kicking a football and bowling over-arm in cricket. I will never forget how patient and skilful he was at passing these abilities onto me, and how flattered I felt that “he”, was prepared to gift his time to me so unconditionally.

For me, this meant I could be a useful member of the “Blackstreet” cricket and football games which were served daily after school. I loved the look of shock on the neighbourhood boys’ faces’ when I managed to knock those wickets down with a carefully aimed bowl (or hit the rubbish bin as the case was back then). These were carefree and innocent times, and when I reflect on these memories, I see a quiet street at the bottom a of a hill, brought to life by well the organised games we played together, and can almost feel the sweet summer breeze on my face and the happiness in my heart.

Tom did well in school. English and Literature were always his strengths as he had immense talent with words – both spoken and written. He had a confidence that I quietly envied and it was often highlighted by his affable banter and body language around his school mates. In High School, I was still welcomed to participate in his games with or without his mates.  Whether it was the backstreet sports we continued to play or the many games of “500” we occupied ourselves with until the early hours of weekend mornings. Jokes and pranks were high on our list of entertainment.

Tom studied literature, Japanese and Spanish at Monash University and later spent his “gap years” mostly in Japan honing his language skills whilst working as a golf caddy and inhaling the beauty of those perfectly tended golf Oasis’ ; all the while writing his beautiful poetry.

Tom has had an eclectic career and now works in dispute resolution. He pursues his true passion of writing poetry and has recently written his own memoirs. He expresses himself with a combination of the beautiful Haiku that he frequently pens and his obvious literary talent. His story reflects the time he spent in Japan; which is delicately interspersed with Haiku, love, humour and his sensitive reflections on our family.

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