A journey into openness and honesty… Distilling truths about ourselves, others and life from shared experiences… Learning to live consistently with that truth… Becoming free to be who we truly are…

Archive for June, 2016

Who the hell do I vote for??

Haven’t decided who to vote for in Saturday’s Federal election?
You’re in good company!

Or, maybe you have decided.
Or, maybe you’re planning to vote informally as a protest.

If any of these describe you, read on!

The aims of this post are simple…

  • To challenge you to take your vote seriously.
  • To help you arrive at the voting booth with a clear, well-informed decision in mind.

This post is NOT going to tell you who to vote for… that’s totally up to you!

Why bother to vote?

I know you’ve heard it many times before, but it is absolutely true:
Your vote is important. Make it count.

Our right to vote in Australia is a great privilege. It is also a great responsibility. Don’t treat this privilege and responsibility lightly
and don’t throw it away!!

Casting a meaningful vote means putting in an effort.
Yes, to make an informed choice you DO need to spend time studying the policies of the political parties.

If this sounds like hard work, I’ve got some good news… there are many resources available to assist you.

If politics is something you dislike or find boring, you may be in for a big surprise. Education on any important topic in life is a powerful thing… it may well impact you in ways you never expected.

Becoming familiar with current political issues may open up a whole new realm for you.
It can empower you to discuss issues you never felt confident talking about before.
It can inspire you to take action on some of the vital issues impacting our society and the world around us.

How to throw away your vote… and…
Why not to…

The worst thing you can do in this election is put in an informal vote
(called a donkey vote).

Typical reasons why people do this… and why these reasons are flawed…

  • “I’m totally unhappy with all parties. I’m going to vote informally to protest.”
    The only person you hurt by doing this is YOU! You’ve just thrown away your right (and your responsibility) to make a decision about which party is going to govern Australia, and your own personal future just may be affected by whoever wins.
  • “The parties are basically the same so it doesn’t matter who I vote for.”
    The parties may have some similarities but they are NOT the same.
    Whoever wins the election will have different impacts on the direction Australia is heading.
  • “Both parties are full of wankers… You can never believe anything they say.”
    Yes, many politicians are experts at telling half-truths and distorting reality to make their policies look great, and the other parties’ policies look like disasters. BUT at the end of the day, whoever wins the election will have significant power to affect Australia’s future, and yours and mine along with it.
    Our job, as members of the public, is to hold those who form Government to account. A tough job? Yes, but politicians ARE sensitive to public opinion, and even more so in this age of social media.
  • “I can’t be bothered… It’s all so boring… I’m too busy.”
    I respectfully suggest it’s time you did start being bothered! Many aspects of your own future, that of your family, your local electorate and community, and Australia’s future depend on it.
  • “I know so little about politics… It’s all so confusing… I’ve never had time to understand it.”
    Understanding politics is like understanding anything else in life. If you take time to learn about the parties and stay informed of current issues your understanding will grow.

How to Use Your Vote Wisely…

So you’re not going to throw away your vote… that’s great! The challenge now is to use it wisely.

Common thinking that leads to a wasted vote…

  • “The leader of the Party A is a better leader, so I’m going to vote for their Party.”
    It is essential you look beyond the personalities of the leaders and base your vote on the Parties’ policies. Yes, the leaders do influence the policies adopted by their parties, but they are far from being in total control.
    The major parties are based on very different political philosophies. They are also driven by different (powerful) influences and vested interests outside the parties.
  • “I’ve always voted for Party A so that’s how I’m going to vote this time.”
    If you’ve done your homework and are convinced your values are better represented by one party above the others then maybe this approach is valid. But maybe not too.
    The current policies of your preferred party may NOT represent your current values and opinions on the current issues being faced by Australia. A wiser approach is to evaluate the issues and policies specific to each election rather than relying on your personal status quo.
  • “My local member is doing a great job so I’m going to vote for them rather than a candidate of a specific party.”
    Yes, your local member may be doing a good job of representing issues in your electorate. However, your vote is not only about what is best for your electorate. To my mind, your primary responsibility is to vote for whoever will deliver the best outcome for the whole of Australia, not just your local community.
  • “My parents (or my partner, the leader of my religious community, or some other person who I respect) are voting for Party A, so I’m going to vote for Party A too.”
    If this person is well-informed about current issues and party policies and their values align closely with yours, it’s good to take note of who they’re voting for. But don’t just fall in behind them… Ask them the reasons why and see if you do agree with their assessment. Remember, even highly respected people have biases… and their perspective is just one of many different perspectives.It’s far wiser to talk to a range of informed, caring people who are voting for different parties. Other perspectives may also be supported by sound reasoning. Understanding them will put you in a far better position to make your own informed choice.

