From young child with dreams to old man with wisdom

From young child with dreams to old man with wisdom

From young child with dreams to old man with wisdom

Imagine you are very old, and you are travelling back in time, as a child, as an adult, and as a senior — Frank Upfill, octogenarian and member of June’s Writing Clan, takes us on a ride: 

“How did you go at golf today?” Before I can answer, my friend Annette adds, “You are almost 90 now, and still playing golf.” “Yes, and still loving it,” I reply, with emphasis. It is the suggestion that irks me. It sounds as if the idea of playing competitive sport in my eighties is something rare or unusual.

Annette places a cup of coffee in front of me and my mind drifts back to when I was a lad in the inner Melbourne of Richmond in the 1950s. When I was at primary school the teachers encouraged us youngsters to play sport. Cricket was popular at the school as well as in the street where we lived. Footy was played down at the park, but I was keen to attend a weekly session at a gymnastic club, as well as going to the beach for a swim during the summer holidays.

Sport dominated my life as a youngster. If there was nobody to play with, I would borrow my sister’s tennis racquet and bang a ball against a brick factory wall which was at the end of the street where we lived. I don’t see many children doing that nowadays. I always looked forward to going to the gym. I admired the club champion gymnast, who was much older than myself. I thought it would be a good thing to be skilled at gymnastics, to try and master the six different apparatus. But in my mind, even to aim to be like the club champion, was a dream beyond all expectations.

A trip to Mildura with my father during school holidays, awakened in me a desire to travel. The truck ride was the first time I had left the big city of Melbourne. I was fascinated by the country towns we drove through; also, I enjoyed the variety of scenery in the countryside, especially as we headed north into the dry, arid regions of Victoria.

As an adult, a relationship with my dearest friend broke up as she headed off to Europe. I was lost, angry and confused. In time I recovered emotionally and realized that there was an opportunity to start a new life somewhere else. I chose Canada.

During the mid-1960s, in the Province of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, there was a building boom and a labour shortage. Within a week of arriving in Vancouver I got a job and decided to stay. I loved Canada and the great outdoors. While I worked as a bricklayer on construction sites throughout the province, there were many national parks, such as Jasper, Banff, and Radium Hot Springs, within easy reach to visit and explore. I felt, at last, I was achieving some long-awaited travel goals that I had dreamed of as a youth.

Feeling confident, I decided to have a European holiday with another Australian friend. We visited France and Italy, then he went north to Germany, and I to Greece. On the way to Athens, I met a young Italian lady and we travelled together. Each of us had different plans for the future. I wanted to return to Australia or Canada, but my new friend was not interested in either country.

Although we got along well and discussed many things, we had come to an important crossroad in our lives. A decision had to be made, even though it was difficult. Finally, after much heart wrenching, we parted. For a foreigner in Italy, there was no prospect of work. The future there looked grim for me. At that time many thousands of people were unemployed in the north but mainly in the south of the country. I was determined to return to Australia.

After returning to Melbourne, I decided to pick up my old sporting interests of cross-country running and gymnastics. During that year 1969, I had realized another childhood ambition and became the top gymnast at Saint Stephens Gymnastic Club. With youthful sporting and travel desires realized, cultural matters became important in my life.

One day a friend introduced me to the Bungalow Café in Drysdale, on the Bellarine Peninsula. I thought it a strange name for a coffee place. As a child growing up in the suburb of Richmond and living in a small single fronted timber house, my parents built in the front veranda to use as a bedroom for their two boys. This was my understanding of a bungalow.

The Drysdale Bungalow has taken on a new perspective for me as an old man. It has brought back many youthful memories. From a child wanting impossible aims to do and to achieve. “Alright,” I said to this child, in my mind, “Be different to your older self, go and do what you desire, then you will have no regrets.”

My father thought travel was a waste of time and money. I disagreed. I imagined travel was an opportunity to experience new people, places, and lifestyles other than your own. As an old man today, I still believe this to be true.

  • June’s Writing Clan meets twice each month, at the Leopold Community Hub, and at The Bungalow Cafe, Drysdale, on the Bellarine Peninsula.
June Alexander

About June Alexander

All articles by June Alexander

As founder of Life Stories Diary my prime motivation is to connect with people who want to share their story. Why? Because your story is important. My goal with this blog is to provide a platform for you to share your story with others. Building on the accomplishments of The Diary Healer the Life Stories Diary blog will continue to be a voice for people who have experienced an eating disorder, trauma or other mental health challenge, and provide inspiration through the narrative, to live a full and meaningful life.

My nine books about eating disorders focus on learning through story-sharing. Prior to writing books, which include my memoir, I had a long career in print journalism. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing), researching the usefulness of journaling and writing when recovering from an eating disorder or other traumatic experience.
Today I combine my writing expertise with life experience to help others self-heal. Clients receive mentoring in narrative techniques and guidance in memoir-writing. I also share my editing expertise with people who are writing their story and wish to prepare it to publication standard. I encourage everyone to write their story. Your story counts!
Contact me: Email and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

One Response

  1. Jennifer says:

    Loved Frank’s story

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