Australia · blessings · colours · dad · family · father · garden flowers · in my garden · Mount Warning · remembering · spring · Tweed Valley

Finding Colour on a Grey Spring Day

Well, the beautiful day of sunshine and blue skies on Saturday was short-lived. Yesterday we had rain, and the mountain went into hiding behind mist and clouds for the day. Today the weather wasn’t much better – grey and more grey. When I took the photo of the mountain at least I captured the image of a bird flying by, but the day was so dull I didn’t have enough bright light to even identify the bird.

So that was the view of the mountain today. No colour. No pizzazz. Nothing. But luckily I have a couple of plants blooming that I haven’t added photos of here recently.

I have had a tiny potted succulent sitting on the table on my back patio for a few years now, and last year it burst into flower for the first time. The flowers lasted for quite a few weeks and looked just lovely. Now they are flowering again. I have no idea what the name of the plant is, but the flowers definitely add interest to the plant, and colour to the garden on a grey day.

These pretty purple flowers belong to another pot plant and since buying the plant in January this year it hasn’t stopped flowering. The flowers did wane slightly during winter, but during the last couple of weeks it has had a new lease on life. This is a Scaevola “Seaside” – I know the name because I wrote it in a gardening journal which is a very handy thing to have. Being a drought-tolerant ground cover, I’m thinking I should buy some more Scaevolas to plant in my front garden.

My last spot of colour is a climbing Allamanda. I must have had this plant for well over ten years now and it always seems to be in flower. It really flourishes during the warmer weather though.

Yesterday was Father’s Day in Australia and as it turned out, with no visible mountain to take a photo of I was able to devote Silent Sunday to my dear old Dad. He’s been gone now for twenty-two years but I can still close my eyes and conjure an image of him in my minds eye as clear as if he were still here with me today. Knowing him as I do/did, I know how he would have enjoyed the internet, and would have loved browsing through my ever-expanding book collection. He would have enjoyed all of the babies – his great-grandchildren – being born into my family now, and he would have got such a kick out of me working on my degree. Oh the things I have read and learned about that I would have loved to have discussed with him! Missing him still hurts at times, especially on days when I know he would have spent the day with me, such as Father’s Day. There’s an old saying though, it’s better to have loved and lost … I’m sure you know the rest. ❤

Me and my father in 1993, just after we lost my mum.
A Sense of Spirit · blessings · dad · daughter · memories · Mum · spirituality

The Final Hour

My father had this photo of my mother, at age twenty-one, enlarged and framed after mum was gone.
My father had this photo of my mother, taken when she was twenty-one years old, enlarged and framed after mum was gone.

It was on this day, a Monday morning twenty-three years ago, that I said goodbye to my mother. I could have said she died, or that she went to heaven, but I don’t feel comfortable with either of those terms, as she is still with me today.

After so many years, some of the details have escaped my mind – was she in hospital at the end for one week, or was it two? How many days did my eldest sister and father sit at her bedside, from morning until night, awaiting the inevitable, wanting to be with her when she took her last breath? Why did the two of them ask me to try not to cry in front of her, as I watched her slip away?

So many years have passed and a million new memories have been made, yet I remember the significant details of this particular morning, twenty-three years ago, as if it happened only yesterday.

My youngest child was nine months old. At 9:00am, I dropped my two older children off at school and pre-school. I left home that morning planning to head home immediately, do a few chores and visit mum in the afternoon. But The Universe (or whatever the force was) had other plans for me. I found myself turning off the main road and heading to the hospital to see mum first.

Why did I make that choice? To this day I still have no idea. But as it turned out, that impulsive decision would lead to one of the most significant and memorable times in my lifetime.

My baby and I entered an empty room, all but for my mother laying silently in the single, metal hospital bed. Mum liked a soft mattress and I often lamented the board-like shelves they liked to call ‘beds’ in this place and wished my mother could beat this demon that kept her imprisoned in the stark cell. I wanted to see her return home to her pretty purple and gold bedroom, the one she had taken such care to decorate. But that wasn’t to be.

I felt so at ease sitting beside mum’s bed. She had become comatose sometime during the weekend yet I felt sure she knew I was there. She could hear me, I knew it, so I spoke to her. I told her that my baby and I were visiting her, that my father and sister hadn’t arrived yet, that we were alone. I looked at her hands, the right hand holding the left, and took a mental photograph of her hands, to hold within my heart forever. I never, ever wanted to forget my mother’s healing hands, her creative hands, the hands given to her to carry out deeds of kindness during her time on this earth.