How to be informed…

There’s only a few days left until the election, but here’s some ideas…

  • The ABC’s Vote Compass is an informative and helpful place to start… https://votecompass.abc.net.au/.
    The website takes you through a multiple choice questionnaire covering key election issues. The questions will help you understand the key issues and help you determine your own values and position on each of them. The outcome is a ‘graph’ showing where you are on the ‘political landscape’ compared to the three major Parties (Coalition, Labor, Greens).
    You can also ‘drill down’ to see how your position compares to each of these parties on each key issue.
  • Keep an eye on the news for the current issues and the policies/promises being offered by the parties to address them.
  • Watch TV programs that probe politicians and issues in depth and bring the wisdom of commentators and experts to bear. The ABC’s Q&A program each Monday night is brilliant for this… it is both informative and entertaining to watch.
  • Keep your B.S. meter set on ‘High’. Look out for three word slogans that vastly oversimplify complex issues, and for scare campaigns and half-truths designed to use fear and deception to capture your vote.
  • Ignore political advertisements. They are generally unhelpful and often downright misleading (see previous point).
  • Read in-depth articles on key issues and policies. These articles can help to place what politicians are saying in a broader perspective. Too often the full facts reveal that ‘great promises’ are political gimmicks attempting to win votes. But beware also… the media is driven by its own vested interests.
  • Check out each of the major parties websites for details of their policies on key issues.
  • Talk to other people, especially caring, wise people who keep themselves politically informed. You don’t have to agree with or follow other people’s opinions or beliefs, but openly discussing political issues will help ‘sharpen your sword’ when it comes to understanding the issues and discerning the wisdom (or otherwise) of what the political parties are saying.

A Final Thought…

Your vote on Saturday is important… Make it count.
If you don’t feel adequately informed when you get to the voting both, commit yourself to be informed before the next election.

Your vote in EVERY election is important.
Don’t put it off… START INFORMING YOURSELF TODAY.

Ian + dingo

 

Ian James
29/06/2016

Democracy can be dangerous… the Brexit…

Did Britain really vote to leave the EU?

Today the news headlines are plastered with reports announcing the outcome of the Brexit referendum…

“Britain votes to leave EU!”

“See EU goodbye!!”

While Britain as a whole voted to leave the European Union it is important to recognize almost half of the voting population wanted to stay (51.9% Leave, 48.1% Stay).

The Brexit Affair…

I wonder if for many British people, being carried along by the Leave campaign is going to end with similar consequences to having an affair while married.

If you’re unhappy with what you’ve got (and the status quo always has shortcomings) getting involved in something new that offers tantalizing changes can carry you along with great excitement… for a time. However, when the shortcomings of your new relationship inevitably emerge, you are very likely to wake up in bed one morning thinking “What on earth have I done??” You may also find not only do you have a broken marriage, but your new relationship is falling apart as well.

While the possibility (likelihood?) of disastrous economic impacts for Britain, the EU and the rest of the world are of huge concern there is another potentially serious, but less obvious, impact on Britain as well.

The Brexit campaign highlighted and powerfully reinforced deep divisions in public opinion between the Stay and Leave camps. The outcome of the referendum will likely deepen those divisions further as the British public experience negative impacts of a decision only half of them supported. Those who voted to stay are not going to remain silent… the end result may be a nation divided against itself.

In Scotland 62% of voters opted to stay in the EU. Now the Brexit has succeeded a second referendum is likely to be held on the issue of Scottish independence, followed by Scotland subsequently rejoining the EU! What Britain is now facing is the potential breakup of the United Kingdom itself!

Democracy can be dangerous…

The Brexit referendum has highlighted one of the deep flaws in our democratic system of government.

Leaving it up to the public to make decisions on issues which have profound long-term impacts on the future of a country does not guarantee that wise decisions will be made.

Very few members of the public have the necessary understanding and expertise to analyze extremely complex issues (such as leaving the EU), and independently make a truly competent decision. In the case of the Brexit, as with all complex political issues, not even the experts can agree on how beneficial or disastrous the outcomes will be.

