The title 98 refers to an age. There are 3 people at work in our long term wards that are this age. I thought I would talk about one of them , the eldest one. He is a tiny little bloke with character. Mr E.
He is a real talker and spins great yarns, true ones. He has all his marbles which is an achievement for someone of his age, something to be proud of.
Mr E. has lived most of his life in Junee and the surrounding district. He worked in the rural industry, as a farmer, stockman, and a cane cutter in Qld which he can spin a yarn about too. Reminds me of a character out of the play "The Summer of the 17th Doll".
He also says he knows where you can find gold in the hills around Gundagi from old mining sites that were worked and abandoned years ago. There was lots of it around the district in the old days. A local legend tells of a farmer known in the district, who when he runs short of money, finds another nugget to keep himself going, but won't say from where or how it came.
We had his wife in hospital for a while before she died and he would visit her nearly every day.
He loves to read the newspapers, yes he can still see well enough to do that, and follows the football, tennis and cricket and loves a bet on the horsies too.
Mr E. told me a story about one of his favourite christmas times which I thought was lovely. He was a young man in the 30's and went droving a big mob of sheep up in the mountains behind Talbingo. There were no roads up there then and it was, and still is, steep wild mountain country. He told me about his dogs and workmates accompaning him and how he remembers how hot and dry it was that day. He even remembers the number of sheep, I can't though. Then he packed up to camp for the night the cook got them all a bottle of beer which was cold and they drank it together around the fire. A special christmas treat. They used to put the bottles in the creek to cool them and he said no beer ever tasted better. If you know that area the water can be freezing. Free refrigeration. Fridge space. They got home the next day to Mum and family. I can't remeber where he said.
We have had some great people in our hospital at times. Many were able to tell their stories as part of our recent australian history. I love hearing them and regret that their stories fade away with them.
It is really great that he knows and remembers everyone and how their inter-relationships mesh together around the town. His second cousin is in our hospital and is just a few months younger than he is. They grew up and went to school together and he goes to visit her in her room and they talk for ages and hold hands. So cute.
I was talking to him today and saying we haven't had a patient reach 100 years old in our hospital in all the years I have been there, and a long time before that. It is his birthday in June. I hope he makes the 100 mark in a couple of years.
Another man who we had living in the hospital for a year or so was the son of pioneering people who had a guest house in the mountains at Yarrangobilly caves. The guest house has recently been renovated and has reopened after many years of disrepair and use as national park offices. It was the social center for the area in the old days as the area was sparsely populated and isolated. He met and married his wife on Kiandra goldfields where she grew up. Kiandra goldfields is no more than an archaeological site nowdays, and a base for national parks and wildlife roadworks. But is still considered as the highest town in Australia.
He used to talk about his grandfather walking across the desert pushing a wheel barrow containing all his worldly goods to go prospecting for gold in Western Australia. Amazing. Dear old man.
Aren't old people great. I wonder if my mind will be in order at that age to tell my stories. Probably not, knowing how I forget things now.