Weekend Coffee Share… 3rd June, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, the fact that I’ve turned up here on time, should let you know that I’m having a quiet weekend and am not gallivanting around exploring new places, like I was last weekend. Indeed, I probably should’ve held off on some of last week’s news and popped it into this week so I could actually have something interesting to say.

How has your week been? I hope it went well.

Well, it’s officially Winter here now, and I guess that also explains my shift towards hibernation, and wanting to wrap myself up in thick woolly layers. Indeed, we’re all mighty thankful for a warm dog on the lap and they’re also thankful for the added warmth themselves. We don’t have central heating and we actually try not to heat the house at all to keep the electricity bills down and be kind to the environment. Most of the time, it’s not that cold. Mind you, I confess that I do have my electric blanket on low some nights. It feels so good. Despite Winter and the cold, the days are largely pleasantly sunny and I can’t complain too much. It’s actually 17°C or 63°F, which would probably make for quite a nice day out in London. Actually, the weather in London surprised me. It’s actually climbed to 25°C. I wonder if they’re actually enjoying it or starting to complain about the heat?

A few weeks ago, I had a call from my Dad’s second cousin about the family history, and this has launched an effort to try to get “my affairs in order”. Or, to be precise, get my ancestors’ affairs in order. I tend to dump new information into a file and intend to get back to it, but inevitable don’t and the information I’ve dumped might really belong somewhere else. I just put it there so I can find it again. Moreover, some family members warrant a book all of their own and so I’ve accumulated a hell of a lot of information and stories and it is rather overwhelming. It’s only when someone rings up that I’m forced to get on with it and get the chaos sorted out.

1910 circa Suspension Bridge German postcard

Cammeray Suspension Bridge circa 1910

 

My latest family history adventure, has taken me to New Zealand. My 3rd times grandparents John Johnston and Maria Bridget Flanagan (nee Docherty) were married at Invercargill and lived along the West Coast in fairly rugged terrain during the New Zealand gold rush. We went to New Zealand on our honeymoon and visited a few of these places so I am able to visualise their lives to some extent, which sort of brings their lives back to life. They ended up moving to Australia where John worked with his younger brother Alexander Johnston who was a building contractor, who built a beautiful historic bridge called the Cammeray Suspension Bridge. It was quite an engineering achievement in its day. Well, that is quite aside from the fact that the cables were rusting away by the 1930s and the bridge needed to be almost completely overhauled. These Johnstons also trace back to whiskey distillers on the island of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides. So, there are more than enough stories to tell and it’s been very difficult to wrap it all up and declared it “done”.

I also participated in Friday Fictioneers this week, which is hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s story Babushka had a Russian influence. Not sure where that came from, but isn’t writing like that? All sorts of snippets from all over the place, come together in a kind of dance.

We also went to a funeral on Friday. It wasn’t just a funeral. No funeral ever is. She was a friend, not a close friend, but our boys used to play AFL football together and you do get to know someone standing on the sidelines over a few years. Our boys have also been in the same class for the last couple of years, and while they’re not close friends, there’s that connection from their football days. However, unfortunately the thing that really connected us together is our common fight to overcome severe health issues to see our kids grow up. As much as you can say you’re going to fight it and put up a fierce incredible fight, sometimes you just don’t make it and I guess I’ve really come to believe we each have our time. You might get cancer. You get run over by a bus. You just don’t know.

a million birds take flight

During the burial, I looked up and saw three black cockatoos flying majestically like eagles overhead. They were strangely comforting.

So, while I questioned whether I should keep our coffee share light and chatty or whether I should share the funeral with you, I thought that was also part of my week. That it’s important to share our downs as well as our ups. To acknowledge the passing of a friend, and not just gloss over the surface like it doesn’t matter. It does.Indeed, I also wanted to share that although I expected to breakdown and really lose it at the funeral, I actually found it quite beautiful. It was held in a beautiful, local glass chapel and you look out onto majestic gum trees and the great outdoors…God’s creation. I was really touched by how my friend had touched so many lives through her enthusiastic and loving community involvement, and her particular love and focus was to help kids struggling to learn how to read. So, in her humble everyday style, she changed so many lives for the better and loved her family like a warm Mama bear, and so she will be keenly missed.

So, last week for me was more about rest, recovery and recharging the batteries than climbing mountains and conquering the world. All part of striving for some kind of balance, when we’re always living with so many competing pressures.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali. I encourage you to pop round and join us. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

10 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share… 3rd June, 2018.

  1. TanGental

    Quite right. 25C is far too hot for London! Actually it’s the humidity not the heat that kills us and the huge storms that have accompanied this week’s weather are a sign if that humidity. It’s better now – delightful in fact.
    The susodnsuion bridge is grand, very like the Clifton one I well remember from my years in Bristol.
    You make me feel guilty when you talk about your ancestors and the research. I’ve talked to my brother about working on our family but so far….

