Change in a lifetime


1976.4 Sammy and Aunt Annie 1968.12 Uncle John and Aunt Annie

How alone you are without friends. This was the situation for my Great-Aunt and then my maternal Grandmother: they had become so old that they were the last of their line. I fear it will soon be the case for my mother also. It’s all well and good to have your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews but how can they replace your friends and relatives of the same generation as yourself. You can’t indulge in a trip down memory lane with people who weren’t around at the time.

I know my Great Aunt felt it keenly. She enjoyed our company but we really didn’t compensate. She would tell us events of her past but could never say “do you remember where you were when the WWI was declared?” No-one to reminisce with, about when she received the notification telegram that her husband was killed in the war, or that she had fallen in love with a new man, my Great Uncle, or how she had lived in sin at a time when it was socially unacceptable.

It was difficult to tell with my Grandma though. She wasn’t the chatty person that my Great Aunt was and was never as close to me as she disapproved of much of what I did. As a result, most of the time she simply did not communicate with me at all. The first instance of this was when we boarded Toshio, a Japanese exchange student. She would not even talk to us on the phone as her brother had been killed in a Japanese Prison of War Camp and she was never going to forgive the race.

That generation must have had so many memories of the significant changes that occurred in their lifetime. Transportation – seeing the first car, first aeroplane and then man landing on the moon. Technological changes: refrigeration, television, computerisation and the medical advances would have been too many to list. They went through two world wars and numerous other wars. Major change filled their lives.

Even my mother, I felt, must have had a life of significant change. I asked her one day what did she think was the most memorable change in her lifetime? Her answer stunned me. People don’t have morning tea and afternoon tea any more.” In her day these were the equivalent of our dinner party. Social change has also been massive: some good and some not so good.

So looking back on my life those events that I could answer when asked “do you remember where you were when……” include the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt, the assassinations of John F Kennedy and John Lennon, man landing on the moon, the marriage and death of Princess Diana, the first invasion of Iraq and the planes flying into the World Trade Centre. Other major events would include the Vietnam War, the fall of communism and the pulling down of the Berlin Wall, global warming and the global financial crisis. The harder question would be what is the biggest change that has occurred in my lifetime? I would struggle to answer that. Most technological changes are just a minor change from something else so not that big a deal. The internet perhaps? Maybe sexuality and marriage or perhaps it will be a change that has not yet occurred for me to remember………

What is the major change for you?


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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22 Responses to Change in a lifetime

  1. Reblogged this on Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) and commented:

    I look back for throwback Thursday to a post written in September 2013. I wonder if these recent events or the aftermath of these which hasn’t yet occurred would have appeared in my post if I was writing it today…….


  2. rythaephua says:

    smiling….what a question? Love your piece though, left me thinking too.


  3. noelleg44 says:

    I never thought about this, Irene, but since I am now the matriarch of our extended family (not a title I wanted, but that’s the way life goes), your post resonated. Computers, jets, space, cars, phones, medical advances – the list is daunting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sherri says:

    I am amazed at how quickly technology changed even for my own children (there’s ten years between my eldest and youngest with Nicky in the middle). What was considered exciting and advanced for my eldest son (Game Boy) was old hat by the time he handed it as a play-thing to his 7 year old sister years later. The changes in our parent’s and grandparent’s generations were/are immense and I am really touched by what your mum said about tea. A wonderful piece of memoir Irene, thoroughly enjoyed reading more about your family and your thoughts on this rapidly changing world of ours ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sherri. It makes you stop and think. Kids of today couldn’t conceive of a life without television, mobile phones and computers. Now everything is disposable. You are lucky to have your computer last more than a year or two before it is outdated. How are you going with yours by the way? ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        I know…just crazy. My son once asked me what videos I used to watch when I was little, ha!
        Thanks for asking Irene, I ordered my new laptop today, so one day next week I’ll be biting the bullet and getting all the data transferred from this one – just hoping that it doesn’t give up before then, but all is backed up just in case, phew! Hoping to make a smooth transition, get my chair sorted and then…well…I’ll be tapping away right next to you! Hope you have had a great week on all counts and a great weekend to come. Let’s try and squeeze in a walk shall we? Love & hugs to you my friend… 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to hear you’ll soon be tapping away. A walk seems in order. Where are you planning on taking us this week?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        No plan…yet…but thinking it might be cuckoo land at this rate o_O

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pat says:

    Interesting perspectives, Irene. I think about these types of things often but not quite in this way and I don’t know why. Maybe, I have but not out loud in so many words like you’ve written. Your thoughts are interesting to contemplate.

    I’ve always enjoyed those conversations with my elders and they made those times seem so real to me. I guess I’m getting in the same boat as your mother or grandmother as most of those people are now gone and can only pass on my feelings of the stories they shared.

    I guess that’s all we can do as one generation passes the baton onto the next are our stories. I hope it’s enough to bridge the lives of the ones that have passed and the ones still living.

    Thank you for this lovely, thought-provoking post. I enjoyed the read and the stirring up of brain juices and old stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pat thank you so much for your comment and glad I’ve added a new perspective to a contemplation that I am sure that we all, at some point, have had. Yes I loved listening to the tales of my great-aunts younger life but sadly my grandmother was a bit more guarded and we only got bits and pieces. It is a pity that we don’t realise that we want to know these stories when we are in our twenties as by the time they become important often much of the detail is lost or the people who can tell the tales are lost.
      Hope we get to see the result of the stirred brain juices with a few old stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pat says:

        You’re welcome, Irene,and I know what you mean about loving those old stories in all their forms. Some are hard to tell like in your grandmother’s case and others, like my dad’s, weren’t as appreciated as they could have been.

        In any event, we can do what we can to pass them along so they’re not lost. I’ll do my best in stirring the brain juices and keep them coming. Have a great weekend. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hope your weekend is good also Pat.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good post, reflecting on those issues is what gives our lives a good reason to continue on and make fresh memories to ponder over in the future. After all, with age comes more past to reflect upon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This one hit home quite strongly. My husband’s aunt at 97 was in a senior facility at the age of 97 and made the comment that she no longer had friends. I countered by reminding her of the many friends she had in her women’s group. These women were perhaps 20 years younger, and she pointed out that no one else remained who had her same memories. Today my husband’s old friends are all gone. When we attend one of my women’s groups together, he is the only husband remaining. At some point in our lives, when there is only one of us left, there will be nobody who shares the same memories. Even our children remember the same things in different ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. You have really understood what I was trying to convey and I feel for your husband already being the last of his male friends. Being so alone is not a place we like to ponder. Your own mortality, I think, is bought home when you lose your first friend. Getting older is a subject that I possibly dwell on too much but it is circumstances as my mother is elderly and we have just had to assist a friend in putting her husband into care. When I see how much in both cases the children are needed I just wonder how we will cope, not having children, if we are the last left? Not being able to look back on shared experiences ….. I think it is time I went and walked my dogs.


  8. Charli Mills says:

    How profound, this post. Your stories about family and what they experienced in changes make the idea more concrete. I recall the significant events of our generation, except the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt. Interesting. I didn’t know about that until i looked it up. But like your mother, I think the biggest change I’ll remember is the one that makes me feel that life itself changed. I can make some early guesses, but I think I’ll wait a bit yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It took me a few days after reposting this that it suddenly came to me that for me the biggest change is feeling as though I have cyber friends that I may never meet yet I care for them like my flesh and blood friends. That I would not have believed possible even two years ago. Yes wait a few years before you decide. Who knows what will happen in the next ten years or more that you might choose.


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