All posts by warriorbynature

Creative spirit, warrior and humanitarian.

The Shattering

I love the way that you remember me, the me, before the shattering.

That day wrapped in costume ordinary, brought with it, great sadness, which tiptoed in behind it.

I floated once, buoyant and resilient. A warrior by nature, fought, lip bitten hard, past childhood fear and isolation.

Neighbours in our twenties, we were beautiful, firm with spring hope, both hungry for compassion.

The libertine heart of my younger self, left broken in the autumn. My worth sliced paper thin, less coin in my pocket, my beautiful career shorn off and I, no longer independent.

It would matter not, if I were loved deeper than the ocean.  But I am not, and there is nought that I can say nor wish to do, to convince him, I am worthy.

Will black mould settle in, where once wild flowers grew? A petulant, sulky sky, resentfully lets no sunshine through.

Remember me, as you have known for thirty summers and more, the me, before the shattering, before great sadness tiptoed in behind it.

Bad pennies

Why does this keep happening to me?

We may have heard those words moaned by other people or perhaps said it ourselves in an incredulous tone, as if surprised.

The chorus repeats to the end of the song, and we all sing along like before. 

Many psychologists, therapists, healers and our well meaning friends have offered the obvious karmic platitude of a life lesson unlearnt is repeated.

What if you are the one that has let it go and the another in the equation has not?

Thanks to ‘Stalkbook’, most of us have indulged in a little harmless voyeuristic invasion of someone else’s foolish exhibitionism.

Only those without connection, can throw the  first stone. Are the rest of us all victims and perpetrators?

Are we are so engrossed in our own alternative identities, that we are oblivious to the crumbs that we scatter behind?

Those juicy morsels of experience  that we leave behind, as we travel  through the dark forrest, down the pot-holed path to ‘grandma’s cottage, sometimes lead straight into the open jaws of a sly wolf.

It is true that a public blog can attract those that have ill defined boundaries. So what is the alternative to a social media, connected world?

Do you just jump off the grid and start peddling in your lounge room to fire up your teppanyaki?

Perhaps it is just simpler to block them and treat them as irrelevant and spend not a second of energy more..

No you can’t leave flowers on my father’s grave. If you knew him at all, he would have told you not to bother, cause he won’t be there.

 

 

 

 

Busted suitcase

There is certain stupidity in expecting of another, that which they are unable to give.

There is a greater idiocy in waiting for this circumstance to change.

Enlightenment has its own agenda. It visits sometimes, sometimes not at all, other times fleetingly. The footprint remains or is washed away.

Each day is silenced by night, yet another awaits in the gloom to shine anew.

I am processing loss. It is not only the loss of my mother, or the loss of my father. Both are now, tucked quietly into the earth. One long settled, the other freshly sown.

It is not only the loss of my innocence, my youth, my health and wellbeing, the loss of career aspirations or the loss of friendships.

This lump of solid sorrow, is the other half, of what my journey has given me. I understand the equation of balance.

Patched together, tucked beneath, I am wrapped in a quilt of loss.

I am eager for isolation, quarantined from the desire of others to collapse my loss in useless rehearsed rhetoric.

For I am not afraid to feel. I will not dishonor those for whom I truly mourn.

I am currently indisposed, to those who display cowardice, an incapacity to feel.

It is just loss in another form.

My suitcase is busted, I simply can’t carry anymore.

 

 

A Tisket, A Tasket…. A Wicker Casket


My father rather loved the humble ‘basket’.

During his life, the wicker basket played numerous invaluable roles in history.  Across England, factories used baskets for the packing and delivery of a range of goods.  Many a wicker basket could be found buckled by leather straps to the handle bars of a pushbike.

During WWII thousands of baskets were used for the transportation of messenger pigeons. Baskets were used to house shell cases. Airborne pannier baskets dropped supplies of ammunition and food to the troops.

Wicker furniture, prominent in the Victorian era, has endured numerous reincarnations over the years, featuring today, on many Australian verandahs in the original and a plastic version.

The art of weaving fibrous materials into a pliable shapes feature throughout human civilisation and across many cultures. Vines such as the kudzu vine, bittersweet, grapevine, honeysuckle, wisteria and smokevine make good basket weaving materials.

