Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gifts From Wherever

It’s the day after.  

The day when everything always looks fresh and welcoming, familiar yet somehow different.  So, the bag’s unpacked, the laundry is on and the photo’s are sorted out, cropped and ready to share.  I’m sorting out my thoughts too, which have run the full gamut over the past few weeks.  I’ve talked until I’m hoarse, discovered new feelings for some people, and rediscovered old ones for others.  I’ve been surprised by the intensity of some of those feelings, and warmed by the love I felt surrounding me constantly during my time away.  A lot of the love came from right here at home, as my husband reassured me daily of how much he missed me, how much he loves me.  His dear face at the airport last night was THE most welcoming sight, after a long, tough travel day, and his willingness to find me a Wendy’s instantly, as I was finally hungry for the first time after that 27 hours of travel, was a godsend!

But there was a lot of love and some good feelings home in Australia too. It is nice to have the impression that everyone is absolutely thrilled to see you again.  It is nice to look at those old familiar faces, and feel a genuine warmth for them.  Nice to be able to put aside any/all difficulties of the past, and realize that these people are my people, my past, and getting to know them all again was a sweet and genuine gift. From whom?  Well, everyone’s got their own ideas, but I’m going to thank Mike, who worked his ass off to help make this trip happen in such a perfect way, and all the family members back home who put aspects of their own lives on hold to come and hang out with me.  I love you all, and thank you all for making it happen.  And thanks to the Universe/powers that be/luck, that my dear old Mum was even still alive and well to enjoy this time.  After a most miserable health scare, and a long and often difficult convalescence, she is ‘up and at ‘em,’ and improving each day, accompanying my siblings and cousins on the piano, as they all filled up each night with music of various kinds. She is, as they say, a marvel!  That she has come back, almost literally, from death’s door; that I had the opportunity to go hang out with her again for a while, and that she is recovering enough that I don’t doubt she’ll live a long, reasonably healthy life yet, those are the amazing things.  This trip was mostly about her.  After her scare, and not knowing exactly what was going on, I needed to see her and see for myself where everything stood.  As it turns out, she’ll most likely still be going strong when I take my next trip over! And those are the gifts. Doesn’t matter where the gifts came from.  They’re just gifts from wherever – and I accept them most gratefully and joyfully.  

Some true highlights:  Seeing Danny standing there waiting for me at Hobart airport.  I just can’t even explain the true joy of seeing that dear face beaming at me, explaining he’d been there two hours early because he was so excited!  He showed me his Hobart, was a great, amenable tour guide and we hit the ground running and didn’t stop until I left again!  The weather Gods beamed down on us and you can bet I basked like an old lizard on a rock, sucking in that sunshine for all I was worth!  My only regret is that the other kids couldn’t be there too. I found myself wishing, throughout the whole trip, that it had been possible for them to come along.  I’ll continue buying lottery tickets, as I’d love to make that happen eventually!
Dan and Me!

The only thing better than the feel is the smell!
Dan and a new buddy!
Slobber-chops kanga!

Another picture?  Fine!

Three legged rescue echidna!  Very friendly and curious!

The great laughing kookaburra. My favorite!

When I first saw her, I thought - what the hell is that?????

And then the little head followed the leg and there was....Joey!  Lucky us!

Tasmania - incredibly beautiful.

The Tasmanian Devil...uummm, not so beautiful, and he looked kinda pissed, but you gotta admire him anyway!!

Beautiful Tassie - can't wait to go back!

Fred, the 100 year old cockie, who chatted happily with me until I got too close, and then set up the most God-awful screeching!  They should sell that thing as a house alarm!!


An afternoon with some dear friends in Sydney, who booked a table on the outside deck at the Kirribilli Club, where all you have to look at is that deadly boring view of some old bridge over the water…. :0)  Haha!  It was a beautiful Sydney day, the colors so bright after so much snow whiteness here for the past several months, that it physically felt like it was hurting my eyes.  The view, of course, is actually to die for!  The old bridge still holds her place, and the Manly ferry goes back and forth along with all the private boats sailing around the harbor. It was magic, and I drank it in, trying to set it in my head. My permanent internal wallpaper!  It doesn’t get much prettier than that!  Delightful too, to see those friends.  Older, and with some health issues that are a little sad to see, but mostly the same dear people. Funny, warm, generous of heart.  A gift of a day!
The view from our table at the Kirribilli Club

Pam, Martin and me. Kirribilli Club.

Adam at the Kirribilli Club.

 After getting caught out by the rain, and scuppered by the unrealized fact that Sydney retail pretty much closes on Good Friday, my two sisters and I spent six hours at the Fortune of War, Sydney’s oldest pub, drinking, talking, laughing, crying.  It felt good. There are things that haven’t always been easy, and there have been things to forget and forgive, but this great boozy afternoon felt like it smoothed some troubled waters. Felt like sistahs!  Pretty cool!


Seeing my Mum as she opened her front door to me.  Smaller, older, looking a bit like she’d gone through the mill – as she has – but still Mum, warm and welcoming, happy to see me, had the kettle on almost immediately, in true English fashion!  Knowing how close we had all come to losing her made me see the true value of this visit, and I did value it. Every moment.


