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Mum and the monkey

06/03/2014

My Mum’s the monkey lady. Everyone says so.

She doesn’t mind though. They’re not commenting on her Aboriginality like when she was at school and everyone called her ‘Lubra Lips’. Mum’s pretty sensitive to what other people say about her, but “monkey lady” is fine. Because she’s got a monkey. And it sings. Well, she does really, but it sure seems like the monkey does even though it’s just made out of rags.

She’s multi-talented you know. A painter, sculptor, choir singer, ukulele player, folk dancer, art teacher and ventriloquist. How she picked all of that up while spending most of her life working her guts out trying to make a living is a mystery to me. Teaching and selling art helped, but most of the time she was working long hours in low paid menial jobs that would have busted my chops and destroyed my soul. You know the sort. Women’s work. They were usually jobs that brought her into contact with the public though and when she stuck with them she generally ended up in a teaching or training role. Mum always was a people person, even when she was up to her elbows in dead animals at Gosford abattoirs.

But sometime around her seventieth birthday she got smart. She found a boyfriend who is not only well off but a nice guy. That’s two firsts in her life. So now she spends her days relaxing and sipping sweet wine in their big Queenslander house on an island in Moreton Bay. Not.

When you’ve spent over half a century working non-stop, often in multiple jobs at once, only to see your earnings squandered by ne’er do well partners you don’t just call a halt and kick back in an easy chair. Yeah, Mum takes advantage of her new found financial security to travel the world. She’s not stupid. But she’s still pretty much flat out and I guess she will be until they lay her out flat.

When she’s not supervising the care of her Mum, my Nan, in the old folk’s home she was manipulated into or taking her out to see what the world outside Death’s reception rooms looks like she’s painting or drawing or sculpting or singing or helping out her boyfriend with his housebuilding business. She’s almost always doing it for someone else. She even takes her choir group around to Nan’s granny prison to entertain the inmates.

Like so many other people who have been locked away, Nan has discovered an unexpected talent for writing. And who do you think illustrates the books she writes? You guessed it. My Mum. If I ever get my act together and write a book like my family members keep nagging me to do it will be Mum I’ll turn to for the cover art.

I think Mum would like to hang out with the rich and fatuous but it never really works out that way. When she sails or flies off to a tropical paradise she always seems to find herself surrounded by poor indigenous kids who she nurtures and entertains. Old habits die hard I guess.

If you check out this YouTube clip (apologies to my Pakistani followers – if you want to watch it say so in the comments or drop me an email and I’ll see what I can do) you will hear about one of the many pet projects Mum has on the boil, collecting eyeglasses to donate to impoverished islanders. You will also hear her sing and see what she can do with a ventriloquist’s dummy. She sure loves that dummy. Did I say old habits die hard?

I guess Mum just can’t help herself, she’s a natural nurturer. Still looking after kids, adults and stuffed monkeys well into her eighth decade. She even looks after her own Mum now. I only wish she wouldn’t treat her like a stuffed dummy too.

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4 Comments
  1. The Monkey Lady is dynamic! I can see why she’s popular

    Like

  2. Rexie permalink

    This things is doing a great round on the internet Cabrogal. Have a look: http://davidbruceblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/brooke-mom-letter.png

    Like

    • Aww, that’s so sweet.

      Like

      • Rexie permalink

        Your awww is fine but you got to show this to your Mum get one from her. And in case she likes this, I am alright if you tell her I showed this awwwsome piece to you ūüėÄ

        Like

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