Tag Archives: goodbye

Searching Through the Old Family Photographs…

Why does it take the death of a loved one for us to open up, organize and enjoy the very best of our old family photographs? How could they end up in compete disarray, scattered all over the place, shoved in an old shoe box or ignored? Why don’t we look at them more often? Appreciate them?

I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t need to come back here so often. I’d already know.

Then, somebody dies, and all hell breaks loose.

Where is that !@#$ shot from 1947?

Not in any of the easy-to-find places.

On New Year’s Day, my very much loved Great Aunt passed away, and I was back at it again.

Unprepared.

Pages from my great grandparents’ photo album where my grandmother is the little girl.

To make matters worse, I’ve lost the scanner cable, and I have a huge pile of snaps aka precious memories, to copy because, of course, it’s all about the slide show these days, and the old static album’s been thrown back into the ark. Moreover, due to covid clusters in Sydney, the Queensland border has closed yet again to NSW. So, we’re not allowed to go to the funeral, and will be watching it online. This makes the photos even more precious. They’re the only concrete thing we have.

So, I’m currently sitting here with a pile of photos ready to be scanned, and I just know I’ll never be able to put them back where they came from. Of course, this would drive your garden-variety perfectionist round the bend. However, being somewhat more laissez-faire, I’m not that fussed. I’ll just find a few empty pages at the back of a random album, and when I’m preparing for my son’s 21st, I’ll find my grandmother and her three siblings standing in front of Mt Tibrogargon in amongst his baby photos.

My grandmother (second from the right) with her three siblings in front of the rather imposing Mt Tibrogargon (one of Queensland’s Glasshouse Mountains) around 1940.

Of course, you’d never do anything like that, would you?!! No! Not ever! All your photos are neatly arranged in chronological order, and possibly even scrapbooked.

However, what I lack in organization, I made up for in presentation and generosity. No one outside these four walls saw the chaos. They just clicked on an email and saw a wonderful, eclectic series of family photos of my aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins and beautiful memories, and felt the love.

It’s the love and shared memories, which keep drawing me back to these precious photos, and why they’ll always be special. The people may no longer be with us, but the photos continue to keep them close.

Have you shared any special family photos or stories on your blog? I’d love to see them and hear your stories.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Farewell to the Family Car…

It was a long, long time coming and extremely overdue. Yesterday, our blue, 2001 Nissan Pulsar was ceremonially collected by the wreckers and carted off to heaven.

A few days ago, I’d been overjoyed that Geoff had finally gotten around to getting it towed away. It was finally going to be scratched off our never-ending to-do list.

However, when the moment finally came and this massive tow truck pulls up outside our place to cart her off, it was a different story. Indeed, I was more reflective than expected and both Geoff and I formed a guard of honour of sorts to see her off.

We’ve been through a lot with that car. We bought it new in February 2001 just after we’d got engaged on Valentine’s Day, it just so happened that we bought the house in about the same week. Things were on the way up back then. All our Christmases had come at once, and we were impervious to future bad luck. We were engaged and invincible! We’d come through our bad luck and it was all going to be smooth sailing from here. None of what I now know to be the regular ups and downs of life, that precarious journey along the snakes and ladders, and far away from the laws of gravity which dictate that what goes up, comes down.

it’s been about 18 months since the car was last driven. In that time, it’s been superseded by the two luscious red Alfa Romeos. I don’t know what it’s taken so long for that car to go, However, there was something about me needing to clear stuff out before it could be hauled away, and Geoff needing to arrange to get it picked up. I’ll also blame Covid, even though it was awaiting pick up at least a year before Covid came along. I should also mention that my husband grew up on a farm in North-Eastern Tasmania where deceased vehicles simply rusted into the dirt. However, we don’t live on a farm. Moreover, my husband is collector of cars and you could say one more just blended into the landscape, even if the landscape was just a suburban back yard. There’s also this other factor that we’ve almost had the blue Pulsar for 20 years and it has simply become part of our landscape…here but not here.