Perhaps not the greatest pic in the world, but I like it a lot, for various reasons. Lake Canobolas (and cousin Joe) in the background

Hanging with my big bro!  An afternoon of drinking Toohey’s New, and watching the Sharks unexpectedly give the Roosters a good old thrashing!  A very excellent afternoon, and an opportunity to chat a bit about various things, as well as receive some schooling in the changes to Rugby League in Australia, a code, by the way, that is much more exciting than American football!  (Sorry America.  I’m patriotic in many, many ways these days, and love a good baseball or hockey game, [not you, basketball, you just suck!] but there’s just nothing quite like the speed and excitement of a good game of Rugby!  And just enough biff and blood that you feel like you’re watching a bit of a blood sport as well!  And no body armor!  No, when those guys go down, there’s gonna be bones broken, and good old fashioned concussions!  They make ‘em tough down under! {Kidding, kidding, I fully understand and appreciate the dangers of broken bones and concussions!  ;0) }) 

Big bro, Bob. Playing some cool old tunes!

Seeing my dearest old cousin after what turned out to be decades, and felt like just a little while!  We were close all those years ago, both in childhood and at that awful time in adolescence where it’s so important to have someone who doesn’t judge you and find you wanting, someone to mutter with about all the people in the family who piss you off for one reason or another. We would slope off and smoke and mutter and laugh a lot. He was always fun and funny, always could make me laugh, even when things seemed dire.  But I was looking at him the other night, reminiscing about the old days, as he was singing a really beautiful song, accompanied by my mother, and with a  huge lump in my throat, I suddenly realized another thing about him that I perhaps hadn’t ever realized before.  I think he saved me, way back then.  Because even though we were both a little mixed up/messed up by our circumstances, and struggling to figure ourselves out, he actually became my rock for a while.  The one I could tell anything to, the one who wouldn’t judge, the one who would still be there the next day no matter what.  A good, comfortable place to lean.  I had that same feeling the moment I saw him again this time.  It’s a rare feeling, I think.  A comfortable place to lean, or a soft place to land. Perhaps that's why his kids undoubtedly love him, even at that age where it's not so cool - and even in public!! Haha!  I doubt I was any kind of a rock to him, because I was terribly un-rock-like back in the day, but I do know he loves me dearly for whatever reasons, because I felt it again right away.  My dear Adrian. Favorite of all the cousins.  It seems almost criminal that we lost touch for so long, but how lovely to just click right back into the old feelings.  As terrible, sporadic communication skills is a trait in this family, it seems likely that we will drift back into that ‘once in a decade’ kinda communication again, but I don’t MEAN for it to happen that way, and I’ll try my best to do better.  Meeting Adrian’s absolutely lovely partner, Lyn, and his two gorgeous boys, Chris and Joe, were extra highlights and I basked in these lovely moments of reconnection and new meetings.  
Beautiful people!  Cousin Adrian, Joe and Chris, and Lyn.

Bob and Adrian singing an awesome old duet.  And that's my Benny in the background!
We have a lovely extended family, and once again I wished my own kids could have been there, enjoying these rare moments, perhaps even seeing their own mother in a different light!  It’s hard for kids to see their parents as people, I think, with hopes and dreams, desires and fears, but it’s something that occurs to you somewhere along the path, and it’s always interesting when it does.  It’s been interesting to me getting to see my own mother as a person enduring the struggles, instead of just knowing Mum who fixes things and plays the piano.  Interesting times.
We threw a ‘Let’s get plastered’ party for nephew Ben, who spent a few weeks with me before his first birthday, and with only a few months between him and my Rachel, it was like having twins!  He was the most placid, lovely baby and he’s a beautiful young guy now, who has pretty much finished his apprenticeship and is now qualified as a plasterer/(sheetrock dude, whatever it’s called in America!)  It was a fun party, with lots of very silly/funny/cool performances and some good speeches, but I hope Ben knows how proud we all are of him.  He’s the most gentle, loveable guy, and has the most beautiful, sweet girlfriend, Rachel, who I liked immediately on meeting her.  They have said they’ll save their pennies and come to America to visit, which I would love!  
The general theme!

Party time - woot, woot!!

The Let's get Plastered cake masterpiece.

Even Granma smirked a little!

 Other nephews, Mark and Jake were there too.  A beautiful, gentle young guy, with a lovely generous nature, I didn’t hear Jake play his trumpet personally this time, but I heard some recordings that made my jaw literally fall open.  This guy has a gift from wherever himself, and I truly hope I hear him play live one day.  And Mark is an intensely handsome young guy with a gentle and calming kind of spirit.  A father himself these days, he is a delight to spend some time with, and I loved every moment with all of these beautiful nephews.
Another gorgeous nephew - Handsome Jake

Family out to eat. Gorgeous nephew, Mark, the only one looking!

 I was surprised at how instantly I became an Aussie again. Everyone commented on my complete lack of an American accent, but I think it just disappeared as the familiar Oz accent hit my ears!  I rather enjoyed using the slang, and not having to explain what I meant!  And very much enjoyed constantly hearing those two familiar words – G’daymate, 'owyagoin?  (In case anyone’s ever wondered, someone once said to Mike and I – “I was so angry, I just had two words for him, G’daymate, 'owyagoin.  Mike was thoroughly tickled by it, and I could see him counting up exactly how many words had actually been compressed to make just two!  It became one of those things you jokingly say to each other when you’re trying to make a long story short, or when you’re just being too wordy and, incidentally, it’s how this blog was named! 
Enough, speaking of being too wordy!  There are a thousand little stories, but that’s a nutshell version for today.  There’s hundreds of pics, but a lot of them are dreadful, blurry messes.  See how I need my husband??!
Thanks for the memories, Oz.  And thank you for the many gifts of these last few weeks, wherever they came from!

Here's a few random extra shots in no particular order.

Father and son - Bob and Ben.

Chrissy with Jake and Chris

Hanging with ex husband number one!

and ex husband number two!

A Ben and me selfie!

Rainy Good Friday in Sydney. There's that bridge again - the coathanger, as it's affectionately known,  in the way background!

Hhmm, could there be an easier way to return home??!

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