You raised me right.

Hey Dad,

You would have turned seventy this month. That’s right 7-0.

Seventy on the seventh.

I still remember your face when your walked into the restaurant for your surprise 60th that Mum threw for you.  I remember the tears of gratitude that filled your eyes as you looked around the room and saw all your family and friends sitting there just to celebrate you. I never imagined that it would be your last big party.

To be honest – I am still pretty angry that you had to leave us.

I know that eight years on people are probably thinking that I should be past the anger stage by now, but every now and then it comes in like a giant tidal wave and completely wipes me out with such intensity.

And I never ever see it coming so I’m never fully prepared.

I never used to swear this much. And I never used to struggle with the massive anxiety that I have had ever since the strongest and most loving man I ever knew closed his eyes for the last time on this earth.

Death really sucks big ones.

Right now, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in my driveway in my car that’s got an empty petrol tank that I couldn’t be bothered filling.

The engine is on and I expect it to die very soon but I need the air conditioning turned on because I can’t open the windows due to the shouting I’ve been doing, and the manic banging of my fists on the passenger seat in total frustration.

Its all slightly insane but oddly cathartic to be so geographically close to my family but so far away emotionally.

They haven’t found me yet and I’m not ready to go inside and adult or parent. I want to get this out of me before I explode and end up hurting someone else by reflex.

The grief is crippling me at this moment and I just don’t know what else to do with it so I’ll scream until I lose my voice or one of the neighbours calls the police.

I kid of course .. Writing to you is calming me. It’s helping me feel heard and valued.  It’s allowing me to purge this anger a little and make room for the peace that my soul craves.

I’ve become a bit of an expert at pretending, but Mum knows the truth. She wants me to go and get some grief counseling.  But I just don’t know that I can ever trust another counsellor again after the marriage counselling went catastrophically badly and almost ruined me.  Ruined us – ruined my hope and my belief in human nature.

I want to go back on the medication that I despise because I need to once again be numb.

I need to not feel so much and I need to be able to function again.

I’m going to be ok Dad, don’t worry about me.

But I would give anything to have you put your arms around me one more time and tell me that ‘God’s got this kiddo’.

Because Sunday’s are always the worst day of the week for me. I just can’t do church anymore – I can’t keep pretending for the sake of not making other people feel awkward at my outbursts.

So I’m going to sit here in this hot car and wait for Jesus to come meet me where I’m at.

Because that’s what you would have told me to do. Because you raised me right .

I love you. I always have and I always will.

image

This was your 40th dad. The age I am now

 

Five years later….

Dads eulogy

Another year without you Dad,

Twelve months of  ‘life goes on’,

And yes – it does, despite being sad,

I’m learning that’s NOT wrong.

~

It’s hardest when the memories come,

And take me by surprise,

The smallest thing pulls me undone,

And tears pour from my eyes.

~

But memories can bring laughter too,

And cheerfulness heals pain,

Remembering the pranks you’d do,

Has me giggling and smiling again.

~

You taught me how to be my best,

You showed me how to laugh,

To trust in God whatever the test,

And to always follow my heart.

~

You taught me that life’s greatest things,

Are people – not possessions,

And showed me how much joy it brings

To love life’s little lessons.

~

I’m thankful for the times we had,

I’ll cherish them forever,

Those thirty-two years I called you ‘Dad’,

They couldn’t have been any better.

 

 

Love you Dad.

 

5 years today.  XX ♥ XX

Frozen.

Has anyone heard that saying that goes something like this:

The little things that annoy you the most about a person are the things that you miss the most when they’re gone?

Yeah?

Well that.

And I realised how very true this is when I was out shopping today. I was on my phone chatting with my Mum like I do every day and we were talking about my blog post from last night. Mum was telling me that she was sorry that she never knew the extent of how much I hated school and how bad it really was for me, and I told her that it’s all ok because I never told her and Dad much about any of it anyway.

I finished the call and hung up and my mind was replaying the conversation in my head as I walked along.  I was mulling things over when I heard a deep male voice behind me give a hearty chuckle and make a comment to his wife and I froze. I stopped so abruptly that I caused the man and his wife to crash into me.

