Stories of belonging: Joan’s family stories

This is the final of our stories of Belonging series, as told to Pop-Up Story Catcher Kirsten Fogg at this year’s Big Day of Belonging. Joan is a farmer’s daughter who tells of connecting generations through her father’s stories.

Joan

“My father was a farmer and I was just thinking yesterday about him because he used to tell us a lot of stories about when he was young. There were two different stories that he told us at different times and i only just put them together yesterday.

After he went out into the workforce, away from the farm, he’d talk about two of his first jobs.

First he worked for an electrician as an off-sider with a few other men too who must have also been farmers. Because farmers mostly work for themselves if they’ve had finished whatever they’re doing, milking the cows, they’ll sit down and talk. One day the boss came along and he said I know you’ve been farmers, but when you’re working for someone else, if my boss comes along and sees you sitting talking they won’t be thinking you’ve been working for two hours and now you’re having a break. You have to at least look as if you’re busy.

Then he got a job with the local town council and he stayed there until he retired. One of his first jobs he did was as an off-sider to a surveyor who needed someone to assist him in his work navigating where a road would go. So this surveyor would say, I’ll hold this piece of string and you hold the other end and go down there about a quarter of a mile and just see what the land is like there. So dad would take this string and go running through the bush and it was a very easy job for him. So for the rest of the time that that surveyor was doing that job he always asked for dad by name because he said the other men weren’t keen to rush through the bush and they probably hadn’t been farmers.

So yesterday the connection came to me so that my dad’s skills as a farmer weren’t very suited to the electrician but they were suited to the surveyor.

Dad told a lot of stories and over the years he’d repeat them and they’d be funny too and the fact that he’d repeat them so I heard them at different ages and that made them stick in my mind. It’s probably nearly 40 years since the last time I heard him talk about those things and yet they’re still very real to me.

It’s nice to be able to share that because I live alone now. My children have all grown up. They’re in their 20s and probably wouldn’t be all that interested to hear that story.

I feel very connected to my father through his stories. I hadn’t thought about those stories for a couple of decades. I do a bit a writing. I might write them all out and form new connections with grandchildren I mightn’t get to meet.”

As told to Kirsten Fogg

Writer Out Of Residence & Pop Up Story Catcher

www.writeroutofresidence.com