If Steptoe had fathered a daughter, her cart might have looked like mine as I left Sydney on my latest trip south, loaded to the max with items from my mother's house. Suitcases, cardboard cartons, plastic bags, pictures and assorted weird household objects left little room in the car for a driver.
I was reminded of some other memorable road trips with rather eccentric loads, such as the vase of fresh green zinnias, in water, which my young sister once held for me in her lap all the way from Dubbo to Sydney. When we moved from Sydney to Melbourne back in the 80s, our back seat passenger was our budgie, clinging to the perch in his cage but still capable of an occasional chirp.
A sinking feeling overwhelmed me as I reached the first 110kph speed sign heading out of town. Never before had the road ahead seemed so long and winding. I was tired after the months of effort required to convince my mother to move to a small independent-living unit in a retirement complex at North Sydney, not to mention moving her, setting up her new abode to her liking, selling her old house and making decisions with my sisters about the distribution of her surplus effects.
Exhaustion took its toll along the way, exacerbated by summer glare and temperatures. I stopped quite a few times for a wake-me-up coffee and a sneaky read in air-conditioned premises. This trip was a blur, a test of endurance. Never was I more glad to reach home.