I fumbled my way around an apology and turned around and stared at him trying to make sense of the short man in his mid 50s with a long beard, bandana and dozens of tattoos that stood in front of me. He looked at me awkwardly and asked me if I was ok and I must have convinced him that I was because he smiled and continued on his way.

I remember watching his retreating back and trying to shake myself out of the trance I was in but realised that my brain wasn’t connecting to my feet and they weren’t going anywhere. I then noticed that other people were walking around me and I reached up and felt the hot tears that were slowly starting to make their way down my cheek. I wanted to run away but I couldn’t. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t get any words out.

I was acutely aware that people were staring at me curiously but I was still firmly planted in the same spot. I stood there for about five minutes just crying and sobbing and looking like a complete idiot because I was so overcome by unexpected emotion.

It was almost like I was watching myself on a screen. I was so removed from that moment that it actually really frightened me.

***

My Dad used to say a lot of funny things and he also used to say a lot of things that embarrassed us a lot when we were teenagers – like most Dads do I’m sure.

He was a stickler for “dad jokes” and when he adopted the vernacular of the youth of our era it would drive us CRAZY! He took a long time to learn the correct context for the phrase “sucked in” and “cool beans” was another favourite that we hated.

But the quote that he used most frequently that used to make both my sister and I absolutely cringe was the one that the man in the shopping centre used today. “The name’s Billy not silly”. And I don’t know why but for some reason, when Dad said that  it would always make me want to hide under a rock. It grated on me big time.

It’s will be 5 years this February since that nasty cancer took Dad from us and I honestly thought that I was doing ok, but the human brain is a complex thing and it plays tricks on us at times. Somehow the phrase that man uttered triggered enormous grief in me and I plunged into fright mode. And that’s never happened to me before so it was a very scary experience to have had but I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what Harley’s body does when he is thrust violently into a painful situation.

I mean…everyday things that most people take for granted are enormously overwhelming to a child like him. Most of us don’t notice the sound of the flickering fluorescent lights at the mall; all we hear is the laughter and chatter of the crowds.

Most of us don’t recognise the tune playing over the PA within the first 2 bars of the song, in fact we probably aren’t consciously aware that there is even music at all. Most of us can walk along and chat with a friend without scanning the centre for imminent dangers constantly and are able to enjoy the experience somewhat. And I doubt that many people have to count the tiles on the floor or how many shades of a colour are in a rack of clothing or recite phrases to themselves over and over just so that they can keep on top of their anxiety and not freeze up from fear when they are out shopping.

But these are all the kinds of things that Harley has to do so that his body doesn’t make him do crazy things. Every single time. Sometimes he’s not even sure himself what sets him off just that he is freaking out and can’t stop it or make his body obey him.

Today was certainly a huge learning curve for me and it’s made me appreciate just how much courage it takes for my boy to even enter a shopping centre let alone endure an hour in there. I think he is truly amazing.  And I have even more respect for how hard he tries and how far he has come.

As for me?

I’ll be ok. I have wonderful memories and tons of photos to get me through.

Like this:

Image

Always Remembered…

I am too tired tonight to write the post that’s churning through my too-full brain so I’m going to re-blog this one from last year instead.

I have found Father’s Day this year to be difficult and sad. I thought it might get easier as the years pass, but so far – this hasn’t been the case. We lost my wonderful Dad to cancer four years ago and the world lost a wonderful husband, brother and friend. Father’s day will continue to go on regardless and if I have anything to do with it: so will my Dad’s memory.

I am encouraging my children to give Paul a wonderful day today and thinking about how much I can’t wait to get to heaven to have a cuppa with my Dad!

Happy Father’s day to all my wonderful readers. Hope it’s been fabulous.

 

Me about 12 months old with my Daddy x

A Daddy gives his daughter away

Young Love......My Daddy and Mummy engaged.

Miss you Dad…..xxxxx

Dear Friend, Neil says it much better than me.

 I had a post all ready to go tonight but it has taken a back seat for now because one of my best friends lost her Dad this morning and I have no idea how to make it all better.

Dear Friend,

You and I have only been friends a reasonably short time but we have shared so much, have loads in common and become quite close, It feels like we’ve known each other for years.