In practice, the outcome of a referendum (or election of a new government) depends on which ‘side’ can mount the most persuasive campaign. This in turn can be heavily influenced by how much funding each side attracts from vested interests in their policies, along with the vested interests of media owners.

In addition, public opinion can be powerfully influenced by fear. The current Australian federal election campaign provides an excellent example. Leaders on both sides have shown little hesitation resorting to “three word slogans” and deceitful scare campaigns, both of which vastly oversimplify and distort complex issues, in order to frighten the public into voting for their party.

While I fully support our democratic system, we should all take heed of the wisdom of Winston Churchill…

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

Ian + dingoIan James
25/06/2016

Dad Jokes… Hilarious (and pitiable)

Dad jokes

Every now and then my overactive, somewhat quirky brain comes up with spontaneous “Dad jokes”. Family and friends often groan, shaking their heads sadly, or they simply look blank. I think I’ve cracked a great joke 😂 and they just don’t get it! 😕😕
Occasionally however I do prompt a chuckle or sometimes (rarely) uproarious laughter! 😂😂😄😃
I’ve decided to progressively build a collection of these jokes as they come to mind… was that more groans I hear? Well nevermind, I think it’s essential for great (unrecognised) talent to not be lost. 😃😃👍👍

24/06/2016 – Bathroom Humour

I was out at a cafe the other day discussing the subject of relationships with a good friend. After we’d downed a few cups of coffee I needed to go to the “bathroom”. As I opened the door I noticed the typical “Engaged/Free” indicator.

Now for the joke…
“Why do toilets live such anguished, heartbroken lives?”

“Because they’re forever getting engaged but no-one ever makes a long term commitment!!”

😂😂

Del’s eulogy… a 96 year Cameo of Dot’s life

My 96 year old step-Mum, Dot, passed away recently on Friday May 27th.

My step-sister Del, captured her Mum’s life history in her very informative and touching eulogy at Dot’s funeral on Monday June 6th.

Thanks Del, for giving us a cameo of your mum’s life… an inspiring story spanning most of the 20th century and the early part of our current century… one that captures the personal joys and traumas of a very special woman who lived much of her early life against a background of great social and personal upheaval. Thankfully Dot’s later years settled into a period of relative peace and happiness, interspersed however with difficult and challenging life events.

Del & Dot

Eulogy for Doris Irene Tarrant
3/12/1919  –  27/06/2016

“Fear no more the heat of the sun
Nor the furious winter rages
Though thy worldly task hast done
Home art gone and taken thy wages”
William Shakespeare

Childhood years…

Doris Irene Tarrant was born in Cobden on the 3rd of December 1919. She was better known as Dot or Dorrie, “Mum” to Max. Cheryl and myself, Nana to her many grandchildren, and to her 35 great-grandchildren, Nana-the-Great. Mum’s step great-great grandchild was born recently. Great Nana-the-Great would have been a bit of a mouthful.

Mum’s parents were William George Tarrant an ANZAC and Elsie May Wickens an English girl. They married 8th March 1919 in Newbury England. Elsie, pregnant with Mum, with William, set sail from England on the troop ship “Katoomba”, arriving in Australia 22nd September 1919.

William with his dear Elsie travelled to Cobden to live with his parents.

Two months later Mum was born. The second name Irene was chosen because it means “Peace”.

From about 1921, Mum lived at 24 Warleigh Road, West Footscray.

A copper plaque “Katoomba” greeted visitors at the front door.

On August 30th 1922, her brother Ron was born, and brother Eric was born September 14th 1925.

Mum, her brothers and our Dad attended Tottenham State School. After two years attendance at Footscray Domestic Arts School, Mum qualified for her Merit Certificate, a very good qualification to enter the workforce.

Apparently the boys from Footscray Technical School teased the girls by referring to the school as the Footscray Donkeys School, and Dad still teased Mum about that when Max and I were kids.

Teenagehood, growing up…

At the age of 14, Mum left school and worked as a seamstress, using a treadle sewing machine at “Lucas’s” making corsets. She made lifelong friends there, all of whom she outlived.

Mum lived in interesting times, extraordinary times. She knew many personal hardships but her focus was always on ‘forbearance”.

She often quoted…
“Life is mostly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another’s troubles
Courage in your own.”
…and lived by that.

The first half of Mum’s life was in really tough times for everybody. One coped and made the best of things. One learned to survive without complaint regardless of distress, disappointment, sorrow or tragedy.

