Author Archives: lindandsam

About lindandsam

Linda is a poet and writer. As a mature aged student, she completed a Bachelor of Creative Writing and is now a postgraduate student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Published in the USC Storyboard, 2015. Self-published ‘Where is Gedhum Choekyi Nyima?’ For the Tibetan Children’s Village, Dharamsala, 1997. She lives in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and shares her life with her partner and their four-legged fur babies Hugo and Tashi-la..

AFTER THE FUNDERAL

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AFTER THE FUNDERAL

We don’t handle death and grieving well in the so-called civilized Western World.   As we age, death and the associated loss becomes part of our lives. We confront it and work around it.  We are busy and important people.  There is no time frame for grieving and the stages of grief that Councillors pull out when confronted with clients who are unable to move through their grief- Bah humbug.

Who thinks up these words and phrases?

How do you interact with parents who have buried a child? A husband who has lost a young wife? A couple who have been together for 50plus years and suddenly two becomes one. What do you say?

And a suicide…oh no, we must not talk about that.

We don’t have an elephant in the room – it is standing there on centre stage, looming large and glaring at us.

Most people send cards, flowers, deliver a meal and dole out tea and sympathy when death knocks on the door of those we know and care for. But what do we do in the months and years after the passing of a loved one?

We avoid mentioning the person’s name, we pretend they didn’t exist because it makes us uncomfortable.  Or as a friend of mine is wont to say an “even worser” situation we tell the grief-stricken person, they will get used to it, they will get over it, and in time it will be alright.

No, it won’t be alright! No, you don’t get over it!  You don’t get used to it!

You don’t forget – you can’t forget – you are frightened –  you are terrified of forgetting the sound of their voice, the touch of their hand, the smile that made your heart jump or their smell.

You cry in private when the loneliness overwhelms you. You suffer mood swings. You over-eat or you starve yourself. Some get depressed and need medical intervention. We do not understand how to deal with grief.

You adapt, you learn to put on a face to the world. A personae that states loudly  “I am coping”, when in reality inside you are dying piece by piece.

All of these things were brought home to me today when an old friend celebrated her birthday. She and her mother were like sisters. Her mum passed away about 6 months ago.

Her birthday reminder popped up on Facebook and invited me to write on her timeline. I hesitated. What would I say?  I knew how much she would be hurting today- so I took a deep breath and sent the following message;

“Have a wonderful day. I know it will be hard today but I know your Mum is always with you.”

I received a lovely response,

“Thank you so much for your thoughts and mentioning my Mum. (As most people sidestep the fact that I lost her and this is my first birthday without her.)  That is honouring her place in my heart so thank you. It means a lot.  A hard day but her memories are close.  Hugs and lots of love dear lady xxxooxx

What we need to do is acknowledge the pain and the hurt.  You are not indulging someone when you allow them to talk about someone who has died.  You are acknowledging their pain and helping them heal.

There, I used the D word. Died. Gone. Passed away. No longer physically here.

Rarely do people die at home anymore. Too many of our loved ones die in sterile, hostile environments, hooked up to machines. We are not encouraged to participate in the process. We then deal with the additional guilt of handing their care to others.

We no longer have a wake. The body is removed with indecent haste. The hospital, hospice, care facility bed is needed for someone else. We no longer sit with our loved one in the time between the death and burial. They are confined to the cold of the mortuary, sometimes for more than a week, while we arrange for the family to attend the service. We have a polite tea party with sandwiches with hard edges, limp lettuce, weak tea and cordial in the Funeral Parlour tea rooms.  For the majority of us we make polite conversation and then go back to our comfortable lives, or do we?

Those who have died are still with us. Every day there are so many reminders. We remember them, the songs and the words they sang and used. The perfumes they liked. The movies they watched and the books they read are constant reminders. A brother or sister may have the same speech habits or mannerisms and  a new bub may look like your dad.

Don’t be frightened to mention the person in conversation, don’t have those awkward pauses. Allow people to share their grief with you instead of locking it away and being overwhelmed.gravestone

If people were given permission to share their memories, perhaps the pain will lessen and the adaption to life without the person who is dead will be easier. Don’t be the friend who is there at the funeral with promises and just drifts away, disappearing. Be there not just immediately after the death but in the weeks, months and perhaps even years that follow.  Some people will find it harder than others.

We need to have the empathy and compassion to support our friends and those we love.  We need to be adult about this and not pretend it never happened.  We need to focus on the good memories and continue to live life as best we can.

Nothing is surer than the fact that you will know that pain one day, and wish that people would not avoid mentioning the one you have lost.

