She was sure she heard someone call her name. The voice had a feminine lilt with gentle humor etched on the edges. She opened her eyes, dry from the flight and the voice bearer was not near. What did the sleep doctor call it? Hypnagogic state. A foggy place. The peripheral.
This reminded her of when she was tiny, sleeping in the bunk of the truck cabin. The scent of leather cleaner and dust was familiar and warm. She was left there to sleep in the locked metal hulk while he went in the roadhouse. She could not remember why or where she was there, six-year-olds are not concerned about locations. But the girl was snug in her travel space.
The veil between dreams and here lifted slowly, and a pale light drew her eyes over to the driver’s seat. Her ankles squeezed as did her little heart.
A striking tall illuminated shape, something like a person, transparent radiant blue, like a human firefly sat there.She could not see a face but sensed a watchfulness. A sentry, a nutcracker soldier, guarding.
Fear was not there, but wonder filled the girl with a particular type of awe like the time she first saw a rollercoaster. Struck with an intense wonder she stayed very still.
The girl blinked, and blinked and then it was just gone. As she woke, the wonder disappeared like a popped bubble. Who was her visitor? Her human firefly was from that moment tucked under the file called ‘To Be Explained.’ She did not mention it to the busy and faded grown-ups.
During the day she was tucked into her world titled The Bunk. 180-degree views through the elevated truck cabin around her made her feel like she was floating above the world,a princess being carried on her throne.
Occasionally she was fed small packets of potato chips and bananas, golden with brown splotches, ripe from the heat. Dried banana chips were the best, the squeak they made when you bit down was bliss.
She remembers her fear of bones, after reading Jack and The Beanstalk, the fierce roar of the Giant grinding Jack’s bones to make his bread. When they got Chinese food, she licked a Prawn Cracker, and it latched onto her tongue, she bit down and wondered if this was what Jack’s bones felt like. She retched. Sometimes she felt like Giants drove trucks too and she was the stolen harp.
A tin of hard-boiled lollies warm to the touch was empty when he wasn’t watching she opened the lid. The small popping noise of the lid made her smile; she would lick her finger and dip into the little crystally shards of leftover pieces sitting in the powdery sugar. Like sweet little pieces of glass, they would sit on her tongue, and she would feel them dissolve and time how long it took them to disappear. She did this all with very quiet joy. She was already learning; she had to be careful not to upset him. Princesses were only princesses when they were quiet.
The crackle of the CB exploded with male conversations, gravelly like sandpaper and littered with swear words and laughter beyond her understanding.They had a magic to them, messages floating through the air from truck to truck that the little people driving their cars did not know about. They knew where the coppers were, and did you see that Sheila in the blue Datsun? She had no idea who Sheila was, but apparently, the menfolk liked her a lot everywhere they went.
The hills rolled by, carpeted with green grass then within kilometers were replaced with paddocks, crisp dry clumps of grass and sheep that were skinny after their haircuts. She imagined the lives she had lived here once before where many little animals could speak and be friends. There were no grown-up people there, just grown up animals. Wise and strong Aslan types who laughed hearty laughs and gave hugs that did not hurt but made you feel all wrapped up.
In the here -now- life the little one knew that animals could bite. Like the spider at school. All black fur and spiky legs, she wanted to look closer but was scared of being eaten. Some creatures bit, not because they were nasty but to protect themselves. How she wished she could communicate that she was different. To the others.
She did not know why she just was. The mean just didn’t live in her. She wanted more than anything to brush the hair of a lion, to ride on the back of a bear, to be piggybacked through the jungle by a gorilla.
She once had a butterfly land on her finger. She believed with her whole body it was because she had asked nicely from a gentle heart.
It would take many decades for her to learn her same feeling for human friendships. Biting happened frequently.
She created the stories; she lived on that hill where flowers sang her name and tales of Briah Fox were true. Very tall trees were an escape to another world.
A tree striking up like an old man alone in the dusk challenged her to remember its shape. She held up her hands up like a camera and took a photo with her mind; then it went into a file cabinet in her head. It was a faded green color like the one in Pa’s office. So many files in her cabinet tucked away for later.
