What you’ve missed

Day 17: grief journaling

Today we want you to write a letter to your loved one telling them about a moment or moments they’ve missed.

Either choose to tell them about one single moment or tell them about everything they’ve missed. Talk to them as you would if you could give them a call.

• What would you want them to know?

• What have they missed?

• In what moments have you thought of them the most?

Dear Jacob,

Hiya beautiful boy x just calling to say ‘hi.’ Haven’t seen you for ages, when are you gonna come by again to see your old ma & pa. It’s been such a long time 4yrs, 6 months and 12days since I’ve heard your voice, kissed your forehead, ruffled your curly hair, laughed at your jokes and witnessed your creative talent in the form of your movies on your YouTube channels, washed your clothes, cooked your favourite meals, made you a cup of tea with 3 sugars, watched a good horror flick with you in the good room or listened to the words of a song you’d say I’d like because they’d have a positive message in the lyrics.

You’ve missed a lot since you’ve been away….but I’m sure you know what’s been going on as you watch over and protect us from afar. I guess you know that….

Toffee and Mungo crossed the rainbow bridge and are basking in your company and enjoying scratches curled up in your lap purring in cat Heaven. Two new cats have joined our family Mike and Morty. Mike is a rescue cat and they had given him another name – Tyson (as you have a cousin with the same name we called him Mike instead) Mike Tyson – do you get it? He’s not one bit of a fighter at all, he’s Mungo reincarnated, a scaredy-cat. Morty is your cousin Paul’s rescue cat. Him and his girlfriend couldn’t look after him anymore so we inherited him. He’s a pretty chilled out cat that has a permanent look on his face as if he’s stoned all the time. His nickname is naughty Morty. Ozzy and Axl are still fat (but don’t tell them that) and your dad will say ‘it’s their fur that makes them look fat.’ Chilli has moved out too because it got to the stage when Ben said ‘either the bird goes or I do’ and me being a good mum how could I choose between your brother and a bird. I do miss him though – Chilli that is, in case you thought I kicked Ben out. He’s gone to another loving family and they’re spoiling him rotten.

Your camera is still working it’s magic. I’m seeing the world through your eyes now – the lens of your camera. I snap away and SMILE ‘see miracles in life everyday.’ I have an ABN number now just like you to use in my upcoming adventure in photography in my free time. If you were here I’m sure you’d be happy to let me use your pride and joy and I’m sure you’d be still working your magic on an updated model, the top of the range equipment. You’d be able to teach me the tricks of the trade, instead of me watching YouTube tutorials over and over again.

You missed Rach and Adam’s engagement announcement. You’d be proud of the photos I took of them to put on their wedding website. I got a tad excited the other day when I saw Adam wearing your sloppy joe zippered jacket. You’d really like him. I know you didn’t get to know him well in the 3 months you got to meet him, he’s a lot like you and I think you’d be good mates with lots in common. Stephen and Michelle have parted ways and are sharing custody of the girls. It broke his heart and I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it yet. Amy has moved out and is renting in Wollongong, you’d have a comfy lounge to crash on if you didn’t want to come home after drinking with mates in the gong. She’s landed herself a really nice job with school holidays off, bought herself another brand new car another Yaris, yes her car the blue ‘thirsty merc’ is no more. Rach has a new car too, a golf. Your brother Ben is on to his 3rd car since we saw last saw you, and your little purple and white Toyota Corolla gathered spiders and tumble weeds as the season’s pass. It has gathered a bit more than rust since you last sat behind the wheel going through drive through at maccas with your mates. We sent it to the wreckers and it broke our hearts. The number plates are proudly nailed to the fence under the pergola. You missed your dad braking his elbow tripping on the bottom step and falling over on Christmas Eve trying to move a stuffed toy Agro from the pergola roof. We had just taken a family photo prior to this happening (another family photo taken without you).

You may be aware of all the new releases on the big screen. You missed the opening of ‘Truth’ the movie you worked on set in Sydney with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace. We see your photo in several of the scenes. The imdb came up with a list of the best films of the last 5 years. I can’t recommend all of them as I haven’t seen them all. These are the one’s I think should get a mention as I think you’d like them too. Some are kids movies but hey you’re a big kid at heart –

Lion

Wonder

Bohemian rhapsody

A dog’s purpose

The greatest showman

Coco

Hidden figures

Collateral beauty

Fantastic beast & where to find them

The BFG

Zootopia

Sing

Remake of Jumanji – welcome to the jungle

Pete’s Dragon

Dirty grandpa

Sully

Pirates of the Caribbean – dead men tell no tales

Kong: skull island

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Dumbo

Storm boy

The lion king

A dog’s journey

A dog’s way home

Toy story 4

How to train your Dragon

Rocketman

Shazam

The invisible man filmed in Gerringong & Kiama (filmed in our neighbourhood)

Remake of the grudge

Dolittle

Hansel & Gretel

A quiet place

The conjuring & Annabelle continuing saga

There are now 4 movies continuing the Insidious storyline, I’m sure you could come up with the 5th movie to share with the world, ‘cause I know that horror and suspense is your ‘go to’ genre to film.