 

I found this an image of an incredible image and had to share the photograph  The sculpture is located in Guildford’s Castle Grounds in a walled garden, near the house that Lewis Carroll used to rent. It was created by sculptor Jeanne Argent.  The sculpture was created when a friend of Jeanne Argent entered a drawing of Alice Through the Looking Glass into a competition the drawing won and  Jeanne made the sculpture in response. The 4ft figure was modeled on the sculptor’s daughter Anne and was installed in 1990.

 

 

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ALAN RICKMAN 1946-2016

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ALAN RICKMAN   1946-2016

Greatest English Actor of all time.

No -one deserves this accolade more than this great actor – I have always been a huge fan.galaxy-quest-alan-rickman.jpeg

Alan Rickman brought to the screen and stage a chameleon-like ability to BE the character he was portraying. He played an incredible range of roles from Shakespeare to popular children’s works. From buffoon to a sexual predator, to lover and ignoble prelates. He certainly deserves this accolade. He worked across all media in stage, screen television, radio, talking books.  He was also an exceptionally talented graphic artist
His work encompassed every facet of the industry.snape300

Unlike the “greats”  he had to deal with a multi-faceted media industry. He met the challenge and conquered them all. The richness of his voice and the depth of his talent was staggering. He is a graduate of the Royal College of the Arts (RCA) and later  Royal Academy of  Dramatic Art  (RADA). In his early years, he worked as a dresser for Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Nigel Hawthorne. He did the hard yards, He was also a Director of  RADA.

One of his most memorable roles is his 1995 movie, “An Awfully Big Adventure ” an adaptation of a Booker prize-winning novel. This Bildungsroman movie, where he plays the lecherous leading man in a repertory company, is seared into my mind. I loathed his character.

Who can forget his role as Severus Snape, a role that introduced him to a younger audience and brought him popular acclaim?  His role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sherrif of Nottingham isimages an indication of the diversity of his talent.

In “Sweeney Todd” he owned the role of Judge Turpin. Also, a comedic actor his role in Galaxy Quest as  Dr. Lazerus /Alexander Dane  When he passed it was a great loss for the entertainment industry.

Like his co-stars Maggie Smith and Richard Harris, he battled cancer. He was diagnosed in 2015 with Pancreatic Cancer.  JK Rowling trusted him to such a degree that she revealed to him how his character was to develop. He cast a giant shadow on the stage.

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ALAN RICKMAN- ALWAYS

THE QUIET THIEF – DEMENTIA

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THE  QUIET  THIEF – DEMENTIA

My Mum always wrote in a diary daily things appointments nothing exciting. Then the diaries became a coping device a way for her to stay on track, to hide her dementia. She was able to appear as if she was in control, not forgetting and tracking things. As her dementia increased her writing deteriorated as did her cognitive processes. The writing became less easy to read and made no sense. They were the scribblings of a dying brain and then, every now and again would be the lucid but terrifying pleas and comments laced with paranoia and fear as she realised what was happening.

I have 10 years worth of these date book diaries and she is gone, But I cannot bear to read them or destroy them, They sit, packed in a box. And I wonder will I one day be remembered by the lucidity of my blogs or online statements? Both my parents were stolen by dementia.

This blog was inspired by another blog post, a visual representation of another mother’s declining ability to continue with a much-loved hobby.

I think about the things I have stored of my Mums. The half-completed jumper, it just needs a sleeve and to be sewn up.  A patchwork quilt not salvageable. Christmas cards written and never sent. Receipts for shopping with, “why did I buy that?” written on them.

Dementia destroys not only those we love who have the disease but families suffer as well  – it tears you apart and somethings once broken can never be repaired.

I miss you both – yes Mum even the fights and disagreements – I can’t stop thinking – I want to tell Dad or I must ask Mum.

Never take the ones you love for granted – life is too short to harbour hurts and grudges. Remember the fun the good times and most importantly never forget how to love.

and please read the attached post —

http://www.boredpanda.com/alzheimers-progression-crochet-wuillermania/?llid=3J0eV&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=liquidsocial&utm_content=M3AY

Jade’s Story

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Jade’s Story

Once upon a time, there was a young woman called Jade. Unique, kind and generous of spirit; she is intelligent and awesomely beautiful.

Jade photoI want to celebrate her success – she has been chosen from 1000’s of others to have her work displayed on electronic billboards across Brisbane, Did I mention she is a very talented author and editor?

Jade holds a double degree in Creative Writing /  Public Relations and is completing her Master of Professional Practice Creative Writing. We are all so proud of her accomplishments.

