wings and things


When we first moved to Bunbury, Western Australia, after five years in Canada and three years in Papua New Guinea, we were befriended by two extraordinary families. At the time, I was 15 and my brothers were a bit younger. The way in which our friendship grew with these two families is a very long story and definitely worth telling, but that is not for this post.

This post is about Heather.

Tonight I opened a silver envelope within which was a card from one of my mother’s best friends, Heather, a member of one the above families. Inside the card she had written the most beautiful message to me – a message of comfort and love and with a buoyant positivity (which she apologized for because she is rather famous for her positive attitude that she thinks people don’t always like). Well I like it very much!

Heather was my mentor when I was a teenager struggling with the culture shock of transitioning from PNG to a private school in Bunbury and she, her husband, and her children, helped me to adjust. They were all so kind.

So this is just to say, Heather, that I DO like your positivity and I have drawn such strength from your kindness to me in this card. The fact that you can be bothered to make this gesture, even though you and your family have your own challenges, joys and busyness, amazes me. I didn’t realize it until now but I have always drawn strength from your incredible ability to see the best in people and situations AND your inviolable faith.

Heather’s card was sitting beneath a mountain of bills and letters and all that stuff I loathe doing. Its envelope caught the light, so I picked it up out of the stack of old mail and opened it today. And my heart did one of those somersaulty things with gratitude to have someone like this in my life.

I can’t just thank you, Heather; I salute you. Much love
– Julie


Love story 94 – Fireworks

Oh how I love remembering the early years of my marriage to Anthony and the joy of our little Ming:

Ming was just a toddler when Anthony and I took him into Bunbury, the nearest town, to see the Australia Day fireworks. It would be his first time. We went in early in order to get a parking space at a place called Boulter’s Heights, where we knew we would be able to view the fireworks from up high and from a slight distance, rather than being in the midst of the throng of revellers down in the main street.

Ming found even the waiting-for-the-fiyaworks exciting (although of course he wasn’t quite sure what fireworks were, except that it needed to be dark). He played with the rapidly increasing group of other little children, while what was a small gathering of adults gradually became huge.

As dusk fell and the crowd of big and little children grew, I kept my eyes trained carefully on Ming in that instinctive “mother bear” way, making sure he wasn’t being bullied or feeling lost. Finally, I retrieved him from a barely visible group of kids and he was safely perched half on my knee and half on Anthony’s when the first fireworks exploded.

The brightness of that very first fireworks “taster” was much more intense – and much closer – than I had expected. Ming flung himself violently backwards against my chest at the visual impact. Silently shocked, he clutched at Anthony’s leg just before the second explosion of enormous light and colour. and the noise!

Ming’s silence made me wonder if perhaps this event was too scary for him. As kaboom followed kaboom, and with the colour, light and people’s shouts of glee surrounding us, I held tight to Ming’s trembling body. Oh no! Maybe he was too little to appreciate fireworks, I thought, as I bent my head into the crook of his neck to see if he was okay.

But I needn’t have worried. Yes, he was briefly mesmerised and frightened. But as the fireworks became more intense, so did the crowd’s pauses become longer and a communal bated breath replaced the noises of impatient anticipation.

It was into one of those pauses that Ming suddenly began to shout, over and over and over again, “DOYALUVITMUMMYDADDY???!!!” And then, “ANDONY, ANDONY, ANDONY!!!DONTCHALUVITMUMMYDADDY???!!!”

Each time Ming yelled this, it was in one of those hushed moments of awe immediately after a fireworks explosion. Within the relatively small hilltop crowd we’d formed, Ming’s exclamations seemed to ring out as clearly as the noise of the fireworks and the people around us started to laugh and clap at his contagious glee.

Eventually, Ming became quieter, disconcerted by the adult attention. Then he got off my lap and toddled awkwardly around me until he was behind me with his chubby little arms around my neck. As the last firework shone out lingeringly, Ming bent his face to my ear.

“DoyaluvitMummy?” he asked again, this time solemnly.

“I love it all right, Ming,” I said, squeezing his hands and grinning at Anthony.

“Mummy,” Ming whispered very softly, as if it were a very important secret. “My tummy is cubbling [cuddling] me!!”

I knew exactly what he meant!

The beautiful thing is that Ants remembers this night too, despite the PDD.