Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Wonders of Wireless

I am writing this blog in a cafe at Sydney's Domestic Airport - waiting to board the plane that will take us for our two week holiday to Queensland's Gold Coast. I will also post this blog from the airport - as I am connected to the internet via a Telstra wireless "hotspot". I cannot get over the marvels of the technologies that make this possible! How amazing to sit here, a coffee (and Krispy Kreme Doughnut) by my side - finally catching up on some blogging on my laptop - knowing it will not sit on the Palm for a week while I get around to posting.
We have the digital camera with us and am hoping to get some piccies to post along the way. It's all good.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Vale Bev

I haven’t had enough experience with death and grief. I suppose nothing can prepare you for it, or for people’s reactions. Especially as we live in a society where the emphasis is very much on life and living and death is not usually a topic for polite conversation. I’m not sure it is as “taboo” as in previous years though.
Bev, one of my aunts died on Saturday evening. (real name Beverley but we all called her Bev – and I think she had a nickname her siblings used to call her when she was a kid, but I can’t remember what it was ). Bev is the first of the aunts on Dad’s side to go. (I’m not sure about the ones on Mum’s side because we aren’t really in touch with that side of the family – a long story.) Bev was one of 8 kids – Les, Bev, John (Dad), Ellen, Margaret, Evon, Robert (Teddy) and Judy. I can’t imagine how the others are feeling today. They are a close family – and over the years they have coped with the sudden death of their father through heart attack, and an extended hospitalization of their mother (Nana) with dementia, watching her waste away until she finally went to her maker. Nana was the glue, the heart of that family, and with her gone, the family gatherings move to Bev’s. We went to Christmas at her place a couple of years ago. It was a familiar scene. A table groaning with food, people outside playing cricket, blokes out the back with a few beers, and women having another cuppa (tea). And talking. And laughing. The family knows how to laugh, and to have a good time. I once told my partner that I thought they knew the secret of life – it was about working to live. It was about being part of this family that was there when you needed it, where if anyone saw a toddler needing changing, or to have their face wiped, several sets of arms would be reaching out to do it. Didn’t matter whose it was – because in a way, if you belonged to any of them – first, second or third generation, you were communal, one of the clan. It didn’t matter if they hadn’t seen you for weeks or months or years. You were family and because of that there was always, and would always be, common ground. And the same went for your partner.
Which is why it is so sad to know that one of the building blocks in the family won’t be there when next we visit.
I’m not sure the brothers and sisters healed after Nana’s death. I’m not sure how they will heal following Bev’s death. It’s probably too soon to even think about that or how the ache when they remember Bev may get a little less as time goes on.
Bev had not had a good trot healthwise. She’d had heart problems and diabetes and, by all accounts, wasn’t a good patient. Some years ago she had been scheduled to have a quadruple (?) bypass, but the doctors decided there was not enough healthy tissue to make it feasible. She did have a valve or something implanted though, and she’d talk about how it kept her awake some nights because it was so noisy - especially on quiet Toowoomba nights (and they all are!). I was just thinking about her lying there in the darkness, listening, in her big green house, and remembered that she may have not always been lucky in love, but she had the luck to win a share of $100,000 enough years ago that that was a decent amount of money, and certainly a fair-sized whack on a mortgage.
My elder brother phoned last night to see if I'd heard the news and to say that he'd 'shared a drink' with Bev during the afternoon. And he'd remembered/realised what a caring, fun person she was.
I've been remembering her too - the stories of the skeleton and kittens, the UFOs, the marmalade cat, Lorna Doone (the book), cracker nights, long sessions around the kitchen table with pot after pot of tea, Christmasitis, and visits in hospital (''I can't give up salt - it doesn't taste the same".)
Bev's funeral is on Thursday afternoon. I've heard that 6 white doves will be released as part of the ceremony - one for each of her six children (two deceased). Although people say that parents should not outlive their children - I wonder if a reunion in the next realm (if such a thing exists) eases the pain of the loss at all?


My niece and nephew gave us a goldfish for Christmas. We had thought about calling him Nemo (even though he wasn’t a clown fish), then decided on a combination of their and their parents’ names (first two initials) WaKiJaMa (as in Whacky Jama). But then, we started calling him Nemo anyway, so that stuck.
Nemo came complete with weed, water, food and an acrylic bowl which could be fixed to the wall, thus keeping him out of the way of our two cats – unless they found a way to phwup phwup phwup (with suction cups on their paws) their way up the wall.
On the one and a half hour drive back to Sydney from my brother’s place, we determined that we wouldn’t get attached to Nemo. But that wasn’t possible. Especially when he swam over and looked up at you at feeding time.
So we took our new drill out and drilled him to the wall – well, his bowl. (Note to self: start with the smaller drill bits next time!)
Life went on. We incorporated Nemo’s schedule into our own, feeding him in the afternoon, cleaning out his bowl regularly, saying hello as we walked past. It should have been a good life for him – and maybe it was – but it was short. Too short. We found him floating upside down in his bowl earlier this week. Not quite sure what happened except that he had seemed perfectly well the night before at feeding time. He had eaten, as always, with much gusto. And there hadn’t been a peep out of him during the night.
So, even though, as the Encyclopedia Encarta advises that Gold Fish can live to be 40 years old, after only a month, Nemo is no more.