It was a Winter’s Day

Isle of Wight field of Bluebells

I woke up to the sound of light rain falling on the roof. I say wake up but I hadn’t been asleep for hours. Perhaps I just became aware of the rain as my mind started to focus on the day ahead. Out of bed I got, wrapped my dressing gown tight across my body and walked to the kitchen. Looking out the window it was still raining, a little heavier now. A little steadier. No sunshine at all. A very dreary, gloomy winter’s day.

I opened the back door and went outside. I knew it was cold due to the hot air coming from my every breath but I didn’t really feel it. As I walked the very short distance up the driveway to retrieve the morning paper, my feet without slippers or shoes felt icy on the pavers. I didn’t care. I always said I was a winter’s girl. Love the cold. Hate the heat. True – well, most of the time. Give me open fires, scarves, and coats, over hot sweaty days in front of air conditioners.

It had been my 50th birthday the day before, a Thursday. But no party was I recovering from. There had been no indulging of fancy champagne. Today was the big day for me. Today was unplanned. What was happening today had come as a total surprise.

With my stomach a little in knots with nerves and anticipation I went over the speech I had prepared for today’s gathering. I couldn’t sit down to do this, I had to stand, walk, pace, and watch myself in a mirror saying the words. It was important to get this speech just right and I felt more than a little pressure. The speech had been finished for a day now and I was very proud of myself being able to get through such heartfelt sentiments, only stumbling once. Always at the same spot. Always when I got to share the love my boys had brought us all. I made a mental note to take a long pause and a big breath at the beginning of this sentence and marked the spot with a big blue X.

The rest of the house soon started to wake. My boys 19 and 15 years of age, who were much more comfortable in jeans and hoodies, put on their smartest shirt and trousers. They looked a treat. I was so proud. My husband in a suit looked very handsome. I didn’t have a new outfit to wear. A beautiful blue coat – up to then not worn nearly enough for what it cost – was what I decided to wear at the last minute. My Dad always commented how nice I looked when I wore blue and if your Dad says it…..well it must be true.

My little family of four, ready in record time got into the car. I am the, “always 10 minutes early to any occasion” person, so inevitably I am always waiting for someone to be ready but not today. I noticed and appreciated this effort being made for me.

Our destination, surrounded by the most beautiful gardens, was only 10 minutes from where we lived. No one spoke much on that short drive. I remember looking out the window and noticing that the sun had finally made an appearance. Parts of the road glistened as the suns’ rays reflected off the puddles left from the morning rain and the dark skies had disappeared. The heater cranked to 3 in the car the obvious giveaway that it was, in fact, the middle of winter.

As we parked the car and started to walk across the gardens a few family friends had also arrived early. It was lovely to see their faces. We hadn’t seen them in quite some time and they were sincere in wishing that hadn’t been the case.

I walked a little ahead as we entered the venue. Not yet ready to greet everyone I went into the bathroom and reapplied my lipstick. Every person I held dear was going to be here today. My entire, close and extended family – Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and then my very dearest friends. Lovely to have all the people you love in one spot at the same time. And it only really happens at special birthdays, christenings, weddings and funerals.

Sadly today was a funeral.

Today was not celebrating my milestone birthday.

Today we had all gathered to say goodbye to my Dad.

I chose not to join my family in seeing Dad one last time before we all entered the chapel. Instead, while they said a personal goodbye, I went into the reception room – empty for now but where we would all gather after the service to drink tea, share memories. I went to the furthest corner of that room and struggling to retain my composure at where I was and why – I looked out the window. The sun was still shining and I really thought Dad was having a hand in that. I was his girl and it was a family joke that I had never had a birthday where it hadn’t rained. Not ever. Yes, I was born slap bang in the middle of winter so that’s kind of a given………….but maybe Dad was thinking give a girl a break today. Whatever, I found it comforting. To see the sun was a tiny glimmer of positivity on this very sad winter’s day.

In a chapel that was full to the brim, Dad would have been chuffed and surprised at the turnout, we gave a fitting send-off for the much-adored man he was. There was no stumbling reading my speech, his eulogy, and the day went exactly how we had planned. He would have been so proud of us all.

With just my brother, and a handful of those closest to us we went back to my Mum and Dad’s house for a late lunch. No one really felt like eating, least of all me. I felt emotionally spent and just wanted to go to my own home and be alone with a big glass of wine and my thoughts. But for a few hours, we processed the details of the funeral and also the horrific preceding week which saw Dad have a sore throat on a Thursday to then shockingly die on the Sunday morning. That can happen when Leukemia turns acute. Swift, heartbreaking and devastating.

