Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

Reflections – what I know

by Pamella Vernon (guest author) on 29 April, 2010

I know of childhood !
I know about children
lost and vulnerable,
of anger and confusion,
torn from all, good and bad,
that represented for them
home, love and security.
I know about loneliness.
Children thrust
into an alien environment,
seeking solace for grief,
hungry for kind words,
understanding,
an embrace for sobs of need.
Children desperate for some
semblance of normality in the
‘human condition’.

I know of childhood
need for memories,
a link to a past,
with which to relate,
in an overwhelming sea of
indifference
or ignorant complacency.

I know of childhood emptiness.
A parent’s death,
the pain of unresolved grief,
separation and loss,
kept secret, unshared,
of abandonment.
Young minds and hearts in trauma,
seeking sense in their
displacement.

I know of childhood perceptions.
Emotionally sterile environment as
punishment, for perceived self-
inadequacy,
loss of love as unworthiness.

What did I do wrong?
I’m sorry….
Come and take me home,
I’ll be good,  I promise,
Please!  Please!

I know of childhood acceptance.
Submersion of needs for love,
affection, human warmth,
along with cherished memories
buried deep in the psyche,
in order to survive
in an emotional void.
I know about subterfuge!
Powerless, defenseless confusion.
A child branded and maligned,
Liar!  Bad Seed!  Scum!
because of  truth
argued on deaf ears.
Physical & emotional separation
from siblings. Punishment!
because Secrets had to be kept.
I know about insincerity,
enforced gratitude,
for the ‘right to be’
for the necessities to sustain life,
a compulsory component of
being needy’.

I know about Doctrine!
The ethos of
“The sins of the father
visited upon the child”.
The ripping apart of belief
in treasured memories,
in the name of
“Saving” the child.
A ‘decent God fearing upbringing’
at any cost!
I know about Religion!
of God presented as a
“God of anger” vengeful,  jealous,
the punisher of sin.
The ‘Love’ of God….
an afterthought.

I know about “Good People”!
Who could never stay……
I know about lies,
even where truth was irrefutable,
about smothered individualism,
initiative and spirit,
under the guise of ‘benevolence’.
I know about the few good people
who could never stay,
they managed the fine balance of
‘job’ with personal humility,
They made a difference in our
bereft childhoods,
however slight they may think,
in a system that enshrined a
religious and caring ethos,
but functioned
in a separatist ideology.
The “needy” poor,
seen as the agents
of their own destiny,
socially and morally bankrupt.

I know about adulthood!
I understand emotional survival
techniques,
adopted by children under threat,
to survive pain, trauma,
abandonment and displacement.
I know about ‘Growing up’!
The pain of being invisible,
unwanted & used
the constraints of life fulfillment,
of self-responsibility for life choices,
the futility of emotional baggage,
as an excuse or crutch.
I am the product of Nature
I am the product of lack of Nurture.
I take responsibility for me,
my actions, my thoughts,
my space.
I know pain of failure,
elation in triumph,
regret for lost opportunities.
I accept the myriad facets
of my character.

I know about Reflections!
Contemplation of childhood
can be a painful, funny journey
and illuminates
the dichotomy for all
Forgotten Australian’s childhoods.
Our sharing of stories
and memories,
the sadness, the pain,
the suffering,
the isolation, the abuse
I know about the fun, gaiety,
merriment and pleasures,
we the Forgotten Children,
We the Forgotten Australians
derived from each other
and shared in the reconstructed
families We created
amongst ourselves.
That ensures the balance
is not lost in the dross.

I know about indebtedness! we all
bring to each other today,
not only our personal experiences
of childhood,
but also our adult acceptance,
maturity and diversity.
We share the need for roots
firmly anchored in a sense
of family ties and traditions,
that we the unwanted,
the unloved
and the forgotten
can only truly understand.

Thank you my fellow
Forgotten Australians
for being the catalyst for
“The spirit of the extended
family”

we never had”

© 2000 Yvonne Vernon – all rights reserved

Yvonne Vernon was a resident of Dalmar Children’s Home, New South Wales, from 1950 to 1958. This poem, posted by her sister, was read by Jim Luthy and Pamella Vernon at the New South Wales Government’s Healing Service and Memorial Unveiling, for those who grew up in institutions, orphanages, children’s homes and foster homes, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, on 19 September 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s