Sunday, March 6, 2011
Family, friends and place... Jake Reid is grateful...
On the night that Tropical Cyclone Yasi was due to hit Cairns, I was sick with fear for my friend Jake. You may have read about her here before, sometimes referred to as Scary.com, at other times, The Commissioner. Under either name, it has always been in terms of my gratitude for her being part of my life. We are old (long-time, not aged) friends from UNSW days and shared the same hoods: 2035 and 2036, with a specific shared love of Maroubra Beach.
While I went into the arts, Jake became a lawyer, was once Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, and is now a senior legal officer working in native title.
Back to Yasi, and before Jake had to save power on her phone that night we talked briefly. I asked her - quite seriously - to tell me what she was grateful for in relation to living in Cairns, especially with its 'tropical weather' about to pummel the city. Earlier that day I had wanted her to get her Koori butt back to Sydney, and stay put where it's safe; free from cyclones and flooding and the debilitating humidity of Cairns. Alas, I am a selfish friend who wants it all my own way, it seems.
Tonight I’m so glad I can share with your Jake’s grateful. Her words moved, made me think about my own sense of place, appreciation of family and friends and my own ability to laugh in the face of adversity... all of which I am grateful for. I have no doubt many of you reading this will be moved to a place of deep thought and appreciation also.
WHAT JAKE IS GRATEFUL FOR:
Anita asked me if I’d contribute to her ‘grateful blog’. I’m a self confessed FAN of the blog and remind her if she is a day overdue. I imagine this is what gave, or buttressed, her ‘request’ to contribute to the blog. I was of course honoured to be asked….but what to add? How to make it accessible?
More to the point - all other ‘bloggers’ are professional writers of some description. I only write legal letters by day and Facebook status updates by night… But Anita asked, and so I give my offering:
1. HOME: is truly where the heart is. Thank goodness the heart is big enough to love, respect and acknowledge that home may be far more than one single place.
a. My spiritual home is the place that I was born and where I will be returned to – my county – Gulargambone.
b. My emotional heart claims Sydney as my home – Maroubra Beach and La Perouse nurtured and loved me for many, many years.
c. My soul was claimed by Palm Island on my very first visit in 1986 and where I subsequently called home 1987-88 and have kept returning for my BFF and her daughter, my precious goddaughter.
d. If years ago the banks would give a loan to a single, financially secure single woman I may have locked in another home. They didn’t then. In 2010 they did. I stayed in my home during Tropical Cyclone Yasi 2011. I survived. This will be my physical home for the foreseeable future
2. Lifestyle: Notwithstanding constant rains and intermittent threats of cyclones in the wet season and the reality of choking humidity all year round, Cairns has a relatively sophisticated arts and music scene for a regional area. More importantly, my grannies (sons belong goddaughter who has apparently grown up and now an adult!!!) is only 1 hour flight away – I grab them, and its only another 20 minute flight to Palm where we can spend a weekend with their Great-Grand Nana (Erykah Kyle) and Nana – nothing like Butler Bay to watch children grow with culture…except our holiday place at Mundy Bay
3. Friends: The fact that my BFF, godchild and grannies are so clearly important in my life, this ‘grateful’ may seem somewhat superfluous. But it is important for me to say that many friends have become the bedrock of my life. I am tempted to tag most of Facebook friends, because they are properly family – not only in my imaginings but in our truths… They have traversed the divide from ‘acquaintance’ to ‘family’ and however that has happened, we blackfellas are rather good at claiming – and keeping – those that are good enough for it.
4. Family: Marion Louise Reid gave me my first breath. Fred and Coral Jacobsen (the beautiful, gracious people who adopted me) gave me foundational moral principles. When I met my mother Marion again, those moral principles were essentially the same as her own. As the youngest of seven Jacobsen’s, I’m grateful that when I searched for, found, connected and lived my truth with my Reid family I did not lose the love, connection and ‘sibling’ thing with the Jacobsen’s.
But I’m sad that I lost years with my Reid family. As the eldest of nine kids, it was difficult to be somewhere between the place where culture intends us to be and where reality places us…. When Mum (Marion) gave her final exhale I wondered, truly, if I could, wanted to, survive without her. I’m not sure that I ever got to answer the question so much as it is simply expected by others that your life will go on, and indeed I did. We going on for eleven years now…
5. Adversity: In the context of what is available to most Aboriginal People, I have lived a privileged life. In my view, this privilege began when I was 16 and started working in Canberra. For the first time, people genuinely believed in me. And in time, I proved them right. There is nothing quite so motivating as an a***hole telling you it can’t be done – and sufficient support from others to say, yes it can.
Every arrow of adversity is a window of opportunity…so I’ve been told! That may or may not be the case. But for me – when I’ve been able – I’ve taken each window and jumped… Every landing has made me stronger. As it has, undoubtedly, for not only the BLOG writers, but also the readers…
And that, a nutshell is what I’m grateful for …thus far in life….