Seeing the old girl off, brought so many memories to mind, especially bringing the kids home as babies from the hospital, which is such a massive event for all families. Huge. Yes, the kids had come home in the blue car. Fallen asleep in the blue car. Fought in the blue car. Thrown up all over the back seat in the blue car. My husband and I had argued in the blue car, and at least he’d driven off in the blue car in a few heated moments. However, what I hadn’t remembered til tonight, was that we drove home from our wedding in the blue car. I’d totally forgotten that. I only remember pulling up at the Church in the Mark IV Jaguar convertible. I was such a princess and it might’ve only been for one day, but the memory remains (and I still have the tiara to prove it.)

So, by the time the old girl was being hauled up on the tow truck, I almost felt like dragging her back. Giving them back their $150.00 and saying I’ve changed my mind. No! The blue car will stay with us forever. Can become some kind of water (or even rust feature) in the back yard. After all, all those memories are so precious. They need to preserved and it felt surprisingly sad to wave her off. Yet, at the same time, our place is getting buried alive in cars and it had to go. Time to cherish the memories and the photos without its physical presence.

Still, you know that just like saying goodbye to Bilbo the family dog who had been with us for 12 years from the time our daughter could crawl, the car also served us through a long, and monumental time in our lives. From when our son was a baby to being just one year out of school. By this time, it was our back up car and we’d bought a younger red Pulsar, which I unfortunately wrote off in the hospital car park a few years ago. While I’m not a real car person, the family car certainly takes you places and some how becomes more than just a car. Indeed, how many people recognize their friends by their car? How many people become their car. or it becomes them? There’s some strange psychology in that. Indeed, there could well be an entire branch of psychology dedicated to cars and their owners. It would be busy.

I wonder if any of you have had a car for a long time and it saw you through a lot? Or, do you have a special car with some stories to tell? How do you relate to your car? Is it just an A to B job? Or, a character car which is something special? I should mention that we also have a Morris Minor, but that’s another story for another day.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dancing for Life…Friday Fictioneers.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

“It’s now or never. All or nothing. You’re a dancer, Elle. No room for two loves.”

Dancing even extracted her marrow.

“Eloise, you must go! Sydney’s too small for your talent. Next stop…New York. A dancer is like a butterfly. Blink and it’s over.” Jack was too supportive. He should’ve stopped her.

“Focus, Elle. An audition with Twyla Tharp…you’ve almost made it.”

Yet, as the plane broke through the clouds, the dam burst. She couldn’t breathe. She had to go back.”

Eyes and nose running everywhere, she was hallucinating:

“Excuse me, Ma’am. You left something behind.”

“Jack!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

This story was inspired by my grandmother, Eunice Gardiner. She was an Australian concert pianist.

In 1948, my grandmother left Australia to make her American debut, leaving behind her husband and three young boys. My Dad was only 3 years old at the time. The older boys went to boarding school and her mother looked after my dad. My grandmother was away for a year and during this time, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall.

Throughout my grandmother’s life, there was always a very strong tension between her career and her family. She went on to have seven children and after performing, she went on to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also worked as a music critic. She was one of those rare individuals who manage to squeeze multiple lives into one lifetime.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers is brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields . You can check out the link-up here.

xx Rowena

The Birth…Flash Fiction

Walking into the hospital with my suitcase packed, I had no idea this would be my greatest goodbye.

Rather, all I could think about was the birth and welcoming our tiny son into the world. After feeling him moving around like an exuberant butterfly, I’d finally see his face and hold him in my arms.

No longer a work in progress, he’d become real.

With such anticipation and a love I’d never known before, I didn’t notice the door slam shut behind me. That the woman who walked in, wasn’t the same woman walking out.

That Mummy was born.

13th September, 2016.

This has been a Flash Fiction Challenge from Charli over at  Carrot Ranch

August 31, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye. It can be the last polka until next time; a farewell without end; a quick see ya later. How does the goodbye  inform the story. What is the tone, the character’s mood, the twist? Go where the prompt leads.

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On Father’s Day, my cousin gave birth to her first born, a son, in the same hospital where I gave birth to our son 12 years ago. I had no idea at the time how  becoming a parent would change our lives in so many ways and how it would extend me in ways I never thought possibly but also take me away  from people and activities that meant so much to me…a world I never thought I’d leave behind. After all that initial excitement where I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, parenthood was also a struggle.

