Ever time I hear a person talking about a happy childhood I am prone to a feeling of envy. I did not grow up with a father and mother and siblings. Actually, I knew only one of my grandparents, also until I was four years of age.
I attended Villa Maria with my brother Basil, two years older than me, and 24 other children until I was ten. After that, another two years on my own. It can't be said that we grew up together because we rarely related. He mixed with an older group of kids, I with the younger ones. I recall that, in about 1939, when Infantile Paralysis was an epidemic, Basil was a victim. He was sitting down eating his dinner one day and when he went to move, his legs wouldn't function. A couple of the senior kids had to lift hims from his chair and carry him back to the class room. Thence forward he was carried everywhere - to the toilet, to the dining room, to the class room, to bed. How long this went on I don't know. From memory he was well again at school holiday time, so this procedure didn't have to be followed at Swanwater. To the best of my knowledge Basil never suffered any later ill effects.
In 1947, ten years after my mother's death, all the siblings met at brother John's house in Prahran. Apart from Basil, they were all married and so had their own lives to lead. We met infrequently and never afterwards functioned as a family.
In my late 20's I boarded with my brother John and his family for two years. These were two of the happiest years of my live.
Thank God I now have a family of my own. I try to make up for what I have missed. My family are not as close by as I would wish but I am in contact with all of them at least once a week.