Sunday, January 24, 2010


The road from Waitaki to Greymouth is long, winds over two mountain ranges and is spectacularly scenic. I drove over it this week end to attend a memorial service for a teaching associate of long ago. Her five children have all grown into fine adults who organised their mother's service wonderfully well. The Minister of Education sent a letter of condolence which would have amused Gwen hugely because she was a committed Labour supporter when we taught at the same schools in Rotorua. Greymouth's big Church of the Holy Trinity was packed on a blazingly hot summer day and at the end of the service many local people went forward to pay personal tributes.
This is mine


In those days we were young
eager, intelligent, but
we did what was expected of us
we married, had babies, disappeared
from all important fields of endeavour.

We baked cakes to build Kindergartes
knitted and sewed to clothe our families
on our husbands' inadequate incomes,
cooked and set dinner on the table
when our husbands came home.
It was expected of us.

When our children started school
there were not enough teachers
so we did what was expected of us
we still knitted and sewed and baked
to raise funds for crowded schools
where we taught children to read
and write and calculate and
above all to love learning
while still keeping our homes pristine
it was expected of us.

You did all this and somewhere you
developed the habit of helping
your neighbours when they needed it.
and you never lost that habit.

Knowing you dear Gwen
I expected it.

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