As a grown woman she cannot recall what she was saving them for. Perhaps it was for right now, right at this moment as she sat on an airplane high above the ground remembering the age of six.
The plane is nearly empty, and she looks over the next aisle. He is watching her. He is her Aslan. Sometimes his wildness scares her, his distant self when he needs to walk alone can make her feel like she’s vulnerable. Her fierce woman fury rises from the depths of survival when this happens; her eyebrow raises in haughtiness challenging everything that might bring her undone. He has taught her that men can be good. She is safe and does not need to draw her sword.
She touched the gold cross that sits on her chest. The full, rounded aching now in sweet and sour waves that is 2018.
Author’s Note: certain things happen to us on the fringe of life, at the tips of our memory, the edge of awake and asleep that echo of a story. Like a haze above the hot road and the magic of a firefly, if you look directly, it peaks out of view. Peripheral wonder. To remember we were all children once, that wanted to shine, not from attention but for want of harmony and joy is timely.The wildness of joy may scare people, but your tribe will arrive. You might even stumble across a human firefly together.
Hard working people, fun people and people with awesomeness dancing in their soul like Michael Jackson on crack have smelly feet. It is a fact.
Truth is I do not own many pairs of socks. They don’t like us here. I like bare feet. Bare feet and a nice Jimmy Choo do not mix. Neither do Kmart boots. Just saying. Information is information.
Polished floorboards and a soaring roof glide above like a church cathedral, of glass angles and the smell of the ocean is drifting through the wide open doors. It reminds me of my old ballet haunt. My children are laughing at some random joke they made, most likely inappropriate and just out of ear shot. He walks in and kisses me on the cheek, asking how many goals I kicked today. A little warm and fluffy ewok like animal otherwise known as my Dog licks my ankle. My heart gets big. So big it feels like it will take off like hot air balloon right out of my chest and my eyes start to water. It is too bright in here. So much light.
Will it leave?
Will it last?
Maybe that is not an ewok licking your ankle darling maybe its the black dog? He is here to ask you Who Do You Think You Are. You Cant. People Will Say Things. People Will Poke At You. Be Smaller. Cmon Turn Down the Volume on that Light. That Little Light That You Let Shine. No, surely not.
Fear knocked and the door, faith answered, and no one was there. Ah ha, I remembered we aren’t mates anymore.
There is a place we call cuppa snuggles. It is the time when all the ODonnell women folk make a cuppa and jump on my king size bed for gossips and chats, laughter and silly reminiscing. Remember the time Nanna spat her teeth out? What about that time we ransomed the dog for chocolate biscuits?
Her and I stand and look at the ocean together and smile, it is happening. It is really happening. We spoke of this, we whispered about this place when we were smaller. When the world was big.
Mum, why can’t you?
I am so sorry, but I am really tired, it has been a big day, and I am a bit dizzy.
You have time for other people, but not me.
No sweet child, if you only you knew. All my love goes to you and your siblings. I do what I do for you. Your smile makes me breathe, and your heart is my treasure to protect. The universe gave you to me, and now I must give me to you. It is written in the stars and in our biology. We have been friends for eons you and me.
When they are so small and tiny they need you; when they are big and independent, they need you. Balancing…on a budget
I haven’t heard from you; you sound really busy. Things must be going well. You must be doing alright if you are in Point Lonsdale now, business is good huh? Its a bit far away from the go-to people in town though isn’t it? Oh well, each to their own.
That is correct.
Is this a hairdresser? We need a hairdresser. I do hope you are useful here.
No, its a wordsmith agency of awesomeness.
Least do no harm, that is my motto, this anti-seizure medication will do the trick.
Yes Ok Doc.
Why am I SO HUNGRY, its the anti-seizure medication. That cow is making my mouth water. What the actual hell is going on? Put down the bacon. I said put down that bacon.
To be fat and live or to be thin and sick? That is the question.
Mum! Dad is going to be pissed, your dog ate his new Yukka plant.
For the love of Jehovah. Eye Twitch.
That bloody dog! Three dogs. Why do we need three dogs?
Its a pack thing. One needs a tribe and a pack. Now we have a pack.
Mum! Dad is going to be cross, your dog just ate his new socks!