3enewton-family3-months

This was taken at my grandfather’s 90th Birthday Party. My grandfather was a Reverend and wore his suit a lot. So, it seemed only fitting for Mister to come formal.

As with so many things in life, there is that fusion of joy and struggle, hellos and goodbyes…the yins and yangs. I personally  feel it’s important to acknowledge both sides of the coin and not to deny their existence or how these contradictory forces interplay with each other throughout life’s journey. This is particularly true of parenthood where the positives are emphasised in glamourised commercials while the struggles can be very private.

So, often when you hear a parent open up about these struggles, there’s someone else in exactly the same boat and that relief of no longer feeling alone.

xx Rowena

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For all my dog loving friends, here he is with our first Border Collie, Zorro.  He was a fantastic dog!

The Hypothetical Pup.

As much as we might love our dogs, the unfortunate truth is that many dog years fit into our human years. So, despite our great love and loyalty, it’s inevitable that our love and affections are going to shift onto another dog.

Moreover, just to compound the betrayal, our affections often shift from our elderly battler onto a gorgeous young pup. Not that I’m saying this has any parallels to someone ditching an older model human for a younger, New Improved Version. However, if I was an elderly pet and I saw my parents looking up:”Puppies For Sale”, I’d be feeling devastated, rejected…cast upon a canine scrapheap!

However, that’s all very well from the dog’s perspective. The dog isn’t the one who gets left behind. The dog doesn’t have to endure the empty silence… no paws clattering through the house. The magpies strutting free range through the backyard, without that omnipresent bark to contain them. Worse still, however, is the tears and having to tell the kids that a much loved family member has gone. Passed on. Crossed over the rainbow bridge. Nobody likes to break their little hearts. As parents, we’re always trying to make it better, and the loss of the family pet is devastating for a child. Quite often, they probably don’t even remember a time “before”. The dog has always been there just like Mum and Dad.

Bilbo + Amelia

Bilbo arrived when our 10 year old daughter was only crawling. Put’s things in perspective.

Or, perhaps, Mum or Dad have gone and the dog has been their rock.

I know what our family dog meant to me growing up. How he understood me like no person could. That was, until he ran away and was gone. (His name was Lassie but he obviously hadn’t watched the movie!!)

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Lassie…my first dog.

So, you don’t need to be a psychologist to see that anything you could do to minimise this loss, would be prudent. A preventive measure.

Which brings “the overlap” into play. You bring the second dog into the family before the older dog has passed, and dog number 2 seamlessly shifts into the older dog’s paws…especially if they’re the same breed.

It all goes back to that famous philosophy: “If you can’t have the one you love, love the one you’re with” which I’ve also known with this little tail at the end: “and if you can’t love the one you’re with, turn off the light”.

However, like the best laid plans of mice and men, things don’t always go to plan.

Bilbo with ball

Back from near death. Try telling this athlete he’s old!

What happens if the old dog recovers? Gains a second wind? The new dog attaches to the old dog. So now when your elderly family dog passes away, your not only have the grieving kids to consider, but also a grieving pup.

Once again, you’re back in the market for another dog.

How on earth did that happen?

Let’s rewind…

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

Two years ago, Lady, our scruffy black Cavalier x Border Collie joined the family. That said, it took Bilbo a few weeks to join the party and Lady wasn’t too keen on him either. We had a front door dog and a back door dog and the kids thinking we’d made a huge mistake.

Only ever intending to have one dog, it looked like we’d timed the transition pretty well. Then, Bilbo gained a second wind after Lady arrived. She also taught him how to be a dog. Moreover, having Lady in his corner, gave Bilbo much more confidence meeting other dogs down at the beach. He was a new dog and this was a much welcomed miracle!

Meanwhile, it’s clear Lady will never make it as a single dog.

So, the kids have started campaigning. Our daughter has been desperate for a pug for ages. She’s absolutely mad about them but we don’t share her enthusiasm. We could get tempted by another Border Collie but they need a lot of exercise.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that giving Bilbo loads more vitamins, will mean he’ll outlive us! It’s worth a try.