I watched a good one today that you would love. It’s called ‘Yesterday’ showcasing all of the greatest hits of the Beatles. The best scene in the movie by far was when the main character Jack met an ageing John Lennon at age 78. In this parallel new world in the movie John was still alive and well. Any chance you could write a movie like this and I could play Jack meeting you at the age you are now? We can only dream and imagine like the musicians famous lyrics.

I’m glad you have more company with you now joining you this year – your grandad, my uncle Dave from England, your close friend Mikaila, a few of my nursing friends, Les my mum’s neighbour and Janet Trisha’s sister in law. I long to see you but I’m in no hurry to get to where you are. Those words didn’t come out right, you know how much I want to see you. I just want you right here with me now, just not there. I hope ‘time’ will tick away differently where you are, and it might seem like only yesterday we last caught up. I hope you welcome me with open arms and sweep me up in a tight embrace and make all of those hurts disappear. Till then – stay gold pony boy ❤️ love mum xxx

Your Toyota corolla
Mike – Morty – Axl – Ozzy
Family photo (missing you x)

Leaving a legacy

Day 11: grief journaling – Write about your loved one’s legacy.

A legacy is the story of some ones life, the things they did, places they went, goals they accomplished, their failures, and more. Legacy is something that a person leaves behind to be remembered. I guess you could call Jacob’s YouTube channel his legacy to all of us left to walk this earth without him with us and to future generations to come. By watching his creative and funny little movies we get a sense of who he was, his warped sense of humour, how clever he was with technology and witness his creative talent in action.

He created his legacy by using his beloved camera. The very camera I’m using now to capturing the world through his eyes (although I’ve never used it on the video mode and wouldn’t know how) bought second hand and still going strong. Over the years as his interest grew in cinematography he bought and made his own equipment to enhance his visual story telling. He’d gather his cousin and friends to unlock the script before bringing it to life with dialogue and action scenes. Horror, drama, suspense and humour seemed to be his ‘go to’ genre of movie to be produced. He learnt this talent in the course he did at TAFE and on the job training working on the set of the many productions being filmed with Jacob working his magic behind the camera.

Jacob had lots of movies on his list as his favourites, he didn’t just have one. These are worthy of a mention (not in any particular order) – the lord of the rings, the hobbit, interstellar, the secret life of Walter Mitty, Super 8 (just like he was as a kid wanting to make that no 1 blockbuster), King Kong (the one with Jack Black starring in it), Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, the music man (when he was young) but that feel good, easy going one to watch was The Producers with quite a worthy title given his career aspiration. I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t touched on that were on his long list of ‘what to watch.’ He loved lots of tv shows too which probably gave him ideas to use in his movies – supernatural, how I met your mother, two and a half men, the Simpson’s, and Big Bang theory.

We’d all do our bit to help him film, particularly when he made them at home. We held things up like lights, threw balls etc and even filled in as an extra or voice over. We knew he was busy when his laptop was open, the occasionally swear words would slip out as his computer froze right at a crucial moment he was editing. It was heartbreaking when he fried the hard drive of his laptop during his last creation. We still have several of those scenes saved and unfinished. It would have been a good one too with lots of suspense. A young man running for his life through the thick bush, tripping over tree roots lessoning the distance between the innocent victim and chaser (although you never saw them, you just knew they were closing in on them from the music and the look on the guys face as he was running). Water running through an abandoned dark tunnel under a road suddenly is streaked with a blood like substance. A scared girl in a locked car that won’t start in an isolated car park with a person dressed in dark clothing with a hoody coming closer to her side window holding up a weapon causing her to scream. In the next clip you see the other side of the story to the previous one, watching the person dressed in dark clothes and a hoodie running to the car only to be holding up a car jack as he comes asking for help with his broken down car, he wasn’t going to harm her at all, just asking for assistance.

