Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Thanks For The Memories....

What happens in the past never goes away

An astute, profound statement, unfortunately not one of my own creation. Memories remain long after those who participated in their formation have left our lives to follow other paths.

Flashbacks, oft-times welcomed…some times intrusive and unwelcome, frequent my mind. Mingled within my midnight to dawn travels, eerie dreams encroach to remind, torment and haunt. Anger undiminished as demons persist. Forever, my childhood years affect and colour my life. Amongst my memories are many I wish not to recall but faithfully, they remain, unwilling to depart. There is nothing I can do to erase them.

Facing truth can be difficult unless one is able to accept what occurred in the past. To be capable of staunchly moving forwards towards greener pastures by persistence and hard work is so often fraught with failure. Fearful of showing one’s inner self, it seems easier, sometimes, to hide behind a facade or invisible shield. Finding courage to express candidly thoughts that torment, can take a lifetime of inner turmoil, if one permits it. One can defy the grief, heartache and lack of self-esteem though, by adopting a positive approach, and thence taking action against one's demons. Obviously one’s life can’t always be plain sailing, but one must hold on tightly to the tiller with the intention of keeping in calm, peaceful waters!

Being in a somewhat nostalgic mood, I'll tell you a short story of the first time I "lost" my heart to a fellow human being. (I'd lost my heart many times previously to my pets or to my favoured movie star of the moment)

The Easter before I left High School, Mr. and Mrs. Butcher, our neighbours (Mr. Butcher was a policemen. He and his wife had no children) took me with them to stay at a holiday house they'd rented for the Easter weekend at Noosaville, between Tewantin and Noosa Heads. On Easter Saturday night the three of us went along to a concert in a hall at Noosaville. Various acts came on stage to entertain the audience. Some good, some unintentionally funny and one that I wished wouldn't leave the stage!

Ever since I was a child I've loved drums. I was to love them even more after that evening!

After the interval, my chaperones and me armed with soft drinks (sodas), squeezed past our fellow audience members, to our seats about three or four rows from the stage. In front of us on the stage, a band was setting up in readiness for their performance. My heart flipped over and over. Butterflies, uninvited, had set up residence in my stomach, refusing to leave. The drummer was the most handsome young man I had ever seen in my short life. Rodney Kent was his name. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was mesmerized. He noticed me…me! He smiled....at me! Coyly, I lowered my eyes. I could feel my face burning. He must be looking past me, but he wasn't! I think there were other band members, but I never noticed them as my eyes were glued to the drummer and I had misplaced my heart. Mr. and Mrs. Butcher didn't notice the turmoil going on beside them.

Back at school a few days later, I discovered Rodney worked for the railways, as did my brother, at the time. Each morning I caught the bus to high school. I was all of fourteen years old. The bus stop was across the street from the ‘Loco’ office where Rodney worked.

Young love is so grand and so beautifully innocent, or it was that way for me when I was "growing up".

Each morning as I waited for my bus, my poor heart would pound expectantly. My "hero" Rodney Kent would nonchalantly appear out on the small wooden balcony of the Loco office. Pretending not to notice him, accidentally I would look across, smile a tremulous, embarrassed smile and quickly look away. Never a word was uttered between us, not an introduction, nothing except our kindred infatuation. Rodney had the most magnificent eyes, not unlike those of the young Tony Curtis, framed by dark, thick lashes and brows. Too soon the school bus would arrive and I would step aboard it, ensuring I sat at a window on the left-hand side of the bus to witness his lingering gaze. Our "from-the-distance" tete-a-tete was at an end until the following day.

As the bus entered the tunnel that ran under the rail lines, (it still does) he would turn and go back inside the office. I was in "love"! My infatuation continued until I left school to commencing my working life. The only thing I missed about school was that bus stop and its view. I had no reason to ever catch that bus again. Rodney and I never exchanged words. It was always a meeting of our eyes across an ‘uncrowded’ street or soon after, across a crowded dance floor. Unfortunately, he was still playing the drums in the band, and I was dancing to the music he played in the arms of others! Damn!

A couple of years passed. A lot of young, interesting 'transients, such as school teachers, bank people, radio announcers etc., had moved into town, renting houses or flats/apartments, so there was never a shortage of parties. On a Saturday night at one of the parties I met up again with Rodney Kent. This time we spoke to each other. My heart missed a beat upon seeing him, particularly as he was in the same room as me, only about two feet away! Since our ‘bus stop’ days, we'd exchanged smiles and ‘made eyes at each other’ at the many dances I’d attended at which he played. The ‘Starbrights’ were a modern, up-beat dance band whose repertoire was mainly "rock", and he was their drummer. It was a very good, playing all the popular music of the time.