Baskets created from perishable materials, rarely survive the ravages of time. The oldest examples of baskets have been carbon dated back to between 10,000 and 12,000 years old.

While not exactly sent off down the river Nile, like Moses, my father was laid to rest in a woven casket. He would have wholeheartedly approved being the environmentalist that he was.

This was truly fitting for a man who would have said, ‘No need for a fuss, you know I’m no longer here. I’ve gone to meet my maker’.

Staying top of mind

During the past few days, I have been working through the list of numbers that Dad had conveniently pasted to a piece of recycled picture mounting board.   All except one call, have solicited receptive responses.

On that occasion, I definitely experienced a phone call with someone who is experiencing decline in their mental acuity.  It was a Monty Pythonesque type of conversation where in the end, you wish nothing but to politely repeatedly hit yourself in the head for going where no sane person would tread. Please accept my apologies for my lapse in compassion.

All the other responses have been positive.

Reg has been described as a true scholar, a gentleman, an artist and a poet.

People have shared their memories of my parents kindness, my father’s intelligence, his artistic ability and his willingness to teach others the skill of watercolour painting.

No-one has said that they don’t have any of his works. Quite the opposite in fact. They have told me, how many and of what.

Dad would say, ‘What is the point of art, if it is not shared?’

He used to sell his work at a price point that he believed that all could afford. This did not always sit well with my mother, who counted on income to purchase large items, such as a new sofa.  She would frown and mumble under her breath, ‘Oh Reg you are no businessman, there goes the new sofa!’.

He once had a commission for a work of art from a man that had been involved in an accident, leaving him a paraplegic. It was a large commission in oils. A rural scene and was about 2 metres in length and a 1.5 metres in width. He came weekly over a period of months,  to see it evolve. Dad would lay down wide rails so he could wheel himself into the studio.
Mum would provide a range of baked goods that were frankly, ‘top notch’. In the end, after several months, Dad decided not to sell it to the man, but simply gave it to him. Mum was furious.

His reasoning was that the conversation and companionship that he experienced were of greater value than his work.  I’d argue that today, this work would be worth a small fortune.

I will add ‘charming’ to the list of descriptors, for he was certianly that.  Not in the awkward greasy tabloid inappropriate way.

No, he was 100% old school . A gentleman that could delight you with a fathomless depth of general knowledge.

He quite liked to re-tell stories of ‘human folly’.  He laughed openly, but not in a malicious way.

He liked to ‘hold court’, and in fact he was rather skilled at it. He did this until recently with the journalists from the Launceston Examiner newspaper at the 125th anniversary of the Launceston Art Society. He was a master at strategic positioning.

I have no doubt that I garnered some of my skills by observation.

Fifty shades of emotion

I heard myself speak one of the saddest sentences. ‘My Dad died today’.  For me, the world shifted a little more to the left of centre.

These four little words, punched holes into the psyches of everyone who heard me speak them.

To those that know me, words of comfort, reassurance and love were given generously.

From strangers, condolences, mostly genuine, reflecting their own loss or fear of such.

This momentous personal event, triggered new experiences, new conversations and new decisions.

Some quite difficult indeed. Dying is an expensive business, fraught with confrontation.

There is much to do, when someone dies. These necessary actions provided a welcome place to shelter from the relentless tide of deep sadness.

I have learned that Centrelink doesn’t need proof of death to cancel an aged care pension.

I was the nominee for my father, however I could have been acting out of spite, and no one would have been the wiser. The Australian Government is keen to remove anyone off the register of social need.

I am yet to discover what the British Government requires in terms of proof. My father received a small pension, on a quarterly basis.

I have also learned that ‘Power of Attorney’ is meaningless once someone dies. Access to my father’s bank account which I have been managing for 14 years, is no longer available.

I must request an interview, provide a death certificate and then the bank will arrange payment of funeral expenses and disperse the remaining funds as per the instructions of the executor of the will.

I understand the legal implications, however if you want to pay nursing care expenses, in a timely manner, you have to circumvent the system by setting future payments in place. That is before you inform the bank that your loved one has died.

As if you need this in the midst of deciding which casket or urn to select that best reflects the person that you loved, who you will never speak to again.