Jacob’s love of making movies started young at around 10yrs. He’d make them in the back yard with a mate, mainly a zombie horror story with fake blood made from red paint and tomato sauce. I’m sure had he had more time on earth to pursue his career in cinematography he would have made himself a name in the industry. He’d make sure the credits spelt his name correctly, as he’d get a little bit upset to see that his contributions to his feature works hadn’t got it right…and just as the saying goes ‘I before E, except after C’ this was the same as his surname. He will be with us for a lifetime with his work on YouTube to tap into a bit of his creativity when we feel like it.

‘The goal isn’t to live forever but to create something that will’ and Jacob with his cousin and mates did just that – JDscreens and CobbyFilms. 

Jacob’s first take in cinematography (although he starred as the zombie) he directed and wrote the script….an occasional swear word can be heard, apologies. 

Jacob & his cousin Luke – film noir

Continuing bonds

Day Ten: – grief journaling

For today’s journaling prompt, we want you to write about the small, personal, everyday ways that you continue your bond with your loved one.

• What objects do you hold onto? 

• What rituals do you engage in? 

• What sayings do you repeat? 

• What traditions do you uphold? 

I have an old suitcase in my room that holds a few items of Jacob’s clothing. A couple of my favourite t-shirts of his with funny sayings written on the front. A nice sloppy joe kind of jacket with a zipper. His warm and fuzzy winter trackie dacks that became his most comfortable attire as it hid his skinny frame and a catheter. A couple of his good old faithful shoes that he bought in Hawaii (our last holiday as a family) that he tenderly walked in when he was using crutches and in a wheelchair. We had hoped they’d walk along a different path for our beautiful brown eyed boy. I love wearing his 2 beanies when the seasons change to keep my head warm. These kept the world from seeing him rock the bald look in the winter months. His Hawaiian shirts he bought for him and his mates to wear at was his last New Years celebration. One of those shirts is missing a sleeve, I cut it off to create a stitched up heart. A few brand new t-shirts he bought for his mates to wear as they watched WWE wrestling in Sydney. I have his beautiful straw hat he’d proudly wear and would look really shmick wearing it with his dark sunglasses. I have his wallet with his licence and cards in it still. His pirate patch he’d wear to relieve his double vision takes its place on his memorial shelf. Ohh there are so many other items I treasure.

I guess we do have rituals we engage in to keep his memory and spirit alive. My husband Pete has created ‘Jake’s bar,’ a special place to feel his presence and to have a toast to him as you ring his drink bell while you browse through family photos in a frame with Jacob pulling funny faces making us laugh. We write messages on his table with a permanent marker. We get out his life size stand out cardboard cut out at family celebrations to have him physically there with us and to take selfies with. We scatter a little bit of his ashes nearly every holiday destination we travel to over land and sea. We raise money for one of his favourite charities dreams2live4 and an awareness and research one to hopefully one day find a cure for sarcoma on his behalf. I’m using his camera so I’m seeing the world through his eyes the lens of his camera keeping us connected.

Jacob had 2 mottos as he neared the end of his life – ‘live each day as if it’s your last’ and ‘be thankful for everyday you’ve been blessed with.’ His dad quoted a line from one of Jacob’s favourite movies and these words became very powerful for Jacob to give him more fight that he needed – ‘stay gold pony boy’ from The secret life of Walter Mitty. The song by Ball Park Music ‘it’s nice to be alive’ was playing right up until he took his last breath and yes it truly is ‘nice to be alive.’

Disabled sailing gives out a memorial trophy each year with Jacob’s name on it to the most inspirational person of that year. Jacob will always be part of the movie ‘Truth’ with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and many others and when we watch the movie we pause it and say ‘there you are, found you’ when we see the photo of him and Cate in Mary Mapes office. Lennie shows the WinTv news segment we starred in showing Ben pushing Jacob on the beach with an amphibious wheelchair in his line of work that he does with physiotherapist etc to spread awareness of the great piece of equipment to be used with people with a disability to enjoy recreational times in the water. I will continue to feel him near me as I see a butterfly or dragonfly, see a rainbow, the stars I wish upon at night, a penny from Heaven, a feather, a song on the radio with messages in the lyrics, numbers, dreaming of him while I sleep and connections with him with the help of a psychic medium.

I loved him yesterday, I love him still, always have and always will x

Moving forward

Day 9 – grief journaling

For today’s prompt, complete the following sentences in your journal.

• As my grief changes, I am worried that….I will be seen as having gotten over losing Jacob. As my grief changes those emotions will still be intense as before just not as often.

• I hope to let go of the following aspects of my grief….the guilt that ‘I should have done more’ and the ‘what if’s’

• I hope to hold onto the following aspects of my grief….that I don’t feel ashamed of my grief, raw emotions and tears, I will proudly own them for when there’s great love there’s great grief. He was here, his name shall be mentioned and his life celebrated.