The actual pair of glorious cotton foot pockets that matched had now crossed into the abyss of dark matter otherwise known as Kelpie.
I have never felt so inspired, your story, omg your story! I was so scared to put myself out there; now I know I can do it. I know I have to do it. Because my story matters. My story needs to be told, and I understand it isn’t just because its mine, its because it will help someone else, and that’s more important than being stuck in fear. It is about communication and human interaction. Smile. Yes my dear bright and shiny human, it does. You matter. You all matter. So much.
Chairs are pushed in, the looks on faces make my heart swell again. They heard. They felt, and they understood. These beautiful seeking, learning humans.
Fear once knocked on this door but doesn’t any more; he’s gone up the road for a listening ear. He worked out his BS isn’t welcome here anymore.
Mum have I told you today that I love you? Would you like a foot rub?
Yes please favorite child, but first may I make you some pancakes?
Let’s turn up that French jazz music, how groovy is it?
You guys are seriously messed up, and lame. Who listens to Jazz Music and talks like that?
You once did before hormones took over you child. This one still has at least a years worth of reciprocal love left.
Hey, Dingus, do you need me to get milk on the way home? (Heavens open, choir sings.)
Why am I so tired? I wish that nerve would stop twitching every time I exercise. It makes me nervous. What if its the aneurysm?
Don’t think about it; it will go away.
It will just pop on you, exploding in your head bigger than the Sydney NYE Fireworks and Y2K back in the day, and Bobs your Uncle you will be standing there looking at yourself wondering what the hell happened and who’s that standing over there? Archangel Gabriel? Wow, you’re much taller than I imagined, Gabe those wings are working for you.
Did you come to meet me personally? What do you mean what am I wearing? I am stuck with this for the Afterlife? No, I did not know that there was a fresh hole in my pants near my… Bikini waxes are so yesterday…
You really need to buy some better activewear. You old fave puma trackies and holy t-shirt are so gross. You are not a hot mum. What will you do if you actually die on one of these walks? You know how people are, they won’t stop they will think you are a homeless person. Of THAT ILK, the low brow type. You know what people think of homeless people. Except you and a few good eggs. You know what its like to have no home.
F%$k it, and f$%#, Lorna Jane.
Bikini waxes are out of fashion; bikini waxes are out of fashion.
Monash University would like to congratulate you on finishing the first part of your certification.
Mindfulness. Breathe in. Breathe Out. I am that I am. This too shall pass. God give me the strength to move through this world and do not harm but to radiate all that is good and pure.
MUUUUUUUM! Do you shop? There is NO FOOD!
We would like you to get on board and donate your time to the cause; we only need you to drive over 6 hours to do it, it will be great for the organization. They need people like you.
My kids need people like me.
No, I do not want to lock the door and put on my sneakers. It’s Tuesday. What! Is it Saturday? Oh wow, that went quick. Where are those Nikes?
Ok, sure. Is that because I am filled with 2000 unplayed hits from 1976 to 2017 that have not been amped up? You’ve heard it before.
People telling other people how to live their lives is not always great. It’s kind of hierarchal and patronizing. It’s kind of like sucking eggs. It’s a little bit of I’m better than you, like Tina Turner in a Bald Man’s Support Group. “I’ve worked out how to have a perfect life, I shall assume yours is worse than mine, so I shall tell you how to live it and you too can be like me.” Heard that old song? Enter Fade to Black Riff and Sinatra’s My Way- LOUD. Unless you are of course a self-help junkie.
Enter the commercial guru. I have news: you need to pay for self-help like a fish needs a bicycle. Good luck with that. It can cost you even more. Unless it’s a super good psychologist, those humans are worth their weight in Peppermint Crisps.
There might be an exception to the telling though. The telling of truths might need an ear. What if, just for a moment, someone had actually seen behind the curtain for a peek, a preview of the matrix and heard the warning call. Perhaps it is like watching everyone around you and you know there is a tsunami about to hit but you don’t tell anyone. You know it like you know how to count your fingers and toes that the water is rising and all of these people may suffer, they are oblivious to the life rafts tucked behind that tree, and you don’t even whisper a “look out.”
