Return To One’s Roots
How often do we get the chance to return to one’s roots? At whatever stage of our lives we might be at, I believe anything gone before us can be considered as “our roots” because it is there that we have been molded into the people we are today. Without that moment in our past, be it short or extended, we wouldn’t be the person we are now. Without that experience our personality would be subtly different.
With my interest in genealogy, I often delve into the past, but that is usually the distant past in my search for stories of long gone ancestors. But yesterday I was given a reminder from a very large part of my own past life. Roots which definitely have had a huge impact on my life and my personal development. It was a journey down memory lane which I would love to repeat often but even if that never comes to be, I was given a chance to remember a wonderful time in my life.
In my role as the National President of the Royal New Zealand Naval Women’s Association, I felt honoured to be included in an invitation to ex-servicewomen to join current serving sailors for a luncheon on board HMNZS Endeavour. We were greeting on the brow by the Commanding Officer Sandra Walker and escorted to the Wardroom where we were treated royally. During an amazing meal we had the opportunity to chat with those serving girls present. Ranging from Able Rates all through the ranks to Captain they shared some of their stories (or dits as they’re referred to in the navy) with us, while we may have astounded them with a few of our own dits from our service time.
For us ex-members of the RNZN who served during the sixties, seventies or eighties, the visit was filled with poignancy. The navy we visited was no longer our navy. The differences we saw were tremendous, females serving on ships at sea was only a part of those obvious differences. But for all that, we still felt a sense of belonging. This was our past, our roots, and we embraced the opportunity to feel that security again. As the luncheon progressed and the conversation now flowed as between friends rather than strangers, we all rediscovered (or for the younger girls maybe it was a new phenomenon) a certainty sometimes forgotten. There can never be strangers within a family, only people who haven’t met before. The Navy is family to anyone who ever served there and while the bond may not be blood, that “salt water” flowing through our veins forever ties us together in some sort of unity.
We should all be able to relish our past, appreciate what it has given us, and acknowledge what we gave in return. Hearing us oldies being referred to yesterday as the forerunners to today’s female sailors filled me with gratitude and pride. I had never before considered my time could have contributed to the growth of women’s service in the RNZN.
Thank you to Commander Walker, and the women members of the RNZN who joined her in welcoming us back into our navy family yesterday. And thank you to Captain Maxine Lawes for the memento presented to us all. The day showed me how important and enjoyable a return to one’s roots can be.