Believe in yourself, Jade. You have an incredibly bright future ahead of you. 

I could be her grandmother, but she always treats me as a peer.  We laugh so much when we are together. We share our dreams and our fears. We have many interests in common. She never makes me feel older. We support each other when there are dark days.  She has enriched my life in ways she could never imagine.

People come into your life for different reasons.  Some stomp all over you leaving you bruised and battered. Others hold out a hand of support asking nothing in return. And then there are those who are always there – building ongoing relationships that feel as if they have been in place forever.  Forever friends.

Her winning entry encapsulates who she is and how she sees the world.

We are all equal. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Congratulations Jade.  We are all so proud of who you are and what you have achieved.

My SON

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My SON

June 14th. This is the day my son was born. Time has passed in the blink of an eye. I cannot believe he is a grown man with a wife.  There is an old saying, ‘your daughter’s your daughter all of your life. Your son is your son, till he gets himself a wife.’  Like all sayings there is a truth in this but not in our case. My son is my son, and he always will be. We have a deep but different bond to the equally deep bond I share with my daughter.

What type of a man has he grown into? A simple question, he is a man I am proud to call my friend as well as my son.  He is the man, we all hope our boys will grow into.   A man whose appearance intimidates many. Big, broad, solid and bald. He rides a motorbike and wears a red bandanna. bike He holds down a responsible job. Don’t be fooled by appearances. He has his faults and is far from perfect, but he is kind, loving and generous of spirit. He has a fearsome temper, one he has learned to control. He is a man of principle, too many at times for his own good. He is married to a beautiful woman and they are true soul mates. They desperately want a family but that does not seem to be in their future. They have suffered losses and the deepest and darkest days of despair when they lost their baby James, an angel born too early to stay long in this world.

As a child, he was a handful and I remember thinking if he had been my first baby there would never have been another. Allergic to everything, well almost. Life was a trial, hyperactive and always in trouble, but with a smile that would melt your heart. He has an interesting love, hate relationship with his sister. I think it stems from her putting him in a rubbish bin in the bitter cold of a Canberra winter when he was six weeks old. A word of warning, do not say anything bad as they have always had one another’s back when it counted.  Maybe that comes from being RAAF brats and moving so often they were reliant on one another for friendship as well as companionship.  Perhaps it is, just who they are.

This is the boy who conned his Amah into arranging a snake charmer to entertain his friends at his 7th. Birthday party. The boy who drowned in the Penang Chinese Swimming Pool and when revived and safe in hospital rang the Butterworth RAAF Base Commander to tell him how nice the nurses were to him at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital. The boy who wanted to be Steve Austin, the six million dollar man, who took a dive off the neighbouring chook pen, the boy who rode his red trike down the front steps of our house in Canberra and broke the trike and scraped his hands and face and knees. The boy who fell out of the station wagon and had stitches in his head and who one day swallowed my wedding ring.  The one who would sneak out of the house as a teenager and roam the streets at night, because he was confused when his Dad and I divorced.  I think he somehow felt responsible. He thought I never knew.  He is also the teenager who gave all the money he had saved for presents to a homeless busker one Christmas because he thought he needed it.

He is the man who stood beside me when his sister was ill, who grew up overnight when his stepfather had a double bypass, who was always there for me when I was worried about anything. He worries about his sister, about his brother, and about his beautiful wife. He was there for me when my grandparents died, when my mother was ill and throughout my father’s devastating illness and death. His grandmother’s death hit him hard he was the one person she would listen to when no one else could reach her.Nana & David

He loves me unconditionally and he loves his stepfather who he calls his Dad.  He cares for his stepbrother and sister although he doesn’t see them now.  He cares for his father and his parent’s in-law. I know if ever I need him all I have to do is say the word and he is there.  He is a man whose heart is full of love and compassion.

I am privileged to love and call him, my son and my friend.

I posted my thoughts about my daughter some time ago – I thought it fair to even up the balance. 🙂 

Where is home?

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The plane lands with a thud, brakes screaming as we hit the runway. Cabin lights dim and then brighten. Rain lashes the windows and grey clouds hang low over the airport.

I tumble down the slippery steel steps, at the rear of the plane on to the wet and greasy tarmac. The wind grabs at my flimsy coat and cut me to the bone, my port slips in my hand. My fingers are turning blue with the cold. An argument starts in my head.

‘What the hell am I  doing here? What the fuck do I hope to achieve? And fuck it to hell why wasn’t I wearing warmer clothes? After all, I was coming home to Melbourne’.

