There Go The Dependents

‘There go the dependents.’ My gorgeous  blonde, deeply tanned friend, Di, kept jogging on the spot as she glanced towards the van driving past- her mouth slightly pursed in frustration, though her eyes betrayed her maternal indulgence.

‘How many are you up to now?’

‘Well I think there might have been one or two extra bodies in there. How many heads did you see?’

‘I think there were 5 heads and six hands. I didn’t have time to count the boards on the roof.’

‘Maybe they picked little Joshie up on the way. He loves hanging with the big boys. Dan came over to ask Rick what sort of wetsuit he should get for Joshie’s  5th birthday and we had one his size out in the shed, so we gave him that. He looks so cute with his little kickboard under his arm when they all head off together.’

‘It looked as if Adam was driving. When did he get his license?’

‘Last week, so it means he wants to drive everyone everywhere now. We have to watch him. Though it’s kind of good- he can drive himself to TAFE now and he drops the others off at school. Jed is going to St Pats now. His bloody mother rang the other day. What a cheek. She took off and left him over a year ago-left the kid to sleep on the street, so I didn’t have much choice when Adam brought him home.’

Where’ve they been’

“Just down to Black Rocks. The surf came up pretty suddenly so they all dropped what they were doing and took off. I think they must have picked up a couple of spares on the way. So much for getting the lawn mown, and the dishes washed, and the car fixed- who’d be married to a self employed mechanic when he’d rather go surfing than anything else, and, of course he’s infected the kids?

‘He’s just a big kid himself, isn’t he? He told me yesterday that he’d come second in the Masters up at Coolie over the weekend. Sounded pretty pleased with himself too.’

‘Yes, the kids were rapt. Rick has actually been training pretty hard, though he’s left it a bit late to turn pro.’

‘Well, the family who surfs together, stays together.  I really appreciated him coming down this morning to jump start my car. Still don’t know what was wrong but he fiddled round under the bonnet and it’s fine now. I’ll transfer some money over later. He needs to charge us for the stuff he does. What about you. How’s your training going? When do you take off for Kokoda?

‘Don’t worry about money- I still owe you for that bed you gave us for Jed. I’m pretty tired. Ran 30ks yesterday and I’ve just ridden up to the Gold Coast and back, I guess that’s about 100ks.’

‘Makes me tired even looking at you. Are you coming to Vic’s birthday tonight?’

“Wouldn’t miss it. We’ll all be there. What do we need to bring?’

‘Everyone is bringing stuff to share so whatever you think. I went up to Woolies before and got a cake for $2- thought that would go down well with Vic’s ‘depression era’ life. I had a bit of a hassle trying to find candles for a 90 year old, though. I had to toss up between 3 x 30, or a 50 and a forty, then Jenny in the newsagents, found a nine and a zero out the back, bless her, and gave them to me for nothing, She said there aren’ t that many fit, healthy 90 year olds around, and the amount of stuff Vic does for the community is an inspiration, so she was honoured to be able to help- I thought that was pretty nice.’

‘Yes, he’s amazing. The kids just love him and he sets such a good example. My lot all go off and help him with dunecare and he comes with us every Wednesday to do cooking for the homeless. He’s just wonderful  with all of them, and his stamina is amazing . What about a present?’ ‘

‘A few of us decided we’d chuck in a few dollars each and get him something that he really wants,  so Joan called Tess. Sorry I didn’t have a chance to call you but we had to move pretty quickly. Tess was having a good day, thank goodness, and Vic wasn’t home, so she could talk. He gets worried about her talking to us now her Alzheimer’s is starting to kick in big time. I’ve no idea why, she’s still as feisty as she’s always been. They finally figured out that he needs a set of headphones for the TV. So I was going to go up and buy some until Gail walked past a couple of hours ago. She’s just had to put her Dad into a home and she’d just bought him a set that he now can’t use, so we’ll buy those from her – even though she doesn’t want any money- and give them to him.’

‘Sounds terrific. I’d better run and see if the boys are organised. Let me know if there’s anything else you think of.’

‘I’d better get home too. I need to have a shower, make some salads  and pack everything up. Oh, can you call into Karen’s on the way past and remind her to bring her cake decoration stuff so we can put a few finishing touches to the cake when we get there. See you in half an hour.’

As the whole community converged on the barbeque area at the local caravan park, some of the blokes fired the barbies up, others grabbed the little kids and headed off to the playground for a swing, Karen decorated the cake and the rest of us unpacked enough food to feed an army, the shout went up,’ here they come’. As Tess’ walker appeared around the corner a cheer of ‘Happy Birthday Vic,’ went up and his craggy face lit up like a beacon.

I glanced over to see the indulgent look flit across Di’s face again as she said ‘Look at Rick- I told him to make sure the kids weren’t creating any hassles in the playground so he’s sitting on the swing. He really is just a big kid,’ as they all ran back towards us with a ‘can we borrow $4 to go and have a game of pool?’

As I opened my mouth to say ‘$4, are you kidding. Back in my day it used to be 40cents a game.’ But deciding that wisdom means keeping it shut I just rummaged in my purse and handed it over. Vic’s quavering voice rose up ‘Just a minute boys. I’d like to say a few words’as he made a little speech about how much he appreciated all of us.  AS the boys headed off to check the barbie, I remarked,

almost to myself, ‘I’m not sure who’s dependent on who ,here.’