I touched mum’s snowy white hair. It felt so soft, even during her time of illness. It was so fine, so beautiful…I told mum that I wanted to remember every detail of how she looked, so that when she had gone, I could see her any time I wanted to in my mind’s eye.

About half an hour had passed, yet my father and sister still hadn’t arrived at the hospital. I expected them to bustle in at any moment, interrupting my visit with mum. They arrived early every day. Something held them up that day and I was glad for the time I could spend alone with mum.

After a while, it occurred to me that mum may have slipped away. Her chest wasn’t moving, but when I touched her face I felt the warmth of the skin on her delicate, fair face, and I admired the beautiful English complexion that I had inherited from her. And when I looked closely, I saw a pulse beating in her neck. She was still alive.

During my childhood, my mother had visited various sooth-sayers. She needed to know what the future held and constantly sought guidance. Mum’s mother had died when mum was only ten and mum told me that she always felt the spirit of her mother beside her, guiding her, protecting her. As her daughter, I had no doubt whatsoever that my mother was the wisest person in the world. She knew the answers to every question imaginable and if she lacked the definitive answer, she had an opinion. Mum’s wisdom, to me, expanded the bounds of earthly comprehension, yet she doubted her abilities. To reassure both myself and my mother during that last visit, I told her she could continue to contact me, that if she ever wanted to speak to me all she need do was send me a sign, I would be waiting and know it was her, and I would visit someone clairvoyant so she could pass messages onto me.

I looked around the private hospital room at the white walls, trying to see what it was that my mother had seen before slipping into a coma. During previous visits, as I sat beside her watching her sleep, her eyes would suddenly spring wide open, yet she didn’t seem to see me there. She would look around the room at something only she could see. One day I asked her what she saw when she looked around the room and she told me they were closing the door soon. I looked at the bulky, grey sliding door and asked her why they would bother closing it and she shook her head no, repeating, they are closing the door soon.

The resident psychologist had visited my mother’s room a few times while I was at the hospital and after mum speaking so adamantly about the door closing, I found the psychologist and asked her if she could decipher the meaning of what mum said. I told her I didn’t think mum meant the physical door of the room. The psychologist told me she had heard the same thing said many times before by patients who only had a few days left to live. She assured me that there was more going on around us than we could see and that the years in her profession had provided more questions than answers. I asked her if she thought that mum’s ‘door’ was the door to heaven. She didn’t know that it was the door to heaven as such, but strongly believed it to be a door to another place, a place that we couldn’t go to.

Being around my mother during the last weeks of her time on earth, watching her changing actions and hearing her cryptic words taught me lessons she didn’t realise she was giving me. I had always suspected there was more happening around us than what we could see with our eyes, but twenty-three years ago I was still sceptical. Now, thanks to the lessons that my mother still gives me, I feel another dimension of life surrounding me. I know there is more to this world, more to human beings, than the physical aspect.

My mother seemed so alone and vulnerable, lying in that dreadful hospital bed and I knew that mum hated being alone. While I enjoyed (and still do, to this day) time spent alone with my own thoughts, mum was the opposite. She needed to be surrounded by people, otherwise she felt neglected and alone.

Before I left the hospital room on that final day, I said goodbye to my mother. Every time I left her prior to that day, I would tell her when I would return, saying to her ‘see you later’. I couldn’t let her go. This day, I knew I had to.

After buckling my baby girl back into her car seat that morning, after leaving my mother for what would be the last time, I switched on the car motor and the radio came on – playing ‘Mum’s Song’ – Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’…

I’d only been home long enough to tidy up the breakfast dishes when my husband arrived home. He just looked at me, saying nothing. I asked him if she was gone, yet it was more of a statement than a question.

Minutes later, dad phoned me. He and my sister had arrived at the hospital just after I left, only to be met by a nurse…

He told me the nurse had seen me leave the room. Moments before leaving, I had seen the pulse beating in my mother’s neck. When the nurse walked in, just after I said goodbye to my mum, she was gone.

