I grew up with my brother and sisters and nearby farm bred cousins and neighbours doing more or less what we liked. We built and sailed rafts on creeks and dams, hunted rabbits, tried to outwit recalcitrant ponies, sheep and cattle and drove tractors, utes and cars from the age of five or six.
Admittedly culture was limited to Superman and the Argonauts on the radio and irregular films at Mortlake's Soldiers’ Memorial Hall and the Warrnambool drive in. But we were blissfully happy and no “better” called out to me.
When I married Monica at the age of 32, I know I gave no particular thought to better or worse because I had not really experienced worse. Still haven't really, because I am quite happy and contented almost wherever I am.
For much of our married life we bred and brought up three children from a crummy farmhouse on a small farm between Benalla and Shepparton. I and I think the kids were perfectly content and they ran almost as wild as I had a few decades earlier.
But my wife wanted a better house and eventually that was a factor in our separation and divorce.
Just yesterday I had a long conversation in the street with a 94 year old man who used to live five or six kilometres down the road from us on the Broken River and is now in my street. As an ex journo I tend to pry a little and I asked him what it was like to be 94.
He said it had taken him by surprise to the extent that he was quite pleased his body was still functioning reasonably well; I gathered his advanced age had sort of crept up on him.
He walks past my place every morning but he did say his legs aren't work as well as they used to. His wife who he clearly misses, died 11 years ago and last year he ran over and killed his beloved 12 year old terrier dog.
But he is content and I don't think he wishes for a “better” either, because he too has not really experienced a worse despite war service in the RAAF.
So to me for better or worse is an extreme phrase and I guess designed to be so.
But for many people again like me, it's the comfortable middle ground which is reality and for that I am truly grateful.
Monday September 21, 2015.