CADOGAN PLACE, ORANGE, 1992
Linda and I drove up to visit Mill in our little yellow Mazda.
Not really a country car we stood out when we stopped
in Bathurst for coffee. Not even local students would
drive such a funny car. Mill was living
alone in Cadogan Place, Ida and Tom were both dead
and she was virtually blind. But she remembered
everything – where the sugar and milk was,
how to wash dirty cups and plates and how
the ship cut through a storm on the way to Sydney
when she twelve. She made us tea and offered
us Madeira cake that her friend Carol had brought
over the day before. She brought out old photo albums
and counted out the pages to where she knew
the images where. The bakery in Devon where
she grew up. Her parents in Sydney. My grandmother’s
wedding. An aerial photo of the farm taken just after
the war. We drank more tea and she told us of how
she buried the photos and letters on the farm before
leaving, she can’t remember exactly where. They
belonged there she said, they couldn’t leave, they
were part of that place and would mean nothing
in the town. She cooks us an early dinner. Lamb
chops and mashed potatoes. Everything is done
by touch and feel. She has been doing this for decades.
I don’t want to leave. I know this represents
a conclusion but we have a dog waiting
for dinner back in Sydney so we say our goodbyes.
We say that we will see her again soon and how
well she looks. She kisses us both and tells
Linda how pleased she is to have meet her.
I drive slowly down Byng Street towards
the train line. It starts getting dark as
we drive past Bowen Terrace.