And I hate the fact that we now have another thing in common.

I hate that there are no words. No words that I could speak that would lessen the pain. There is nothing I could do that would ease the ache in your heart and I want to take away the fog that has probably started to descend on you right now.  I hate that fog. It’s overwhelming, all-consuming and like a tonne of bricks has been heaped onto your shoulders.

I pray for the enveloping peace of God to cover you and your family now. That you would allow Him to take that burden from you.

There is so much to organise, to plan and to deal with and friend, I want you to know that I am here. I am here when you want to scream, when you want to cry or even if you just want to sit in silence.

I am still here even if you want to shut down and hibernate for a while: But please know that doesn’t mean I will stop checking on you. I will watch you closely but only because I care.

I promise not to be one of those friends that says “Call me if you need anything” as a flippant throw away line with good intentions, because let’s face it: You won’t call. No one ever does.  We all hate to have to ask for help. It’s how we are. Instead, I will bless you un-expectantly because you deserve to be looked after.

I also promise not to avoid you like so many people do out of fear of causing offence.  To steal a line from another close friend: I come with an apology: I may not always say the right things, I probably won’t always have the right words and I often put my foot in my mouth but I won’t carry on as though there in an elephant in the room that nobody wants to mention.

And in the words of one of my favourite songwriters Neil Finn in Distant Sun:

I don’t pretend to know what you want

But I offer love…..

Love Me x

Keeping the memory alive.

It’ s been a rough week for all of us and for once, autism isn’t to blame.

Today is the 4 year anniversary of my Dad losing his battle with cancer and I know I write a tribute every year and this year is going to be no different.

But this year kinda has a sick twist to it in that my Mum is in the very same hospital today that Dad passed away in back in 2008. *shudder*.

So why is she in hospital?  Well, she fell down her stairs and fractured her foot. It is awful and made more so by the fact that she is unable to weight bear on her opposite knee and neither my sister nor I live near her so she’s having to rely on friends to do anything as she’s not allowed to drive for 6 weeks.

Thankfully she has a great group of friends and she is in good hands but if you are a pray-er, please add my Mum to your prayers for a speedy recovery.

~

Anyway, as I was driving the children to school this morning, I told them what today was and asked them what it meant to them individually.

Ella sighed and said that she missed his silly jokes and then suggested that we call Grandma to see how she is. Yep…she’s as thoughtful as ever is my girl.

Harley said: “I can’t believe I was only 4 when Grandad died” and Lucas….

Well Lucas had a reaction that really stung.

Because when Dad passed, Lucas was only 18 months old and has no memory of Dad at all.  He asked me who Grandad was and it totally broke me apart.

I am thankful that Dad got to meet all of his grandchildren but devastated that my son has no memories of the wonderful man who Dad was and the realisation that he has only ever known Grandma to live in that big old house by herself really hit me hard.

 Lucas doesn’t remember being taken to the fire station where Dad worked and having these 3 photos taken; ⤵

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And he has no memory of being chased by Dad in shops when he ran away to find mischief  ⤵

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And he certainly wouldn’t remember being given his first lesson in shaving ⤵

But I remember all of these times and much more.

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I remember Dad giggling as he tossed his Grandson in the air ⤵

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And posing mid-hug with a little Lucas ⤵

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Dad was an awesome babysitter. Well, when he didn’t sleep on the job! ⤵

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And I remember how proud ha was of all 5 of his grandchildren. I love his proud smile in this photo which was taken on the day that we brought Lucas home from the hospital.⤵

Dad: I will tell my boy all my wonderful memories of you.

Your memory will not die out with me.I promise.

I am thankful that you input so much good into me and I will make you proud.

Love you, Miss you, Wish you were still here ♥♥♥ xxx ♥♥♥

LEGACY

This would have to be one of the longest posts I’ve ever written but I gotta tell you  – I LOVE it 🙂

The words just flowed today so go and grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine depending on what time it is and come and join me on this journey of discovery. I can wait 🙂

~*~

I woke up this morning and decided that today had to be all about me. I have been so snowed under with responsibilities and demands that it had really started to do my head in. I realised that I needed to take some time out and work through what has been going on in my head lately and I actually permitted myself to take this time without feeling selfish.

