Happy Concatenation

Mr Menzies, as he was then, used to report to Parliament upon his return from
The Prime Ministers’ Conference in London. He’d introduce his report with, ’By a happy concatenation of circumstance I happened to find myself in London for the Conference at precisely the time of the Cricket Test Match at Lords…’
I read this in the ‘Age’ newspaper and looked up ’concatenation’. I have kept the word close, generally unused, for the half century since.
 
By a singular concatenation of circumstance, today Jewish people around the world observe Shushan Purim on precisely the date of Good Friday. Yesterday we had the concurrence of Purim with Shrove Thursday; and the previous day the Jewish Fast of Esther coincided with the fast of Ash Wednesday. That’s how calendars concatenate.
 
By a happy concatenation of circumstance, while riding home through the park yesterday I overtook another cyclist, emerging into Commercial Road just as she did. From a long way back I saw first the yellow jacket. Gaining, I noted her tall, erect carriage in the saddle, her fair pony tail, her fair skin. Emerging from the park, with eyes only for the vehicular traffic ahead I had no time to sight her face.
I crossed the road and halted, waiting for the red light to turn. A voice emerged from a blur of yellow: ‘Howard? It is Howard, isn’t it?’ I had time now to take in that fair face, to recognise the features and that voice. A voice of a singular quality, a soft voice, with a sweet self-echo, as of a bell. I knew that voice.
‘Hello, Camilla.’ My voice would have carried surprise and delight.
‘Where are you heading, Howard?’
I indicated.
‘Me too,‘ she said, ‘I’m headed to St Lucy’s to pick up Joe.’
Our ways were the same and we rode together and caught up on the events of ten years: the growth of her son Joe (one of my babies), the decline and deaths of her parents and mine; and the premature loss of a brother, in each case only a little older than ourselves.
 
 
I told Camilla about Dennis. I mentioned the regret, my uncompleted mission, that marked my time with Dennis and that surfaces years after his dying, in my dreams. When I spoke of my brother’s dying Camilla’s face fell. Her voice a deeper bell.
 
‘I lost a brother too. I loved him.’ Camilla’s voice thrilled and her face shone as she spoke of her brother. ‘His name was Tom. He was a twin. He lived to forty-nine then he died. I don’t know what of. He was disabled. I loved him. We spoke on the phone every day. Every single day.’
‘What was his disability, Camilla?’
A smile, a half shrug: ‘Do you know, I can’t say exactly what he had and I don’t know what he died of. I suppose now you’d call it cerebral palsy. He was born with it. He was just my brother and we loved each other. We were together every day as children, back in the Mallee. Then I left and studied and moved interstate, but it was still the same. We spoke every day. I loved him. Often we’d speak a few times in the one day.
‘Tom was the second twin, you know. Second twins are often sicker…but you’d know all about that.’
I wondered about Tom’s disability: ’Was it physical or intellectual, or both?’
‘It was both. Do you know, I’m buying the old family home. In the Mallee. It’s a sentimental thing, a bit silly really.’ Camilla laughed: I’m buying out the other twin. I want the house. Tom and I lived in it, Tom lived there all his life.’
 
We arrived at St Lucy’s. Children thronged in the grounds, ignoring the scores of parents who waited outside. They played and shouted and pushed and grabbed each other in the high spirits of the coming holiday, while Lucy’s eyes searched for Joe and my mind played on brothers loved and lost. On a brother who called me every day, often two, three times a day.
 
Shouting goodbyes children drifted from the gates to their parents. A tall child, erect and fair, came into view. He greeted Camilla in a sweet voice, soft, with a sort of self echo.
 
 
 
[I wish readers variously a joyous Shushan Purim, a holy Easter, and always, always – happy concatenation.]

2 thoughts on “Happy Concatenation

Let me know what you think

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s