Forgotten Australians, memories

The story of the nun I kept meeting on the bus

by Lana Syed (guest author) on 9 July, 2010

Lana was a resident of  St Vincent’s Orphanage, Nudgee, QLD, from the age of six months to 11 years. Here, in an excerpt from the book Lives of Uncommon Children – Reflections of Forgotten Australians (2009, Micah Projects – Queensland), Lana shares her memory of her reunion with one of the nuns who used to care for her at St Vincent’s.

The story of the nun I kept meeting on the bus

About five years ago, I used to go to West End, walk in, and take the bus to the city or from the city to West End. Each and every time I kept bumping into a SRM Mercy nun. First I saw SRM coming on the bus, I would say, “can I help you sister?” (she was loaded up with some packages). She would say, ‘no, thankyou!’ Okay another time in comes this Sister in the bus again and sits close to me, this time says nothing, just a smile. Third time she is loaded again with shopping I ran to help her, she says “thankyou” and sits right in front of me, I said “hello Sister, hang on”.

She says, “I know that voice, I never forget a voice”. She suddenly turns around to me, and pauses for a moment, “I know you. You’re not Lana are you?”

Oh! My god I was shocked, my face went red, I thought, I did something wrong, my mind froze then! How does she know my name? She said, “I know you, she said. “you are my little baby”.

She had never forgotten me – isn’t that just lovely. So she asked me to come over to the Mater Hospital to meet up with her, which I did. I thought I would die back then. Wow – I couldn’t believe my luck! I rang my friend Gloria up, and told her of my encounter, of SRM from Nudgee that used to look after us little tots and babies and little girls. The next thing she says, “Lana, I have got some photos to give to you, it is a picture of you and your twin sister”. My own family did not have a picture of the twin, but SRM did, she said she was cleaning out the photo she’s had, and were destroying them but will keep the two photos of me and my sister Lena – Lana. The rest went in the shredder.

My great Aunty Anne Remanous, was Archdishop Duhig’s personal secretary. She was a lovely great Aunty; though I never got to meet her. I have photos of her, and of the shop at West End in Hardgrave road, the shop called “Saint Veronicas”, which used to belong to her. She also adopted a son, from Papua New Guinea, she paid his way to become a priest, though they never knew I was in the orphanage. It was one of the biggest secrets. My mother never told anyone in the family that we were in there. If Aunty Anne knew, she might have adopted us – being family. Although Aunt Anne was my great Aunty, because my grand mother Renee, Aunty Theresa, Uncle Mick, Aunty Rose were all family and cousins to Aunty Anne.

Being at the centre of Lotus Place: we sit around having a yarn, with like-minded people, and we have a cuppa, and talk about things, like, what we saw on TV…Like last night, about the three dogs (two were dead) because the owner had to go to jail, the  police did not pass the information to the RSPCA. As a result, the dogs had to die, (the third dog) got lucky, he had a fit, then they found a chip in his neck and rang the owners, and found out that the dog was stolen two years ago and was in luck as the RSPCA had rung up the owner. The dog had a lucky happy ending and went home with his owner and some medication to make him better. Wow, what an ending. How it touches my heart.

2 thoughts on “The story of the nun I kept meeting on the bus”

  1. Hi Lana
    I was surprised to read your story. I wonder what the name of that nun was. I probably know her too.
    I read in the Canberra Times about this website. A woman who lives in Canberra (I think her name is Wilma) often talks about her time in institutions in NSW. Her story has been in the Canberra Times a couple of times.
    I have not put my story onto the website. My story seems to be too long. I haven’t forgotten anything.
    See you soon

  2. Hi Joan lovely to hear from you as for the name of the nun I can only say Sr. Mary as due to Confidentuality reasons hope this will be sufficient information hope to hear from you on the phone if you have time love lana

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