Mum’s childhood followed the aftermath of the Great War but peace had broken out.

Her teenage years were lived during the darkness of the ‘Great Depression”. Money was scarce. The Tarrant family lived frugally, nothing was wasted, and they were grateful for what they had.

Even at the end of Mum’s lifetime, she would often say “I don’t need that”  Nice new clothes for her when she resided at Monda Lodge was met with  “I don’t need them. I’ve still got my Fletcher Jones trousers that I bought when I went to England, and they’re still good”. Now that momentous trip was in 1979 ….is that over 30 years?

A young woman in wartime…

Mum’s young adult life was spent in wartime. Boyfriends, brothers and cousins were sent to war. War time conditions prevailed. Mail was censored for fear of interception that would advantage enemy forces. Mum only knew Dad was ‘somewhere in the Pacific’. Food, clothing and household goods were rationed and there was a perceived risk of being bombed.

Mum spoke of an air raid warning when a Japanese reconnaissance plane flew over Footscray. That was kept secret. An ammunition factory was at Maribyrnong. She scratched the glass of her very precious 21st birthday watch scrambling under her bed.

Young men of Mum’s age were conscripted into military service and were replaced women, as part of ‘The War Effort’.

In June 1942, by private arrangement, Mum became a ‘land girl’ and worked on a farm at Jancourt. She milked the cows and undertook farm work in general and loved it. With many women working on the land, a desperate Australia was able to recruit more men into military service.

While working on the farm, Mum had a boyfriend she loved very much. There is one photo of him still in her album. Some men get killed in wartime. That’s what happens.

We know he rode a motorbike and Mum rode pillion passenger. On one occasion Mum came off the back of the motor bike, rolled several times down an embankment and split her knee open.

Her knee had a long memory and had become very painful when she was only eighty years old, so she forced herself to see her doctor about it. The doctor asked if she had ever injured it. When she told the doctor she fell off the back of a motor bike when she was young, the doctor’s head spun around “like that.”

Mum was very popular with the boys. She was very proud of her natural eyebrows. She never had to pluck them and proudly told me that ‘boys could not believe that eyebrows just grew like that’. She was also very proud of her thin ankles and shapely legs and remained proud of her hair until the end.

On his last leave before moving to Queensland with the Army, Dad travelled to Jancourt to visit Mum with high hopes. He proposed marriage to her, but was turned down. Mum was just not ready yet, but she agreed to write to him. He wrote to her almost every day.

In 1943 Mum’s father became desperately ill. Mum was needed at home to help out. She again felt the need to contribute to the war effort.

New Guinea had been invaded and it was thought that Australia was under direct threat. Postal delivery on bicycles was definitely a man’s job, but more men were needed for military service. Mum became a post girl at Footscray, one of the first women to do so. Mail was delivered twice daily but only once on Saturdays. She was very proud of that contribution to the War Effort.

Mail was placed in a sack carried over the shoulders. The soldiers in New Guinea came up with a novel idea. Letters written on scratched coconuts were sent to the folks at home… that idea was soon squashed when the posties complained! Delivering letters written on coconuts was a real nuisance as not many could fit into the mail bags and that made a long day.

Mum and other posties blew the whistle three times to let loved ones know that easily identified cards from POW’s had arrived. She shared the joy. Many on her postal round came to the church to see her married.

Early married life with Len…

In January 1944, Dad was deployed for combat in New Guinea, but still managed to pen a letter every day. In July 1944, Dad  proposed marriage again…. this time in writing. Mum accepted.

Engagement rings were unavailable. Dad bought a second hand engagement ring from a mate whose girlfriend had written a ‘Dear John letter’, with the returned engagement ring enclosed.

Dad bought and posted the ring to his father, who placed it on Mum’s finger on Dad’s behalf. Later, in November 1944, Dad was posted to Bougainville. From February 1945, he was in constant combat. Following a particularly disastrous battle with heavy casualties behind enemy lines at Porton Plantation, he was granted leave to return to Australia with the expectation of returning to War.

Mum became Mrs Holt when she married Thomas Leonard (Len) Holt on 21st July 1945 at Paisley Street Baptist Church in Footscray. Their courtship and engagement had been entirely by letters, all of which had been censored by the Army Intelligence.

Mum and Dad had not seen each other for over three years. The wedding was organised in ten days. Mum borrowed her friend’s wedding dress and veil. Aunty Bev’s mother made the bridesmaids’ frocks from organdie which was see-through, but that was all that was available. Borrowed pink and blue petticoats worn underneath made the bridesmaids dresses respectable.