Now what? You don’t want to get preachy, you don’t want to tell anyone to suck anything, let alone an egg and yet here the burden of the truth sits in your lap. Quite heavy.
What if that little peek turned everything you ever knew on its head and inside out, leaving you with so many answers to questions and so many questions to answer?
In the Western world, we are so hypnotized by the social rigmarole of expectation and reward that we sink into the achievement of it like quicksand. By doing this and not paying attention, you can slip.
If you are happy to live that quiet, calm and uneventful life, not noticing, then good for you. The world needs peace, tranquility and comfort. More of it probably. Comfort is the root of all yearnings. Since dwelling in caves, we have sought the soft bed and warm soup, cold water on a hot day, the soothing song of a mother’s love. Comfort is a psychological carrot dangling in front of our eyes. There is nothing wrong with it, so long as the chase for it doesn’t have us blindfolded.
Many of us have a calling. Have you felt it? It sits deep down within us, it’s a path we are called to walk. Who calls it? Maybe that is your journey to discover. That’s not up to anyone to define for you. But it’s there, an intrinsic calling to go your own way. It might be all leading to the day you are at University as a 37-year-old, and you save a young man from being hit by a bus because in 10 years time he comes up with an algorithm saving lives in a hospital. It might be to quietly inspire others to be brave enough to grab onto love or something new. Or you might be a movie director in the wings, burgeoning to changing the world with a documentary up your sleeve. You could be a carpenter, a sheep herder or a mother of 4 and a wife to none. Who knows? You do. Deep down.
Don’t pretend it isn’t there.
The problem lies in the lack of attention we pay to that whisper within. Filling one’s life with have-to’s that are mere echoes of our social environment’s expectations is as hypnotic and fulfilling as a hearty Italian lasagne. The essence of self-virtuosity will become a drug. Except for that niggle. It says “there’s more.” You ignore it at your own peril. Sometimes you might even project it onto others as a displaced issue. Because in that virtuous hypnotic everyday ordinary there are rules. Step up, don’t step up too high. Too much, but don’t do too much. Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry… you get the drift.
For many, a negative health diagnosis brings the questions and answers on, flooding you with insights like that very tsunami. Sometimes it’s a death of a loved one. It can be a tiny peripheral spark of the divine that starts it. It might even be in the bottom of a cereal box. For some, it doesn’t come until the last moment of our stay here, because the music of the world was too loud for us to get our rhythm on. Sometimes it’s an 8-hour operation, and a peek behind the curtain…
The world will tell you not to listen. It will beg you to be a part of its groove. He needs to get a job; he needs to do this, she needs to do that. She did what? Who told you that? Who says so? Find your rhythm and be accountable to it. If you want to live on a pittance and never work a day in your life other than to volunteer feeding the homeless while you live in a caravan on an abandoned building site? Knock yourself out. If you want to go back to university and become a doctor and adopt 150 labradors? Go for it. Or perhaps you want to have a career writing what you love, traveling and playing chess with your kids, baking cakes and selling tyres. Whatever it is, don’t waste that precious time you have here pretending the inner calling isn’t there, hiding from the whispers.
Dance in the quiet as much as you can until you can hear the formation of something. Spending time in solitude can do it. Walking in nature a LOT, or on the beach will do it too. Meditation and chanting are known to assist. Yoga and Tai Chi are rippers. Prayer is the big one. Many different amplifiers will help you hear the whisper. It doesn’t cost you a fortune; you don’t necessarily have to go to India and live with a guru for 28 nights (mind you I have heard it can be quite effective too).
A program on a cruise ship that cost more than a month’s wages with someone yelling at you using NLP and ABC won’t really do all that much in the long term. You have been provided with everything you already need to hear your own whispered tune. It won’t necessarily be an epiphany, it might be the tiniest step, the microscopic pinch of an idea but it will lead to a mighty treasure hunt filled with rewards that lift you up out of the mire and into the truth of everything you are here to do. Pay attention, write it down, be accountable and tap your foot. Watch what happens when it turns into a deafening orchestra.
A whole heap of space matter, minerals, and infinite energy went into creating your existence, so please use it wisely. Take it from someone who’s clock is ticking as loud as the rhythm, it will be worth every bit.
