Twice More I met this woman!

She came back! Poked her head around the door, impish grin through her smiling eyes behind her glasses.

” Hello!” Not radiating confidence but a definite improvement! Elegant long, black skirt. Hair with a bit of a lustre…shampoo. Still an intricately woven plait.

“Can you help me with my bills?” Details aside, I said I would. We rang the company. Again she was like the trembling little kid in the corner. We got through  to people who could assist. It took a while! Finally put through to someone who would hear her story. I could only go so far! She had to verify that I could represent her – all this info conveyed by a very understandable ( thank God) woman from somewhere in Asia. Finally she held the phone for herself! She was in control. When her hand began to shake, I held it. ” You  did that yourself” I said. ” But you were right beside me” was her reply.

That sorted, she had a healing oil massage!

She left beaming gratitude!

The next day she was back! Food to be collected but while she waited she sat and talked to other people! She said to me ” I made you something” and  carefully wrapped in a dainty gift bag was a crystal droplet. ” it’s not much. It’s all I could do” and I thought of the widow’s mite! ” I wrote about you” I said. ” can I see it?” Again from a distance I watched as she read my words. She wept. I moved to sit beside her….with the tissues. She did not stop.

Finally done she took a tissue and said ” that poor woman whose husband is dying” unadulterated compassion! ” You write beautifully” she said and I wondered what happened in her life that reduced her sense of how incredible she is, to almost nothing!

She’s coming back! Three times next week so far! She is in pain always. Her spine was shattered in a car accident years ago. Her lower vertebrae cannot be repaired, the metal pin that holds it all together causes her constant pain.

It’s  been a hard few days for me but I am lifted up by this gentle, vulnerable but resolute woman, younger than some of my children, who has reminded me that together, we will rise!


Yesterday I met a woman


Yesterday I met a woman who had no food.

She had no food because all her money is spent on food for her animals.

Her hands shook, constantly, her eyes darted about as if waiting for something terrible to happen.

Like a frightened child, quivering and shivering in a corner in the dark. We talked, another woman made her a cuppa.  I asked if there was anything she needed. Holding tenderly her long, thick, carefully woven plait which hung down her side, over her shoulder. The top of her head covered by a beaded denim cap, her eyes filled  with tears and she replied “Shampoo”. ‘

I left her with the other woman and they emerged together after a little while. No longer was she shaking, no longer was she radiating fear! A broad smile, words of gratitude for the food, for the comfort of the shampoo and the offer of a healing fragrant oils experience in a couple of days.

Yesterday I met a woman whose beloved husband is close to death. The rapidity of his decline has left them both in shock. She welcomed me into her home. It was the first time I had met her. We talked for a long time. She looked so tired, worn weary by the rapid, agonizing journey. We talked of God. We talked of history. We talked of music and its power. We talked of my Mother and hers, still alive and soon to be 102. A woman of uncompromising faith. A woman whose hope remains and all the while her husband lying, dying in the front room. A dignified, intelligent, connected woman who even in the deep sadness of the reality soon to come for her and their children, could speak of life beyond – for him and for her.

Yesterday I read the words of a woman. Word that paralized me. Words that I allowed to paralize me with self doubt and hurt. Words offered as advice but words that I allowed to harm me. “A good leader does not treat people like children”and that set me to thinking.

How do I treat children? My own, my grandchildren, other people’s children. First of all , I love them. Secondly I learn from them – their honesty, their sense of fun, their lack of judgment when it comes to others, their inclusivity, their sense of wonder, their capacity to laugh at the little joys and break forth into gales of glee  at the shockingly hilarious!  Jesus said “let the little children come to me” and I don’t think it was because he wanted to correct them or reshape them or judge them “unless you become like these,  you cannot enter the kingdom”. That’s the kind of leader for me!

And today I met a woman whose words I recognised.  A list of dates . A chronology of events that occur annually for her. Joys and pathos, doubt and faith rolled into one, slightly verbose Facebook memory. I know this woman. This woman is a leader, this woman loves and is loved. This woman is me.

And like Maya Angelou – Today I rise!


The day before my Dad died 20 years on.

This morning I had an attack of melancholy. I checked my facebook memories and found images of my Dad that I have used on various anniversaries of his death since facebook became a communication tool for me.

Twenty years ago, in the afternoon I went to visit him after work. He had pneumonia. He was unresponsive. I stayed a while with him. They had moved him into a new room. One that was like a real bedroom. Quilt on the bed, his rosary beads hanging off the bed head, A couple of comfy chairs. I talked to him and sang to him.

As I was leaving a former school friend who was a nurse there said to me ” I don’t think it will be long now. If there is anyone who should see him, tell them to come now. I rang my older son. He was in Brisbane. ” no, Mum, I won,t fly down. I have no unfinished business with GrandKen”  I went home, had some dinner, spoke to my brothers, one of whom assured me that based on his experience Dad had days left, and I went back.

It was early evening. The staff asked me if I would be able to give him his antibiotics – a pink jelly like substance which he swallowed. All the while, eyes shut. I sang our family singalong songs – it’s a long way to Tipperary, Mademoiselle from Armentiers, pack up your troubles, the Irish Lullaby and every now and then he would hum a little. I sat with him for a couple of hours and then decided to go home.

I moved to the other side of the bed, leaned over his head to kiss him and he opened his eyes with such incredible strength it scared me to death! I took his hand and he squeezed mine. There were no words. Just this powerful few seconds of soul touching recognition and complete love. I kissed him. He closed his eyes.

As I left, my friend met me and asked if I was sure I wanted to go home. I needed to be with my son , aged 12. The phone rang around 4.00 am. The magnificent, forever Spirit of my Dad was free. What followed for the rest of the day will be my next tome!

But TODAY my Dad was as present to me as he has been every day of my life. I heard him in the Kookaburra as I left home this morning. As I headed for my car, my son’s voice behind me ” grab your coat and get your hat……..Dad always sing that!” An attempt to cheer me up ” yes, so did mine!””and he was with us both!!

Every day on my way to work (YES work) at Mums’ Cottage I think of him as Mount Sugarloaf ” changes” from one side of the road to the other as I head into West Wallsend. Sunday drives. Up the steep and bumpy road, into the car park, out of the car, up to the top. Dad conquering  his fear of heights with his beloved Bessematic Camera getting my to pose with the panoramic vista at my back.

Once upon a time I was absolutely convinced that Heaven is a real place. I’m not so convinced anymore but I do live in hope! What I am utterly resolute about is the eternity of the Spirit.