• Moving forward with my loved one means ….that I will look for pieces of him everyday as I continue to SMILE – see miracles in life everyday

These clever and wise words came from a wise man I only know as GSnow through an internet seatch. These words if they were mine (but they are not) could very well answer the first dot point in the writing exercise, he writes the explanation way better than my 2 sentences. But I felt this description warrants sharing to all those who grieve a loved one – “Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.

My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

Dear Person Who Doesn’t Get My Grief

Day 6 – grief journaling

In this passage of writing I won’t be focusing on one person. I will be talking to a group of people. A beautiful bunch of young adults. These young adults would be Jacob’s friends. I miss seeing them, calling in and checking in on me as they walk through the house to the games room where they’d used to hang out watching movies or playing the Nintendo or ps4. Our house was (and still is) an open house. There is no reason for them to call in anymore because Jacob’s not there. Why come by our house anymore? I’d hope they’d still come by to say ‘hi,’ to fill me in on what’s happening in their life (I’m still interested in you, just as I was when I saw you regularly). It might bring a lump in my throat and I may have tears, but there will be smiles and laughter too as we remember good times.

I really do miss the company of my son’s friends who I don’t get to see anymore since my son’s passing. I do get to see them on Facebook as they post pieces of their lives. I’d like them to still call by and check in on me like they used to do. I’d love to see photos of Jacob to pop up on Facebook that I’ve never seen before. It would make my heart skip a beat. Maybe it’s still too raw for them. I just hope that they haven’t forgotten him 😢 I’d like to see the mention of Jacob’s name on their Facebook page if a memory pops up. I don’t like the feelings this stirs up – envy, anger and disappointment as I don’t do them well as it’s not in my nature. Grief sometimes has a dark side.

I saw a few of them not so long ago. It was at an occasion I’d rather not have had to reconnect with them, but it was nice to see them and hug them nevertheless. We all caught up at a beautiful young girls celebration of life, a young mum Mikaila at the age of 24 losing her life to a rare sarcoma just like the one that took Jacob from us. How is it possible 2 friends from the same group at high school get a rare cancer and both fight for their lives at such a young age? The hugs I got on this day from the young adults friends of Jacob were genuine, they held on to help sooth the heartache. Hugs were easier to dish out whereas words and conversations were a lot harder. Awkward silences made us feel uncomfortable as you fumbled to find a topic to talk about to make the words flow like the lyrics of a familiar song. I took a step back and watched them converse with each other and enjoyed just being in their presence. I chatted with their parents who attended the celebration too to hear more about what was happening in their busy lives.

I hope in time I get to see those new photos of Jacob I’ve never seen before and hear more stories I’ve never heard before as we catch up again at different occasions like an engagement, a wedding, the birth or Christening of babies. I really like that old saying that ‘happiness is when you realise your children have turned out to be good people’ and that includes their friends too.

Jacob and Mikaila have good friends, they’re like stars, you don’t always see them but you know they are there.

Jacob & Mikaila at their year 10 formal
Friends at Mikaila’s celebration of life
Friends at Mikaila’s celebration of life

I’ve always loved this song by Neil Young about friendships & love – Philadelphia https://youtu.be/qCr0KHrZAOc

A letter to my boy

Day 7 – grief journaling….what would your loved one want?

If I could ask you what you would want for me and my future, I think you would say to me ‘live each day as if it’s your last and be thankful for every day you’ve been blessed with.’ I’ve taken on your motto for life. I put one foot in front of the other everyday and I will live out the rest of my life in honour of you and live it in ways that would make you proud. I know you’d want to still be here with us all if you could and what we wouldn’t do for this to be true. We have to believe in our hearts that you are still with us in more ways than one. I knew it was you when the blinds suddenly went up in the family room, when I felt my hair being pulled, the huge dragonfly at Mikaila’s celebration of life and the feathers that appear by my feet. I love how we still have that connection as mother and son, but I will always want more.

I can’t wait for you to see your sister Rach get married to Adam. I know you would have become great friends with him as you are so much alike. We’ll have a new life size stand up cardboard cutout of you standing there proudly in your suit for us to have selfies next to. I know you’ll be there when Amy and Ben start looking at houses together, you be like a third wheel to get them all uptight, pushing their buttons to get a reaction while you look really proud thinking ‘I did this’ just like you did with your siblings in the living years. You’d probably have your own house by now with all the movies you would have made helping you to bring in the cash, so you might have given them helpful advice in managing the realestate and getting a bargain. I know you are helping me choose my career path and guiding me one the correct path in life. My beautiful guardian angel. I know you’ll look after your dad and help him with his acceptance of the loss and grief he feels, as you know he doesn’t handle his emotional side very well and is often not a great communicator about the difficult things in life. You will watch over your dad and me together, because you got to see us at our best and look what we can achieve as a team.