Head down, bending into the wind while my coat slaps my legs, I head to the artificial, steamy warmth of the terminal building and the baggage carousel.

Sixty minutes later I adjust the soiled seatbelt of the shiny hire car, I head out of the airport. I have a four-hour drive in front of me. The argument in my head continues.

‘You’re a fruitcake, its as black as …well you know, the roads have changed. You haven’t been here for fifteen years. You idiot. Do you really think you can do this drive at night, in the dark! What if you drive off the road and into the sea?’

Self-doubt starts to nibble and my confidence level plummets past zero. I am paralyzed by fear, inertia gnaws at my gut.  The car beeps once, a second and third time each beep more insistent than the one before it.

‘Fancy fucking car, what the hell is wrong?’

In the dark I see the lights coming toward me. Oh, Christ! I am on the wrong side of the road. I swing the wheel back urging the car to follow without spinning out. The car rocks as the lights whiz past, horn blaring.

‘Concentrate you fool. Look what happens when you don’t concentrate’.

I scream into the darkness of the cabin, ‘for god’s sake SHUT UP you nearly got me killed’.

Silence fills the car. I turn up the radio full blast, the quiet is unnerving. The rest of the trip is uneventful. I stop at a layaway for fuel and a hot meal. I’m in such a hurry to get home I burn the roof of my mouth on the bloody burger. I gulp it down and choke on the crumbs. I suck the gooey bbq sauce off my fingers and chase it down with a Pepsi.

Back in the car, the key in the ignition, I turn it and the car roars to life. I head off down the highway. Not far to go now.

Dawn is breaking, a rosy pink sky flushed with gold I wind down the window I can smell the salt tang of the sea. I have arrived.

The door to the house is wide open. “Mum I’m home”

No answer. Just me and the house.

Welcome home.

Blood Connection – Microfiction

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Blank eyes. Eyes that do not see. Devoid of emotion but not of life. The hand trembles. Breathing is shallow and frantic; grasping, sucking, greedily for air. Lungs full of congestion, suffocating, squeezing the life essence beyond redemption. I cannot meet her gaze and avert my head. Hot scalding tears scar my soul.
I hold her hand, I wipe the blood-specked spittle from her cracked lips. I moisten them with gel. Her eyelids close. This time they do not flutter. Her breathing ceases. I hold my breath and start to count. Her grip relaxes. She sighs, more bloodied foam appears. She sighs again, her frail body shudders as if she will break apart. No more breaths, no more movement, her essence gone. The woman whose blood runs in me is no more.
My mother has died. I weep tears that taste of brine, and the coppery taste of blood. I ring the bell. She has escaped, the crash cart is useless.
I will miss you, Mum.

FLEXING MY WRITING MUSCLES

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FLEXING MY WRITING MUSCLES

ENJAMBMENT – LIFE

 

We are obligated to celebrate life.

We have dreamed our time away; foolish, wasted

Precious time and love; perhaps now

We see the folly of our ways; and time

Lost never to come again, a singular thought

A lesson learned; a hard

And stringent message from the Gods; who

Deplore wasted time; they mourn the many lives

Whose true essence is wasted and ebbs away.

LIFE

 

 

Alliteration  – THE GLASSHOUSE

 

Magic mountains sit silent with floating wisps about their brow,

Snuggly silently sliding they fit one close to the other.

The mists abound folding molding sinuous shapes,

Rifts and rills of steam stream like evaporative trails

Cascading down a never fading curtain, a grey green screen

Dripping, glistening in dawn’s soft light.

Stoney surfaces sparkling in the shimmering light, then

Birds stretch, squawk and flutter, fluffing feathers and cleaning nests

Until daylight frees them to fly, floating high above the wispy mist.

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HEARTBEAT

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HEARTBEAT

A HEARTBEAT

 

Heartbeats steady, softy hiccupping along

The machine clicks and clacks its way

His heart’s melody a wondrous song.

 

Pencil lines trace a life to prolong

With a fervent hope, the beat will not sway

Heartbeats steady, softy hiccupping along.

 

Auscultation sounds are too strong

Stop, wait, start again this isn’t child’s play

His heart’s melody a wondrous song.

 

Lub dub, swishing racing sounds are wrong

Regular beats our prayer every day

Heartbeats steady, softy hiccupping along.

 

Steady sounds, regular beats our wish life-long

Tachycardia be gone, go away

His heart’s melody a wondrous song.

 

We reject Death’s request for a liaison

Stay and smell the roses in life’s bouquet.

Heartbeats steady, softy hiccupping along

His heart’s melody a wondrous song.