Tuesday 27 September 2005
My nephew, Gerard Farry, got married a couple of years ago in Wellington and they send me, not an invitation, but a demand that I attend. You see Richard, I am not only Gerard’s blood uncle, I am also his godfather and his late mother’s twin brother. With all that pedigree I felt assured of a good table at the reception.
We had a great time and I was called upon to make a speech. I had mentioned to Clare, Gabriel’s wife, that I intended speaking mainly about my late sister, Rona. She fully understood. I started with ‘When we arrived in Wellington airport there was a security scare on. I asked one of the security staff what was going on. He replied that some Lebanese people were flying in from all over! Also the mass was celebrated at St Gerards. This showed my nephew Gerard’s influence as the church had been closed for a few years prior to this event. The fact that his new wife’s name is Gabrielle didn’t do any harm with his father, also Gabriel – pretty sneaky.
Now I want to say a few words about Gerard’s mother, the late ‘Ravishing Rona from Roxburgh’. That was her nickname. Although we were not identical twins, we had terrific empathy that extended to carrying on a conversation with each other across a crowded room by just looking at each other. We attended the same school. Rona got dux and I got expelled! When she and Gabriel were courting, I could tell when he kissed her because I immediately got pins and needles on my face. I told Gabriel that if I developed a sore back, I was going to tell my father.
I really miss my twin sister. She was such a strong identity from Carroll Street. Two episodes that particularly come to mind occurred when she travelled overseas.
In a sophisticated and stylish bar in Dallas, Texas, she ordered a shandy. The bewildered barman responded – ‘That’s a new one on me lady. What’s in it?
Rona answered – ‘Beer and lemonade. The barman laughed and said he would do his best. The other happy memory I have of her travels was once when she was in New York she asked Gabriel to go down to the lobby of their hotel to see if they sold the Southland Times. So Rona could leave home but home could never leave her. She remained a bit of a hillbilly.
This ended my speech and was accompanied by some applause but more tears than I wish to remember.