Eventually, we left Mum in the very capable hands of my brother and drove home. Literally, as we got out of her driveway the heavens opened and it bucketed down. Relentless, “windscreen wipers on full” type of rain. Again I felt it was another sign from Dad. The sun had shone most of the day, it had helped my mood ever so slightly and because I felt that was a sign from Dad it was calming. But now – my job was done. And the weather was reflecting how I was feeling. I hung on to my emotions till I got out the car and in the privacy of my bedroom had the “breakdown of tears” I had been storing for over a week. I didn’t need to hold it all in anymore. I didn’t have to hang on for another day. My feelings of grief, disbelief, shock, and anger exploded into sobs as loud as the rain echoing on the iron roof.

It had been the worst day of my life.

It has been four, long years since that day and do you know it has not rained on that day once.  It’s a winter’s day I dread so I think Dad continues to send the sun. And, I like to think he is doing that – just for me.

The Story of Us

The Story of Us Image

“There are three kinds of friends: friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime”.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Author Unknown.

I am extremely fortunate to have several lifetime friends. I have written about a few of them already. Sue and Cathy, my much-loved school friends who have known me forever and are the keepers of my teenage angst, many misadventures, and grown-up realities. There’s Tracey, my beautiful friend who I have known since I was 19 years old, provider of wisdom, thoughtfulness and so much more.

This next story though is about my friend Fran. A lifetime friendship which had a significant “bump” in the road a few years ago. We lost each other and had no contact at all. But after events beyond our control helped to reconnect us (the universe works in mysterious ways), we have found that the time apart has only deepened what we now know is an unbreakable bond.

Fran turned 60 years old last month and her special birthday inspired me to write,    “The Story of Us.”

May you all have a friend like Fran and if you do, never let her go.

 

We met so long ago that nearly all of my memories, and certainly the important most memorable ones, have you in it.

You were the older sister I did not know I needed when you came to work in the same office I did. The year was 1984.

We were both married, unhappily but for different reasons. I remember infamously saying, “One of us is going to leave their husband and that will make the other stay.” Well, you made the break first and I followed in quick succession only weeks later.

We were already close but the time that followed our respective breakups just cemented our connection. We told each other everything, shared everything and it was a reckless, tumultuous time. But you were my shelter from it all. Wise and never afraid to tell me harsh truths we rode the waves of nightclubs, dangerous liaisons, cheap wine, crazy hair, and early mornings going straight to work from the night out before. Every fun, crazy moment and every broken-hearted, midnight phone call. We did it all and we did it together.

We shared loss. Your beautiful Mum passed away too soon, too fast. You had planned a trip back to your beloved Cotswolds in the UK to see your Mum and family but got the call to come early, “Mum is not well.” Flights hastily arranged you made a trip that I cannot begin to imagine, it would have been the long haul from hell. She waited for you, her much-adored; only child and you had precious time together. I find it unbelievably ironic that she passed away on the day you had originally planned to fly out to visit her.

You had already lost your Dad at the age of 14 so to fly back to the life you made in Australia, leaving remaining family behind in the UK…………….well your friends at the time had not even travelled let alone lost a parent. I feel you were so unsupported on your return. Not unloved but surrounded by people less than equipped to understand the magnitude of what you had gone through. What you were continuing to go through, essentially alone. You were 30 years old and single.

But, in true Fran style, flourish and forge ahead with such strength of character you did! You continued to excel in your chosen career of Court Reporting, your network of friends you were devoted to and you went on to meet and marry Rick, the man truly meant for you.

Then you gifted me with true, blind unconditional love. His name was Mitch, your beautiful firstborn son. To this day I cannot describe the feeling of holding him in my arms for the first time. I was smitten. Was it the depth of love I had for you being extended to your own flesh and blood? Maybe. All I know was that he had my heart and if I could love him that way I couldn’t wait to have a baby of my own.

So, as luck would have it, I did go on to have my own baby boy, Jesse, followed a few years later by your second son, Myles and then a few years after that my second son Matthew. We could not have planned it better if we had tried. Four boys between us, best friends, just like cousins; our families enjoyed such wonderful times together and shared in everything. It was just the best.

During this time you continued to be my very best friend. You helped me when I was scared and unsure as to what to do with a newborn. You reassured me I was doing a good job. You good-naturedly would push or cajole me out of my comfort zone and you would respect the way I wanted to do certain things. (And, let’s face it; I had more than my share of rigid routines!) I never felt judgment from you, only ever unconditional love and support. I know without any doubt that I would not have become the mother I did without your help in those early years.

You know me better than I know myself. You know us. You know what brings me the absolute, most happiness. You know what troubles me and why, most times before I have figured out the why.

For reasons that no longer seem important our near perfect friendship ceased for 2 years. I have many regrets about how that happened but perhaps it needed to. The friendship between the two of us, the glue that held everything together had become unstable and conflicts between our boys came between us. If I could go back in time and change things I would but then would we be where we are today?

News of my breast cancer diagnosis found its way to you and contact from you was immediate. Comfort in hearing from you appreciated. We reconnected, slowly, tentatively. The rush of feelings, my treasured friend was back in my life albeit just a little, it was warily exciting. The realization of all we had missed in each other’s lives was overwhelmingly sad.