I went for a walk today with my mum (your nanna) along the edge of the lake. I saw 2 white feathers floating in the weed near the jetty. One for mum & one for me, from you & grandad. Please come and visit me in my dreams tonight. I hope you are having a drink with your grandad for Les as we toast him here on earth by singing ‘knocking on Heaven’s door.’ It was early in the morning to have a glass of bubbles but like the saying goes ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ – cheers Les, a life taken way too early. You might send me a message on Saturday at the pop up zoom psychic show with Allan. Till then ‘stay gold pony boy’ love you 😘 love mum x

A milestone birthday

Day 5 – grief journaling

You have a vision in your mind of when you reach a milestone birthday you’ll be surrounded by your partner you’ve know since your teens or early twenties, your grown children proudly showing off their own grandchildren, identifying you as a great grandparent, all showering you with love, hugs, kisses, sticky fingers, chubby arms around your neck and presents piled a mile high. Well that was the vision I have for myself when I turn the ripe old age of 80yrs, an octogenarian.

My mum turned 80 last Saturday, the 4th of the 4th Month 1940. It was a milestone year. We had plans just like the ones I have envisioned for my future big birthdays, surrounded by family and friends and being showered in love. We were going to spoil her with a breakfast fit for a king, which technically could have been called brunch. She would of have had to have a nana nap from a food coma. She’d enjoy an afternoon cup of tea with a piece of cake or slice then get herself dolled up for a family meal at one of her favourite restaurants where she’d glance around the table and smile at the glory she’s created from being the mum of the clan.

On mum’s special day the world’s current predicament put a stop to celebration as we know it. We had to think how to make the day as special as her while keeping with the health guidelines for Covid-19. My siblings and I put our heads together to come up with ideas. We’d decided that we’d take it in turns of getting her some yummy food for breakfast, lunch and tea and handing her the presents we had bought her. I rang her in the morning to give her her first happy birthday greeting and asking her if she was hungry for breakfast, ‘yes I am’ was her reply – ‘I’ve already had a cup of tea.’ I drove to Maccas and picked up 2 egg & bacon McMuffin meals with orange juice and extra hash browns via drive through – 1 for me & 1 for her. Jacob would have given me a tick of approval for her breakfast choice as he often car pooled with his mates in his little Toyota Corolla for a late night snack stop. Mum and I sat on her verandah (good distance apart) and enjoyed our breakfast without being able to give her a birthday kiss, I had to blow her one. She looked every bit of the nanna she truly is, wearing her warm light blue dressing gown, slippers with a fluffy throw rug over her legs as she said it was a bit nippy. We bid farewell after our tummy’s were full.

My son Ben dropped off some yummy slices during the afternoon to enjoy with a cuppa. Her phone was going off with birthday wishes in messages and in conversations. Flowers and chocolates were delivered to her home from friends to brighten up her day with messages letting her know that they’ll spoil her again with a meal at her favourite restaurant when everyone was allowed and the world went back to her old familiar ways. Things to look forward to. My sister Trish picked up a 2 course meal for tea from the restaurant we were all supposed to be going to to celebrate our mum, nan and friend. Mum had previously checked out the menu online and took her time to pick out what her taste buds craved for – arancini balls for her entree and steak Diane for her main. We were so grateful that the restaurant had kept their business open for take-away only.

We had celebrated her 70th birthday at the same restaurant 10 years ago. Dad and Jacob were still wish us physically to shower her with love. This big birthday was the first one without dad by her side. She missed having him giving her a cup of tea in bed while they read the papers before getting dressed and ready to face the new day. I’m sure dad and Jacob found new ways of letting mum know they’re still with her just like they let me know in subtle little signs.

She enjoyed left overs for tea on Sunday night. Trish got her a nice Thai dinner for tea on Monday night which offered her more than enough to enjoy for a second night. Today is Wednesday and it’s my turn to get her something yummy to enjoy for tea. We want to stretch out her 80th birthday for a full week. Another family celebration will be put on hold at the end of mum’s birthday week – Easter….