Wedding presents included war ration coupons to buy fabric and shoes for the wedding, and to help purchase household goods such as sheets, towels etc. which were in increasingly short supply and rationed as the war dragged on. Dad married in army uniform as he had no other clothes.

They honeymooned in Marysville. Dad returned to active duty. He had barely arrived at the Army Depot in Queensland when the war ended. He was then stationed in Brisbane and the War was over. After reporting for duty daily, he was given the day off as there was nothing to do.

Mum, now pregnant with me, travelled by train to Brisbane in September. That was an arduous trip. Dad always maintained that troop trains to Queensland were especially fitted with triangular wheels.

That time in Queensland they both described as an extended honeymoon. Dad was demobilised in November 1945.

Establishing a home and a family…

Mum and Dad lived with Mum’s parents for over 2 year due to housing shortages. I was born on 1st May 1946. Max was born 12th March 1948 and he too lived at 24 Warleigh Road. A few weeks after Max was born, on my second birthday, 1st May 1948, Mum and Dad moved into their newly built weatherboard house at 10 Cornwall Road, Sunshine. It had a brick chimney.

Dad was asked some time later, how he’d got the bricks. There was silence. I knew the answer, “Mummy and Daddy got them on the black market!” Oops!

That generation knew how to survive and appreciate the good things that came their way. Mum was a typical housewife of that era. She listened to the wireless as she ironed and sang along with the happy songs that reflected the hardships of wartime starting to disappear.

Dad and Mum were so happy. They enjoyed their garden. The world was getting back to normal again. Rationing of food, clothing and goods was fast coming to an end.  Life was simple and they were free. People were grateful just to be together as a family.

In 1953, we moved to a 40 acre property in Christmas Hills. The house was an old pioneer house with a kitchen separate from the rest of the house. The roof leaked big time when it rained.

Dad rode his BSA motor bike to work and Mum worked the farm, milking cows and feeding the chooks and ducks, fending off the crows stealing the eggs by filling the empty eggshells with mustard to burn their tongues. Crows like mustard flavoured eggs.

Our cousins still talk of their happy times staying on the farm. We kids put on concerts . I remember Dad, Uncle Ron and Mum’s cousin Jack performing their old army songs, and we kids performed songs and plays while the womenfolk sat as the audience, glad to just sit.

Mum loved the CWA (Country Women‘s Association) activities. The “Chin Waggers Association” according to Dad!  Our whole family attended the weekly Christmas Hills dance of a Saturday night.

Mum loved to make jam and preserve fruit from the fruit trees albeit that meant slaving over a wood stove in the middle of summer in a very hot kitchen. Mum loved the life of being like a pioneer, but it was a hard life. We did not have electricity until 1960.

Tough times again…

In December 1953 calamity struck.  Dad worked at a timber mill. A truck load of dressed timber fell on him and crushed and almost severed his leg. One surgeon was keen to experiment with a new idea – experimental microsurgery. He had the right patient. The surgeon ventured into the unknown. Dad was hospitalised (Max feels it was for 18 months) but he kept his leg. Mum acted as his physio and daily massaged his leg with peanut oil and fitted the calipers to his leg after milking the cows.

That accident put the family in dire straits. Things fell apart. There was financial hardship, and the stress of the injury and incapacity again triggered “War Neurosis”. Dad had horrendous war experiences. Post-traumatic stress was not understood. Life was extremely tough for Mum.

Mum secured a job sewing corsetry. Mum’s bosses were survivors of a Holocaust Concentration Camp. They were very kind to Mum and our family. They never put her under pressure and it was not unknown for her to receive a bonus every now and then.  It is appropriate to express gratitude to Mr and Mrs Zimmet and Mr & Mrs Lander. They knew what suffering was.

Mum’s mother died unexpectedly in 1959 and Mum was heart broken

Mum and Dad got back on their feet, and things were going well. Mum gave up work. On January 16th 1962, a raging bushfire – an inferno – surrounded us. We could not escape. Our house was completely burnt to the ground and nothing in the house survived. But we survived, and to this day, I don’t know how. This trauma for the family was unbelievably difficult.

For seven months we lived in a house built only to lock up stage. It was a very cold winter and there were no facilities or heating. The wind blew through the gaps, but it was better than living in a tent, and we were grateful. We moved into our newly built house in August that year.

