The Publican’s Daughter took approximately two years to complete. I have no idea how many hours that would equate to as I sat sifting through, not just my Mother’s diaries, (which incidentally covered the events in her life in meticulous detail), but her many stories and wonderful poems that have been included, which I feel adds a depth and added value to any reader of her story.
It has been a project that has been very close to my heart, as I came to learn more about my relatives, some of whom I have never met. It also clarified situations in my life that perhaps I never fully understood, or realize the huge impact that it was to have throughout my life.
Having immigrated to Australia when I was ten years old my fondest memories of England would always be Dymchurch where we spent our summer holidays with our Grandmother and Aunt Ethel. Idyllic days, where we were `spoilt’ with the luxury of a beach on our doorstep, and lots of fun things to do. With the added luxury of sitting on Auntie Ethel’s bed every morning to hear her `stories’. Gran was in her sixties at that time, certainly a force to be reckoned with however, although strict we adored her.
I don’t remember what it was like living at the Princess of Wales, or Aslett Street, my first memories was our home at Crawley. I was lucky of course not to have remembered those earlier years, as it was obviously a time of great turmoil in our family’s life.
Coming to Australia, although an adventure, was a `wrenching’ experience for someone of that age. Leaving what I had come to know as `normal’ and embarking on a journey to the `unknown’ was certainly unsettling.
Fifty years later I have a family of my own, two children and dare I say five grandchildren. Australia is my home, but I still think of England as being my second home, although I haven’t been back since the early 70s. It is time I feel to embark on that long awaited holiday and enjoy places that I have never seen, and those that I have fond memories of in my home country.
Over those two years, I have come to have a greater understanding of mother June, of her feelings about past family occurrences and how she dealt with her `lot’ throughout what at times was quite a tumultuous life.
We became a lot closer in that time, as with the passing of my Father in December 2011, and her own health dilemmas, I spent a lot more time with her. We would talk, or should I say my Mother talked, but what she had to say was interesting as she related tales of family members.
It would have been impossible to have included `every detail’ in The Publican’s Daughter, as right up to the end of her life more `snippets’ of information came to light, however I have had to put my foot down and say “No more”, “the book is complete”.
June’s story is told in four parts, but in all it covers over a century of the Powell/Pegram exploits, which can be retold due the incredible capacity of my mother to put her memories into words. She was truly an incredible character.