A month short of her 23rd birthday, a young woman stepped on a Lufthansa jet in Frankfurt. With her were her toddler son and slightly older daughter. Her son screamed all the way from Germany to Brisbane. She has never felt the same about Lufthansa since that time. The jet landed at Darwin and she walked down the steps onto the tarmac and fell in love with Australia. The only things she could say in English were “My mouth is under my nose” and “The feet are on the table.” Forty years later, I ask her why she came to Australia and what she knew about the country. Knowing almost nothing other than having read one book, she said that she came because she would have gone anywhere with her husband. Everything was strange: the heat, the humidity, the vegetation, yet she always felt at home.
Her life was far from perfect. She share-cropped, did contract farming, chipping and picking. She and her husband had three more children, bought a farm, sold a farm, bought an orchard, lost the orchard to the weather and the bank, lost each other, gained many grandchildren. In her sixties with adult children and still occasionally confusing her v’s, f’s and w’s, she still feels as if she had been given a special gift in coming to Australia.
Should I give any of my imaginary family such a blessing? Or will they hate Australia and regret their decision?