Travels with my mother II: singing with youngsters
July 4, 2020
This is the second in my occasional series I’m calling Travels with my Mother. If you’ve not read the first in the series, it may be worth having a look at that one as it gives the context behind these posts.
Mum sounded tired this morning on the phone, her words slurring a little. She agreed she was weary, adding that it was because she’d been on a long drive to Canberra with a car full of youngsters. ‘What were you doing in Canberra?’ I asked. ‘Well there were young people here in the nursing home wondering what they should be doing. I asked if they’d like to get a singing group together and they said yes! So that’s what we did.’ ‘Fantastic! Were they a nice group?’ ‘I got to know them quite well. They had to be escorted from one stage to another but they got used to it. Some of the songs were poking fun…’ ‘Satire?’ I wondered. ‘Yes, I suppose so. Some satirical songs and some others.’ ‘It sounds a lot like the National Folk Festival in Canberra. Going from stage to stage. Was it like that?’ ‘A lot like the Festival, yes.’ ‘Any wonder you feel weary today, Mum. You’ve been doing a lot.’ ‘Yes, I think I’ll just rest today.’
For many years, Mum was a regular attendee at the annual National Folk Festival held in Canberra, Australia, over the Easter weekend. She’d stay with my sister who at that time lived in that city, and they’d come to the festival site each morning equipped with warm clothes, sun hats and water bottles, ready to enjoy a variety of concerts, dance displays, spoken word presentations and other cultural delights.
The festival is held over a large open site with most venues set up in large marquees. Wandering around the festival site is always a pleasure, as is sitting under the trees with their autumn tints, sipping a coffee and chatting with friends. Mum loved these times.
As her physical aches and pains increased and her eyesight started to weaken, her hours at the festival began to shrink. When my sister moved away from Canberra, going to the National was no longer an option. So these events are now in Mum’s past.
It’s a pleasure that is no longer available to her except through her memory and imagination. I’m certain that these earlier experiences are at the root of our conversation and her carload of youngsters, as she drove them to Canberra for performances on various stages.