Tag Archives: Family

Happy Birthday Clint Eastwood

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The 31st May is Clint Eastwood’s Birthday.

And Brooke Shields,
Colin Farrell
Lea Thompson
Tom Berenger
Chris Elliott
Don Ameche
Walt Whitman
Denholm Elliott
Prince Rainier of Monaco
Jim Bolger
Tommy Emmanuel
Justin Madden
Corey Hart
Sarah Murdoch
and a few other peeps here and there.

Oh, and it’s mine.

But since my 40th Birthday, exactly five years ago, I no longer celebrate or even recognise it as a special day. I don’t answer the phone when it rings, I don’t check my Facebook until the very end of the day to thank any Birthday Wishes, I don’t accept any invitations to dinner or lunch, and generally I just ignore the day altogether.

This year I received just one card in the mail – from my ex-BFF’s Mum (not my own Mum).

My girlfriend Sally also dropped a card off to my place, on her way home from church. I took some two day-old soup to her place a couple of hours later and we watched the footy and crocheted in front of the fire. Max LOVES going to Sally’s house. He knows we’re heading there as soon as I turn off the highway and stands with his front paws on the dashboard.

And now it’s over, and I don’t have to feel the hurt and the reality of how alone I am – as polarised by a birthday – for another twelve months.

By which time,
I am planning on not living in the Purple House any more.

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Personality Of A Sink Hole

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I started writing this post in late November 2014,
and just couldn’t face finishing it before now.

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For my fortieth birthday, I had always planned an amazing day. An amazing weekend, actually.

  • A rural campground, with huts and a central hall
  • A treasure hunt
  • A dance party
  • A decorated table for all of my presents
  • Handpainted sign posts
  • A giant scrabble board on the grass
  • A camp fire
  • Lamb on a spit
  • Fairylights adorning all the trees
  • Crusty rolls made on site
  • A decadent brunch the next morning, brimming with eggs, bacon & chocolate milkshakes
  • Handmade Thank You gifts for everyone

It was to be a whimsical and fun spectacle, that whenever one of my guests thought of it it would involuntarily make them smile.

But I could not make it happen. It’s true I was in no financial situation to be able to create my dream 40th, but that aside – I was at the beginning of a downward spiral of self-doubt, a bout of Depression that would last over four years, and, a period of my life where I would not even know who I was. I didn’t know it at the time, but my fortieth birthday was the beginning of the loss of my identity.

I was to become utterly lost.

I had recently been approached by a local man for a physical relationship. Although I was quite clear that I was not interested in a purely physical relationship with a man as I now knew that I deserved to be with a respectful and loving partner, he pursued me with some vigour. So he made a small amount of effort spend time with me and my boys; sitting with me as I watered my front lawn, sharing a beer on my front verandah, or sharing a dirty martini and funny stories late at night as we both suffered from insomnia.

Then one blistering January afternoon, I was sitting in my little Beep Beep (car) with the air conditioner on absolutely full bore. My north-facing fibro house had turned into an oven on this 40*+ summer day and my trusty car was my only form of respite. It was so hot even my scalp was sweating!

Without warning the passenger door of my car opened and there was said gentleman, and he proceeded to inform me that he no longer wanted to spend any time with me as although he believed that he was no longer in love with his estranged wife (and mother of his four children) who had cheated on him and then thrown him out of his home, he was in fact not ready to pursue another relationship yet. Unless it was a purely physical one.

With that, he left.

And I sat in my Beep Beep and cried, hot salty tears. I cried because I had finally been strong enough to insist on what I believed I deserved and had missed out. I cried because I was hot in all the wrong ways. I cried because I was lonely, and broke and desperate for someone to love. A friend or a partner or family.

And I had noone.

And so the months ticked by from January to May. As my 40th drew closer, I discouraged any attempt by my few friends to have a party for me. I didn’t want to celebrate a birthday that brought me no real joy. I was not happy in life and didn’t want to pretend otherwise for others. However one of my friends thought my protestations to be false and truly believed that I should have a birthday. It was a milestone and I deserved a party.

So she went through my phone and found some contact numbers and organised a lunch for me.

A week before my birthday a box arrived from Sydney. A box I knew was from my ‘best friend’. A friend that I had been close to since we were 16. Twenty four years of our lives. We had survived our teens, and our twenties, and overseas adventures together, despite following very different paths and ending up in very different situations. I didn’t open my box on the morning of my birthday, as would have been my normal practice. I love surprises and I love being spoiled.

You see the morning of my fortieth was taken up by the needs of my Mother, who had insisted on coming down from Perth to see me on my birthday. Without giving away any of her confidences, I can only say that our relationship was hard work. For me anyway.