Mum’s father died in 1964.

In 1967 notice was given that the Sugar Loaf Dam was to be built and Mum and Dad’s farm property was to be compulsorily acquired.

Losing Len…

In 1968 Dad, at the age of 47 years, developed acute leukemia and within three months of diagnosis died. He had ensured Mum was settled in Healesville, but died 2 weeks after moving into 376 Maroondah Highway.

Mum was now a widow but too young to claim social security. Mrs Lander offered her employment again. Mum traveled to Melbourne by train from Healesville each working day. Mrs Lander was a matchmaker in her Jewish community and knew of a very wealthy Jewish man who was looking for a wife and offered Mum a chance to live an easy life. That was a foreign idea to Mum. Mum believed that you only marry for love.

New beginnings…

In 1969 Dot became a grandmother… Nana.

She met Jack James. They married in 1972. Two people who had known great hardship now found stability and happiness and adored each other. Two adult families melded. Mum and Jack put life’s tragedies behind them and were happy. They belonged to many organisations – St John’s where they both taught Sunday School, Probus, the Masonic Lodge, Garden Club, Legacy – and had many friends.

The grandchildren of both families were equally adored by them.

Losing Jack…

Sadly Jack died in 1995.

Elderly life… Nana-The-Great…

Mum then adored the great-grandchildren of both families as they arrived. Mum’s focus was Family. She loved her family and we loved her.

The Craft ladies motivated Mum to create “one off” presents for family members. The coat hangers and lavender bags were legendary. Mum always looked forward to Craft Group.

She was an expert knitter and hand embroiderer.

Mum loved her garden and some of it followed her to Monda Lodge. Mum’s garden was her trade mark and that stands out in everyone’s memory.

A secret revealed…

Mum had bundles of stuff that I regarded as personal and private when she moved to Monda. When clearing her room at Monda, we found a bundle of hastily written notes sealed in plastic, that she had written to Jack. When I read them, I discovered an aspect of Mum that I didn’t know, nor did Ian who had lived with Mum and Jack for 3 years.

I just have to indulge and share two of the notes which are pretty much the same as the other notes in the bundle.

Be prepared. I think you too will discover an aspect of Mum that may surprise you.
Take a deep breath…

“Dear Jack,
Hi di Hi
Been a good boy? Weeeeell!!!!
I’ve been a good girl too.   Love you Smoogy
Dot, Dar”

It gets even better.

“Sweetie Pie, Smoogie
I hope you enjoy your dinner. It’s on the stove.
Be a good boy and don’t flirt with any girls ——or women
Love you,
Dot”

Mum always said, “I was lucky. I married two very good men.”

Thankyou…

On behalf of all the Family, I wish to express enormous gratitude to the staff at Monda Lodge. Mum was always happy there, always valued, understood and treated with dignity and respect. Thank you for all that you did that enabled Mum to live out her last years peacefully with dignity and purpose.

Thank you also to Rev Tim Anderson who ministered to Mum’s spiritual needs regularly, and gave Mum such peace and comfort.

My Mum…

Mum was a quiet, well presented, unassuming, genteel, polite, considerate and well‑mannered lady whose struggles are now over and now revealed. She never gave in to sorrow and misfortune. She lived for strong family values, loved her family and was loved.

She always just accepted her lot and rode out every storm without complaint. People have expressed that Mum had such a good life. She did, but she did not always have an easy life. Times were very tough, but that generation was resilient. They had known so much deprivation, heartache, grief, suffering and hard work. They learnt to never give in and to always value what you have and not whinge about what you don’t have. We who follow her have a lot to live up to.

The slide presentation of Mum’s early life is set to Franz Schubert’s “Litany for The Feast of All Souls” sung in German. The English translation of the chorus and one verse expresses an understanding of Mum’s life and passing.

Rest in peace, all souls
Who have done with anxious torment
Who have had done with sweet dreams
Who, sated with life and hardly born
Have departed from this world:
All souls rest in peace.

 And those happy ones in the rose garden
Tarrying with their joyous cups,
But then, in one horrible moment,
Tasting the bitter dregs at last:
All who have parted from here
All souls rest in peace.

Rest in peace Mum, rest in peace

Delyse Brown
6th June 2016

 

Death of a loved one… Deep Grief, a Profound Gift

Preface:

Death of a loved one prompts deep grief… and offers ALL of us a profound gift.

I shared this reflection at my Step-Mum’s funeral on Monday (6th June 2016).