And then………….my Dad died. You having lost everything knew the impact this would have on me. My Dad and I shared a big love. You loved him too and he adored you. A lunch date was planned and with you, I unburdened myself of the emotional load I had been carrying. It had been heavy and the weight of it was written all over my face. You listened and asked difficult questions. The time apart was irrelevant as we both opened our hearts to each other and chatted about EVERYTHING. It was cathartic and like your analogy of our friendship being like a pair of old slippers, I felt warm and cosy in your company.

Since then we see each other more often. It’s just us and we again talk about and share everything.

Fran, you are my due north. You have been my compass, my lighthouse, my guiding light for over 30 years. You have been my confidante, my chief. You have my utmost admiration for everything you have achieved in your life to date. How you constantly reassess and work at being the very best version of yourself. You are steadfast and true in your decision making (once you have made a decision that is lol) and thoughtful beyond compare. You love with everything you have and are the most loyal person I know.

Those that reside in one’s tight inner circle see us and all of our parts, the good, the bad, the ugly; always the truth. With you, I can be my naked, vulnerable self. Our time apart was ironically for me the worst time of my life and there was no substitute for you. I faced my life being threatened and the loss of my Dad without you. Not sure what the lesson is in that but I am so glad that whatever life may bring me and us that from now on we will be in it together. I promise to never let anything get in the way of US again.

I love you, Fran. Happy 60th Birthday.

And……………one more thing………..the time to retire is now.  Do it.

Moving Out Not On

Jesse, my first born 22 year old son, is moving out of home.

In two weeks.

It’s been talked about now for quite a few months and finally a lovely red brick house not far from our home was found. He is moving in with his gorgeous girlfriend, Emma. I am happy for them both. We all love Emma; our son is a lucky man.

Do I think it’s time for him to make this leap? Definitely.

Do I think he will be happy? Absolutely.

But..

It feels funny. The end of a chapter in my book that I now wish had been read slower. The little boy who found it so hard to say goodbye at the school gate is long gone. Replaced with a young, self-assured man full of confidence and a clear direction of where he wants to go in life.

I know that the quiet house I sometimes crave will now be loud in the silence his absence will bring.

We can drive each other crazy and we argue frequently but I will miss him so much.

I will miss the late night chats we have when we are on our own.

I will miss watching an old episode of Criminal Minds together and enjoying it just as much the second time round.

I will miss hearing the familiar sound of his car pulling up out the front of the house and the involuntary sigh of relief I make upon hearing it.

I will miss watching him kick off his shoes and wave through the door as he arrives home from work.

I will miss the trading of insults with each other that only we think are funny or appropriate.

I will miss my name being yelled out to find” lost” clothing that was never actually missing.

A million little things seemingly unimportant until they are.

I will even miss his protein shakers that multiply in numbers on a regular basis left on the side of the sink……………………….no…………..I actually won’t as that would be ridiculous.

Life moves in stages and his next stage has pushed me into mine. But I know our close relationship will continue to evolve. A lot of the time I am the person who he wants to talk to about things, not the parent he wants advice from. He needs less answers and even less approval for his decisions but instead we now share his experiences and in turn he has become interested in mine. It’s a nice transition.

Someone said to me that you see more of your kids when they leave home so I am hoping that is true.

The other night I said to him, “I’m going to miss you. What will I do?”

Quick as a flash and with his killer smile he replied, “Send food.”

Bye For Now

After some thought, I have decided to close down my lorybe blog. I started it 18 months ago and I have enjoyed it so much.  You have all been so supportive of me, I am grateful to you all.  It has been a fantastic foray into writing and sharing my stories.   All of your comments spurred me on, encouraged me, and gave me confidence in my ability to convey stories in a way you found so relatable.  That was my goal and I feel I achieved that.

I’m now going to put all my efforts into writing a book.  Many of you have suggested that I do this over the years and I feel that the time is right.  It will, of course, be autobiographical and I promise it will be as open and honest as I have always tried to be.

I will pour my heart and soul into this book so it will require all of my “free” time of which I seem to have more of late. The boys continue to live their best lives more independently each day and, for one, abroad temporarily.  I’m thinking this next phase of life ain’t so bad after all.  Time – the most valuable of commodities.   In my teenage years and early twenties, I wasted so much time. When the boys were little there was never enough time.  As my Mum and Dad grew older I was aware of running out of time…….and then run out we did with the loss of Dad.  We race from job to job struggling to be on time.  So maybe for the first time in a really long time, I have time just for me.

I think this year is one of great change.  Finally, I feel I am getting some distance between significant life events that impacted for so long.  We all have our bucket of shit to deal with and, believe me, it comes to us all at some stage, but I’d like to think mine is almost behind me.

I will keep my Facebook page open for my poems and to be able to let you all know the progress of my book.

I’ll be back, might just be a while.

Love Lory xx

Where is Home?

Home.  Where is home?

