Farewell, not goodbye to a special district

This photo was taken by a local fellow at the BEST Food Garden one day as I waited for children to cluster around the nest boxes and gather eggs.

Cleaning out my emails, I just found this image, and it was definitely me, waiting and thinking about the story unfolding before me, and how best to capture it.

From a vantage point of tables and chairs, a fence corner post, B-double loaded with round bales or lying on the ground as a town march for anti-violence or NAIDOC Week passed over me, the angles to both photograph and tell every story are many, and I have tried to accurately record each one.

My final day at The Inverell Times is this Monday, April 17, on board to meet a last print deadline. Then I’m moving on, still in the district, but approaching the community from another angle.

While every person has so many stories, each translated in their unique way, we all share a commonness of humanity.

 I have written about the expected – community events, council, the announcements of our politicians, and school news, but all along the way, extraordinary people have visited with me about their lives – when living to 100, broadcasting for the ABC in its infancy, trying to survive in war, winning at Ekka as a pre-teen, living on the streets, getting gold at karaoke, remembering the Stolen Generation first-hand, and navigating by the stars. 

It is astonishing how much a spot on the map has to give, and how common the links between us all. Recently I spent time with an elderly resident, just about 90, and he gripped my hand as though it were a life-ring.

He spoke about his wife who was in surgery hours away, his eyes focused somewhere in the middle distance as though he could see her in the hospital bed, and concern creased his forehead and I felt humbled to be beside him with this visible expression of his love for her.

His narrow frame, scabbed face from fresh melanomas excisions, and delicate frailty was only where he was right then, not the man inside who had lived a lifetime and all its accomplishments. His worry for his wife was as tangible as the worry I feel for the loved ones in my life.

While every person has so many stories, each translated in their unique way, we all share a commonness of humanity, and in this job, I have felt that every day.

I hope I have got some of those stories right over the past few years, and I thank every person who has shared them with me, and all the patience while I nutted out how to be faithful to the teller and the moment.

-Michèle Jedlicka

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