I finally had saved the money to have my car serviced (my present to myself – Happy 40th, Pia!) and had already fielded a phone call from my best Friend in Sydney. She mentioned a number of times that she was not flying over for a surprise visit and so I was not to expect it. I know that this sounds spectacularly weird, but it seems she was convinced that this was what I would have expected of her her. She had only a month prior, returned to work after twelve months maternity leave due to the birth of her second daughter. I didn’t for a minute contemplate that she would come to see me for my birthday. It just didn’t occur to me.

And so by 10am, I had fielded a couple of phone calls and seen to my Mother’s needs, and I had dropped my car to the auto electrician with a list of my car’s needs – and now finally I was in the shower. I was finally alone.

Until my Mum barged in and said that the auto electrician had rung and had asked if I really needed everything done, in particular one small but annoying task – to which she informed me that she had told them not to bother. The task was number one on my list that I had left with them. A task that had needed attention for three years and now I could finally afford to pay to get completed.

And so I emerged from my shower, dejected and full of dread for the day ahead. I hadn’t even dried my hair when my first birthday guest arrived. Bearing a gift from the local $2 shop that she informed me reminded her of our discussions of saving our pennies for a trip to the French countryside – a cardboard box with a picture of the Eiffel Tower. She then told me I need to get my glad rags on, as she was taking me out for a birthday lunch.

Yippee!

The town where I live is seaside and has the most wonderful beaches. Long white beaches where my dog(s) can romp. Deep blue sea that is rarely flat or still. Every now and again you can see a seal or dolphin fins. There is of course the obligatory seaside restaurants, which is where my birthday event was to take place. Waiting for me at the allotted table were two more friends one of whom looked like she was ready to throw a glass of water over the other – I was soon to learn why.

Why do some people complain so much
about their lives, like husbands, children, jobs, homes, pets
– when all they have to do is make change?
Why do people insist on being unhappy?

Now when do you think the real fun and games with my Mum began? Can you guess? I’m going to boring and tell you . . . the games begun as soon as the waitress arrived at our table and asked “would anyone like to order a drink?”. Well! Did she what!?!

But first, FIRST she had to (HAD TO) say . . . .

“Ooh I’d love a drink. But I don’t think I’m allowed to.
Am I allowed Pia?
Am I allowed to have a drink?”

So I spent the next two hours making polite conversation while every nerve, every sinew and every vessel in my body was SCREAMING for me to run away. To get away and be by myself. But I stayed.

I tried drink a revolting cocktail put in front of me, and I ate a meal I could not taste and I accepted two more gifts that were purchased by well meaning friends that in fact did not suit me or meet any of my needs.

My Mum spoke fondly of the gift she was giving me – the gift she ‘gives’ me every birthday and every Christmas – a promise to take me shopping for something that I need or want. Whatever that may be, and something I usually don’t receive. It’s been that way for over twenty years.

I’m told that it’s the thought that counts.

So the excruciating ordeal came to an end, with a jolly invitation from my Mother to everyone at the table to come back to my house to have some birthday cake. With a promise to all that the birthday cake, was in fact my favourite dessert. Finally, something I may actually like on my birthday – as my favourite dessert is pavlova with strawberries and cream. Yum! Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I LOVE pavlova.

So home we headed to my fibro shack to sing the obligatory song and enjoy the sugary goodness of my favourite dessert. God I was salivating all the way. We gathered in the front room, that was actually the largest part of my shop, and Mum brought in a white bakery box. The box was opened, candles stuck in and lit and then the song was sung. All the while my heart was turning to stone.

In the box was a cake with lots of cream and chocolate spindles – I had no idea what it was,
but it was not a pavlova.

My Mum then proudly instructed me to cut everyone a piece. So I did. With every cut and every serve my heart sank further and further down my body, heading to the bottom of my belly. God I wish this day would end. Then one of my friend’s piped up with a compliment to my Mum for the delicious Black Forest Cake, and asked me the last time I had had one. I had managed to this point to just cut, serve and keep my mouth shut. So when presented with the situation where I had to either lie or tell the truth and I genuinely did not have enough energy left to lie. So I told the truth.

“I hate Black Forest Cake, because it has fruit in it (cherries).
It’s actually my sister, S2’s, favourite dessert”

Now, my Mum has a particular talent for being dramatic and to ensure that she stays the centre of attention, especially with a few drinks under her belt. She has the knack for acting the part of martyr. We’re talking BAFTA quality acting! So despite the disappointment being my own, it was in fact my Mum who put her head in her hands and exclaimed loudly “I’m so stupid” “I can’t do anything right” “I’ve ruined everything!” Each proclamation was also embellished with “tsk” and “ugh”.

Such drama – over a cake.

An hour later, everyone bar my Mum has left and it is time to collect my car, minus the most important work, and try to salvage some sort of joy from the day. Or am I being ambitious? Despite my little house only having one bedroom, I manage to avoid my Mum for the better part of the evening, and she takes herself off to bed with more profuse apologies for the cake (’cause I really want to relive that moment!).

