Chris Rees
Sydney, 1961. Burnie 1976.

She kneels down with a balled up tissue in her hand
Spits in it, wipes my chin
I smell lipstick and tobacco
Catch my leg in the spokes of her wheel

Sydney, New Years Eve of 1961. Dad was a Tasmanian state school teacher doing a swing up the east coast with a couple of mates. Mum was a Catholic bank clerk working in Martin Place. After their first encounter, Dad sent Mum a postcard “from a pubbo in Dubbo”.

Occasionally the school organised excursions to Sydney, and Dad would volunteer. Mum remembers going to the pictures with Dad and dozens of his rubbernecking students. Later she came to Tasmania on holiday with a girlfriend, drove around seeing the sights in a Morris Minor, and met Dad’s parents.

For a time Mum had just one picture of Dad that he had sent her; his footy team photo, done in the old single-file style. He was a ruck rover for South Burnie. She’d tell everyone “He’s the one with the bandaged hand”.

They courted mostly by post, and in 1965 were married at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. Dad was C of E, but they were allowed to marry in a Catholic church as long as Dad agreed that the kids would be brought up as Catholics. My parents look like movie stars in their wedding photo. Their eyes sparkle and they look so happy and excited.