Travelling with Roxanne

Some people you just take an instant shine to and for me Roxanne was like that.

She was interesting because she was a journalist, did radio and was travelling the world.

She inspired me to want to be a world citizen and in many ways for me is like a glimmer of Martha Root in that she traveled lightly with luggage but with an openness to carry stories with her from every place she had been in.


With Bahai Youth from New Zealand visiting Melbourne, 1991

Roxanne was a great listener.

Meeting her when I was just a teenager was inspiring.  She took me travelling with her to a youth service project and I remember being so excited as I packed my suitcase to go on this adventure.  I wonder how many other youth she inspired in her travels.  I suspect there were many.

I went to help build a hall in honour of a Tasmanian Baha’i Albert Benson. Later we went to its opening that Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone and his wife also attended.  I was so happy I had played just a small part in putting the building together.

There was a youth from America there, Alesa, who was working with me on the roof of that hall.  From  the rooftop we saw some of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania  – rolling hills and endless green.

Alesa was very friendly and told me the names of Baha’i youth in other states she thought I could make friends with and told me about youth conferences.  Because of her I saved my money and with some help from the local governing body of Baha’is the LSA I went interstate to conferences and peace expos.  I felt connected to a larger Baha’i community than just that of Tasmania. Seeing this bigger picture was like being embraced by the acceptance of the world, as Baha’is come from so many countries and walks of life.

I was grateful to Roxanne for taking me under her wings and empowering me.  I wanted to give her a present, but the present had to be light enough to travel with – and to be significant and in some way beautiful.  In the end I hand wrote some poems and gave them to her.

She took my humble gift and received them with honour.  She wrote to me for many years, right up until the day I married.  Not long after that I heard that she had passed into the next world via cancer.

Her letters were like sparks every time they arrived as she encouraged me with my writing and suggested other creatives I could get in touch with. I think she may have told me about the poet Roger White, who I was to read and later write a letter to, although I never met him in person.  I wanted to one day see the places on the postcards she sent for real.

I still have all her letters; it must be time to reread them for their warmth and love.

She was overjoyed to hear of me meeting and then marrying David as she knew of his family and she wrote that they were sincere and faithful souls.

(After writing this story I think I need to find the box with letters from Roxanne.)

  (c) June Perkins


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