I knew a man who was a Beaufort Bomber pilot in the Second World War. He was all right, he’d had a few Japanese cars and he found Haiku poetry beautiful. So as to know which boundaries I shouldn’t cross, I said to him, “So, you’re not anti-Japanese, then?” (His wife of over 60 years father had been an agent for a Japanese insurance company in Australia prior to the war and the family had had Japanese guests come and stay with them, when she was a girl) His response was, “Not like that, I’m not,” but he didn’t want to make friends with them. Which I took to mean that he’d accept and buy Japanese products.

I knew a woman who had a relative who was a POW and his wife accidentally bought a little plate that was made in Japan, and her relative smashed it and threw it in the bin. Part of me thinks, okay, his wife possibly didn’t, despite her husband’s experiences, give the country of production a second thought, to which I say, no matter how strongly you feel, you should be forgiving enough of an intimate partner to think, “Okay, they didn’t buy it for me; they bought it because they liked it, and maybe I could have said, “You bought it not to spite me, but because you liked it. Maybe if you kept it in the cupboard or sideboard and brought it out on special occasions.”” Okay, that’s a perfect world solution, but not everyone’s like that, unfortunately.

In just over a month, there will be a school reunion where I would like to give a speech about being diagnosed with autism and how it gave me a sense of self and belonging. What I would also like to say is, I forgive some of those who tormented me, even if they haven’t apologised. But forgiveness goes as far as saying, “You don’t have any power over me,” it does NOT, however, mean that I’d be willing to add you on Facebook, meet up with you for a drink. Yes, I may see you at the school reunion and I may talk to you, if I want to, but the next time I might see you might be at the next school reunion, which may be a decade away. It doesn’t mean, if you live out of town, that I’ll give you my details and suggest we catch up if and when you’re next in town.

I remember, April 24, 1984, as well as being one in twelve days in which I had to go to school, for the principal talking about Anzac Day, the following day, and how a few men who survived the conflict and were still alive in 1984, were having lunch that day. He said they’d be about 90 and not very many people lived to be 90.

Anzac Day comes around once a year, and by the time 1984, the 69th Anniversary of the landing came around, the men would be saying and thinking, “Okay, so and so died last year.” At 46, I don’t want to sound morbid, but four people from our year, two to suicide, one to a motor vehicle accident and another to something else, have passed on, and if we go on a once every ten year meeting, once 46 becomes 56, and 56 becomes 66, our numbers will continue to dwindle.

What got me thinking this way was Michael Caton on Australian Story, acknowledging that every few weeks, a veteran actor’s star dims. None of us are immortal.

So, I am trying to forgive some of my former tormentors, but forgiveness means you don’t have power over me, not that you’re my friend.

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.