Tag Archives: funeral

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

 

Old Flame-Friday Fictioneers

Margaret made Bill his cup of tea…Twining’s Australian Breakfast.

“What’s wrong with them, Bill? Can’t they read? NO FLOWERS meant NO FLOWERS! It was hard enough to bury you once, but over and over again, petal-by-petal? Just stick a knife in my heart. NO! I’m NOT being a drama queen. Got a friggin rose caught in the walker. Almost broke my neck. I COULD’VE DIED.”

“All those flowers… Didn’t they know, you NEVER gave me flowers?”

“Flowers in death, but not in life… A bunch for every birthday and anniversary you ever forgot…”

“I hate flowers. Burn them all!”

……

A few years ago, a neighbour’s husband passed away and she had an entire room filled with flowers, and the whole prospect of what to do with them, really troubled her. One morning, she popped over and gave me an arm full of dead Arum lillies. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about receiving them either. What was I supposed to do with them? I knew them out. I lamost always give people a photo frame when they lose someone close. Flowers just become another death.

That said, I love receiving them, and while they’re good, they really do cheer you up.

This has been another contribution fot Friday Fictioneers hosted Rochelle Wisoff-Fields PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share October 30, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

It’s already Sunday night for me and Monday’s looming ahead like a dreadful hangover. So, no coffee for me tonight and I recommend you also join me for something decaf.

How was your week? I hope things went well!

dsc_4485

This week I decided to package up the sunflower seeds and drove them up to show my daughter’s class. As her school is a 45 minute drive away, I carefully put the sunflower seedlings in a cardboard box and secured them with the seat belt. I wasn’t taking any chances. They arrived safely and I was quite thrilled with how the talks went. I spoke to my daughter’s class and the one next door largely about the importance of acts of kindness and how it only takes a small gesture to show we care. I spoke about how the journalist and photographer who salvaged the seeds from the war zone and brought them back to Australia via quarantine, took great risks so the family and friends of the MH17 tragedy could have a special reminder of their loves ones.

Wednesday, I attended the funeral of an absolutely beautiful lady from our Church. She was in her mid-70s and has been fighting cancer for about 6 years. Now, I can tell that she really fought that cancer like Gethsemane Sam with both barrels blazing. Yet, all that time she continued to look after her disabled daughter and be an active member of her family as well as the Church. She was well known for her cooking and made us a few meals when I’ve been sick as well as helping out with the kids through an after school kids’ club. There were times I used to drop them off and go straight home to bed and sleep the entire time they were gone. I really wasn’t well. So, you could well imagine what she meant to me and how much I loved and appreciated her from the bottom of my heart. I truly wish I could be more like her and fill her shoes. It’s rather intimidating, but I think people can pick up when your intentions were good even when your efforts fall short.

Thursday night, dancing started up for another term. Instead of ballet this term, our adult class is doing lyrical dance. No, this isn’t where you start singing as you dance around the room. Lyrical dance is a style that combines ballet and jazz dancing techniques. It is performed to music with lyrics so that it inspires expression of strong emotions the choreographer feels from the lyrics of the song. This style concentrates on an individual approach and expressiveness of such emotions as love, joy, and anger. It does not concentrate on the dancer’s precision of movement. http://www.omahaschoolofmusicanddance.com/what-is-lyrical-dance-15-interesting-facts-about-this-contemporary-style/

balmain2

The Scene of the Murder in Balmain.

Yesterday, I attended the awards ceremony for the local short story competition I entered a few months ago. I’d written a short story based on a murder in Sydney’s Balmain in 1903 and it had repressed memory and what I thought were some clever ideas and yet it didn’t even rate an Honorable Mention. I have to be honest and say I was pretty upset by the result but I’ve since revisited it and read more about writing short stories and have identified some changes.

How was your week? I hope it went well and that you also have a great week ahead.

xx Rowena

Why Dogs Have Short Lives.

“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?”

Sir Walter Scott

The featured image shows Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872.

xx Rowena

Courage At The End

Most of us have not had the privilege of caring for the dying. I was so moved by this beatiful story of caring for a loving husband and wife at the end xx Rowena

Sidereal Catalyst

They had hospital beds side by side in their apartment at the nursing home where they lived.  She had end-stage bone cancer, barely holding onto life.  He was diagnosed with failure to thrive, the only thing he was holding onto in this life was her.