PS-, there are some lifeboats behind that palm tree.
To close the door on energy that does not serve you, and makes you feel less than- is OKAY- I have learned.
You see; I was raised to believe that we must forgive everything. Every. Little. Thing. I believe this ideal was forged with good intent. However…
I took it literally and without really understanding what true forgiveness was. What ensued over the course of much of my life was a doormat mentality, often allowing other people to walk all over me often unbeknownst to them I am sure. A lack of respect? Possibly. People only do what they can get away with don’t they? Hmmm. Ponder.
But it wasn’t because I thought I was less- than. It was because I believed in second, third and fourth chances. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. God knows I am sure I have had bad moments where I have unintentionally mistreated another human. I would hope to heck they would forgive me too. You see my reasoning?
I have always been good at identifying people’s pain. Happy people don’t treat others terribly. So therefore if someone was treating me like sh*t- I empathized, tried to understand and got on with it. To the frustration of others, it seemed.
That is until it started making me sick. Literally. Have you heard the lingo? Dis-ease. When the body is the opposite of ease. The Black Dog loves it, laps it up like mother’s milk and then some. That sneaky little guy sleeping under the table grows into a wolf biting at your carotid artery before you can squeal mercy. It does terrible damage. Because we humans have layers. Like Shrek, and we tuck them deep down for later on. So deep, we can even forget they are there.
Now as a person who has successfully shaken off the wolf, this is not something you want happening, particularly when your life has hit a crossroad of “uh-oh, might not be here for long, better sort my personal baggage stuff out.” Not to mention the fact that there is now NO ROOM for negativity. There is only room for real. For healing. For love. Yeah right. We are human remember? Skin and bone, flesh and faulted. This stuff isn’t like blowing a bubble with a good detergent. This is PURGING people.
This discovery is where an interesting theory starts to gather potential in your soul. You can sit there and reflect on the “other person” or “People” “making” you sick. Or you can take a look at the behavior around you and work out if it is heavy, if it is light, what can be learned from the situation and then take responsibility for your space. Then move on.
Because if you don’t, guess what happens? You allow yourself to become a victim. A ‘them’ mentality ensues, and this is very heavy, very unhealthy and unproductive.
Who knows who is right and wrong? It doesn’t really matter in the long run. All that matters is that it is no longer compatible to smiling, to laughing and to a lightness of spirit. It is no longer compatible with honesty and reality. A weakness and degradation can set in, or the worst- being emotionally dishonest with yourself. Where you tell yourself pretty lies to hide the pain, you paint the black scuff marks of your life with glitter paint and call it forgiveness. This can be particularly hypnotic when the forgiveness echoes from a place from long ago. You simply must look after your spiritual and psychological health as much as your teeth, wearing clean clothes or washing your smelly bits. Not in that particular order either.
Genuinely unpacking moments and acknowledging them, wishing another human all the best and cutting the chords without negativity takes a lot. It takes personal permission. You aren’t doing anything wrong, wishing lousy health or nastiness on anyone. You are just saying internally and in your heart – goodbye, thanks for the learning, but I can no longer continue to drink this poison. Sometimes you can even cultivate a real sense of peace, the kind that lets you take a sweet big deep lovely breath. Occasionally you can also release with love.
You could really be doing that person a favor too, by releasing them from the hold.
If you believe what many do- thoughts have power, thoughts are “things”, the last thing you want is to be shooting out thought arrows at other humans. Keep your arrows to yourself. It is so vital to our life to treat others without hurtful intentions.
So, how to do it? How to move forward with grace? It ain’t easy. I am still learning every day. But I know someone who does know how to begin the process. Because this is what it is – that very chic word right now- Process. A series of moments that are stepping stones that lead to what one hopes for- an epiphany. Leaps can be uncomfortable, but they are so very necessary.
I spoke with Practitioner Des Carter. This man and his amazing family of healers (yup, there’s a tribe of these peeps) have been a part of our family’s health recovery for the last 10 years. I will leave you with Des’ words of wisdom.
How important is it to forgive in our lives? For some people, it is relatively easy to forgive, but for others, it seems impossible and deep down resentment builds and life does not flow as it should.