(And THAT in itself is a huge step of progress right there!)

Recently, there  have been a huge array of emotions that are seemingly unconnected to each other and I needed to stop and try to piece this jigsaw puzzle of confusion together once and for all.

I dropped Lucas at pre-school and jumped into my car and drove until I felt that I had reached the perfect spot. I landed in a small country town roughly and hours drive away. We are very fortunate to live where we do because it really doesn’t take too long before you’re in the countryside enjoying the fresh air and mingling with small town folk who always make you feel welcome.

So here I sit holed up in a gorgeous little cafe with a strong coffee, a HUGE piece of gluten-free cake and my iPad, notepad and pen. The warm winter sun is coming through the window onto my back and the fire crackling in the fireplace is completing the ambiance.

(OK….I lied about the fire but I really am in absolute heaven you could say!)

~*~

Things have been really rough lately in that I have honestly believed that I have been cruising along nicely but it turns out that this has all been surface emotions. I had been fooling myself again.

Because that awful little terror called grief really is a sneaky little bugger. He lies in wait for sometimes quite a sizable amount of time lulling you into a false sense of security and then one day, he creeps up on you and whacks you over the head when you least expect it.  It has been so forceful in its attack on me this time, that it has brought me to my knees dramatically screaming in agony and wondering how on earth I didn’t see it coming!

Grief is no respecter of times or places and is not subject to the unspoken rules of political correctness. It operates according to its own schedule.

Most of my grief stems from the loss of my Dad to cancer 3 years ago and I have been remembering a lot of wonderful things about him this week. Strangely enough – thinking about him usually has the reverse effect in that it brings me smiles and laughs and keeps my wonderful memories alive.

It doesn’t weigh me down because I’m choosing to remember the good times and not focus on the loss. It’s really cathartic for me.  But with those joyful thoughts – the sad thoughts also inevitably creep in and they are what drag me down and threaten to wipe me out.

My dad was a really gentle soul. He was a hugger, an encourager and a comforter. He was laid back without being lazy, peace-loving without being wimpy and authoritative without being demanding or unreasonable.

I miss his laugh, his silly jokes and his amazing wealth of knowledge. This man knew everything about everything. He was an asset to any trivia team and had a memory to rival any elephant!

He was particularly special in that he would often go out of his way to learn all about something that interested one of his friends so that he had something to talk with them about at his meeting.

When Mr Patient and I got married – he threw himself into learning all about Mr P’s interests and did the same thing with my sister and her hubby. He loved God passionately and because of his earthly example to me of what a father is – I have found it easy to trust in God as my heavenly father.

Dad always joked that he should write a book because “one day I won’t be around anymore and I want you kids to know where you came from and what I consider to be the important lessons in life.”

But as you all know – “one day” came a lot sooner than any of us could have anticipated.

Dad used to be the best storyteller I knew. His facial expressions and mannerisms helped illustrate the tale and brought a real authenticity to it. He often told us stories of his youth and can I just say – he was a ratbag at times!

Dad holding me when I was about 12 months old

He would tell us of all the pranks that they used to pull on the girls at school, the numerous times that he was given the cane for mischief and the times that they narrowly escaped the law!

He regularly reflected on his childhood and remembers that his mother often told the tale of her standing in the street talking to friends when Dad climbed down out of his pram and took the wheels off so he could figure out how it worked!

Oh how much my boys are like their Granddad!

Dad ended up working with his hands in his chosen vocation and was also the best handyman around. There was nothing my Dad wouldn’t have a go at and his can-do attitude was contagious.

Dad also wanted to write down all the stories of his childhood and youth so that my sister and I could have a record of where we came from and what life was like back in his day.

When Ella was in grade 2, she did a speech at school that was all about the differences between when her granddad’s generation went to school and now. Ella would ring him up to pick his brain and hung on his every word. Of course Dad got a real kick out of being asked to share his story and was as proud as punch that she wanted to know!