"Be still, my heart!" I muttered to myself, (obviously stealing the phrase from a book I had read) when I walked into the party to discover Rodney was there...in person. Soon, everyone was suggesting that he should go home, to pick up his drums and bring them back to the party. He readily agreed it was a good idea. Turning to me, he asked me if I would like to go along with him. What a silly question! Naturally, I jumped at the suggestion! Returning from his home, drums on board, we drove alongside Gympie's Memorial Park, between the park and Mary Street, the main street. For the moment, I forget the name of the lane-way. The car chugged to a sudden stop. Leaping from the car, Rodney asked me to move into the driver's seat to enable me to steer while he got behind the vehicle to push. At that time, I didn't know how to drive a car. And from memory, I think it was probably the first time I'd even been in the driver's seat and behind the steering wheel of a car! So there was Rodney, at the rear of his car, heaving and pushing with all his might, and me behind the steering wheel. I followed his instructions to the letter. Suddenly the car engine started. In my excitement, not only from being behind the wheel of "his" car, but also with being in "his" company, I drove off, leaving the poor fellow behind, running frantically to catch up with me...and his car. Eventually, he caught up with me around the opposite side of the park, a few hundred yards away, almost opposite the public swimming pool! Poor Rodney...I'd exhausted him! That was the end of that relationship, a relationship that never got off the ground!

Years and years later after my wild roaming in North Queensland and just prior to my brother passing away, I returned to live and work in Gympie. One night I spoke with Rodney Kent on the telephone. A mutual friend had run into him and mentioned my name to him, asking him if he remembered me. He told her ‘of course I remember Lee Hill!’ (My maiden name). My heart still did a little hop knowing that he’d remembered me. So, I took a chance and I rang him, just for the hell of it. Sometimes life is too short and we fail to do the things we should have done. He was surprised but very pleased to hear from me. Now married for the second time, he and I chatted at length. During our conversation I mentioned the fact that I’d had a massive ‘crush’ on him all those years before. He laughed and said not only had he been aware of that fact, the feelings were reciprocated. The next thing he told me shocked me. Graham, my overly-protective older brother, had confronted him at work one day, saying, ‘keep away from Lee. I know you like her and she likes you, but I don’t trust you, you’re a rascal (sic)!’

I was dumbstruck! How dare my brother do that! He'd done it other times too! It really used to annoy me, to say the least, but I never knew that he had done this with Rodney. And the thing that really annoyed me most of all was my brother was dead and I couldn’t blast him for doing that to me! Rodney and I laughed about it, but I still wonder to this day what would have happened if Graham had shut his mouth and minded his own business! Rodney wasn’t a ‘rascal’. My brother was probably far more a "rascal" than he ever was! If my brother, Graham, had had his way, I wouldn't have been allowed to go out with members of the opposite sex until I was thirty, if even then!

Rodney Kent was a very nice guy…and he was extremely good-looking. As I described earlier, he had the most beautiful eyes under dark eyebrows, with long lashes and thick, slightly wavy black hair. He played the drums with style and flair. A couple of years ago, I received an email from my friend advising me of Rodney's death. I cried.

Thanks for the memories.

28 comments:

  1. WHat a great story. I loved the car incident. Lee, I did not know your brother was dead. Do you have more than one? Was Graham with you on Hitchenbrook? I'm sorry. If you mentioned it before, I forgot or did not keep up. I think your brother was hilarious. He always was protecting you.

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  2. Yes, Corn Dog my brother passed away. He was a character, that's for sure! I only had one brother...he was enough to deal with! ;)

    He used to drive me crazy, acting his "big brother" role! lol (All the while misbehaving himself!) ;)

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  3. Oh sorry Lee. My memory is really bad. Your brother was a funny soul. He reminds me of my brother so much.

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  4. That's okay, Corn Dog...no need to apologise. :)

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  5. Lee, a profound post. Some memories are great, others we'd like to forget. This was a good one.

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  6. Thanks Steve...I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  7. Ah, young love! I remember my first crush... as though it was... Oh hell.. years ago, but still sweet.

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  8. Hey Peter...it was only yesterday! ;)

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  9. Hi Lee ~~ Great story of your first romance. Pity your brother warned him off --who knows what might have been? Then again you have had a very varied and interesting life and you may have had to sit around listening to Rodney playing drums! I am sorry that he died though. Memories are great, the good and some of the bad.
    I was surprised that you are still having warm weather - it has cooled a lot down here - round 20C most days. Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

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  10. What a great story, I remember my first crush and know exactly what you mean about good and bad memories.

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  11. Yeah, those drums might have become a bit tiresome after a while, Merle! ;)

    G'day, Shelly...I was a bit of a late bloomer, too! Ah...the age of innocence!

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  12. oh man.. young love! I don't think any female forgets that one big crush that never went anywhere! You made me remember my first big crush.. guess what?.. he was in a band lol.. but a bass player.. the band was called Johnny Lucas and the Hound Dogs! (good lord! hahaha) Oh.. and I wound up playing drums in a R&R band before I married!

