by barbznz

Ivan Raymond Ballard was my mother’s second husband. They married when I was seventeen. He was seventeen years older than her. By sheer coincidence, my father married for the second time in Tauranga a week earlier, He was 20 years older than his new wife, the same age as my older brother. 

Ivan was born in Kilburnie in Wellington. His father played the Wurlizer organ at the Embassy Theatre for movies. It was a magnificent organ, and again by coincidence when it was moved to Tauranga my father installed it in Baycourt. He noticed Ivan’s father name on it plaque on the organ and that is how I discovered his fathers occupation. 

He wasn’t allowed to go to war, he was needed at home. This was a great disappointment to him particularly later on when he couldn’t join the RSA because he hadn’t been overseas. My dad on the other hand had joined the air force at the end of the war. He flew outside the 3 mile limited on a training exercise and was able to join though he never did. 

He married his first wife and had two daughters, Judy and June.  His wife got cancer and he nurse her through his illness. he was a widower when he met Mum. 

I didn’t like him at all. In the first place him being with Mum ruined my idea that my parents would get back together. In the second he was old fashioned and we didn’t have anything in common. We certainly didn’t like the same music, He played the piano accordion. 

Mum told me we were moving in with him. I was about 15 and still in school. I was horrified. They were going to live in sin. You can’t do that  I said, It is wrong against the bible and every other thing I could think of. My aunt make some comment about it was no different that what I did with boys. I told them in no uncertain terms that I didn’t do anything with boys and had no intention of the doing anything with boys ever, well not until I got married anyway.

Ivan had a two bedroom unit just north of Upper Hutt. At first, Mum and I shared one room and he had the other. One night I woke up and heard them making love.. I was pretty naive back then and had no idea what was going on. Eventually they started sleeping in the same room. 

They brought a house at Akatarawa that backed on to the river. It was great for swimming and blackberrying. Every month my sister Judy would visit from Kimberly. He was wonderful with her and she loved him back. He was great at fixing cars. He had a thing for Morris Minors. I brought one when I started work and he fixed it up for me, Unfortunately, I never learnt to drive it. 

He hosted brilliant parties, I remember celebrating Hogmanay  one New Years Eve. We had a pipe band and marched down the street at midnight waking up the neighbours. That night I had my first and last taste of straight whiskey. In those days the bottle stores weren’t open on the weekend. He would take his special case and bring home 3 flagons of beer. his ration for the weekend. On Sunday morning he would sometimes have Sunday school and some of his friends would come around for a drink. But I never saw him drunk.   He was a really fun guy and always had a smile.

Things got so bad between us, I had to leave home. I moved in with the Braddock’s down the road. I was working by this stage. I still ended up coming home a few times and things between us got better. As I grew up, I saw what an amazing man he was. He was a brilliant granddad as well to my children. I am just sorry that Simon didn’t get to know him. 

He taught me lot. He was great ballroom dancer and I can still remember the dances he taught me. I can waltz and foxtrot with the best of them thanks to his lessons. And eventually grew to love and appreciate him. 

He really liked Marty. They could talk for hours. He spend a lot of time at my place after him and Mum split. We didn’t really talk about the split but I know it hit him hard. All he could talk about was seeing me get married. I wanted him to walk me down the aisle but he refused. He said it was my father’s job and I told him he was as much my father as my Dad was. 

He was a good man and I am so glad I had him in my life. 

© Barbara Hart