For twenty-three years I have waited to write mum’s story in its entirety, yet couldn’t. It’s difficult to write through tears and my heart couldn’t cope with the sadness. This year, I can write from the place of a beautiful memory. There are no tears, although if I heard Eric Carmen’s song at this very moment, I’m sure the tears would begin…

It’s not easy saying goodbye to your life-line. That’s how I felt on that Monday morning, twenty-three years ago today. I didn’t realise it then, but losing the physical presence of my mother was a gift…

For the next five years, up until dad decided to join mum on another August day, my father became a real person to me. Without my dominant, chatty mother around, we became close and I learned how much alike we were. He, like me, enjoyed his alone time, yet there were times when dad and I would sit and talk for hours. During a five-year period in time, I got to know my father. He told me his stories, from his point of view. Dad supported me, yet allowed me to fall. Mum had always been afraid to see me get hurt, protecting me to the nth degree. Through her love for her child, she unknowingly impeded my growth. Dad gave me my wings and set me free.

My mother has never left me. There is a golden thread that joins our souls, a thread which can never be broken for eternity. Mum knows now that she must allow me to grow. She gives me the freedom to handle things my way, whilst standing beside me every step of the way. She doesn’t need to have all of the answers for me any more – I can find my own truths, yet she often sends me messages. I never visited a clairvoyant, I don’t need to; I feel mum’s guidance when I need her.

I love my mother to the depths of the deepest ocean and to the heights and width of The Universe. I know she arranged the time I had alone with her that last morning, with the help of those in the room who I couldn’t see. When I said the word goodbye to her and after she knew I had left the room, they helped her to close the door behind me.


Changes · dad · father · inspiration · new beginnings

Prattlings of a blogger out of hibernation.


How fast the last seven weeks have flown by. Seven weeks, since I last added a post here at Home Life!

My regular routine kicked in toward the end of last year, which is being overly busy around the end of the year and the beginning of the new year, with work. I should be used to it by now, I’ve been working the same way for the last twenty-seven years.

The weather is turning cooler at night, bringing beautiful folds of mist to the valley in the mornings.
The weather is turning cooler at night, bringing beautiful folds of mist to the valley in the mornings.

Twenty-seven years! I can hardly believe that I’ve done the same work, year in, year out, for that amount of time.

Making school uniforms from home has had its benefits throughout those years. It helps that I love to sew, the business has grown (or shrunk!) depending on the stage my life has been at, at various times. It has been a portable business too. I began the business when living in Sydney and it moved north with me twenty-one years ago and continued to flourish. And you know what the best part of my business has been? I have been at home for my children, during their growing years.

My children are all grown up now though, all except for Adam, but he is a teenager and will be finished school by the end of next year. And being a boy, he isn’t demanding either!

Miss Tibbs is always contented, so long as she has food and a warm place to snuggle.
Miss Tibbs is always contented, so long as she has food and a warm place to snuggle.

I’ve been thinking about me lately, about what I want to do myself, where I want to be, the work I want to do. I think the time has come for change.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve caught up on life, you know, cleaning the house, tidying a few things up, getting through some paperwork and sorting through my desk. Doing the things I don’t have time to do when I’m making uniforms for schools.

This week I began catching up with some of my blogging friends. I haven’t caught up with everyone yet, but I will. And I’ve written, lots.

Little Butcher Bird, waiting for his breakfast.
Little Butcher Bird, waiting for his breakfast.

On my family history blog, I’ve added a story of some old postcards, from Whitley Bay. Next, I’m looking forward to writing about my grandfather. I’m really loving the way this blog is progressing, albeit slowly! All of the posts I write seem to come together so effortlessly and I really love the look of the website. It’s very personal to me, like my baby, and a site which I am hoping that future generations will also appreciate in time.

It’s been nearly a year since I wrote for “A Sense of Spirit”, but I finally did so yesterday. I have so many ideas of stories to add there, yet when I do begin to write them, sometimes the words don’t come easy. Yesterday’s post, however, simply bubbled onto the page! When I feel what I am writing, deep in my heart, the words flow so easily. On the downside, the writing can leave me emotionally exhausted! I must attempt to at least write one post a week there though.

Tibouchinas flower spring and autumn. They are now covered in beautiful autumn purpleness.
Tibouchinas flower spring and autumn. They are now covered in beautiful autumn purple-ness.

In “Memoirs of my Life” I remembered my dad’s birthday. He would have turned ninety-three last weekend, if he were still here. I added a photo on the post of the two of us, hand in hand, taken only about a month after we lost my mum. Dad was so sad at that time and seemed to never smile, so unusual for him as he was such a happy man. I love the photo though.

