Wit, Wisdom and Compassion
I had to meet with three older Aboriginal women in a Pilbara town. When I found them, we sat and yarned for a while as a way of breaking the ice. I was telling them my personal and family background and that I’d lived in the Kimberley. At one point I mentioned Fitzroy Crossing and some of the people I knew there.
“Yes, I like him too.” I was going to continue but she was quicker.
“My mother been in Pissroy Horspital,” she told me.
“I’m sorry. I hope she is okay.”
“She been real old one, traditional womans, but they look after her good way.”
After silence, I was about to resume my story but again, she got in first.
“Yeh, I been in Pissroy and take her to Pissroy Horspital. Nurse lady, she say to mother, ‘Name!‘ Mother give skin name, big long one, and nurse lady don’t know what she say. Nurse lady look at me and say, ‘uh?’”
“I say to mother, ‘Give English name mother, not skin one‘.”
“Oh, yeh, okay. Muriel.”
“Nurse lady write him down, then arks mother, ‘surname?’”
“Mother look at me and say, ‘uh?’”
“I say, ‘old boy been Bruce, but what been other name for him, Mother?’”
“Oh, yeh, Smith.”
“Nurse lady write him down, then arks mother, ‘date of birth?’”
“Mother look at me again and say, ‘uh?’”
“I say, ‘She arks when you been born, Mother?’”
“‘Oh,’ Mother say. ‘You know, when that big storm and flood happen and knock down all them trees.‘”