Following the Introduction the reflection comes in two parts.

Part One was written for those who knew and loved Dot during her 96 year lifetime. If you didn’t know Dot, but want to be inspired by the life of a very special woman, it’s also for you.
It focuses on the many gifts Dot gave to each of us as family and friends.

Part Two is for EVERYONE… Dot gave us ALL a profound gift when she died.
If you knew Dot it will touch you more deeply.
If you didn’t know Dot it may touch you deeply nonetheless… it may even change your life.

A Reflection on the life of Doris Irene James
“Dot, Nanna, Nanna-The-Great”

(Introduction)

For those who don’t know me I’m Ian James, the son of Jack James, Dot’s second husband. Today I’m honored to give a Reflection on behalf of the James side of Dot’s family.

Doris Irene James… Dot, Nanna, Nanna-The-Great… was much loved by all of Dad’s family… in fact she was much loved by her whole family on both sides.

Dot gave us many gifts.
I’d like to reflect on some of these today.

Part 1:
The Gifts Dot Gave Her Family and Friends

Her warm, welcoming smile

Dot’s picture on the screen sums it up so well.
Her big, broad, loving smile that always spread across her face when she greeted us.
A smile that said so much…
Welcome… I’m so pleased to see you… Come on in… I value you… I love you…

Every time I visited Dot she gave me the gift of that beautiful smile.

~ ~ ~

I arrived at Ringwood Private Hospital on the Wednesday before Dot died… this was the last day she was able to converse… just a little.
When I walked into her room, leaned over her bed, and gave her a hug and a kiss, she gave me her smile one last time. It was a much weaker smile this time, but it still poured out the same love and gratitude she always greeted me with.

~ ~ ~

No doubt each of you received the gift of Dot’s amazing smile many times.

Dot’s kindness and hospitality

Dot had such a generous spirit.

She knew how to love other people in practice and gave of herself in a way that created value and self‑worth in each of us.

Dot frequently expressed her kindness through hospitality toward her family and friends.
There was always a warm welcome whenever we walked through her door. After a hug and a kiss we’d sit around the kitchen table sharing a cuppa or a meal, enjoying her warmth and catching up on all the news.

Dot also reached out people who were doing it tough and needed a place to stay.
She opened her home and her heart and shared both with them.

(Glenda)

The other day my sister, Glenda, told me how very much it meant to her to be welcomed into Dot and Dad’s home for 6 weeks in a time of crisis. The practical love they gave her in this very difficult time still touches Glenda deeply today.

(Doug)

My schoolmate Doug was living in a caravan with his parents and three rowdy younger siblings. He was trying to study for our final year of High School, but it was an impossible situation. Dad and Dot came to the rescue and invited Doug to stay with us for that year. This not only allowed him to gain his Year 12 certificate… it literally changed his life.

Doug said to me the other day he had never experienced the love of a family like he experienced that year with the three of us.

What an incredible gift Dot, along with Dad (and me too), were able to give him.

 Dot’s love for her family

Dot’s love was totally inclusive of both sides of the family. There was no difference between her love for the her side of the family and the James side. We were all her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and just recently her first great-great-grandchild… over eighty of us in total.

~ ~ ~

I invited the James family to contribute to this reflection…

Vanessa said…

The thing Nana gave me was the love of a blood-grandmother.  I have no biological grandmothers that I knew. But I never felt as if I wasn’t related to Nana or her side of the family.
Such gracious love and an enormous gift.

Ruth said…

I will always remember Nanna’s vegetable soup. The aroma would hit me as I walked in the door and Nanna would embrace me with a warm welcome.

I didn’t realise how wonderful she was as a grandparent until I married Stephen and saw how much time and effort Nanna and Granddad spent on their grandchildren. Nanna definitely surpasses all Grandmothers and I think the thing that strikes me most is that even though I was her step-grandchild she didn’t treat me or my children any differently to her own blood related grandchildren.

She really was amazing.

Ruth also added how much she valued the Source of Dot’s love…
Her quiet and gentle faith in God.

Merryn said…

When I think of Nana, I think of her pikelets with jam and cream. She always made them for us when we came around as a family. That was part of her gift of hospitality to us all.

She also remembers the many games of Gin Rummy we played with Nanna and Grandad around the kitchen table.

Dot’s love for my Dad and the joy she brought into his life

My Dad, Jack James, endured a lot of hardship in his early life

He was raised outside the family home as a child, and saw years of active service overseas in World War 2 in his youth.