Choices regarding a minister, a private or public service, which music, how the deceased will be dressed, what kind of flowers, what printed matter and how many copies, what food and who will deliver the eulogy, are required to be made as soon as possible.

This is further more compounded for me, by the Easter holiday period, limited business hours, and travelling interstate and all that entails, to finalise my Dad’s earthly life.

In my case, it is I who is making all the decisions and it is I that will seal the event  with words of meaning.

Then there is the matter of disposal of the remaining items of clothing, books and memorabilia. Most of this has been done in stages over the past three years. There are benefits to being a pragmatist.

I am not alone in having family that lives at distance. These are complicated times that we live in.

It is as though I have found myself in waist deep water. I search for the shallows, a rock to momentarily perch before the next current sweeps across knocking me back into the river of tears of my own making.

Perhaps I will have wrung out enough grief to remain dry to deliver the eulogy at our family’s private funeral.

I am grateful to my foresight in gathering family history in preparation. Trying to recall my parents wedding date in the flux of great emotional upheaval would have found me looking at the river from beneath the surface.

The slow burn of destruction

While there are no longer any doubts that domestic violence is truly ‘in play’ when physical evidence is apparent, many of us, still maintain ‘false truths’ about the breadth and depth of this type of violence.

There is a deep sadness and an overwhelming fear, that all women harbour, when confronted with a ‘sister’ who is ‘sporting’ a black eye, split lips or finger bruises on her arms.

Perhaps our language is to blame, for this is no ‘sport’.

Maybe like myself, you have witnessed domestic violence and not intervened. Walking in similar shoes, can leave you too traumatised to act for another.

With the advent of the internet, information can be sourced so easily. There are plenty of resources and support services to assist those that feel that their lives are being controlled by the intervention of another.

If you think that you maybe at risk, you can test yourself for ‘early signs’ of domestic violence here:

http://www.dvrcv.org.au/knowledge-centre/quizzes/quiz-warning-signs

The violence of denigration is a too subtle weapon. Sometimes, there is no ‘verbal judo’, there is just a one sided attack.

Recently returning from interstate travel, a young urban couple with their two small sons, waited in the queue, in front of Greg and I. There was a long delay. Seriously, it would have tested the patience of Job.

I thought it curious, that these young boys looked only to their father, for reassuring approval when testing boundaries. A stern look was all it took for them to immediately cease what they were doing and wait quietly.  Later on after waiting in line became too torturous, the boys sought comfort from their father directly, avoiding their mother.

She remained withdrawn and quiet. She kept eye contact with the boys and would smile and occasionally when he wasn’t looking, wink. The young couple appeared to be quite fit and healthy, although she was noticeably thin. I noted that when she did respond to her children, she did so in a quiet calm voice,  in order not to gain any attention from him.

On the way to the plane, she accidentally dropped the tickets. It was then that he launched, what could only be described as a subtle but persistent verbal attack.

He mocked her capability to hold onto the tickets.  Reminding her that they would need them to board the plane. He asked her ‘if he needed to hold the tickets for her’. He said, that she was clearly incapable. His tone was not one of loving concern.

He spoke to her like she was a toddler. He framed his words slowly. He edged them with sarcasm.  He persisted, mocking and belittling her.

For a brief moment, she told him to ‘shut up’ in a quiet voice. Perhaps she felt protected by the crowd of people around her?  Maybe she was close to cracking?

If I pointed out this young Caucasian couple, with their expensive travel luggage and well dressed children,  you would have thought it unlikely. But all the signs were there.

I looked at this woman. She wore beige pants and beige shirt, no make-up, no jewellery except her wedding ring. The only thing that she appeared to be in control of was her weight. Her bones screamed that on this account, she was victorious.

Twisted Twine – Part Two

I believe that we can never truly appreciate the depth of the impact that we have on each other.  Our interactions can leave the softest of footprints and sometimes the deepest of wounds. As humans, our lives are inextricably interwoven.

I like to think of everyone, as coloured twine. The length of the twine determined by the days of our individual living experience.

A person’s twine, shifts and changes in texture and strength, varying between vibrant and strong and frayed and bleached in colour.  It can be matted with extraneous clutter, weak at points, even diminished to a single strand, only to become robust again, a distance further and so it goes.

This twine is not severed with the umbilical cord, instead it is set free, to roll forwards.

