I don’t know how memory works. What is going on in the brain. Are there cells that are like the memory on my hard drive, or is something magic happening. And does it get stored in ‘the Cloud’?
Since Ian died I suppose I have been letting the ideas of aging and dying creep forward into the front of my thoughts. I’m not getting morbid, don’t think that, but I guess at 73 it is understandable.
So I was thinking about things and all of a sudden – I mean like a bolt of lightning – I started thinking of Papa Borg. I can see his lounge room and the front of the house on Warrigal Road. I don’t think I ever went further into the house.
Papa Borg was old. At least he was old then. He was probably, if the truth be known, a lot younger than I am now. Papa Borg had a daughter. She was very interesting because I had never before met or even got to know a girl who wasn’t a white Anglo-Saxon protestant. The Borgs were Egyptian. I don’t know if they were part of the great Jewish diaspora but with a name like that, probably.
I don’t think I have ever been made to feel more welcome and comfortable in any house. It wasn’t because here was a young Australian boy who would take our daughter off our hands. We weren’t ‘an item’ – I was a friend and became Papa Borg’s friend long after I stopped seeing his daughter. I do not even remember her name.
But one day she rang me and said, “This week-end it is my father’s birthday and I am sure he would love to see you.”
What do I get an old man for a gift? I worried over that for the next few days and then I knew. Papa Borg loved to sit in front of the television set watching symphony orchestras. From start to finish. And he would conduct. So one my lunch break from work I went down to Halls’ Music Store in Elizabeth Street and I purchased a conductor’s baton.
On Sunday I knocked on the door and was welcomed as usual. And I gave him his gift. It was very embarrassing. He stood up and hugged me and cried great big real tears. I had never seen any man cry. Never.
Then he put a symphony on the Gramophone and made me, and the rest of the family, sit and watch him as he conducted. It was bliss.
It is a memory I am happy to have back again.