His first wife Edna, my Mum, died suddenly and unexpectedly when she was only forty-nine… she was playing the organ in this same church when she died.
Dad was faced with raising three teenage daughters and myself at only eight years old .

Five years later Dot entered Dad’s life. Her love for him lit up his whole life.
She gave him a joy he had never known before. I remember the day when he confided in me that as much as he dearly loved my Mum, Dot was something else!

I can honestly say that the best thing that ever happened to my Dad… was Dot.
(This was one of the things I was able to say to her on the final day she could speak.)

Part 2:
The profound gift Dot gives us ALL

Dot has given all of us one final gift… one that has the potential to change the rest of our lives.

It may be a gift you don’t want to receive… but it’s very hard to knock it back when it’s right in front of you.

It may be a gift you’re not ready to receive… if so that’s okay.
If it’s not the right time for you, let it pass you by.

But… if this gift is for you, and it’s the right time for you to receive it, I encourage you to embrace it with your whole heart, because it is a very precious gift indeed.

(Grief)

Today as we gather together to remember Dot, we share a common emotion… grief.

Grief is one of the most powerful emotions we will ever feel.
Losing a loved one produces the deepest grief of all.

(The emotional storm)

No doubt when you heard the news that Dot had died you experienced this grief.

But grief is just the beginning. 

It inevitably triggers a whole range of emotions, initially associated with losing Dot, then it will likely continue beyond and also trigger memories of many previous painful events in our lives.

Virtually any emotion can rise to the surface.
Grief can give rise to anger, frustration, guilt and regret.
It can also trigger compassion and love, gratitude and even joy.
Over these last two weeks since Dot went into hospital I’ve experienced them all.

Grief can trigger an emotional storm within us.

My story

Dot passed away late at night Friday on 27th May… a little over a week ago.

Late afternoon the following Sunday I turned on my mobile phone and up popped a photo-memory from 4 years ago. It was a photo of Dot and my wife Rosie.

I was standing in the middle of the photo with one arm around each of them.
The photo hit me like an emotional brick… here I was with two precious women who have both passed from my life in a little over 18 months.

I couldn’t think and I couldn’t feel… I was just stunned.

Sunday evening was tough… I knew I was in pain but I couldn’t bear to face it.
Late in the evening, after I’d run out of things to distract myself, I knew I had to try to unpack what I was feeling.

I started writing… pouring out all the thoughts and feelings that the photo had provoked. Laying behind my grief over Dot was my grief over Rosie… and beyond that, a whole series of painful life events going right back to my early childhood.

When I was too tired to write any more I closed my laptop and just sat a the kitchen table.
A thought struck me… as painful as it was, Dot had just given me a profound gift.
Her passing had caused a whole range of hurt and anger in my life to resurface, each memory and deep emotion crying out for my attention.

I had just taken a new step towards resolving them… the next phase of working through these issues had just begun.

The Opportunity to Change Your Life

No doubt many of you can identify with what I’m saying.
We all have past hurts and issues… life does this to us.

Occasionally an event comes along that tears the lid off the deep emotions and memories we hide within us. 

Losing Dot did this for me.
It may be doing exactly the same for you.

Dot’s final gift to us is the Opportunity to reflect on our lives, to identify what is really important, to face and deal with the issues that her passing raises within us.
Perhaps most difficult of all, Dot has given us the opportunity to reflect on our relationships, especially those that are damaged or broken.

Like me, you face a choice.

Dot’s passing is one of the rare moments in our lives when we are offered an opportunity with the potential to change our lives.

But it is up to you to decide whether or not to receive this gift.

If you’re not ready to it, let it pass you by, that’s okay.

But be careful.

If it is your time to receive it, don’t wait too long to grab a hold of it, because after today the rawness of this opportunity will quickly fade.

If there are hurts or issues in your life that need to be resolved, or relationships that need repair, grasp a hold of this Dot’s gift, motivate you to take your first steps to begin the healing process.

To Sum it up…

Dot gave her family and friends many wonderful gifts throughout her life…
Her loving smile.
Her kindness and hospitality.
Her love for her whole family.
The love and joy she brought into my father’s life.

But in her passing she may have given ALL OF US of us the most amazing gift…
the opportunity to reflect on our lives and our relationships… and the challenge to take the first steps to bring change and healing.

Ian + dingo

 

Ian James