This week, I have even written a few poems, something that I used to do years ago, yet haven’t even attempted in the longest time. Surprisingly the words seemed to flow easily and I even started up a brand new baby blog to add them to. (I’m not promoting that blog here, by the way!) An awful lot of poets have already discovered the new blog, adding “likes” to some of my poems. I feel rather wary of some of the poetry I have read by some of these people though, as I have read what I would describe as some really “dark” words! Poems that include glass to cut with, and rivers of blood. Eeeeekk! Perhaps I live a very sheltered life, but I prefer to read poetry with meaning, or at the very least, uplifting! Having said that, some of the poems I have read have really made me smile; a good thing!

Palm trees, wighed down with bunches of palm seeds, looking stunning against the mist.
Palm trees, weighed down with bunches of palm seeds, looking stunning against the mist.

So, while I have been writing, and contemplating change, I have decided that I will see if I can find a buyer for my little business. I would hate to just leave my customers high and dry, with no supplier of their school shirts. Besides, I have more sewing machines than I need, if I stop with this business. There is someone out there who is looking for just what I have to sell, so when they find me, and I find them, we will both be happy!

When I think of selling my business, I feel so liberated! Time for me, to keep up-to-date with my life, all year round! Time to take more walks, to take more photos, to start up something new, something that fits my life more comfortably, work-wise!

My lovely friend, Larry the Kookaburra, is still frequenting my garden restaurant.
My lovely friend, Larry the Kookaburra, is still frequenting my garden restaurant.

Having spent so much time in “blogging hibernation”, I have prattled on a bit today! I’ve added a few photos to break up my ramblings a bit, with no particular theme, just photos taken recently that I like.

It’s good to be back and I sincerely hope that this time I’m back, I won’t be disappearing for weeks on end, ever again. 🙂

Australia · autumn · dad · Mum · photography · Tweed Valley

Towns of the Tweed ~ Hastings Point

Hastings Point Headland

Hastings Point is a sleepy little village situated on the Tweed Coast Road, just south of Tweed Heads. I first visited Hastings Point as a small child, back in the days when mum, dad and I would leave our home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, for our annual camping trip, and head north.

The waves roared and crashed against the rocks.

Those were the days when I would listen to my parents as they talked about the day they dreamed of, when they could move north, to enjoy the warmer climate and a more relaxed lifestyle. They did eventually pack up our lives in the Blue Mountains in 1971, selling everything, to live the rest of their days in their dream world. (I have written the story of our move north, and if you are interested in knowing how the Sea Change came about, it can be read here.)

A few of the locals.

Isn’t it funny how you see things through two different sets of eyes, one when you are a child, another when you become an adult? The Hastings Point I see today is a far cry from the caravan park I recall from my childhood days!

Hastings Point has the most beautiful, breathtaking, rocky headland. To reach the rocks you must climb down from the grassy area above, but my photos begin as we were sitting on the grass, eating fish and chips for lunch, and sharing our food with the ever-so-hungry seagulls!

Looking for an easy lunch offering.

There were other people there that day, eating lunch on the grassy hill overlooking the ocean, but before long nearly every seagull had invited themselves to dine with us!

A seagull giving his interpretation of a hovercraft!

Not only did they walk up and stand right beside where we were sitting, some tame little guys decided that if they put on a show and performed like a little hovercraft in front of us, perhaps they stood a better chance of scoring some chips! And it worked… 🙂

The waves below crashed against the millions of rocks, sending sheets of white spray high into the air. The power of the ocean in itself can take my breath away!

Where are the people?

I spotted a small boat out to sea, which looked rather…well…empty! I zoomed in on it with my camera, and sure enough, there wasn’t a single soul on board. Perhaps the tiny boat was anchored, whilst the occupants headed overboard for a spot of scuba diving.

As the tide was quite high, the natural rock pools were filled with water and we could see the sun gleaming on the shallow water captured within the rocky surrounds.

Shallow water captured in the rock pools.

After lunch (ours, and the seagulls!) we decided to climb down the rocky embankment. There was so much more to see, and with the hill not being too high, it would be an easy decline down the hill. Beside which, I was wearing sensible shoes!

To the south of the point, Byron Bay, the most easterly point of Australia is visible.

The rocks at close range were amazing! The shells, the creatures, the colours, the salty air, the waves, the roaring sounds of the ocean…it was all so magical!

The next day we would go back, to explore the rocky areas below.

But…low tide would be early the next morning, and besides which, my camera battery had gone flat!

Low growing, flowering plants, thriving in the sandy ground.

The next day, we returned….more photos tomorrow. 🙂

I was surprised to discover such pretty plants growing at the beach.