  2. Colline

    Condolences on the loss of your friend. Funerals are a good way to celebrate the lives of the people who have left earth. I always enjoy sharing my experience of the person with others – its a good way to grieve.

  3. Gary A Wilson

    Hello Rowena. I too want to offer some words of comfort for the passing of your friend. Also, please never think you need to hold back on something like this. Between our world sterilizing this normal part of life and the basic instinct we have to not share painful stuff – we’ve become pretty dysfunctional of the whole thing. Our family has lost several older members and some younger members in the past few years and I’ve once again had to think my way through it. Here’s what I’ve come up with – for your consideration: 1) Death is both normal and painful. 2) While we all hate pain of any kind, if we ever manage to dull our discomfort to death, then we have only succeeded in losing part of our humanity. This is how we were created. 3) Other than the deep feelings of loss – the worse thing for many of us about death is that words and even prayers sometimes feel so useless to comfort or help anyone. 4) Talking about the person, their value, significance and their impact on our lives is one of the best ways to process our own feelings of loss and – and honor the person now gone. Faced with someone who just lost a loved one, I now encourage them to honor him or her by sharing many of the wonderful things the person did. Hugely therapeutic in my experience. Hope all is well with you. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to miss us this week – yet here you are. Well done. This place is so much better when you are here warming up the brain cells. Warmest regards.

  4. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much for your encouragement message, Gary and for taking the time to really address the issue, which could well benefit others as well. A relative of mine lost her husband a few years ago, and a friend encouraged her to hold onto the special memories even though they hurt the most, and it was excellent advice. One of the things I noted at the wake was how her friends were sharing funny anecdotes about her, as she really was someone who knew how to enjoy life and I thought we should gather these memories together for her son, who would appreciate them in 20 years time and be able to share his mum with his kids and friends. I made books for my kids using annual diaries and I wrote in their funny little sayings and activities because I realized how a mother stores up all those little details about you. A father does as well, but usually different details. I realized that when you lose a parent young, they also take a piece of you with them, and your story. I’ve been distracting myself with my family history since then. I mentioned that in my post. I sometimes wonder why I do it, but it’s like the ultimate detective story, because you have no idea what happened and where the goat’s trail will take you. I’ll pop round now and read some of your stories before I go to sleep. It’s now after midnight.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  5. Gary A Wilson

    Greetings Rowena.
    My extended families are doing the same thing here. Because a certain story was so popular within the family I recorded it in my collection. You can get a glimpse of my dad in the story title “Chainsaw Adventure”. I told it at his funeral and my cousin, Mike, was in the audience taking it rather well. I think you’d get a kick out of it.

  6. NorCal Zen

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Happy that you can enjoy some wonderful winter weather 🙂 It’s 100 here, and I actually had a heat stroke this weekend, the fist time that ever happened to me. I hope your new week starts out in the best possible way.

    Maria

  7. eclecticalli

    It’s funny hearing you say it’s winter and 63F. I would be SO HAPPY with a 63 degree day here, but we’re moving into summer and it’s getting warmer and warmer. I also enjoy that you’re in winter while we’re in summer – one of those awesome benefits of having coffee with people all around the world!
    Your talk of family history reminds me of a few projects I wanted to undertake around my own family history – there are so many intriguing people in the past that have stories I want to dig further into!
    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, and glad you decided to share with us — our weeks all have their ups and downs, and what good is a community if you can’t share the downs as much as you enjoy the ups?

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Alli. I also believe it’s good to share the ups and downs of our lives in the Coffee Share, especially as we try to catch up every week and that’s more often than I catch up with most of my friends around here, which is something I really need to work on.
    I also find the seasonal differences with various bloggers rather amusing and it’s given me a much more global perspective. I wasn’t really conscious of these differences before, although of course we all know these things as an intellectual fact.
    I encourage you to look into your family history. I’ve become completely addicted and frustrated at the same time. You really have to develop a lot of patience because you can have quite a gap of time between working on different ones as new information comes to hand. The one I’m working on now has come such a long way and I could well have found her family in Ireland but I still need a few more details to make it stick, and after all the snippets I’ve put together, it would be quite disappointing if it isn’t her. Yet, I am quite used to that and this Family History research seems to be the journey which never ends.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  9. Rowena Post author

    My family history research is an absolute addiction and I’m like those detectives you see who have been obsessed with a case for 30 years and they still cling onto it like a dog to a bone. I am currently working on my third Great Grandmother and if I can prove who I think she was and the family she could well be part of over in Kenmare, Kerry it will be quite exciting, but I still have a way to go.
    Pleased to here the storms have died down. It’s cold and miserable here atm. Can’t imagine what it would be like this much of the year.
    Best wishes,
    Ro

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