jmgoyder

wings and things

‘Jake’s Mowing and More’

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The above photo shows how out-of-control the wormwood hedge had become during the last few years of Anthony living in the nursing home. He used to take such pride in trimming that unruly hedge, in pruning the roses, in picking the camellias, in mowing the lawns etc. As for me? I was not the least bit interested, and never have been, in gardening.

But then, a couple of months ago, I discovered Jake. I had previously employed a lawn service – a lovely couple – just to do the lawns (5 acres) and Ming was sometimes unhappy about this because he felt he should be doing it himself. Anyway, the lovely couple moved into a different profession, Ming got full-time work and, as the grass soon leapt up to knee level, I decided I needed help.

So Jake came to the rescue and not only has he controlled the wormwood, he has also made this place look like it once was when Anthony was in control of things.

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Yes – the above photo is of the same lengthy wormwood, now ‘Jaked’!

Anyway, yesterday this whole place was blitzed by Jake and I came home from the nursing home in the late afternoon and felt as if I were entering a park. The nostalgia was acute as I was reminded of that very first day when my parents dropped me off at this farm to be interviewed by Anthony’s rather formidable mother for the job of house-keeper/companion. I was a teenager so I didn’t really notice the garden but do remember vividly the impression that this was a place of beauty and magic.

Three decades later, this wonderful marriage tangled up by Anthony’s diseases and entry into the nursing home, this place, this farm, became a place of despair – mine. So I guess I just kind of gave up any interest in either the house or the garden; I was just too sad.

Fast forward to now and Jake’s lawn service has been a godsend in that this wonderful man, and his son and off-sider, have taken an interest in the place. I know now that I can call on Jake for garden jobs beyond lawn-mowing.

Anyone who can turn something shabby into a work of art is a person worth knowing.

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[Jake: 0487343141]

I have a couple of my new gardening friends coming over tomorrow morning to hopefully give me their advice on vegetable gardening and chooks, so I think I will just pretend that I mowed the lawn myself. They are sure to believe me – hahahaha!

Thank you, Jake.

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“I heard it on the news.”

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I was a little taken aback today, when I went up to our little local shop to get bread, and the proprietor said how glad she was about Ming. Seeing my confusion, she said, “I heard it on the news.” I told her about the reduced charges and she said she already knew which was quite disconcerting because we didn’t hear or see anything on the news. Then she said she was annoyed that they didn’t pronounce his name correctly and I laughed because how does anyone who isn’t Scottish get ‘Ming’ out of ‘Menzies’?

Ming and I are glad we didn’t see or hear his verdict on the news although I am now wondering who did. Oh well, I’m sure small town chitchat will only give it 24 hours and will mostly be positive and there is no point wondering. I suddenly realized I have been hiding away a bit by not frequenting the local shop, butcher, post office and petrol station as much as usual. It became a little nerve-wracking after the accident because I was never sure if people would ask me questions or avoid the subject (strangely similar to how people are not sure whether or not to ask about Anthony).

Stigma, embarrassment, acceptance, humility, guilt, miscommunication, shame, empathy, bewilderment, grief and joy; all of these factors and emotions and more have bundled themselves together, over so many months now, that it is difficult to know how to untangle what has become a maze that I have found the exit to. And yet, on opening the exit door, nothing looks particularly different; the grass is still brown from a long, hot summer, the mice and rabbits continue to plague us, the car needs washing, and I am very behind with the house-hold jobs.

I never experienced any sort of anticlimax as each of the children recovered from their injuries; it was just pure joy. And yet now that the court case against Ming is over, the joy of Monday has been replaced with a sense of nothingness which is, I guess, the space of anticlimax that precedes exiting the maze.

Tomorrow, I will exit the maze, having spent one final day within its mystery. I didn’t want to stay there but I had to figure a few things out like how to cope with people’s concern or lack of, how to move on with the newfound grace, faith and compassion I am already experiencing and how to be more grateful for every single moment of every single day, and every single person – especially my brothers’ families and my mother.

Tomorrow, if someone else says, “I heard it on the news,” I will allow my soul to smile as I leave the maze.

Happy Easter.

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Heather

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

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“Totally and utterly stupid.”

Yesterday morning Ming and I went to our third appointment with the lawyer and were told that the first court appearance next week will simply be a reading of the charges and an adjournment until the end of February. We were also given the video of the police interview conducted the night of the accident. Ming has been told to watch it with a notebook in hand in case he wants to change or retract anything he said.

We were going to watch it together but after he went to bed last night, I decided to watch it by myself just in case I had an emotional reaction. The interview began after midnight, the night of the accident, and went for 80 minutes and was conducted while I was waiting with my friends in the foyer of the police station. My mother was with me for the first part of the night but when my friends arrived I told her to go to the hospital which she did. By that time I had stopped sobbing more or less and Ming was finally released at 3am.

During all of those hours I had no idea how the children were and I had no idea what was happening with Ming. These were very dark hours. After the police station, Ming and I went straight to the hospital to see the children and families (except for one nephew who had been flown, with my brother, to Perth from the scene of the accident).

Well now I do know what was happening with Ming during those earlier hours. Two policemen sat on either side of him at a round table and he was questioned about every detail of the accident. Every now and then Ming’s voice caught on a sob as if he had been crying previous to the interview. He answered all of the questions honestly and politely and if he didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, that, too, was noted.

When asked to talk about each of the children, his voice went soft with emotion and a couple of times he sighed before he was able to go on with a steady voice. At no point did he attempt to make any excuses or defend his actions and when asked to state his own opinion of himself and what he had done he said, with no hesitation:

“Totally and utterly stupid.”

I am glad I watched this without Ming because of course it brought back the horror of that night and of course I cried a lot. But now I will be able to watch it with him calmly and help him make notes, although I didn’t hear him say anything but the truth so I don’t really think there is any need to add anything.

He has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and obviously he will plead guilty. We found out last week that the car insurance will not pay which is understandable but still a blow. I haven’t told Anthony this; in fact I told him the exact opposite because he sold some very precious shares that he has had for decades in order to buy Ming the ute on his last birthday.

And to top things off, the lawyer said that the barrister he has obtained for Ming charges $4,000 per day! I nearly fell off my chair at this almost incomprehensible amount of money and I have no idea how we are going to manage except that tomorrow I turn 55 and can access my superannuation so in that sense we are very lucky. I would have been panicking otherwise. Now I am just a bit shell-shocked!

This has already been a very long and hard journey in terms of the initial shock, the injuries and slow recovery of the children, and finally now the court case which may go on a bit – I’m not sure.

For many in my family there have undoubtedly been days of utter hopelessness and waiting so long for various splints and casts and braces to come off has been a test of endurance, not just for the kids, who have been magnificently brave and stoic, but for their parents, siblings, my mother, Ming and me.

Now, for Ming and me, there is a different kind of waiting – for the eventual sentencing. I had thought this would all be much faster and I’ve been kind of holding my breath, waiting for it all to be over, for Ming to take his punishment, and for all of us to be able to move on into our various next chapters.

Totally and utterly stupid.

Because there is no point in holding my breath – and I have been doing this for too long now, both metaphorically and physically. Breathing will become the focus of every new day and breathing will get us through the next few months of whatever and, best of all, despite the accident, we are all still breathing.

And for this I thank God, the ambulance attendants, the hospital staff, my family, but most of all I thank the five children injured for their heroism, generosity of spirit, humour, and love to Ming, me and each other.

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