My Beloved Family
THIS is a story about a family, my family. In that sense it is autobiographical for I have seen the family from my point of view. If you were able to see the story from the point of view of the other ten members, then it might appear differently. Also my ideas of how we lived together may not tally with theirs.
Perhaps if members of this family were all able to read the script they might want to alter it at various places. On some scores their memories may be better than mine, but I stick doggedly to the format I have set out. This is how, rightly or wrongly, I saw the family. I am sure that every detail may not be meticulously correct, but then I am also sure no-one's memory is perfect. I am just fascinated by the way we all grew up, and then, I suppose, grew out!
When a whole world officially espouses a year as 'The Year of the Family' it obviously has a purpose in mind. I must admit my disappointment at the rather trite promotion I have seen in this regard and at some of the uncertainty as to what 'family' means or constitutes. I think that most of the world's population is about 'family', but then part of it is not at all about 'family'. Some time ago my own family suggested I get down notes about my life, even if I could not turn out a full autobiography. A few years ago I began this task and covered roughly a third of that life. The rest remains to be done, perhaps in two more volumes. In this book I have not sought to write notes or an autobiography although much of it is autobiographical.
As I said, the book is about 'family'. Far from being a manual on family living, it is an attempt to explore some of the mystery of family such as being man and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Nor does the sum of the parts make the whole. Not even a study of the sociological sciences can really convey the truth of family. We have to live in family in order to sense it, share its vibrations and resonations, and come to know what it is. Most people have little interest in analysing what family means: they are content to live in it, or they wish to be free of it.
The family of my parents, brothers and sisters is probably fairly typical, but then few families really conform to a type. Even so, I hope some of the stories will interest readers, and that they may gather a few insights which will help them to add to their present understanding of what family means in its most intimate, as well as its most universal, forms. The book is not intended to be educational, but rather to be entertaining, and, as I have suggested, helpful.
Kingswood, South Australia, 1997