The following prayer by St. Francis of Assisi shows us how we can cultivate the essential quality of compassion that can lead to forgiveness.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt let me spread faith.
Where there is despair let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness let me bring light.
Where there is sadness let me bring joy.
Grant that, I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
In pardoning that we are pardoned,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
When we really take these words into our heart, the true meaning of forgiveness is revealed.
What does it mean to forgive?
Firstly it does not mean that we are approving another’s behavior in any way. What it does mean is that as an individual, we are able to free ourselves from the power this person’s behavior has over us. When we release this person from our conscious thoughts, we take back our power, therefore allowing us to be free. In freedom, we are able to really live our lives as we should. If we feel good about ourselves there is no room for anger, resentment or unforgiveness. We begin to attract positive experience to our lives, with value and appreciation of our true selves.
About Des Carter:
Des resides in Geelong Victoria, is an experienced Trainer, Kinesiologist, Reiki Practitioner, NLP Practitioner, Holistic Human Development Therapist and Meditation Teacher, who works in private practice. His passion is assisting people to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem enabling them to address personal issues in their lives.
Blind, about 4% vision in one eye and zero in the other. It was confronting, frightening but then the strangest thing happened- my biology morphed and adjusted. Not only did it adjust but I found myself with a whole new set of skills. I could cut through all the rubbish and get to the grit, purely because I didn’t have to utilise and get past visual cues. My hearing became almost bionic, and I became incredibly perceptive in being able to hone in on people’s emotions from the tone of their voice. Rather than being a sad event- it was one of the most incredible and profound experiences of my life. I told those I loved that I now had super-powers and the process my body went through to enhance itself without sight was miraculous. Sure I had a few brick imprints on my head – double brick homes are not favorable. But hey, dints can be sexy!
What also became very apparent, was that even though I felt enhanced in many ways, I was not seen this way by others.
I had no hair, I had many deep and shocking scars over my head, swelling to the side of my head and I had to learn how to walk again. I was disabled. I had to learn a lot of new skills and abilities, sure. But I didn’t view myself as dis-anything. I was very lucky to be alive, I was grateful to be alive, and I knew I had some hard work ahead. To many, my situation was about “how sad” my situation was, which created a “less than” mentality. Complete strangers would say lovely things edged with unmistakable pity. A huge presumption was being made, that my life was less terrific because I did things differently now. I have never looked at another “disabled” person the same again. To me, those that are “enhanced” have an evolved sense of so much MORE than the average Joe. More than. Not less than.
Within 6 months my sight returned- this was a very unexpected event. I was grateful for my return of sight, for two reasons only- smiles and colour. I missed it. I missed seeing my children’s smiles and sunsets. Everything else? I could do.
Not long ago one of my children saw a man in a wheelchair, turned to me and said: “Look at that poor man with no legs Mum.” This beautiful child of mine had empathy- a gift to be sure. But I turned to him and said “Don’t ever think that man has less than honey, look at that smile. I bet he’s happier and more successful than anyone we know. And, he’s got great wheels.” I looked at my son and saw that his look had changed from empathy to admiration towards a stranger that was “different.”
When I stumbled across this video, it took my breath away and made me smile and laugh, because it is the most accurate perspective I have yet heard about “being blind.”
Susan has so accurately verbalized the time I had. I can honestly tell you that if I needed a judge of character, I would trust someone without eye vision that has the inner vision in a heartbeat. The best bit, she made me laugh until my belly hurt. This is a great thing. So click below and check out Susan’s adventure in failing to be disabled. You won’t regret it.
Enjoy, be sure to comment below and share this incredible TED-talk.
2 weeks ago we farewelled my darling. Nellie Florence. This was the reading we did.
Nellie Florence, otherwise known as my Nanna- she was my caretaker from the tiny age of 2 to the age of 6 until I started school. Mum worked for Nan and Pa’s furniture removalist business, and Nanna opted for taking care of me.
I do not remember one cross word. The only time I got into trouble was when it was cousin time, and for some reason when my cousin Kelly and I got together mischief prevailed. My influence of course. She admitted to me years later that often she would have to leave the room, for her terse response to the folly was masking amusement she had to hide for fear of encouraging “silliness.” But every school holidays when I came to visit for weeks on end, it would be Kelly, Kirst and Nanna time. Did we drive her nuts? You betcha. There was that one time we played hide and seek in Nan’s car; only we didn’t tell her? The police were called… oops.