And I finally get a chance to open the box from Sydney. The contents of which, requires a blog post all of it’s own.

And thus – my 40th Birthday was over.

Thank fuck!

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Look Into Their Eyes & Wait Until You See Their Soul Leave

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We have been lied to via prose and celluloid . . . that when someone we love dies, you can see something alter in the depth of their eyes. A shadow is cast, or a light flickers out or a cloud hovers.

None of this is true.

When I stroked Horatio as he was passing, and I held his head in my hands, I didn’t even know he was gone. Although his eyes were still open and yet his body went limp, I had to ask the vet. “Is he gone already?”

I was looking directly into his eyes, but I didn’t see him leave.

And as I held Jack cradled in my arms I insisted that the vet let me continue to hold him as she sent him away. I sobbed as I knew he was going to be out of pain, but I would not know when this moment was to pass. I kept stroking him and telling him how much I loved him and would do so “. . . . for ever and ever”.

I loved him SO utterly.

My beautiful gorgeous old Boys. Neither time, was I able to see the moment that they left. And it hurts so absolutely. There is no flickering connection or last moment contact between souls. Death isn’t a journey – it’s just the end of life.

I know that my period is coming, so I am well aware that I am hormonal. Stiff shit to that! I know the anniversary of Horatio’s death less than a week away, but that’s not it either.

Last night at work, I was made aware of the fact that some ‘things’ have been said about me while I was not present. Petty, small minded talk that doesn’t actually upset – not the words or who they were spoken by.

But the emotion that flood me last night was disappointment. Disappointment in women my age or older who could behave as kinder people – but choose not to. So I was quieter and more removed, than I have been for many months. Someone thought I was unwell, and another thought I was stressed. Amanda asked me if I was feeling ok – perhaps I was catching a cold.

I quietly explained that I was grateful to rarely get a cold (although I am stricken with other shit – let’s be honest) as I don’t have children who need cuddles and loves, or a husband who breaths on me in his sleep – to pass on their illness/es. I was lucky to escape catching normal ‘bugs’ simply by exclusion. She pointed out that we work in a closed environment with air-conditioning for ventilation. As I walked back to my work space, I threw out the line “It’s not aircon that makes you sick. It’s love.”.

I didn’t realise how sad this truth was, until today.

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Bravery Is Taking A Small Step

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Today I rose one and a half hours earlier than normal, filled my water bottle, put Maxxy Moo into the bathroom and drove to Perth. For the first time, I was meeting a group of B-Schoolers for a mentoring and ideas workshop. Entirely free, in the home of one of us and filled with support, nurturing and empowerment.

I’ve never experienced anything like it before.

There were five of us, and we had all brought snacks that were healthy – absolutely no junk. We told not only the story of of our businesses, but also our personal stories. Not like some Nimbin/hippy/touchyfeeley kind of thing – just a genuine connection about who we were + our journey to now + where we were planning on going.

How often to do you get a chance to share these things?

I’m lucky right? Knowing these women and having this opportunity? I mean – I did have to pay $3000 to join the course, and participate in twelve months of online dialogue in the B-School community, and travel nearly three hours just to get there – but I know that I’m still lucky. I’m truly grateful.

And it’s quite possible that out of the five brilliant women who attended (I’m including myself in that), I believe I walked away with the most wisdom and learning from the morning. I was just blown away with how these other women believed in me and gave me solid and tangible ways in which I was holding myself back and how I could be successful almost immediately.

I was so grateful.

When I left, I had a lot of “To Do” lists compiling in my mind. Seriously – a LOT! However something very strange and unexpected pushed that all aside and pounced on my psyche. I had driven three hours from my beachside haven and was now just fifteen minutes away from all three of my nephews.

Fifteen minutes.

Although I have been actively excluded from the lives of all three of my beloved nephews, I still love them fiercely and dream of seeing them and hugging them (no kisses – boys don’t do kisses). As I closed my car door and turned on my ignition, I knew that I had to risk the reality of being barred from entering their homes, or being yelled at or worse – simply for the chance of seeing and hugging my those three boys.

And so I did it.

I drove to N1’s home first and was completely packing my dacks. I knocked and waited to hear either voices or footsteps coming to the door – there was neither. I knocked again. No one was home. So I wrote a short note to N1 telling him that I loved him and would have loved to see him. My fingers are crossed that he will receive it.

I’ll probably never know.

Then I drove the five blocks to N2 & N3’s home. These three lads with their Mum’s as sisters, never see each other. Can you imagine something so sad? It’s how their Mum’s and I were brought up. My Mum & also my Dad didn’t get on with their own families, so we never grew up with cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents. It was hauntingly lonely.

And now my beloved three are repeating the sadness.