She had weeks to live and every moment was wrought with pain.  They both had 24-hour care and the hospice nurses used everything at their disposal to make her comfortable.  Her words were barely audible and she was bed bound.  She had to be moved every few hours to avoid bedsores but every movement was agonizing.  He was constantly concerned about her, wanting to be near her, hoping to depart this world at the very moment she did.  He made that clear, announcing that he did not want to live a moment past her last breath – though his health indicated he would.  

View original post 1,280 more words

#AtoZchallenge – We Are Donne.

Phew! We have finally reached the end of the April A-Z Challenge, and in a curious fusion of the contemporary Madden Brothers with 17th Century Baroque poet, John Donne, We Are Donne.

We studied John Donne’s poetry at school and both of these poems are the perfect accompaniment to my Letters To Dead Poets.

Death Be Not Proud –

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Bust of John Donne

Photo: Matthew Black.

Thank you very much to everyone who has accompanied me along this journey. Or, simply popped in now and then. Your company along the road has been much appreciated and it’s been fabulous travelling along this “road not taken” together and to bring our islands together into a connected community…even if our paths never actually cross in “the real world”.

More than kisses, letters mingle souls.
John Donne
Love and Best wishes,
xx Rowena
Family shadow Byron Lighthouse Easter 2014

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

 

 

Infinite Child…

 

“A moment later Jonathan’s body wavered in the air, shimmering, and began to go transparent. “Don’t let them spread silly rumors about me, or make me a god. O.K., Fletch? I’m a seagull. I like to fly, maybe…”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

A few months ago, I heard a tragic announcement on the radio about a young local boy who had been run over and killed. Of course, my heart stopped as I thought of the boy, his family and friends.

Although we didn’t know them, the memories came back.

I hadn’t thought any further about this boy until ads for Australia’s Got Talent started appearing. Last night, Fletcher Pilon appeared on the show singing the song he’d written as a heartbreaking tribute to this young boy, who was his much-loved younger brother, Banjo… Infinite Child Infinite Child. Please listen to it. It will blow you away!

I know I wasn’t the only one whose heart stopped beating. Not only was there the anguish, there was the love. That, along with Fletcher’s courage performing such an emotional tribute on TV only three months after his brother’s death. You could really feel the love in the room during that performance, even when I replayed it on my laptop which was running too slow and kept cutting out. I could still discern that cry from the heart…from the very innermost chamber of his brother’s heart. It was heartbreaking and yet it was also incredibly uplifting, somehow transcending the grief, expressing his incredible love for his little brother. It was so incredibly beautiful!!!

Although we didn’t know the Pilon family, once upon a time, we did.

Over 20 years ago, a young boy from our Church was tragically run over and killed instantly on the last day of his first year at school. It was a horrific and absolutely chilling tragedy for everyone at our Church. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the depths of his parents’ grief. I still can’t.

I was filling in time browsing through the newspaper, while waiting to get a haircut. Suddenly, the horror set in when I saw his name on the front page. I didn’t recognise his face straight away because he was wearing his school uniform and looked so grown up. Well, at least grown up for a 5 or 6 year old. I’d known E. ever since he was born and Mum accompanied his Dad on the trumpet. Naturally, it was like a Mac truck had hit me in the head. Only a week beforehand, he’d been  a shepherd in our Christmas play and I was angry with God: “Where were you when your shepherd crossed the road?” From where I was sitting, it looked like God had ducked out for a smoke or whatever else God does when he’s tired.

Although nothing could bring him back, a song was written in his honour and sung at his funeral and the Sydney Symphony orchestra played. What else could anybody do? Mum asked me to drop some flowers round after my haircut. She thought they’d appreciate a familiar face with the media there. I noticed them talking with our Pastor and I left the flowers on the steps and left. At that moment, I realised the enormity of what Pastors do and I’ve never forgotten. I found it hard enough just walking up the stairs but the Pastor and his wife were there.

I have never forgotten E. Never will.

On the last day of my son’s first year of school, we held a vigil at home for him and lit a single candle on a cupcake.

That afternoon, my friend’s toddler ran across the road in front of the school but thank goodness, made it to the other side.

My kids have done the very same thing over the years.

Some things will never make sense!

Love to the Pilon family and a standing ovation for Banjo’s incredible brother, Fletch. You’re such an inspiration! Thank you!

xx Rowena

Read more here:

Daily Telegraph