I’m sure many birding aussers know of Bruce Richardson, the American birder who
has made Australia home.
We met back in 2011, I think it was, when I guided Bruce and Lyn and another
couple around the Top End. It was a momentous trip in more ways than one. We
did see some good birds, if I remember correctly, but probably the highlight
for Bruce was being adopted in Gunbalanya, western Arnhem Land.
By chance we met up with Una, my daughter-in-law or Mamamh. There must have
been something about Bruce that Una liked for she offered to go with us to see
my older sister (Yabok) Esther, then in her mid-eighties. Again, usually, they
don’t want strangers inside their homes. But to my surprise,Bruce and Lyn and
their friends were invited to enter. Yabok then asked Bruce to sit down beside
her, whereupon she began to show him some of the treasures in her handbag.
I’ve got some wonderful photos of them together.
Then, again to my surprise, Mamamh invited us back to her home to see her pet
water buffalo. I’ll never forget Bruce’s face. He looked absolutely thrilled!
But it was nothing to what came next.
While we were standing around petting the buffalo Mamamh walked inside, and
came back with her new baby grandson. Lyn had a cuddle as did their friends.
I didn’t, because that little boy stands in the relationship of ‘poison cousin’
to me - it’s a forbidden relationship.
Then Bruce reached out to take the baby, and Una said sharply, “No!”. Bruce
looked at her in astonishment. I immediately twigged.
In all my years of guiding not one client has ever been adopted by my
relatives. But in an instant that baby boy became Bruce’s ‘poison cousin’ as
well. It also meant that I was now Bruce’s big sister, his Yabok, and he my
Dada, little brother. Bruce had suddenly acquired another family, one that
I just like to take this opportunity to wish my little brother Happy Birthday
from his Yabok.
Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow Ph.D., B.A., Grad. Dip.
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835
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