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  13. Lovely story again, Lee. I laughed and I cried! I could picture you driving off leaving the poor fellow behind and I can empathise with your feelings when you got that email. And those who say "you can't really be in love when you are so young" are very, very wrong...

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  14. How sad Lee. Both of them gone at a young age. Older brothers, why do they always think they know best for their sisters. Of course, Rodney could have ignored him.
    Great story Lee, as usual.
    regards
    jmb

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  15. Yes, driving off like that sure put a dampener on things, Welsh! When Rodney and I spoke again by phone after all the intervening years, I brought the subject up. He remembered it and we had a good laugh about it. ;)

    As life changes, we change with it in certain degrees and ways...and how we reacted "then" to situations, now we would act differently, no doubt.

    Hi jmb...he could have ignored my brother, that is correct, but my brother was pretty hard to ignore most of the time! Anyway, I soon became a "surf chick" and my weekends were spent at the coast surfing and sunbaking. Back in Gympie during the week, my group of friends ran in different "circles" with different interests. Life and directions change.

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  16. Wonderful! It reminds me of the first real crush I had on a girl back in high school. I can still picture her long dark hair, her freckles and the lavender dress she wore. I was much too shy to ever talk to her and I've regretted it ever since.

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  17. You bring back memories. My first big crush came to nothing, and still makes me sad today. She was beautiful, and was going out with a real looser. Later, he got drafted, and was killed in VietNam. I never found out what happened to her after that.

    My second love was my first wife. She deserted me after I went to VietNam. I really, still to this day, cannot figure out why she would not stand by me.

    My final love is a keeper, as you know Lee. She and I have built a deep and lasting bond. And friendship. And a deep and lasting enjoyment of each other. And we love Critters (snakes too Lee).

    OK, I'll tell you when I have my new camera tamed an can post some pics.

    Hope lunch is yummey!

    I'm for bed soonly.

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  18. Hi Dave and Marc...it's strange how we all seemed to have the experience of our first "love" from affair and nothing every came of them...or in our cases, it seem...ever had a chance of happening! lol

    I hope you two are forever happy with your "keepers"...keep it that way! :)

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  19. I think our memories are like gravity.

    Gravity is said to be the weakest of all the fundamental forces, but it never goes away. The tides have always come in and out. Like our memories that weaken with time and distance, but remain to resurface or to be suppressed.

    So you can look back on your life and think of what it might have been!! But a lot of water has washed under the bridge since and it has now become a nice memory, of a flame and of your dear brother who feared you would be swept out by the tide of your emotion, many moons ago. !! . Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Best wishes

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  20. Maybe so, Lindsay...but there were times I wished my brother had let me be swept out to sea...I'm a strong swimmer! ;)

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  21. What a wonderful story. You have made me want to read again. I found your blog through Cousin Corn Dog's blog. I cannot wait to have time to read all the other stories. Thanks for a fun afternoon. Lady Di aka Kitty Justice

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  22. Lovely to meet you, Lady Di aka Kitty Justice. Thanks for visiting and I do hope you become a regular reader and that you also enjoy my other tales. :)

    I always enjoy reading Corn Dog's epics. She is so much fun. I will visit you, too. :)

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  23. Oh to remember good thoughts like the first kiss, first crush, first boyfriend, and all the other first. What a great story and if I had a brother like yours I might have done something to him. Maybe it is good I have two sisters. Keep up the great writing and memories.

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  24. Rodney and I never progressed to kissing or cuddling, Sandra...our crushes were conducted from afar! lol

    I wouldn't have liked your chances with my brother, Sandra! ;) Easier said than done!

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  25. lee,
    Nothing....NOTHING compares with youg love!
    rel

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  26. Oh boy, Lee, that took me right back almost 50 years ago. My first crush was the milkboy, Dougie, who lived around the corner from me as well. Tall, dark and handsome he had my heart until I found out that he liked someone else, while he was playing with my emotions...sigh. I just wanted to die. Young love is so hard and painful, yet, looking back, so wonderful.

    By the way, I had four brothers, two older and two younger. When I was allowed to go out on dates, the older two would threaten any boys with bodily harm if they did the wrong thing by me and the two youngers ones would spy on me. I had plenty of so-called girl friends who got to know me just because they wanted intros to my brothers. Such was life...

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  27. Yes...so bittersweet, Rel. :)

    Then you understand my problems with my older brother then, Robyn...he was certainly no angel as I discovered years later when he used to tell me about the shenanigans he got up to at that time...I guess he was judging everyone else by his own cover! ;)

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  28. Hi Lee,
    Have just read your story. Rod was my brother-in-law. I married his sister Sue who passed away 8 weeks after we were married from the same illness. Am happy to make contact and chat about the good old days if you wish. I am now living in Gympie Cheers

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