Science would describe the life force, as atoms of energy attracting and repelling, creating ‘pure light’, and at our death, returning to join the ‘great universal matter’, only to be recycled once again.

At this point, our beliefs may indeed, dictate the direction of those released atoms and the reincarnated recycling.

My faith promises me, that my father’s atoms, are heading straight to join the ‘atoms formally known as Mary’,  his beloved wife and best friend.

My father’s twine has been woven though the lives of others,  over the course of 101 years.  His kindness and his generosity has enabled him to be deeply loved by many.

Some of these people, as his only daughter, I will never know. There are many who say that they ‘love him’.  He has been blessed by many of these relationships, and burdened by several others.

I have always respected an individual’s right  to choose whom they will love. I have shared this old school gentleman, my father,  with my beloved family and friends, because his intelligence and wisdom governed by his deep faith, has been far too bright an energy to selfishly trap in a box of neediness. He has taught me well how to ‘pay it forward’.

Now in the final weeks of his life, a woman has emerged claiming to be a ‘surrogate daughter’.  There are no dirty secrets. No trysts, no cheap liaisons. No front page news.

Their friendship is not one that I recall being mentioned in the weekly conversations that I have had with my father or have been made mention in any of the hundred of letters exchanged between my father and I.

We have through our life choices and through circumstances,  lived in different states of Australia.  This has not prevented us maintaining a strong loving relationship. The art of letter writing is something we both have embraced.

I have no real knowledge of who she is, and who she has been to him since the death of my mother in 2003. I suspect that she is like many people, been attracted by his light.

This woman, whom my father has struck up some ‘undefined friendship’ , unbeknown to him,  has claimed him, as her ‘surrogate father’. A woman whose psyche, I suspect,  has been disrupted by grief of the loss of her own parents (this she divulged to me ), and the suicide of her partner (third party report, that she had told another aged care resident).

This is also a woman who does not understand boundaries. In the past week, after a claimed absence of three years, she gained access to my father, undertook personal tasks she insisted were directed by him, accessed his wallet, his address book, opened his mail and read my private correspondence.

She introduced herself as his ‘surrogate daughter’, to me, when she proclaimed that I could ‘speak to him, through her’.

I did not hesitate to correct her regarding her role, to question her presence and request of the nursing staff that she was not allowed to gain access.  She did however return twice more, throughout the week and gained entry once.

Her ‘claimed need’ was only to ‘be there and to hold his hand’.

Her needs, it seems, outweighed my father’s right for peace and my need to keep my stress levels down. It is challenging to have your aged loved ones living at distance. It is not always practical or possible to be able to sit with them over the many weeks or months, while the twine slowly rolls to an end.

She did not recognise or adhere to any protocols, seek permission, respect family wishes or interact with professional staff regarding my father’s current medical state.  Her presence included harassment of myself and the staff. The police have been informed and a standing order is in place.

It is questionable, that this woman’s development of several new relationships with two other elderly people at the same residential facility,  (who are on the continuum of dementia), can be construed as simply charitable. Their families can decide if they want her to access their loved ones.

I am clear about who has access to an 101 year old man, who has diminished cognitive capability, is physically weak, and whose twine is slowly coming to an end. It isn’t someone who doesn’t understand ‘ethical boundaries’ or skilled in caring for the highly vulnerable.

It isn’t only death, that finally separates us from the living. It is our own selfishness and a twine knotted tight,  tangled with grief and loss, weakened by self interest and deep fear of loneliness.

Embracing the state of being uncomfortable – part one

I am committed to ‘doing the work’. Sometimes this means a metaphorical barefoot stroll on manicured lawn, other times I am body slammed against the sheer cliff face of my own stubbornness.

The roundabout of unresolved anger and disappointment willingly revisited is like agreeing to a daily paint ball session, blindfolded while wearing a mankini. Seriously, would you?

But we do. Perhaps we are addicted to the emotional trauma? Is feeling angry preferable to feeling nothing at all?

There is a desire for karma to prevail, for balance to be restored and for those that treat others with contempt, to be held to account.

Embracing the state of being uncomfortable, is accepting that life is not fair and that justice may not be realised.

But when that injustice is targeted towards your elderly father, for me, a brand new kind of anger recently emerged.