It’s time to stop hoarding!

Something is often quoted about death and taxes being unavoidable. Well with both of us in the eighties and not working taxes are getting less but death is drawing nearer. My wife has kept every letter that I wrote to her while courting and throughout the nearly 59 years of married life plus all the birthday and Christmas and even our wedding cards. Fortunately of latter years we’ve been using computers. So they are still in her possession but much more neatly stored.

To give her credit she has begun going through the several metre high pile and transferring them from her desk to mine with the instruction that I am to destroy or keep them. And you think that it would be easy to just pick them up and throw them in the bin, but I can’t help looking inside. And not, I hope boring you, I will share a few long forgotten memories. I have a pile of them in front of me and will just randomly pick up a few and share the memories.

Number 1. From the family with whom I stayed and for whom I worked for several long University holidays. They had a large farm and I drove big tractors, carried and stored many tons of sheaves of hay, carried wool bales.etc. I remember one day when the man, David, and I were transferring bales of wool. We were at each end both with hooks to stick into the bales and carry them. I was shocked when he said that the next one was too heavy for me and he picked it up on his own back and carried it to where we were storing them. I was about 20 and thought of myself as a well grown and strong country boy. I was humiliated but had awe at his strength. We kept in contact for years and both my wife and I attended his funeral maybe 10 years ago.

Number 2. When we returned from Melbourne, where I had been a demonstrator in Anatomy at Monash University to Adelaide our neighbours were a lovely family. But we lived in different worlds. I was a surgical trainee in a large hospital, the husband was a workers’ union representative. I had to have a tonsillectomy for a recurrent tonsillitis with quinsy. The wife said to me that she hoped it hurt like h*ll. And I had thought that we got on well! She explained that she was sympathetic but wanted me to be a very sympathetic doctor and this was a good opportunity to learn about the nastiness of pain. I was happy but she didn’t get her way because the removal of the offending tonsils and the chronic abscess gave me such relief that I was able to eat a normal meal the next day! We remained good friends for many years until distance drew us apart.

Number 3. When I was in the last year of medical school family friends who lived in the district but a bit out in the bush, called the doctor from about 20 Km away in the nearest town and then asked me, as I lived nearby, to come quickly. The husband had become unconscious. By the time I arrived the unconscious man had regained consciousness but I, on examining him, found an ‘up-going’ toe on one side, which indicates the possibility of some brain problem. By the time the doctor came it was no longer present and I think that he thought that I had made a mistake. so he just reassured them and left. That night the patient had a massive stroke and was greatly incapacitated for the rest of his life. The doctor said to me later that he was sorry that he hadn’t taken more notice of what I said. It may have been preventable with urgent action. He was a good doctor, but we all make mistakes, a very costly one on this occasion.

Number 4. This one was from an Uncle, my dad’s brother, and his wife. They are both long dead. They had no children and I think that I was the only nephew/niece that ever visited them. In his wife’s presence he told my wife and I that when he died he would leave us his house. He died first and of course the home went to his wife. When she died some years later, she left it the cat’s home. She had a lovely old cat of which she was very fond. I hope the home let the cat die in luxury. The Aunt left us a tea set, which we still have and it is very nice.

Well there are a million more cards but that’s enough to show you what I mean!

Dominic Cartier.

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