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I have had my Isle of Wight family over for a three week holiday.  What a fabulous time it was, and I was so sad for it to be over.   It was like a piece of Dad was with me again, and it felt wonderful.  A friend observed that I wasn’t just deeply connected to my cousins but also to the Isle of Wight, the birthplace of my Dad.  I talked as if I had been born there too.

My Mum’s family moved to the Island when she was a child, but my Dad’s family were born and bred there.  Dad, the youngest of five siblings, was the only one to leave his island home and immigrated to Australia when he was 23 years old.

Growing up I remember the odd occasions the Isle of Wight was mentioned on the news or a random TV show.  Dad would fist pump the air and let out a little cheer.  As my brother and I got older, we too would acknowledge with pride the mention of his birthplace with a cheer and a smile.

We travelled there together as a family when I was 7 years old.  My memories at that time are confined to the cousins who bought me the most lollies and my beautiful Aunt’s kind voice in a room crammed full of family, all unfamiliar to me.

I wouldn’t return until I was 28 years old when Andrew and I visited for three days as part of our first overseas holiday together.  It was a fabulous experience, and we immediately regretted not having allowed for more time there.  We roamed the places Dad had talked to us about, and it was nice to finally be able to see for myself that the Island was as magical and beautiful as he had conveyed and as I had imagined.

So having never been much of a crier I was at a loss as to how much I broke my heart when the time came to get on the ferry to leave the Island and say goodbye to my family.  We certainly had a fabulous long distance relationship via phone calls and letters, which I still have to this day, but the feeling of being wrenched away from them, the island, was overwhelming and deep.   I felt like I was leaving my home. We made promises that we would return sooner rather than later but two beautiful baby boys came along, finances changed, and well, life just gets in the way of the best-laid plans.

So I didn’t return to the Island until 2016 when Andrew and I took my beloved Dad’s ashes back to his home a year after he died of Leukaemia.

It was a very bittersweet time during which I feel we may have covered nearly every step where Dad had once walked.  I found myself gazing across the green fields he had explored as a lad or staring out to sea from the Esplanade at Ventnor, really taking in every vista.  I said to Andrew that one day I would like to live on the Island for a few months and just “be.”  I feel very strongly about doing this.

So, back to the question of where is home?

Is home a place?

Is home a person?

Is home a feeling?

Home is the place that I feel I want to go back to after a long day.

Home is sitting with my cousin’s reminiscing about our childhood.

Home is the smell of the aftershave my Dad always wore.

Home is lying on the bed with Mum talking.

Home is hearing my brother laugh out loud.

Home is hugging my brothers in law after a long time apart.

Home is catching up with a friend where you come away feeling happy.

Home is wherever my boys are.

Home is sitting by a fire.

Home is loving and being loved in return.

Home is lying in bed, listening to the rain on the roof, Andrew asleep next to me and the boys both home, safe and sound in their bedrooms.

Home is the smell every Sunday morning of Andrew’s cooked breakfast.

Home is wearing no make-up, a warm jumper and thick socks – no shoes.

Home will be the Isle of Wight when my life here is complete – for home is where my heart is and a large part of it is there.  With my Dad, his memories, my memories.  A strong connection.  A deep feeling.

Home for me is a feeling.

Where is your home?

 

 

 

 

The Years are SO short

In his last year of High school, today will be Matthew’s last ever Sports Day.  My last one supporting on the sidelines was actually a few years ago. It seems in High school parents watching is not needed nor wanted.  “Mum, NO-ONE’S Mum comes.  We just hang with our friends.”  It got me reminiscing about the Sports Days where to have many family members watching was an actual requirement and enabled them to perform better for their “audience.”

Sports Day Photo Matthew

 Sports Day 2006 – Matthew.

In the early years both Mum and Dad came to watch the boys but as time went on poor Mum couldn’t sit or stand for that long so it became another treasured time with just me and Dad.  I know Dad not only loved this time with the boys, cheering loudly from the sidelines, but he also LOVED the attention from fellow school Mums as the majority of parents there were Mums and Grandmothers.  Seeing the boys run to their adored Pop so openly drew much admiration.  Dad basked in it.

Sports Day Photo Dad

2006 – Jesse, not competing due to a sore wrist, my Dad and Matthew. 

So, I was not surprised to feel a little emotional as Matthew left today without me, without Pop.  You see a client’s husband who came into work the other day came from Southampton, England and we have had a few conversations about my Dad and the Isle of Wight.  He sounds so much like my Dad and it’s really unsettled me.  Funny the things that set you off. What you hear and smell are such powerful, emotive triggers.  I hadn’t thought about how long it’s been since I heard his voice……………..how much I miss it.

Also, for me, this school year seems to be flying by.  We have had Matthew’s school formal, Parent Teacher Interviews in just a few weeks (always a delight lol )and then the Year 12 school retreat.  BANG!  Term 1 done.  As Matthew got his driver’s license the day before school went back I am no longer required for drop-offs and pickups.  It is a very strange feeling.  A feeling of freedom – absolutely?  But also a feeling of becoming redundant.  Not in a bad way.  I think as he is the “baby” I just feel it more deeply.  With his own car, girlfriend and a huge circle of friends, he is out a lot now and it leaves Andrew and I sitting together with a glass of wine and Netflix, clinking our glasses together and saying, “Just you and me.  Aaagain!”  It is nice, weird, and quiet and takes some adjusting.  I am certainly not running around the house fist pumping and declaring, “We have our life back.”  I liked family life with my boys.  But I guess if he was home all the time and not going out I would be worried about that too.  So I will just fist pump the air when he comes home each night and enjoy that he is still young enough for a curfew.  And with cooler weather returning soon the regular Sunday roast dinner will be back.  A family night we can count on……………most of the time.

Anyway back to Sports Day. His house colour is blue so he and his friends were dressing up all things medical and there seems to be as much attention on “costume” as there is in practising for the events.  So Matthew left the house clad in blue scrubs, and looked very nice too……….a future Dr Fidgeon maybe?

And, after 12 years of sports days, he still set off with sunscreen applied and a good luck hug.  Some things don’t change.  (Fist pump!!!!)

Matthew Chandler Sports Day 2018

9th March 2018 – Matthew and Chandler, friends since they were 3 years old and the winners today – Boylan, their house won.  They popped home a few minutes ago before heading off to a party.  Apparently, no need for showers as they are all going to jump in the pool.  Oh dear.  

 

 

25 Years

It’s coming up for our 25th Wedding Anniversary next month.  Silver I believe, although white gold is lovely too ha.  I remember going out to dinner with my Mum and Dad to celebrate the same anniversary milestone for them and thinking what an achievement it was to be happily married for that LONG.  And now, here I am too.  Pretty chuffed about that.

I met Andrew when I was 19 years old.  He was a friend of a friend.  My first introduction to him was when we called into that friend’s house on the way to a party.  He was sitting on a couch peeling and eating fresh prawns.  He was very handsome, very, very tanned, long hair (which has always been my “thing”) falling across his face and he was wearing a white tank top which provided a full view of a series of nasty scars on both shoulders.  We were introduced and chatting about I don’t know what when I asked him about his scars.  Even as I type that I’m thinking I wouldn’t dream of doing that now – how rude really. Anyhoo he deadpanned replied, “A shark attack.”  And I, wide-eyed believed him.  Gullible?  Smitten? Probably a combination of both.  (They were, in fact, scars from multiple shoulder operations but I didn’t find that out for quite some time.) The die was cast there and then as they say even though I was married at that time.  (That’s a whole other story.)  But by my 21st, and with my divorce finalised we were living together.

25 Years Photo

One of my favourite photos of us.  Late 1980’s and no we were not on our way to a “hippy” party.

The happy ever after or even happy thereafter came along for only intermittent periods of time.  When things were great, they were awesome.  Weekends of seeing no one, just happy being together venturing out only to get food.  We would stay up all night talking about anything and everything.  It was very intense, romantic and unstable.  You see, at that time Andrew could not plan further than a week ahead which was in direct contrast to me wanting to know that we were going to at least last longer than our 12-month lease. He was unsure if he wanted children, I was ready to have them there and then, and they were certainly not in his 10-year plan because he didn’t have a 10 DAY PLAN! The more I sought reassurance or any type of long-term commitment the more he resisted.  Having a 21-year-old son of my own and seeing how he thinks it is oh so clear to me now.  I would be totally understanding of his inability to know the answers to such questions at this time.  But………………I was young, in love and very insecure.

So you can imagine this was not a match made in heaven.  I could not “go with the flow” any more than Andrew could “stay still.”  This resulted in very loud arguments which led to very dramatic breakups. On one occasion our arguing started as we ate breakfast.  Losing my very quick temper, I hurled a bowl of soggy Weetabix at his head.  He managed to duck (thankfully, although I was not hoping for that at the time) and the bowl smashed against the wall behind him.  He turned to survey the mess, smiled back at me and said “Seeya” pausing on his way to the front door to pull my favourite bunch of dried flowers out of a vase and stomp on them. I was furious.  I loved those flowers. On his return, I declared that I was going to move out.  Of course, I didn’t want to, but he replied with an offhand OK.  Honestly, I cannot recall the exact number of times I moved out, took on a new lease somewhere else, only for us to be back together again within weeks.  Both of us too stubborn to back down, apologise or just have the maturity to talk things through.  Young, hotheaded passion at its worst.

One time I moved it was to a unit on the second floor of a block the other end of the street we were living on.  Two big burly removalists loaded up their truck and could see I was upset.  I was happy to tell them what a bastard Andrew was.  They listened and empathised and when myself and furniture were finally relocated to my new place they both stayed and hung up my pictures on the walls.  Got my fridge all sorted for me.  Just made sure I was ok.  So imagine their surprise when I called them back a month later to say I was moving back in with Andrew.  “You are kidding?” they said.  “Are you sure?”  Oh yes, I replied, he really is wonderful.  Oh yes, wonderfully uncommitted he still was. This kind of dance we did continued on and off for 4 years.  I became an expert at breaking leases as I continued to move out in dramatic fashion, but we were never apart for very long.

After yet another breakup and reunion we got engaged.  Andrew proposed over a lovely, romantic lunch and we couldn’t wait to share this news with our friends and family.  Well, some reactions were that of overwhelming surprise as many hadn’t realised we were back together again after the previous split.  It all sounds somewhat comical now.

So not too long after this, we decided to look to buy our first home together.  We found a maisonette in Torrensville that we fell in love with and we were lucky to be successful at Auction and become its new owners.  Dad loved to tell the story of the different reactions on mine and Andrew’s face the day of the Auction.  Mine was one of delight and excitement whereas Dad observed Andrew looked paler with each bid.  $98,000 it cost us which sounds like nothing now, but it was back then.  We moved in, and Andrew renovated it to perfection.  He improved it so much, and we made a really lovely home there.  We were very happy and very settled.

We were married while still living in this house.  It was Saturday, February 20th, 1993 at 11am (I was way too impatient to wait for an afternoon time) at Confetti Restaurant in Stirling (no longer there.)  It was a very cool summer’s day.  We were married in the rose garden of the restaurant followed by a lovely lunch.  We then headed to the city with a few family and friends and partied on at The Terrace on North Terrace where we were staying that night.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

25 Years Wedding Photo

Our Wedding Day – 20/2/93 (Please note nothing on Andrew’s jacket, just the flash from me taking a photo of this photo.)

Fast forward to 25 years later.  We have bought and sold four more houses, had a few more cars than that, had wonderful holidays near and far and of course our greatest collaborations, Jesse and Matthew.  We have had so much fun, our share of bad times that eventually come to us all and we can still stay up all night talking just as we did when we first got together.  I think that is some kind of wonderful.

25 Years Photo 2

Late 1990’s and yes we were on our way to a hippy party.

Who knew, that the hard to pin down surfer would turn out to be the ultimate family man.  There is no one more dependable, reliable, thoughtful or committed.  We have led a pretty charmed life together but then with the last three years being nothing short of challenging he has been as solid as a rock.  He is who I retreat to when times get tough.  He is who I still talk to late at night when my worries seem worse.  Our vows in sickness and in health have been challenged, probably more so these last 6 months than ever before but still he remains kind, caring and patient. A recent visit to the hospital with the plan uncertain as to what would be done the next day; I said to him that I would ring when I knew what was going on.  But no, bright and early with a bag of all the things I might need he arrived just to keep me company.  Translation he sat there by himself, holding my hand as I dozed on and off.  It was so nice knowing he was there.

We are very different people, opposites attract is certainly true for us but we work.  We still argue, we still challenge each other, but we work it out under the same roof now thank goodness. (Leases are not so easy to break these days lol.)  We laugh often and a lot. I could not have asked for a more kind, involved, devoted father for our boys and I know that he loves us all with all that he has.  I am his top priority always which makes me a very lucky girl.  He is quick to compliment me and has never made me feel anything but pretty in his eyes.

Lately, the demands of a new puppy, playing weekend taxi service to a 17-year-old and my health have seen many a quiet night spent in just the two of us, a bottle of wine and Netflix.  We couldn’t be happier.

Here’s to another 25 years of doing this life together.  It is never dull.  And I am so glad that when Andrew finally did make plans, it was with me, and it was forever.

25 Years Photo 3

2016 – Very happy at our nephew’s wedding.

Until Next Year

For my last blog for the year, it is only fitting that I start off by thanking all of you.  You who have supported my first foray into writing.  Be it with a heartfelt comment, sharing my stories with others, to sharing your personal stories with me, each one of you has spurred me on from week to week.  I appreciate you all, and I am really thankful for all the encouragement.  May you stick with me next year as I continue.

It was cathartic to put my thoughts on paper and deeply helpful to have them so well received.  My most popular story to date is still “Mental Health Days.”  I always get people reading that and then sending me messages to say that they will now do that with their children.  If I am remembered for nothing else I will be so happy, it’s for that.

I have had quite diverse “traffic” to my blog web page too.  Bulgaria, Mexico, South Korea and France just to name a few, made it very exciting for me. The power of social media is always incredible.

So looking back on this year a lot of good things have happened.

My boys have had really successful academic years.  Jesse has finished his three-year Uni degree.  He worked really hard and did so well.  We celebrated his 21st birthday the day after his last exam and for many weeks afterwards.  It was the party that kept on going (nearly killed Andrew and I, but what a way to go!)  He now plans to take 6 months off and do some travelling and just revel in having nothing to study for, no deadlines, no pressure.  Very well deserved.

Matthew completed Year 11.  He did hardly any work and did so well.  (Insert facial expression that is an eye roll, restrained smirk, frown and gritted teeth!)  He says he realises he will have to change his approach to learning for Year 12…………………..watch this space.  Until then he is “living the dream” (his words) with a gorgeous girlfriend, his own car, less than 5 hours driving until he has his license, and 7 weeks of school holidays.  Lucky boy.

My health has improved so much since August.   Other than my hands and feet, most of my bone pain and in particular all the issues I was having with my shoulder have gone.  Yep.  Gone.  Nausea is gone.  That really is beyond awesome.  The downside is that this is all because I finished my hormone treatment.   The treatment thrust me into menopause and all the crappy issues that came with that, and, my body………………..well it has now decided to come out of menopause and go back to where it was before breast cancer came along when I was 49 years old and interrupted it.  Surprisingly I am still sane and haven’t had mood swings that would cause me to kill or maim any of my men……..yet.  This means that I am producing oestrogen in a body that had an oestrogen positive cancer.  Should be doing my head in but I am not going to let it.  I have complete faith in my specialist, I am back to 3 monthly checks, and I am so bloody happy to be feeling good again.  Here’s to that continuing.

There have been babies born this year, one darling little boy to my cousin who really has lit up social media with his infectious smile.  I love starting my day looking at him.

There are babies to be born. Namely, a baby girl I affectionately refer to as “whatshername” in my quest to trip up her Mum, my friend I work with, in accidentally telling me her name.  Mum has had a very challenging time before and during this pregnancy so February cannot come soon enough for everyone.  What a happy time that will be.

My friend Tracey who spent many months in hospital this time last year has made a fabulous recovery to good health.  She is a living, breathing miracle woman who was last to leave Jesse’s 21st birthday party.  Who would have thought?  She is the absolute highlight of 2017, and we will kick off 2018 with celebrating her 21st anniversary of her lung transplant.  What a day/night that will be.

We have had a Bali 50th birthday celebration for my much-loved brother in law, and a dear friend had his 60th birthday on one of the “Unforgettable” houseboats up the river just a few weeks ago.  Significant milestones that came with heartfelt tributes from their respective family and friends.  Lovely to be part of such special occasions.

Then just three weeks ago we got Remy.  A black and tan German shepherd pup full of sass and mischief.  It has been wonderful (and tiring) having a puppy again.  You may remember we lost our beloved Izzy suddenly back in April and our house has had an enormous void since.  The saying, “a house is not a home without a dog” really rings true for us.  She has already brought much joy to us all, and she is a beautiful focus for us as a family to enjoy.  Many evenings already we have all been outside together really relaxing and watching her explore her new world.  It will be great when she stops biting our ankles because other than that she is pretty perfect.

There has been some really sad news this year too.  A friend passed away quickly and unexpectedly in September leaving her beautiful family shocked and devastated.  A more beautiful, kind lady you could not wish to meet.  I feel privileged to have known her in the small way that I did. There were three of us Mum’s who met through our three boys when Jesse started in Year 6 at Cabra.  Now as those boys each turn 21 I am the only Mum left, both lost to cancer.  Unbelievable.

I still have friends fighting some serious health battles one of whom was diagnosed only last week with breast cancer.  My wish for them is that 2018 brings good news and respite.

For the rest of us, may the New Year bring continued good health, lots of happy times and lots of time out.  Let’s not get so busy that we don’t take the time to do nothing – just be.  For years I have put lines through weekends in my diary.  It’s to make me not plan anything.   To have a weekend at home with family or to do whatever with no pressure. “Mental Health Weekends” for adults I guess.   I plan to have lots of those in 2018 and together with Andrew and Remy we plan on heading off in the car and doing lots of walks.  Exploring what we have in our own backyard so to speak.

We are also looking forward to my cousins coming out from England/Wales early next year and spending a few weeks with us.  Can’t tell you how excited we are about that.

We have a 30th birthday tonight, Christmas with family and then a dear cousin’s wedding next weekend.  2017 finishing on a high.

So, until the New Year, its bye from me.  I will again look forward to sharing what life brings my way with all of you.  You make it safe to do so, and for that, I am so very grateful.

Much love

LoryBe

 

 

 

 

The Best Advice

I read somewhere once that when someone seeks advice, they are actually looking for an accomplice.  That is probably true on some occasions.  Often by the time we ask for advice we have almost figured out our own answer, we just need someone else’s validation or to have someone agree with us.

Advice is one of those things that can be appreciated or resented.  Something you receive but might not necessarily ask for.  It can be helpful or make matters worse.  It leaves you open to hearing an opinion that could be the polar opposite of yours, and that can make for interesting, adult conversations or cause a divide in a relationship, particularly if the advice was given not sought.

