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Song 55

from by Bill Hunt

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about

Some years ago I, along with some other immediate family members, met my Grandma (my father's mother) at a picnic area near the bridge over the Hawkesbury River just outside Windsor.
Grandma, Grandpa and my aunts had remained in and around Melbourne while we had moved to New South Wales when I was still a child. My father's parents were both great travellers and clocked up many thousands of miles around the country in a light-brownish Holden station wagon before my grandfather died.
Now in the company of one of my aunts and a niece, this was to be Grandma's last road trip, and the last time I would see her alive.
It was a cool day, thankfully with just enough sun to provide some comforting warmth for her old, and my not-so-old bones. Grandma was frail and in a wheelchair and for some reason I took it upon myself to whisk her off for a "walk" along a pathway from which the sluggish brown waters of the river could be seen below.
I'm not much of a one for even small groups, maybe I just wanted to get away.
At some point along the way I realised It was unlikely I'd see my grandmother again. I impulsively began to apologise for all the times I hadn't called or visited when I'd been in Melbourne over the years but she didn't seem to care for my apologies.
"It doesn't matter," she said. "Nobody's perfect, you do what you can do."
I was unsatisfied with such an easy let-off. All the guilt I'd felt for so many years was for nothing. Such a waste.
It was how I imagine it would feel to be sent home from confession with no "Hail Marys" because your sins simply weren't up to scratch.
I refused to be absolved, I started to detail some of my (lesser) crimes against society, hoping she would see her error and at least mete out such punishment as her frail body was capable of delivering from the confines of a wheelchair.
Instead, to my dismay, she countered my arguments with some stories of her own, admittedly from during the war when one's moral compass could be excused for not always pointing out the "right" way to behave.
"It was different then," she offered by way of explanation for what were her very minor infractions, which involved little more than cigarettes and stockings, but which left me nonetheless a little shell-shocked. Grandma always seemed so proper to me. Maybe we were not so different after all.
I gave up and walked on in silence, feeling as we reached the next-to-last turn in the path a growing anxiety at the prospect of the inevitable.
"I love you grandma," the words escaped my lips before I could turn them into an innocuous nicety - which I almost always prefer in conversation.
"I love you dear," her words seemed to float in the air.
I wanted to catch them, to breathe them in but my breath caught in my throat and my eyes filled with stupid water and I was glad she couldn't see me that way, but now as I write I wish she had seen the water running down my face so she could know what her words had meant to me.
I quickly brushed away the tears with my shirt sleeve and walked on, thinking about anything but what had just occurred in order to regain control of myself.
As we rounded the final turn the breeze sent a shiver through the long blades of grass at the edge of the pathway as the sun cast lengthening shadows that would soon reach across the river.
"We'd better get going before the sun's gone and it gets any colder," I said.
Grandma stirred in her seat and lifted a few fingers of one hand in the direction of a brilliantly silhouetted stand of acacia growing along a fence line in the distance.
"What a beautiful day," she whispered.

lyrics

Some have a mad desire to succeed
Me I find it hard enough sometimes just to remember to clothe and feed myself
Sometimes, a bird outside my window sings, so fine
And I’d give anything to trade this bitter wine of life for wings
And fly, and fly

Presence of mind
Presence of mind
When everything’s so new to me
Your light comes shining through to me

There’s a place in my mind where I keep
All of the precious times, and sometimes just before I go to sleep I like to hit rewind
Sometimes I see you and me, so fine
And just for a moment all those slings and arrows don’t seem to mean a thing
They don’t mean a thing tonight

Presence of mind
Presence of mind
When everything seems so new to me
Your light comes shining through to me

When the passage of time is complete
There’ll be no more planets misaligned or fate to blame for my unfortunate designs
Don’t cry for me
Just pull up a seat beside me, I’ll say something stupid like I’ll see you on the other side then close my eyes and smile
And fly

Presence of mind
Presence of mind
When everything seems so new to me
Your light comes shining through to me

Some have a mad desire, to be free...

credits

from Upwey, released July 7, 2016
Song 55
Written by Bill Hunt

Bill Hunt: guitars, vocals and harmony vocals
Alex Burkoy: violin
Ash Davies: drums
Grant Cummerford: bass guitar
Kris Schubert: Piano, Hammond organ

Produced by Matt Walker and Bill Hunt
Recorded at The Shack, Upwey, Victoria; engineer: Rowan Matthews.
Mixed by Matt Walker and Rowan Matthews at The Shack.

Additional recording at The Boat Shed, O'Connell NSW.

Mastered by Rick O'Neil at Turtlerock Mastering, Leichhardt
NSW.

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Bill Hunt Sydney, Australia

Bill Hunt is a musician, songwriter and performer who lives in Sydney, Australia.

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