No Good Friday gathering of eating fish and chips and yummy prawn cocktails with dad’s home made thousand island dressing to drizzle on the top. No family gathering at Trisha’s at Jamberoo for a huge bbq lunch and the traditional little egg hunt in the front yard. No conversations about finding eggs still in the garden from the previous year, and how their dog Bozz would eat them as we scattered them on the ground had we done the egg hunt in the back yard. There’s so many things we take for granted, like catchups over coffee, a birthday celebration, a family wedding, a celebration of life, a day at the races. What a party we will have when the bans are lifted and life will go back to the way it was. With human touch, a hug, a kiss, games nights and parties and connection. I hope we will appreciate the small things in life and learn to smile more – see miracles in life everyday. This distance thing will soon be a thing of the past and that can’t come quickly enough. Stay safe and well everyone and look after each other (while keeping those self-distancing guidelines in mind 😊)

I hope you enjoyed ‘your’ day mum, one that we’ll never forget, in the year 2020. I promise we’ll spoil you again just as we should do everyday. You deserve it ♡ just remember with each new day we wake up we’re a step closer to the end of this pandemic 🙂

Recreating photos

Day 2 of grief journaling – I love it when I dream of Jacob. It’s like he’s really visited me and we’ve made contact. When I wake up from my dreamy slumber I get a warm fuzzy feeling that I’ve just chatted with him over the phone like I do his siblings. He visits me in all different ages and stages of his life. People may think that it’s my memories showing up in my deep subconscious when I’m asleep, but the scenes are different, ones I’ve never had with him before. Sometimes he appears as a toddler, sometimes as a dorky preteen with braces, sometimes he wears his signature fro and other times he’s bald and unwell from obvious chemo treatment. These dreams are in colour and I can often recall the details in the morning. Today I’m sitting outside by my pool waiting for an online live streaming of a funeral of a dear friend from my nursing days. It’s so sad that we can’t go to offer our condolences in person, for human touch and hugs. I waste time by looking through Instagram. I glance away from the screen for a second to watch a bird in the huge tree overhanging the pool when I remember Jacob taking a photo of this view that my eyes could see. I look up his Instagram account and searched for the photo he’d posted. I found lots of views around the pool. I began to recreate Jacob’s photos with my iPad camera. I can’t recreate family portraits of my children from when they were little to the age they are now, so I’ll twist that idea a bit and recreate his photos. Not much has changed except the size of the trees and varying leaves for the different seasons. I loved reading all the positivity in the words he wrote to accompany the photos…..

Awesome sunny day

Times like these, times like those, what will be, will be and so it goes – Jack Johnson 🎶

Everything is gonna be alright in the summertime – Thirsty Merc 🎶

Such a good day

Recovery in the sun

Top photo Jacob’s bottom photo mine
First photo is mine with an overcast sky
Jacob’s photos show blue skies
Jacob’s with the sun flare and mine with an overcast sky

Grief journaling

I have enrolled in a ‘30-day grief journaling course’ with What’s your Grief – Health and Wellness website. Today is day 1 – looking at barriers that could get in the way of a daily journaling practice and write at least three goals you have for this course.

I sometimes have to be in the right frame of mind to write. I find it better if I have a task or topic to write about to stir the creative juices. I do feel guilty that I’m wasting time when I should be cleaning the house, or exercising while staying safe at home during the covid 19 pandemic. I have always liked writing my thoughts down and I find it very cathartic & it helps to shape my mind into a healthier space. Goal 1 – I will try and take photo each day to accompany that piece of writing. Goal 2 – I will try and take out a period of my day to devote purely to writing and will complete the journaling prompts. I know each day will be different in the way that we deal with our grief and emotions and the words will be reflective of the way we are feeling at that particular time. Goal 3 – I will try and get outside in the fresh air to write, if it’s raining I’ll sit on the verandah, if it’s nice I’ll walk to the jetty with my iPad & snap a photo and start writing. It’s a rainy day today and emotions are running high. I’m worried about my mum being on her own as the whole country is forced to stay at home. She’s lonely without my dad who passed away early February, just only 2 months ago. I try and remember what grief was like in those early raw days. It’s been such a shitty start to the year what with bushfires, poor quality air, flooding, a pandemic and the grief of losing 7 people who I know and love with all my heart. Thank goodness for technology, wifi and tv. I watched one of my favourite shows on tv which brought tears as I heard a song my mum & dad listen to as I was growing up. I know the words off by heart and I think it would be a perfect song for my daughters wedding to honour her grandparents love – ‘true love’ by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. We have had to postpone their wedding till next year because of this horrible virus that’s putting our lives on hold. I took a walk in the rain out the back of my house and counted my 100 steps and noticed the pattern of rain on the glass table. I placed my iPad underneath to keep it safe from the rain, switched the camera around to face me and took a selfie. Unrecognisable messed up face just like the mixed emotions that can manifests over a 24hr period.