And Ella actually ended up winning that year’s speeches coming first out of her whole entire grade! It completely made his day,

Dad always told me that he wanted me to write, he was always encouraging me and loved the silly little poems that I would often churn out as a child. He told me that I had the gift of the gab like him (no doubting that!) and that I should share my life story with my kids.

So I guess this brings me to the point of this post.

This particular post has been written in honour of my Dad but also because I want to continue the legacy that he never got to see to completion. I want this blog to be that book for MY children that Dad never got to write.

I want MY kids to be able to read back on this in ten years time and see how much I love and adore them and to show them just how far they have come.

And if something were to happen to me and I was to join Dad in heaven prematurely – I want to leave this legacy for my children.
I have told my daughter and husband my blog log in and password and if that day should ever come…..I want them to continue writing this for their children and for their grandchildren and so on.

I want this blog to become a family tradition, a record of highs and lows and successes and failures. I want my descendants to know that they do matter and that their lives are full of purpose and that their dreams are achievable.

I want them to be the best that they can be and I want them to  know that above all else – they are loved.

And on that note – I think it’s time to go and get a coffee refill.

I’ll leave you with some photos that I took on my phone of the beautiful Australian countryside.
I truly found peace out there today , I hope you all enjoy your evenings or your days wherever you are in the world.

This pic should give my "real life" friends an idea of which direction I drove in today 🙂

Fi x

Sometimes, life sucks.

Losing my Dad just makes everything suck.

I’ll try not to make this a depressing post, but it has really become apparent to me lately that since Dad died…..it has affected so many areas of my and my family’s lives.

Take my beautiful Mum for example.

After she left here last week, she headed a few hours North to stay in her Aunty’s holiday home on the coast. The intention was so that she could relax a bit and treat herself to some much-needed down time in the week between Ella’s birthday and my sister’s little girl’s birthday next week.  And what better way to do that than at a little cottage only a 30 second walk from the ocean…

I have spoken to her a couple of times on the phone and although she has said she is enjoying herself, I can hear the loneliness in her voice. She doesn’t know a soul in this little town and has no contact with any of her friends apart from the occasional phone call. At night, she sits alone in the cottage watching tv and waiting for it to be bedtime.

This is NOT the life I want for her! That’s depressing.

My Dad retired early. He was only about 45 from memory, so he and Mum did EVERYTHING together up until the day he died at 61. And I can honestly say that I have never seen another couple before or since that were as obviously in love as my parents.

For 17 years, they went grocery shopping together, they helped at charities together, they went for long walks together, they strolled down streets holding hands like teenagers, they often used to take weekenders in their camper trailer to little beachside communities and they made regular trips down to visit their 5 grandchildren in the 2 different cities that my sister and I live in. They were a team and they were meant for each other.

I remember in the last few weeks of Dad’s life….how loving, compassionate and caring my Mum was. I never once heard her complain about the continuous tests, scans, and Dr appointments that she faithfully took him to every week.

She was (and still is) a rock to my sister *Gabrielle and I, and she soldiers on and on and on.

**

Like I said…..Dad dying wrecked everything.

Dad used to do most of the driving, so they were able to visit me more frequently. Now Mum has to fly or catch a train because it’s too far to drive alone and I don’t want her to anyway.

Dad was like a pseudo father to Mr Patient because he lost his own Dad (also to cancer) years before. Now, Mr Patient has no-one to talk to or get into mischief with whenever we visit Mum.

Dad shared my taste in music…..Big band, Jazz and soul music. He introduced me to Ella, Benny and Duke. But now I have to enjoy them alone.

I inherited my Dad’s awful sense of humour! We used to laugh at things that no-one else ever did and could never understand why other people didn’t think our jokes were funny?

Like for example: Q: What’s big and white and stands in the corner?

A: A naughty fridge!

I bet most of you rolled your eyes and cringed then. Dad would’ve laughed 🙂

And Dad would always make a point of telling me whether on the phone or in person that he thought I was a great mother.

Constantly. It’s like he somehow knew that I really needed to hear it.

He died before we got a diagnosis for Harley and the times that he was telling me this – I was still throwing my hands up in the air in exasperation because I couldn’t work out where I’d gone wrong with Harley and why I couldn’t get through to him on any level!