Nan taught me from the time of being very young that it was the small acts of faith that build the bigger ones and I would ask isn’t God too busy to look after little things? And she would say “No! Because we all have angels and God around us all the time, his messengers and they help. So always send a prayer up!” We literally taught that to send a prayer you were physically sending a request from the heart, and she taught us that. So from the age of 3 I knew, you asked for a car park? You got one. In the busiest street of Burleigh Heads. You got a car park. She taught us the importance of service to others.
It was ingrained. Others before self, others before self to the point where even now, its super ingrained! But it was service, service to others. And she showed this throughout her life. As an RE teacher to little children in primary school, it wasn’t that she was Bible Bashing as such, it was that she had an activated REAL relationship with God that lifted sorrow from her, like nothing else. It was her total saving grace all of the time, and she walked in grace all of the time. For her, the idea that other people weren’t enjoying that, and didn’t have that safety net, that sense of joy and faith horrified her. It was NOT for the select few; it was for everyone. She was genuinely worried for other people and she desperately wanted them to know the joy she knew and that peace.
When she saw people were in pain, she would talk to them about her joy and her faith, and for many, it was sometimes a bit much.
But for others, I don’t know how many of you are in the room today, but I know that there are many many people that sought that grace and found it through her shining the torch through a dark time.
Another beautiful part to Nanna was her forgiveness. Her forgiveness for others was so strong that sometimes it challenged us. You would think “How on earth could you possibly forgive that act” or “this person” and she was steadfast in that forgiveness. And one time I said to her in this certain situation “How? She was my Nanna, but as I became older and more mature from a girl to a middle-aged woman, we would have this womanly chats about life and I would ask her “How? How could you forgive?” “and her response would be “But carrying around the hate, and carrying around all that anger, that’s not about them, that’s too heavy for you. It hurts you. It’s not about them, it’s about unburdening your heart from their deeds and letting them go.” Now that I am getting older I am realizing, it’s not about saying whatever that person did is ok, it’s about releasing the heaviness and handing over the weight of hatred or anger.
We have been so incredibly blessed to have her in our lives.
There was a very tumultuous time in her life after Grandad died and we saw events happen for her where she was deeply betrayed by people she loved and cared about; she predictably forgave them. She moved forward but what came next many saw as “oh she’s just getting old” but what we saw in her was pain. She had forgotten how loved she was, to the point where some relatives would visit and she just didn’t answer the door. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to see them, it was because she didn’t believe she had anything to offer. She had lost her value to herself. She had given herself over to service in her life so much, that to not be in service to people due to old age and ill-health had to her losing her self worth.
She stuck to her routine, just passing the time. Life had lost its shine, while she stuck to her beliefs as firm as she possibly could, the nature of people had let her see a side, she probably, in all honesty, didn’t realise was there or didn’t look apon. It infiltrated. She had a stroke.
And for many many years, my sister and I had wondered how great it would be to move to Bendigo if only to look after Nanna. I remember as a little girl saying to her “Nanna, you take such good care of me, why?” her response was “because I love you and one day you might take care of me” well that must have stuck! So right through our adult lives, my sister and I have had this idea of how wonderful it would be if we could care for her. So we went to visit her after the stroke, and it wasn’t looking very good.
We checked in with Papa G as we call him- (AKA the mighty Gandalf of the 4th dimension, AKA God, AKA- Universal KingPin, and yes there is a feminine aspect. Have you seen the Shack?) do we take her with us? The resounding answer was Yes. Now is the time. The thing was the consensus in the family was that there was no way in a million years a 89-year-old Nellie Florence was leaving Bendigo, uh uh no way. It’s just not going to happen. She’s not going to leave. We went to her- we said to her- would you let us, would you be brave enough just to bring yourself to this new place so we can care for you? You will be treated beautifully, and you will have a visitor every day. To our absolute shock, she very quietly said “yes”. All she wanted to bring with her was her nighty, her favorite teddy, a picture of Jesus and a few family photos and that was it. It was a new start. She actually became excited again. We found the best nursing hotel aka del la McEncroe we could search for and it was beautiful.