I think as we get older we become more measured in dishing out advice and more willing to ask for it.  The young are often quick to interject a discussion with “Well, I would do this………” or, more bluntly, “this is what you should be doing.”  Not really advice when delivered in this manner, just one forcefully stating their opinion. A gentle, measured approach works better and will be listened to and reflected upon.

So let’s clarify the difference.  Opinion = “This is what I think.”  Advice = “This is what I think you should do.”  Be sure to differentiate between the two when giving or receiving “help.”

Some of the best advice shared by some of my friends has been;

What is meant for you won’t pass you by.

Whatever you do make sure it makes you happy.

No is a complete sentence.

If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.  An oldie but a goodie that we have all heard many times.  I remember my Nan saying that to me.

When cleaning the microwave remember to look up.  A friend told me this, and I would have been in my late 20’s.  I remember going home and opening up my microwave door. Admittedly it was on a shelf at hip height, not eye level but sure enough, the roof of my microwave could have fed a small child for a day lol.

Focus on what you are good at and do it brilliantly.  I say this to my boys a lot.

Slow down.  Better to be late in this world than too early in the next.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.  I have a friend who says this a lot, but I actually think it came from Gandhi himself.  Maybe she too is a guru.

The best advice ever given to me I received when I was a nervous new Mum.   I have passed it on so many times and continue to do so even now.  You have so many people telling you so many different ways to do things with your baby from how to feed when to feed and when they should sleep.  The list goes on and on, and it is really overwhelming and confusing.  So my friend’s advice to silence the “critics” was to always say very firmly, “I may not be an expert on all babies, but I am an expert on my babies.”  They are young men now, and yes I am.

What is the best advice you have received or given?  Please share. It may be just the thing someone else needs to hear.

 

When the Teacher gets Taught

We are almost “done” in the teaching your kids to drive phase of our life. Well, I say done but my Mum, who hasn’t driven for 12 years, still has advice to offer me on occasion, so I guess parents never stop “teaching” when they are passengers in our cars.

Our youngest son, Matthew, saved his own money and, like his brother, paid cash for his first car.  And, again like his brother, bought a Subaru.  Next doors son has one too, so our side of the street probably looks quite worrisome to our neighbours with much younger children sharing the road space.

Never one to take the easy path Matthew decided on a manual car.  We tried to steer him away from this as my car, the one he primarily was learning in, is automatic.  And, ridiculous I know, but I have never learnt to drive a manual.  So this made teaching him and getting his driving hours up limited to Andrew as once he had his own car driving mine lost its appeal.  We thought that once he got his license and with that gained some confidence and improved skills, then go and buy a manual.  But his mind was set.

His dream first car came along, and that was that. I think Matthew thought that after a few minutes he would get the hang of driving it and away he would go.  Well not quite.  He isn’t afraid to admit that it has been really challenging and frustrating.  He has come back some days feeling entirely defeated.  Andrew has come back many days feeling quite stressed and big brother has unintentionally made him feel less than competent. I empathise with Andrew, encourage Matthew and slap Jesse.  We have all had a few headaches.

So this week he asked me to take him out in his car.  It’s no secret that I love Matthews car, and he loves that I do.  And now that he just needs to practice getting the gear changes “smoother” I feel ok going out with him.  A month or two ago I hadn’t wanted to be in the position of having to take over and drive and not be able to.

So off we go. His driving was perfect, and I could see he was chuffed I thought so.  He had a plan for our drive.  We went to Le Cornu’s carpark, and he was going to teach me how to drive a manual.  Yikes! He gave me a fabulous run down before we started of what to do and what never to do, “Never change from second to first Mum.  Never!”  For a boy that Dad and big brother didn’t think listened to them all his instructions started with “Dad said…………….” or “Jesse said…………………….”  He was kind and incredibly patient as I finally took off after stalling the car twice.  This was way harder than it looked and he shot me a knowing glance.

Well, I’d like to say that I then proceeded to master the art of gear changes.  I managed to get from first to second gear and then failed in my attempt to get to third, instead revving quite loudly in neutral.  I “forgot” to put the clutch in once and overreached for the gear stick twice.  But it was so much fun, and his confidence on the drive home was clearly elevated. He was the more experienced and knowledgeable driver, and it reflected in his demeanour.  He was more sure of himself and so glad that I was complaining how hard I had found it.

I have said all along that Matthew will be a much better driver when he doesn’t have someone in the car watching his every move.  It makes him very nervous and kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy he then makes mistakes he wouldn’t usually do.  Having a supervising driver is not reassuring for him at all.

So today I learnt that I really love my automatic car but should have learnt a manual when I too was 17 years old.

I learnt that Matthew does listen to our instructions and advice a lot more than we realise.

I learnt that an impatient child by nature can have all the patience in the world.

I learnt yet again that saying “me too” is unifying.

I learnt that reversing the role of parent/teacher, child/learner does wonders for both. Enlightens, empowers and brings a lot of laughs.

I learnt that LeCornu’s car park is not big enough lol.