Parting Threads

CHAPTER 26 – Parting Threads: Last Years in New Zealand

Clarissa graduated with a BA in 1993 and soon immigrated to Australia. We were now a one-child family with Rosalind, whose school years filled the decade. Simon married Jane and he built a home in Waiuku. And then, Dominic married Kylie in Australia in 1997 and soon Gabriel, our second grandson was born. Our nephew, Damien, and Emma married in Christchurch the next year: these three weddings reinforced family contacts. And to end the decade, we had our first trip to Italy in 1999.

Life at home was dominated by computer programming, keeping up with Rosalind’s piano and ballet and academic successes, and school holiday visits to Australia and Waiuku. The frequent trips to family sowed the seeds of our possible retirement to Australia.

By the end of the 1990s, many threads of my life had started to come together, but  many had started to unravel. Gone was the dream of success in computer programming or in having faith in the future of computing teaching. Without the presence of Dominic’s expert, enthusiastic sky observations, my interest with the telescope gradually died. Slowly, the pressure to conform to modernism as an Art History teacher was starting to throw doubts on how long I could continue teaching with any effective enthusiasm.

Parish life in Hastings had lost its vitality. Ad hoc solutions to the problems set by increasing Modernism made it all worse. No-one was listening. We were feeling quite isolated. Same old, same old… Trapped.

What was new was our introduction to being parents of a very gifted student: Rosalind. By the end of secondary school, Rosalind’s academic achievements were truly outstanding. Besides being drawn into the world of physics, chemistry and maths, we attended Rosalind’s piano recitals, and through these, we entered the world of classical music, of visiting piano trios, and string quartets. At last, I again entered that long, lost world of music, hidden by the demands of career and popular pressure. At last, I might just learn the cello again. I, at last, felt strong enough in myself, to say goodbye to the expectations of the modern world.

By 2000, this new found strength supported me in my last few years at school. The oldest teacher. Successful in his teaching and administration roles. But a hide-bound conservative, seeing change after change come and go, like the waves of the sea, but the smoothed rocks remain.

And yet, a discernable change was taking place in school and parish. People were searching for rock-like stability. The experiments of the 1960s generation were slowly just starting to die. The new headmaster at college wanted traditional, stable structures established for the boys. The later pontificate of John Paul II expressed itself in half-hearted, traditional rearguard actions, later to be reinforced by Benedict XVI. The future was going to be very interesting indeed.

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