About a year ago my wife Eva and a friend of hers, Danny Finley started working on a program designed to tackle loneliness through intergenerational contact. Kids are paired with older people in their community through contact between schools and aged care institutions. This is all developed with local communities, the first cab off the rank being Shepparton. A range of activities are ensuing, including story telling leading to the building of online oral histories, the teaching of recipes and cooking, dancing and the ‘reverse mentoring’ of computer literacy. It’s origin in the first of these initiatives is captured in Danny’s fantastic name for it – I Wish I’d Asked.
There’s growing enthusiasm from local institutions including Rotary, the local council and Latrobe Uni which has a campus there.
Anyway, the trigger for this post was Eva showing me some poems from Eileen Torney who is her 80s and lives in Shepparton Villages – a fantastically good aged care provider in Shepp. I liked them and reproduce them below:
Generations of work and expertise
had been repaid the farm was doing well
my mother decided I should board
at Genazzano a prestigious Convent school where her Aunt Mary was a nun
not one who taught but a humble cook and cleaner pious unworldly subservient
at the bottom of their clearly defined pecking order
Dressed in our best clothes
we visited Aunt Mary and in the stylish parlour
my mother announced that she wished to enrol me
and Aunt Mary went to fetch the Mother Superior
who refused to come
We cater for the rich was the message she sent
send her to Vaucluse our cheaper school
in vain my mother argued that she could pay the fees
she thought that was what being rich meant
Your home would not be suitable
if she invited friends (though she had never seen it)
send her to Vaucluse
As I rise in the mornings my cat demands her treat she is a registered vet-checked and privileged cat. Outside the glass door a stray meows and pleads an illegal refugee but I couldn’t let it starve
I poke a tray of pellets through the door and close it again tell it I run a soup kitchen not an adoption agency.
I call one cat Genazzano
and the other one Vaucluse.
This video was not filmed in Shepparton and has nothing directly to do with I Wish I’d Asked, but it would be fun if it could be brought off!