So to hear “You’re a wonderful Mum Fiona” when I was wondering how on earth I could possibly get through another MINUTE was medicinal and so so healing.

But then he died.

I hate that my beautiful mother is own her own. She’s lost the love of her life and her soul mate. Her travelling companion, her best friend, and her other half.

As much as I know my Mum is always there for me and is a pillar of strength , I am consciously aware that no-one is there for her and don’t want to drain her energy reserves either.

She has no-one to offload to at the end of a hard day. No-one to look after her when she’s unwell and no-one to bounce ideas off.

Every single day it kills me that I can’t live nearer to her nor her to us and this is where the sheer size of Australia is annoying to say the least!

Don’t get me wrong here…..I believe that my Dad is in a better place and that everything happens in God’s time, and often for reasons that we don’t yet understand, but right now, I’m just sad for my Mum and hating that I can’t fix it.

I really don’t understand why this is affecting me so much NOW?

I thought I was coping well (?)

While they were sleeping…..

I had one of those “AHA” moments this week.

I’ll set the scene by explaining that here at Mum’s -she still lives in the large family home that I spent my teenage years living in.

It has 4 bedrooms which means that Ella gets her own room, I get my own and the boys share another room.

Only it doesn’t really work out that way…..

You see, BOTH of the boys have sleeping “issues” that range from sleep walking , night terrors and difference of opinion on whether there should be a night-light or not!

So the best solution was to separate them.

We did this by putting Harley’s bed in my room with me and leaving Lucas in the other one.

Sounds good right?

Well, yeah…..if you like to lay awake listening to snuffles, sleep talking, sleep -groaning and the tossing and turning of a little boy who can never get comfortable!

This is one instance where I consider being completely deaf in one ear an advantage!

I can put my hearing ear onto the pillow and sleep in total silence!

But this is the start of my complete turnaround in perception.

This week, I was given the book Choosing to see which was written by Mary Beth Chapman who is the wife of a well-known American Christian artist: Steven Curtis Chapman.

It is a mother’s story of loss, pain and adversity following the untimely and tragic death of her youngest of 6 children Maria who was only 5 years old.

The accident occurred in their own driveway when her 17-year-old son didn’t see his sister run out to greet him and he ran her over and fatally wounded her so Mary Beth is dealing with a double whammy of emotional heartache.

The book was one that I couldn’t put down. It shook me and made me realise just how precious life really is.

Mary Beth wrote chapter after chapter describing her grief and the pleas she would make with God to give her just one more day or to be able to hear her daughter’s sweet voice once again.

She watched the balloons being released in Maria’s memory and wished that she too could float up to the heavens with them and escape the dreadful pain she was experiencing every day.

What really grabbed me was the countless times that she would describe Maria and use phrases such as “her sweaty, stinky body”, her “sticky maple syrupy kisses” and “mischievous smile” as she ran ,climbed and jumped from place to place.

She described the daughter who loved to swim in the pool completely naked except for her goggles and the child who loved to jump on the trampoline (also naked) and the child who was almost always dressed in a fairy costume or Tinkerbell outfit wherever they went.

I cried when I read this as I have lost count of the times that I have told my own children off for stripping down (in our own house) and snapped at them to “take that stupid costume off and go put some proper clothes on”

I would have a fit at them if they refused to wear the outfit that I chose out ( I know…..I should pick my battles right?)  and I’d go mental at them if their hands were anything close to sticky and as for the sweaty bodies……eeeww!  I would yell at them to go and hop in the bath THIS INSTANT!

All in case my precious furniture might get dirty!

And here is this gorgeous mother missing all the little things that defined her precious daughter.

What she would give for just one more day with Maria.

That night, I slept with my good ear up, not on the pillow as it usually is.

I wanted to hear EVERY murmur.

Every sniffle , and every soft moan.

I got up a few times and crept into Ella and Lucas’ rooms and just sat on the end of their beds thanking God for them and kissed their little foreheads.

I came back to my room and climbed into Harley’s bed with him and snuggled in …….until he woke up and looked at me groggily and announced “Get out!”

But I didn’t care. At least he was alive and talking to me.

I really am SO blessed. I mustn’t forget again.