The last farewell

I hope you’re back visiting Dovercourt, Harwich Dad 😘 love & miss you forever ♡ sleep easy & give Jacob a big hug & kiss for us x We’ll look after mum for you x here’s a poem my dad wrote about memories of the hometown he grew up in, where he met my mum when she was sweet 16, & where my siblings Trish & Stephen & I were born.

Thinking of Home by David Ling.
Take me back to England – take me back today
To the town where I was born – how I miss old Dovercourt Bay.
Take me to the lighthouse – I can smell the seaweed there,
Take me along the windy prom to tangle up my hair.
Just about here I’m thinking the Cliff Pavilion stood,
With Queen Victoria watching on in a very sombre mood.
Twas here just fifty years ago I met my future wife
At a summer dance on a Saturday night the luckiest day of my life.
Then on to the Spa – into the park to watch the squirrels play
A go on the swings and down the slide, then be on my way.
A bit of a hike to take a line and fish off old Stone Pier
But for all I ever caught there they didn’t have much fear.
Then onward down to Harwich where we used to moor our boat
Where I watched her go down in a gale one day, she lost the will to float.
Just past the wharf to Ha’penny pier where we used to catch the ferry,
To Shotley or to Felixstowe for a day of making merry
Watching trawlers coming and going alongside the Trinity ships,
The follow your nose up a side street for delicious fish and chips.
Round the corner to Gas House creek and the railway ferry crane
That my father once worked when I was a boy and aspired the same
Through Bathside past the sinky mud to a railway bridge by the sea
As a nine year old a most beautiful sight having been an evacuee
Then up to Dovercourt High St, past the lights to look at a place
Where I worked for ten years in my twenties and recognised every face
On up the hill where the Regal once was – next to my first high school,
Where the French teacher gave me my nick name for acting like a fool.
Down the lanes to the back of the school was the daunting Toboggan Hill,
On the few snowy days in winter sledges flying what a thrill.
Now I’ll look over to Parkeston Quay to watch the ships sail by,
After that stroll through the Hangings at dusk when bats invade the sky.
I’ll head out westward to Copperas Wood, bluebells there to pick
And on Wrabness foreshore where the tide comes in so quick,
Then I’ll make for the Wix Wagon pub through pretty country lanes
And down a couple of English ales to soothe away my pains.
Meadner through some winding roads to Oakley Little and Great
Into Mayes Lane to Ramsey church and Chafford where my mate
Spenty many years there cooking for the boys of the school.
They used to have a smashing Fete though it rained as a rule.
Through Tollgate past The Devon and onto Dovercourt Green
Where if you’re lucky daffodils to make floral scene.
The Memorial – the water towers – then wander down the Drive
The Skating rink – Putting green, the Boating Lake that I’ve
Dreamed about quite often in the years I’ve been away,
Then I’ll be back where I started on my Odyssey today.

I never thought I’d be able to speak at my dad’s funeral to deliver his eulogy. I have always had more strength in writing words rather than saying them. But I wanted to do it for him, to show him I could do it. For him, for mum, for my sister Trish, for my brother Stephen, for family and for friends. I stood in a middle standing space surrounded by love from my siblings and spoke from the heart, sharing these words and adding extras like a actor forgetting their lines where they ad lib.

Dad was born in Essex England in 1936 to Kit and Sid. He had an older sister Brenda and has a younger sister Josephine, still living there. In spite of the war he had a happy childhood. After high school he joined the airforce, then trained in electronics and eventually became a tv technician and managed a shop.

He met mum when he was 19 and she was 16and they have been together ever since. They married in 1960and we’re blessed with 3 lovely children haha I’m the favourite (don’t tell anyone) Trisha, Debbie and Stephen.

Dad always wanted to come to Australia but mum wasn’t as keen, but eventually gave in and in 1969 along with their three children then aged 8, 5, & 2 they emigrated and have never regretted it. Dad got a job in Sutherland with a tv repair shop and they rented a unit in Cronulla, right near the beach. Every weekend they would drive south to look for a place to build a house with a work shop so dad could start his own tv repair business. Luckily they found Mt Warrigal overlooking beautiful Lake Illawarra. They bought land and had their house built with dad’s workshop underneath and it became Mt. Warrigal TV services.