When I got to their home, I could see at least one car in the driveway and I knocked. I wasn’t thinking about anything – my reception/rejection/arse whipping – I just knocked on the giant glass door and waited. And a face peeked out a bedroom window, but he didn’t recognise me. N2 had no idea who I was.

My sister, S2, answered and welcomed me in. She was pleasant and cordial, and she called to boys to come and say “Hi”. She had to introduce me to them. I tried to joke about how tall they were and that I felt short – they’re only seven and nine and a half, but N2 is almost as tall as me already. Far out!!!

I asked for a quick hug and then let them go.

I only stayed for seven minutes, but I did my best to have a light and ‘normal’ conversation with my Beloveds and their Mum. School, chores, cats, dogs. After a second genuine hug from N3 and a very hesitant second hug (with a pre-promise of “no kisses”), I left.

I just left.

It was the bravest thing I have done in a long, long time. I am proud of myself for facing the possible rejection and just taking a chance. I am proud of myself for making the boys relaxed enough to talk to me for five minutes. I am proud of myself for putting our collection need, to be a family, above my fear of being cast away.

H, B & G – if you ever get to read my blog, I want you to know that I simply adore you and miss you incredibly. I love you more than any other humans on this Earth and I would do anything to protect you and keep you safe.

You are my Beloveds.

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It’s A Dog’s Life – In My Home Anyway

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For the first time since he came to live with me, just over ten years, Max has fallen asleep on my lap.

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It’s just shy of eleven months since we lost both Horatio then Jack. We have both struggled quite badly to live with the loss – for lots of different reasons.

I still miss my boys so much and still instantly tear-up when I think of them. Having them in my life altered the course of my entire being. They enriched my existence by an immeasurable amount.

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My Boys . . . . 2009

My Boys . . . . 2009

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Max and I still have a ways to go, in trying to have a happy life with just the two of us. But we keep trying.

On the whole, I have found that having my three Boys was healthier than any other relationship (bar one) that I ever had with a human. Humans are not reliable. Dogs are predictable. They are also loyal and loving and gentle.

I have thought about adopting another dog, particularly for Max’s sake – but I’m just too allergic. I’m actually allergic to Max, but we soldier on in a fashion as the allergy isn’t nearly as strong as with most other breeds.

It helps that I love him so much, too.

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He woke himself up by snorting!

He woke himself up by snorting!

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Enfant Eclat De Rire

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The store that I work in, doing nightfill at least four nights of the week, is in a very popular holiday destination. In fact, it is repeatedly the most prosperous store in the state.

So we don’t just see locals, but lots of holiday makers too – ‘blow ins’.

Being such a favourite holiday spot, especially for those from our Capital City, and being a beachside town, we have lots of families come to stay. And they spend quite a bit of time and money in the supermarket where I unpack boxes and fill the shelves.

For the whole of Summer, the store is open longer hours – so the holidayers can spend their money ass late as they like – which means we fill the shelves with customers in the store. Although this is annoying at times and definitely makes our job take longer, the truth is, that there is a wonderfully positive aspect to this intrusion.

The laughter of children.

Quite often there are tears and tantrums, but there is always laughter. And it is such a beautiful sound. One of my favourite sounds in the world.

And tonight, a child came tearing around the corner of one aisle running from the Father to the Mother who was picking up some milk. And the sound, the child’s laughter, was such a sweet melody. Tinkling and genuine – I saw the face of other adults in the store respond to the sound with joy. Such a beautiful sound – a child’s laugh.

And walking down my aisle at the time, was a couple with a baby in the Father’s arms. The baby could have been no more than four months old. As the other child’s laughter peeled through the store, I noticed that the Father of the baby lifted his precious bundle to his lips and gave him a gentle kiss and nose rub.

It was such a deed of protection and genuine love. An instantaneous action.

It made me smile.

While the News and the Internet report the repeated misery of our World, there at my work place were two signs of love and joy. I am carrying their presence with me now.

I am so grateful.

 

 

Marriage

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Someone who admire quite a bit, because she is frank and honest and brave – just separated from her husband of 15 years.

In October 2012 her baby brother committed suicide, and she has been in deep, deep grief ever since. Her two young sons have weathered the storm quite well. Her friends have banded around her as best they could. And her husband?

I always wonder what people actually think Wedding Vows mean.

In sickness and in health?
Through the good times and bad?

Life is HARD
H.A.R.D.

It’s MUCH harder on your own – I know, I’m doing it.

And I just want to understand, if you only intend to hang around for the ‘good times’, then why go to the effort of getting married? Marriage is worth working to save. It’s precious, rare and incredible when truly valued.

It’s a gift that I am likely never to know.

So . . . .

. . . . if you are married, I am begging you – please realise that you have something so unique that many in the world will never know it. Never have it.

Please work at it.

Communicate with each other.
Be honest with each other.

Find a way to make it work.

Please.

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