Are you a dog lover? How have you approached this changing of the guard?

xx Rowena

 

 

Moon Rising…Love and Loss.

Today, marked the end of an era.

Or, should I say, yesterday.

The clock has not long past midnight. No matter how much I try to pause time, it is now officially Wednesday. Tuesday is well and truly done and dusted. It’s been put to bed. Tucked in and even had its goodnight kiss…and a story!

So, what we’re really talking about is yesterday…Tuesday 5th May, 2015.

Yesterday, my parents sold their place at Palm Beach and our home away from home has gone.

Of course, we can still visit Palm Beach and it is only a 30 minute ferry trip away but it won’t be the same. I certainly felt I belonged there. That somehow I’d absorbed, even inhaled, that magnificent view across Pittwater, especially at sunset when the rose-orange lights swept across the water. That the outside had moved inside, becoming a part of myself.You know how it is when everything around you takes on a sort of spiritual significance and what you see, feel, hear, touch and small somehow get etched into your soul? It doesn’t happen every day.

Therefore, not unsurprisingly, I feel like I have left such a huge part of myself behind. That I am now some modern reincarnation of Keat’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci whose been relocated to the beach, where I’m left roaming along the mudflats with the soldier crabs.

After all, it’s hard when you’ve put down roots. When you pull them out of the ground to move on, you can’t but leave bits of you behind, which you can never get back. They’re tied to the soil, buried and have become a part of that place.

Once upon a time, I would have been totally and utterly devastated. Sunk into a full-blown catastrophe and threatened to lock myself in my room for eternity. Indulging and indeed fuelling my angst, by playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and reading Keats. He was quite a jolly fellow after all, wasn’t he?!!

Although I’ve matured a little, I have been locked in a fierce debate with myself. I know that I should be grateful for the time we had there. Two years in Palm Beach, albeit part-time, is an absolute dream come true but it’s awakened something in my soul, which doesn’t want to be extinguished. It’s fighting like mad to survive and yet I just don’t understand what it is. Emotions never talk in neon signs and the views of the heart are often cryptic and difficult to interpret at best!!

I hoping I can still hold onto this and somehow take it forward.

However, this closure has reminded me of that age-old question: Is it better to have loved and lost that never to have loved at all? Is it better to stay safe or to have a taste of heaven and then have it suddenly snatch away?

It’s such a wrench…especially when you have lost someone you love more than life itself and for whatever reason, there is no return.

My approach has always been to move on. Find someone else. Take what you enjoyed about this place and enjoy it where you are. We actually live ten minutes walk to a glorious beach and we’ve brought the kayaks and Laser back home so we can still do our water sports. That said, I’ll really miss the friends I have made over there and what it meant for me to have an escape hatch. Moreover, we all know that the rebound often just compounds the hurt!

Geoff and Miss watching the moon rise.

Geoff and Miss watching the moon rise.

Tonight, it was a glorious full moon. We’d dropped Mister off for his Scout hike and stopped in at the lookout to turn around and chanced upon this…the moon rising over the Central Coast, just North of Sydney. I’d never thought of the rising moon as being symbolic of hope and new birth before but that was it’s message tonight. It reassured me that everything is going to be okay. It’s not the end of the world. You’re not going to die.

Indeed, being a bit philosophical about this difficult change, I am aware that by spending so much time in one place, we’ve actually narrowed our horizons quite significantly. Instead of looking out and seeing the world, we’ve been swimming round and round inside a very small pond. Although we still haven’t explored every nook and cranny, the rest of the world awaits. Indeed, there is even so much to explore right at home, which has been simply overlooked. There are also so many other places and I’ve never seen myself as a John Howard-like character. Our former Prime Minister has been spending his annual holidays at Hawk’s Nest ever since the Big Bang. As much as I love the comfort of the familiar and being a quasi local, I’ve always seen myself as more of an explorer.

And so I have quite mixed feelings as one chapter closes and another begins. It’s time to carpe diem seize the day, instead of being afraid.

Bring it on…but please give me a little head start. I’d like to be prepared!
How have you dealt with difficult transitions in your life? Please share
.

xx Rowena