by Franz Kratschmer

Don’t laugh, it’s Grandparents’ Day, it’s our day!

After my arrival in Darwin in February 2000, I thought to be the first one in our family to set foot on Australian soil. I was en route to East Timor taking up my duties with the United Nations mission on the divided island. Having passed the retirement hurdle in 2011, I joined my family on permanent basis. A few years later, my sister had sent me our grandfather’s diary and upon reading it I was ranked second. Strange, I couldn’t recall any family visit or migration to Australia from the end of World War One to my arrival in 2000. So what had happened before?

Let’s turn the history pages back to the good old times before World War One. At times the Austro-Hungarian Navy was the fourth-largest in the world. According to the Argus Newspaper of 23 May 1893, the Austro-Hungarian Corvette “Saida” sailed into Melbourne Harbor for a break and repair works. On board, my grandfather J. Kleinpeter as cadet, with more than 300 sailors. It was in the same year when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was visiting Victoria mainly for hunting purposes.

Needless to say that my grandfather has 13 children. The trade relationship between Victoria and the Empire was excellent. Where were my grandparents born? Very typical for people who live in Empires and Kingdoms, my grandfather was born in southern Poland and his wife came from Italy. Why should the grandchildren not follow suit?

My sister was born in 1942 at the height of World War II in Vienna, Austria. Brother Karl followed in 1947 but unfortunately passed away. Exactly four years after the liberation of Vienna by the Red Army (1945), I arrived on the planet on 13 April 1949.

The staunchest bachelor on the planet…

Until the age of thirty-six years, I was the staunchest bachelor on the planet with certain survival skills for not getting married. I had enjoyed being three times the best man for army comrades. But then my sister had the brilliant idea to suggest me travelling to Brazil for holidays. It happened after having experienced for 18 months (1983-84) the atrocities of the Lebanese Civil War.
Well, the staunch bachelor made a mistake and invited the young Brazilian lady to visit him in Jerusalem. After her arrival the question was how would our relationship continue. Yes, call me defector. On 18 June 1985, Vera and I married in Nicosia , Cyprus. This was the end of the bachelor and I was on the way of becoming, one day, grandfather. Let’s call by mercy of our son Karl.

Son Francsco was born in Austria (1986) and Karl followed in Brazil (1992). However, on the way to become one grandfather nine years of business life in Brazil were followed by twelve years with the United Nations Peace-keeping Missions in East Timor. Both sons graduated from Charles Darwin University as Bachelors in IT and Sports Science. Fortunately, both were not waiting as long as father did and found there Outback sweethearts very quickly. Could be that one of them had the idea to promote us to Grandparents?

Still holding the father’s title, I engaged with COTA NT thus observing steady improvments regarding the NT Seniors support services. Well, son Francisco relocated with wife and two cats to Redbank Plains in Queensland a few years ago. Until today no signs on the horizon yet of becoming grandparents thanks to this marriage. Today, I can plainly tell Danna and Francisco – sorry, too late son’, Karl and Lindsay were faster.

Son Karl and Lindsay have lived together for many years and both graduated from CDU in 2017. Three years ago, they had decided to relocate to Katherine and settle there. Would Vera and I become grandparents in heaven, when 90 years of age or now? Hurry up folks! Needless to say that Lindsay and Karl opted for two lovely greyhound dogs first.

Pink grandparents clouds were brewing up in the skies…

Pink grandparents clouds were brewing up in the skies over the NT in 2022 when Lindsay’s pregnancy was confirmed. Now there was fire on the roof for me and Vera to prepare for the title change. The Grandparents title was delivered by Atiena Maysie Iyara on 11 October 2022 and all family members will celebrate her first anniversary very soon.

Looking back in our family history tells me that my parents became grandparents in 1986 or at the age of eighty years. Thanks to Lindsay, Karl and Atiena our promotion happened seven years earlier or at the age of 73.

Of course, living as grandparents in Australia brings automatically the multi-cultural aspect into the game and Vera and I can not escape. She was born in Brazil and I in Austria. What about the sons? The elder is Austrian Aussie and Karl was born in Brazil. Any other nationalities in the grandparents family? Well, Francisco’s wife was born in Peru. Granddaughter Atiena and Lindsay are Australians. Yes, Lindsay’s father is a Scotsman. Could be that lovely Atiena sets Danna and Francisco a little on fire.

Well, time passes quickly and on 11 October 2023 Vera and I will celebrate the first anniversary as Grandparents!