It was lovely for us children as dad worked from home and mum was at home too, answering the phone and taking in tv’s for repair. They had wonderful neighbours and friends and always made them welcome. Last Oct on dad’s 83rd birthday when his health wasn’t good, they moved to an over 55’s home at Lake Windamere, near Little Lake where dad used to swim everyday until his breathing difficulties made it impossible. Once again they settled well and had lovely neighbours. There it was easier for mum to care for dad as his breathing struggles became worse. Dad was a wonderful husband, dad, grandad and will be missed terribly. We have some wonderful memories but how to you share 50 plus years in a few minutes? I’ll share some with you here from all of us in no particular order…..

When we had first arrived in Australia our family was invited to a bbq at his new boss’s house. His boss told dad to bring a plate. Well dad came home and told mum ‘he said to bring a plate.’ ‘What size plate?’ – mum asked. ‘I’m not sure, he didn’t say’ was dads answer. ‘Maybe they haven’t got enough’ mum thought. The day arrived and our family turned up with an empty plate and mum handed it over and said ‘we weren’t sure what size you needed.’ Maybe this is why pommies have got a reputation of being tight.

Pronunciation of the Aboriginal places near us – Ulladulla, Cronulla, Bulli,

Appreciation of music – lounge room watching thunderstorms and he’d conduct the music as we heard the thunder and lightening crash. We were born in the Beetles era, I can remember getting in to trouble for putting smarties down dads new record player. After visiting the club he’d come home and play the piano or put Beethoven on his record player

Made things to entertain us on bbqs, long skipping ropes for tug of wars and swings, he’d make kites with old newspaper and sticks,

Pete was expecting to meet a Chinese man when he met dad because of the name Ling, told dr on his last day he was a Chinese Pom.

His Gilligans island terrytoweling hat he’d wear,

He taught us to fish, how to bait up, gut the fish, untangle a line, pump nippers Prawning – only time you can wear clothes in the water. Trish reckons the only time me he got cross with her was when she threw fish back in to the water when he wasn’t looking

I shared his talent of stringing words together in poems and stories and Jacob tapped in on that creative talent too with his movie making.

Dad booked accommodation for Pete & I went we went away for a weekend before we got married & when we got there it was 2 single beds

Movie buff like Jacob but his classics & favourites were different, loved musicals, high society, singing in the rain, Oklahoma, South Pacific, sound of music, wizard of oz and he loved singing the tunes from them as well, he called my mum Samantha (fondly Sam) a character from the movie high society starring some of his favourites Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra (old blue eyes) & grace kelly. Richard will read a poem he wrote for their 25th wedding anniversary starting off with ‘dear Sam’ when we gather for tea & coffee downstairs afterwards & mum & dad would write ATW on cards to each other – ‘all the way’

Drove the council bus for before & after school care

He has a sweet tooth – worthers original, Maltesers, and Cadbury blocks

He’d always sit half sideways in his chair with his legs over the armrest

He like to have a little flutter on the pokies and the horses, if he won a bit he would say ‘little fish’ and after a bad day of betting he’d say ‘that’s because I’m a lucky man in everything else’ or sing ‘if I was a rich man’

he always provided for us (thanks mum) never needing/wanting anything more.

He was always there for us – we had a secure, loving childhood – he did everything with us, taught us so much to become who we are.

He was involved in our friends – he gave Trisha’s friends Cherie, Kim & Monica 10c to keep for an emergency phone call – & Kim still has hers. He called Stephen’s mates – Bradley my boy, Paul my boy, Frankie my boy & he loved the father/son drinks with Neil, Henry and Mick and all the boys

He loved parties & our friends always talked to him & mum & say ‘your parents are great’

He instilled a great love of family, including those in England and loved that our family grew and will continue to grow

He loved the ocean and beach & taught us to surf (even though he’d never surfed) he got us boards from the tip

He’d take us for bbq’s on Sunday’s & we could always bring a friend (plus on holidays too) he took Stephen camping

We’d have fish & chips on Saturdays and get paddle pops wrapped in newspaper

When we got lost driving on holidays he’d say a phrase that I can’t repeat in church but there’s one that I can say that we were going on a ‘magical mystery tour’

He loved playing bridge, particularly with his bridge partners Warren and Pronati

He always had a crossword or soduko game sheet in his hand, he loved watching the chase and other quiz shows on tv, and he could have easily won sale of the century.

He loved Aussie life and he took to it straight away, he loved his life and he loved living

But most of all he loved us, & we will always feel just like the words scribed in this Captain Corelli’s Mandolin quote – ‘your roots have entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part’ and we won’t.

The year we immigrated from the UK 1969