life

For Mum: beautiful memories…


She did not use words to voice her excitement, rather, Mum’s excitement was shown through expression. Her smile grew wide and her eyes sparkled like those of a toddler who delighted in the gifts that lay beneath the Christmas tree. Her fingers glided over the electronic buttons embedded in the armrest, and her eyes rested upon the menu that was placed neatly on her seat alongside the amenities pack.

As she began to settle in her Business Class seat on a Qantas flight bound for Frankfurt via Singapore, tears began to glide down her cheeks. She turned toward me and slowly mouthed a simple, ‘thank you’.

I will never forget that moment. She was so happy, so thankful and so excited. I hugged her warmly, then together, we chinked our chilled glasses of champagne, took a long sip and revelled in the moment.

Adjacent to us, my boys then 10 & 12, were excitedly exploring the gadgets, gifts and myriad of entertainment on offer in the expansive seats that made them look very small. And whilst Mum’s excitement was contained, theirs was not, and with every new discovery, squeals of joy permeated through the cabin.

Watching my family’s happiness, I was thankful. Thankful for being a Qantas employee whose benefits included free Business Class tickets to any destination in the world, and thankful that I could share those benefits with those I loved.

I had surprised Mum with the tickets after previously speaking with Dad. He did not want to come, rather, he felt a trip with Mum and my two sons was a perfect idea. Knowing Mum adored Europe, I knew that was the perfect place for us to go, and as I believed, as did Mum that the best experiences were those that happened serendipitously, our itinerary was unplanned. The only sure thing was the month long booking of a hire car that we’d collect on our arrival into Frankfurt Main, and from there, who knew.

Many hours later, with Mum and Rob in the back of our hire car and Max, as self-appointed navigator in the front, we set off through the dark, underground car park in search of the exit. This simple task turned into a laughter filled adventure when the boys spotted a sign with the words Ausfahrt splashed across the vivid, green background. Farting noises and giggles followed and despite discovering it was german for exit, throughout our journey, it was a constant source of amusement for them.

On Christmas morning 2007, with giggles abated, we finally emerged from the darkness to find ourselves immersed in a spectacular, snow filled landscape.

It was indeed a very merry Christmas.

For the next few weeks, the laughter was in abundance and the adventures numerous. You loved that trip and in the years following, you spoke of it often.

Lake Annecy, France

It has now been 14 years since that wonderful adventure, and as today is the anniversary of my first year without you, I felt sharing some of our adventures is a fitting tribute to honour the beautiful, funny, crazy and incredibly loving woman, mother and grandmother that you were.

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.

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 that we were so close and that replaces all my sadness with joy.

Mum, you were my best friend and my greatest support.

I will miss you forever…

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…