Before World War 1, my maternal grandmother migrated to Australia from Argentina with her widowed father and six of her siblings. She was the eldest of eleven children. Next, there were four boys, all of whom remained in Patagonia, and took over management of the cattle ranch from their father.
The impact this move must have had on Mathilde’s life! Previously accustomed to servants taking care of the chores, she was now obliged to care for her much younger siblings.
They travelled to Australia via Europe and South Africa. Mathilde had a romance with a ship’s doctor. But that’s all it was—a shipboard romance. A decade or so later she married my grandfather. His family, too, had come from Argentina.
It’s sad that the divided family on opposite sides of the world never saw each other again. I remember the letters my grandmother received from her brothers, nieces and nephews. I have one of their postcards.
The photograph here was taken at the estancia shortly before their separation. My grandmother is second on the left. They look very Argentinian—the boys with their guitars, the mate gourd and its bombilla (straw) being passed around in typical Argentine fashion.
I’ve twice visited Argentina, once with my mother. We were treated like royalty, with a never-ending round of social engagements. It’s been such a thrill to re-establish contact with our beautiful relatives. I immediately felt at home with them, even though we speak different languages.
I hope you enjoy discovering another piece of Australian history via my short story inspired by some of my ancestors’ experiences. There are so many accounts of bygone days waiting to be revealed. You never know what you might find by delving into your family background.
Threading Pearls is available for FREE by clicking this link https://www.bronwynhouldsworth.com/books
followed by the cover of the book. Enjoy.