When I was a child we used to spend Easter at my grandparents’ holiday cottage north of Geraldton. My mother is one of five, so the small house was always jam packed with a number of families, and the overflow slept in tents in the front yard.
Days fell into a pattern; going down to the beach after breakfast to swim and run the net for mullet, then pulling the craypots, with enough time for a quiet afternoon nap, before watching my grandfather rig up the hooks to head off to another beach for the early evening’s fishing.
The familiar rhythm of eating, fishing and sleeping was punctuated with playing with my cousins or finding a patch of sun with a book.
It was a time of rest and peace, a time of not having to worry about anything. Even as teenagers, we didn’t have to think about much, as the rhythm of the days created little angst, and our only responsibility was to carry the cray-bag or my grandfather’s gaff.
My grandfather passed away in August last year, and this Easter we all went up to the cottage again. Once more a number of families crammed into that little cottage, and tents dotted the yard.
I expected it to be quite an emotional time, and as expected it was a bitter-sweet time of remembering and mourning. But what I hadn’t expected was the very real sense of the changing of the guard. My uncle suddenly took on my grandfather’s role of directing the day’s fishing. He was the one teaching the son-in-laws how to fillet fish. He was the one standing on the beach and sending the city bred next generation in “further and deeper”.
We all had our kids up there together for the first time this year, and suddenly my sister and I had to organise the Easter egg hunt. Which marked another changing of the guard, a very real sense that it wasn’t about us any more but the next generation.
Those few days were a time of teaching our children how to watch the waves, of teaching them the path through the dunes and the rocks, a very tangible change of focus, we were not the youngest generation anymore, it was them.
It was a wonderful time of memory for me, but also a reminder that I need to step up and take on the responsibility I have now. I cannot continue to go up to the cottage and expect people to look out for me. I need to take on board the fact that now my role is to look after and educate others.
Passing the baton requires that the person ahead of you is willing to pass it on. But it also requires that you are willing to step up and take hold of the next level of responsibility.