My siblings and I, we went and decked out that room like it was the Hamptons.
We had a ball. It was as though the Queen mother herself was moving to Leopold. It was going to look the Goods. I still remember the nurses being like “Oh my gosh, what’s with the posh designer room?” There were lots of pink things, angels, memories of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. And she got a visitor every day.
We had access 24 / 7 and she was a late night owl, so it would be nothing for us to pop down there in our pajamas of a night-time and tuck her in, or have cuppas and chats about life and love and nursing home gossip. I am pleased to report, with only being there for a couple of months, she turned to me and said “I really am loved aren’t I? I really am loved, I must be with you all doing this for me and wanting to be with me.” And I said “How could ever have thought you weren’t? You aren’t just loved, you are adored. You are the reason we are all here. You.”
And her great-grandchildren would visit and we would say to them, this lady right here, is why you exist and without her, you simply wouldn’t, ” and the nursing staff adored her, they loved her. She was beautiful, she was cute, she was appreciative, she was loved, and she told them and us, while she was there that the last 2 years have been the best in a decade and that is pretty special.
As she relaxed, the stoic sternness of propriety dropped just a fraction, she was as sharp as a tack, and her humor shone through. She developed the giggles and would have us all belly laughing until we couldn’t breathe. She would share stories about being a young woman growing up in Bendigo. Of romance, of funny tales, setting up the dance hall on a Friday night and having races on the cleaning cloths and laughing until it hurt. Of her love for Pa, for her children. Funny stories about her children when they were small.
This recent stroke, it all happened very quickly. I went to her bedside and said to her “I don’t want you to go” She looked at me puzzled and asked why? Because she knew where she was going and therefore I should know better. You see, we spoke about dying her and I. Quite a bit. We had these awful dark humored jokes about who would get there first. Who would be waiting to greet who? There was no fear at all. She would have assumed that I should know where she was going. And she said “Oh, no it’s time for me to …” and motioned her hand upward with the biggest smile. I said “I will buy you a puppy, or do you want two visits a day? What do I need to do to keep you here, because I know its so selfish but I don’t know how to be here without you in it” I tried every trick in the bloody book to keep her here. I should have known better.
She smiled and she said “It’s all fine, it’s okay, it’s ok darling, you are going to be just fine and I am going to be here still.”
When Nanna passed, I had my hand on her heart, and it just stopped. And she didn’t die. She didn’t die. She left. And when one leaves, it means they have somewhere to be.
It occurred to me afterward, that not only did she teach me so much about life, and about living, but she also taught me about my dying that it was a journey and it was not to be feared. So, that was her gift to us. She was a teacher, that was her thing.
For the record, you know you never know when you are going to leave. This is true. But when a doctor tells you that you are, when your body tells you and when a Nanna feels that she is; a feeling happens. I can’t explain it. But the knowing is what sets you apart everyone else. And it isn’t depressing, it isn’t morose. It is a fact of life. We come into the world and we all leave the world.
When I was a child Nanna read to me the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she was a CS Lewis fan and his theology, and as some of you will know, Aslan the mighty lion in the tale is CS Lewis’ Metaphor for Jesus. Not tame at all, but powerful and fierce, protective and strong.
A few nights ago I had a dream that Nanna was a young woman, I was walking behind her, and she opened the door of a wardrobe.
We stepped through, and she waited. She was not old; she was young and beautiful like the photos I have seen of her in wartime, elegant and classy. She stepped onto the snow, and it crunched under her shoes, and I thought- Oh wow, she hasn’t seen snow before. A massive golden-haired lion walked up, she looked at me with excitement and knowing. She climbed upon his back, stroked his mane and whispered something into his ear. He turned and walked away, she smiled and waved farewell to me, riding this massive lion. I was almost envious and knew I had to come back into the real world and woke.
So I will leave you my favorite CS Lewis Quote:
“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now, at last, they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Chat soon Ponderers xxx
For those that are interested, one of our favourite movies that has been adapted from The Shack stars Sam Worthington- check out the trailer: