life

With you I was always me…


It’s your birthday soon. You would be turning 92.

I yearn to call, to share, to listen and to speak with the one person who really understood.

For there were no boundaries, no walls and no pretence.

No need to impress, no yearning for approval, no feelings of inadequacy.

With you, I was always me.

Sometimes I lose that woman who shone in your light. The woman who bathed in your wisdom, bathed in your strength. That woman who, in your presence, allowed herself to breathe, to believe, to shine.

I took a drive to the ocean the other day. It was a day you would’ve embraced. For you loved the ocean, particularly on cold, stormy days. You often said that’s when the ocean was really alive.

When waves crashed on hardened sand, and heavy, black clouds weighted the sky with intensity and fury. That was when, you said, the ocean was truly alive.

On those days, when the weather raged, you’d forage for shells, often finding those that hadn’t fallen victim to the endless pounding of fierce waves. You’d always find those that remained whole, pure and as one. A reflection of you perhaps.

The morning after you left, I took a walk by the ocean. The sand was scattered with shards of broken shells, I paused for a moment and at my feet lay a perfect shell. Did you place it there?

I took it home. It now sits in the frame of your picture.

Yes, with you, I was always me…

It’s your birthday soon. Happy 92nd Mum.

I love you. Always.

life

Life’s too short, or is it…?


You’ve heard the old adage: life’s too short to be somewhere, do something, etc etc. Personally that saying has at times been the catalyst to powerful decision making, propelling me onto paths I never expected to walk and moved me in directions that nurtured my soul and nourished my appetite for incredible adventures.

I don’t often voice those 3 words, rather, for me its a feeling, a response to a situation or probably more profoundly a knowing that something within that situation just isn’t right. My body responds negatively. My being tenses and withdraws and there’s an intense feeling of being caged and unable to move. I ponder my emotional and physical response before the feeling envelopes me and urges me to act.

And I do.

In doing so, I’ve come to realise that life truly is too short to spend time pondering or worrying whether you should or shouldn’t be somewhere or be doing something that causes stress. In my experience, if I’ve had to ask myself if life is too short to be where I am, then maybe I’m not meant to be there. And when I have acted, I’ve found myself having some incredible moments. In 10 days, I made a swift decision to move to Taiwan to teach English, in which I made lifelong friends. I accepted a photojournalism job in India where I found myself constantly taking selfies with an hilarious water buffalo whose name was Buff. And I began an 860 kilometre walk across Spain that was one of the most self-reflecting journey’s I’ve ever embarked upon.

Our footprints are meant to be left anywhere and everywhere. So if you do find yourself questioning where you are from an emotional or physical perspective, maybe it’s time to leave your footprint and begin a new journey.

Life really is never too short, maybe it’s just the time spent in one place that is …

life

A letter to Mum…


It’s 0730, around the time I normally call, and knowing I can no longer continue this mutually enjoyed ritual of ours, one week after you passed is surreal.

In the few weeks leading to you leaving, I knew something wasn’t right: and it was as if you somehow knew your time here was coming to an end. You didn’t speak in a negative voice, for you never complained about your life, on the contrary, you were so happy, particularly these last 7 months. But I believe you somehow knew your stroke was pending, and you were at peace with that. You had completed your journey and now it was time to start another. And as I held your hand last week, I knew you struggled knowing you would soon leave me. I told you I would be ok if you needed to go and my words, I believe, gave you peace.

I didn’t want you to leave, but you were so frustrated at not being able to communicate or move your body. Yet you maintained your humour: pulling faces, poking out your tongue, albeit sideways and we could see the joy in your eyes at knowing those who truly loved you, were there, holding your hand.

You said many times how happy you were. You spoke of your happiness at being so close to me, the boys and the pups. You spoke of how you were now free of fear. Fear that came from worrying if they would find you. Once reassured they couldn’t & wouldn’t, your fear dissipated.

You did not harbour hatred for what they did, rather, you released them from your life without bitterness. We both did. We released those you trusted for deceiving and stealing from you. Yet whilst you were at peace with the deceit, you didn’t forget. Didn’t forget how those who were once family, used your money at whim and depleted your once healthy bank account. Your anger centred more toward the fraudulent use of Dad’s credit card and how they had used his card and spent over $5000. This discovery was painful because we knew Dad felt little for them in his final years. Their lack of communication and lack of visits fuelled his feelings – it hurt him, yet Dad did not allow that hurt to define him. Yet when we were heard ‘S’ claim she was the only daughter who received all his love – oh how we laughed at that Mum, for we knew differently. As he, like you, had released her from his life. Yes, on the rare occasions they were spoken of, their audacity, stupidity and hypocrisy gave us endless entertainment.

Yet we took their deceit for what it was and found their blatant audacity in leaving their digital fingerprint across countless transactions the epitome of stupidity. Such ignorance made it so easy for detectives to find and create a fraud investigation. Pages and pages of transactions showed over a period of 3 years, $30,000 was spent without your consent or knowledge. We wondered why you spent so much on cigarettes when you didn’t smoke, and found it highly amusing that you bought sperm from Seattle. We figured that was for when you found that man your searched for with the E Harmony account you somehow created without internet access. Yet what intrigued and amused us most, was the fact you spent thousands, at age 89 years old, to undergo IVF.

Oh how we laughed at that IVF discovery Mum, we laughed at their blatant ignorance at believing their expenditure of your money would not be discovered. And we rejoiced at knowing it had, knowing they were exposed. Rejoiced that one day, their time will come. You won’t see that now, but it will, even if it does take the detective’s estimate of 8 years to come to court, I will see it through for you.

Most of all we rejoiced at being free, being together and being so, so happy. We forgot about them and simply lived happily. You, just as Dad did, would speak of having 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. You were not sad at seeing their evil words in emails and how they had stated they wanted nothing more to do with you, conversely, you were at peace with that. Just as Dad had been at peace with their lack of presence in his life.

Whilst sorting through your clothes yesterday, I found a t-shirt you wore often. It reads; No Regrets. You definitely did not have any regrets and I love wearing that t-shirt as it smells of you and that makes me smile.

I’m so grateful for our relationship, so grateful that I was always there for you and so grateful you were always there for me. I’m so happy I took you to Europe, Bali and many other destinations we found ourselves in. So grateful we spent the afternoon of Christmas Day watching the world go by at Mooloolaba beach from the comfort of the car. Dogs on laps, we laughed as you did a running commentary of people strolling by. You loved that. You loved it when we took many leisurely drives through the countryside. We would stop many times to take in the quiet, and simply to be.

Mum, I could write for hours about all the things we did together, and I love that only we shared so many crazy, laughter filled moments.

‘Slipping’ on rainy streets in Singapore, crazy ‘mattress rides’ in France, being the ‘pied piper’ on Austria’s winding roads, sipping vin chaud in quaint bars, and feeling like fugitives in Switzerland. How could we forget Delphine throwing cooking oil on unsuspecting drivers in Germany, then the laughter filled snowmobile rides on France’s glorious snowfields. At home, those endless hours chatting downstairs, whilst Dad sat snoring happily in an adjoining chair. How we laughed when in unison, we would say, ‘Ken/Dad, go to bed…’.

I am so lucky to have so many memories and so many photos of our life together. Ironically, they are now requesting my images – maybe if they’d spent more time in yours and Dad’s company, more frequently, they would have their own images to reflect upon.

I won’t pretend to say I’m not sad, I am, I’m heartbroken knowing I can no longer create memories with you. Yet despite my sadness, I know you were so happy these last months and that replaces all my sadness with joy.

Mum, you were my greatest support.

I will miss you forever…

life

The colour of leaving…


Recently I wrote a short post titled, The colour of leaving & the importance of being present.

And last night, long before the clock struck midnight heralding a new decade, those words reverberated in my mind. Maybe because outside, my son [the inspiration of that post] and his friends were celebrating the end of 2019.

From the sanctuary of my room as I readied myself for sleep with my beloved dogs nestled beside me, I could hear the laughter and the somewhat incomprehensible [and loud] chatter that often partners an over-indulgence of alcohol.

I smiled at this cacophony of celebration and felt immensely grateful, yet also, melancholic. Grateful for being able to listen to life being celebrated in the present moment and melancholic because I was witness to the colours of my son’s life, moreover, witness to hues changing and present colours leaving forever.

The colour of leaving is of course a metaphorical statement that evokes a myriad of interpretations. And for me it is about how the hues that once coloured my son’s life are now awash with vastly different shades.

This is not a negative statement, rather, as every parent will attest to, witnessing your children become young adults who are no longer dependent is a little melancholic.

For when the colours associated with infancy, toddlerhood and teenage years fade, leaving in their wake, colours representing vibrancy, maturity and growth, it is bittersweet and melancholic.

And as I witness certain colours leave, I feel comfort as I bask in their receding light knowing those unique, magical colours are now blending with the new, and will shape the colours exclusive to my sons’ lives.

Yes, the colour of leaving and the importance of being present…