The morning after my father died and I was sitting with a cup of coffee looking out over our magnificent red gum trees when suddenly through my fog of sadness I saw something move in the branches. Ever since we moved into our little blue house we were so hoping that a koala bear would pay us a visit and today was the day. I reached for the binoculars and homed in on the seriously cute marsupial and watched him whilst he lazily climbed through the branches of the ancient gum tree munching leaves along the way.
Tearily reminiscing of when I was with my father in England for a few of his final days I thought of the gift I had given him of a toy fluffy koala bear. When his tummy was pressed the koala sang “Waltzing Matilda” and Dad loved it and put it on the shelf next to his bed. Poignantly, I would like to think that the arrival of the Koala bear in our gum tree was Dad coming to say goodbye so we named him Andrew in his honour. Later that day we lit up another of our gum trees in in remembrance of him.
A few days later my mother told me something that amused me and typically of my father and maybe me too, it was a rather inappropriate incident. Apparently just after he’d “gone” and during the preparation of getting Dad ready to “leave” my mother knocked the Koala off his shelf, stepped on him and “Waltzing Matilda” serenaded the medical team as they went about their business but he wouldn’t stop singing as Mum had broken his voicebox! I think Dad would have found it hilarious and lightened a very sad moment.
The trees are pretty special in Suffolk too!
A few days later I when I arrived back in England I found the toy Koala and he now sits on my bedside table back in Australia. Not to deprive Dad, I purchased another and it travelled with him to heaven.
We gave Dad a good send off and so many people came to his memorial service. Following the sad but comforting service in our village church, the warm sun shone down on the marquee on the lawn and in true Dad style we drank the house dry of Champagne. It had been a busy week getting everything ready, from the flowers, catering, service sheet and even having to think of hiring portable loos from an appropriately named supplier named “Karzees”. One of the last things Dad said to me was that he had wished he could have his wake whilst he was still around as he would have so enjoyed seeing all his family and friends. I would like to think that he was with us anyway.
The local paper did an obituary and here’s a link….
The Hadleigh Show was always an English summer highlight and this year was no exception. I bumped into so many old friends, it made me realise just how much I miss them.
My favourite breed of horse at the Hadleigh Show the Suffolk Punch – rarer than a panda…
I should have gone to Specsavers earlier in my life. One lighter moment during my sad trip back to the UK was a visit to the Ipswich branch of Specsavers where I purchased new pair of hearing aids. My shiny new “ears” are a significant improvement on the older models and are packed with new features. I have been deaf since I was a child but it was only ten years ago when struggling to hear the customers in my art gallery that I finally gave in and started wearing hearing aids. Life was, at the time and for a few years to come, revolutionised but my aids were now well past their sell-by-date. Once again I found myself saying “sorry would you mind repeating that” at work and in other less formal atmosphere’s, “what” (I loathe the word pardon). Technology has moved on considerably and my iPhone can now transmit to my new “ears” so not only do I now enjoy phone calls in stereo but I can also listen to music without having to remove my aids and put on headphones and of course no one knows I’m doing it! During my early morning dog walks the local wildlife scarpers into the hedgerows when they hear me coming, terrified by my enthusiastic warbling along to the newly discovered Spotify. (I know, I’m so far behind, but allowances need to be made as I do live in rural Australia).
In the midst of the sadness we had much more joyful news. The Kiwi’s eldest daughter has delighted us with the arrival of Freya.
A couple of days after Dad’s memorial and for the sixth time in as many months I wearily turned right at the airway bridge onto a Singapore Airlines flight. Oh how I yearned to turn left into the sumptuous envelopment of the first class cabin but the smugly grinning trolley dollies cruelly guided their cattle class passengers to the back of the plane to find their bum-numbing, hard arsed seats with no room to swing a strangled feline. On your way to the nether regions of the plane you are guided through Business Class where, looking slightly sheepish, the inhabitants of the lie-flat sleeping pods refuse to make eye contact with you whilst they sipped their first glass of champagne. Onward I trudged and found my window seat next to a horrendously obese lady who spent the next 13.5 hours munching her way through an entire double layered box of Thorntons chocolates. Her vastness generously overlapped into my space and I was tempted to ask her if she would like to reimburse me for the 25% of my seat she was occupying. She didn’t offer me a single choccy and she seemed so stroppy that I didn’t dare ask her to shift when the call of nature beckoned. I landed in Singapore so bursting that my eyes were practically floating.
Somehow Facebook knows everything about you and knew that I would shortly be transiting through Singapore. Advertisements for a new shopping centre situated next to Changi airport kept popping up on my feed and so with nothing better to do for the next four hours I presented my passport to the immigration chappie and was stamped through. Well, what will the Singaporeans think of next? I followed the signs to the Jewel shopping mall and at the end of the moving pavement I found myself in a scene that looked something like a set from the movie Avatar. Surrounding the worlds highest man-made waterfall was a modernist amphitheatre with be-jungled balconies overlooking the neon coloured cascading water. My jaw practically hit the water spattered floor and not a moment of retail therapy was spent as I moved around the different levels gazing in awe at this amazing feat of engineering.
Up until the middle of May we were dreadfully short of rain but since my return our corner of Victoria has seen excellent levels of precipitation, in fact our rain gauge was overflowing when I checked it last night. We’re not connected to mains water and completely rely on rainwater collection into our 20,000 litre tank. Over the past dry summer we had to buy in two tanker loads of drinking water which tasted like public swimming pool water compared to the completely chemical free rainwater we have become used to. Now our tank is full again and I can go back to having almost limitless showers rather than the summertime ablutions taken at bionic speed to save our precious H2O.
This week the alarm has been set for 15 minutes earlier than the normal 6.15am due to being parked with extra duties as the Kiwi has temporarily abandoned me for a visit to New Zealand. Charged with feeding our five hungry hounds their doggie brekkie of Aldi sardines (I know, it does accelerate the whiffy woofy breath but they do have very shiny coats) and biscuits. After I’ve thrown my own brekkie down I pull on the wintertime apparel of high viz and flashing lights because only there’s only just a glimmer of sunrise light when I take the girls for their 40 minute walkies and yesterday it was pouring with rain too. My early morning dog walks have been such an important part of my life for so long now, I wouldn’t be without them. I spend the time thinking of how to change the world, singing to Spotify and yelling at the girls to stop eating whatever disgustingness they’ve found.
That’s about it for this blog except to say thank you to everyone who has sent me such lovely messages of condolence. They were all a huge comfort and lovely to know that everyone was thinking of me and my family. I miss my father very much and it seems that a lot of other people do too. He was a legend!
9 thoughts on “A Koala in the Mist of Sadness”
Sad to hear about your dad but sounds like you have him a wonderful send off that he would have liked . Nice to have a koola in your tree keep up the great and informative post say hello to Kiwi for me
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I am so sorry to learn that your dear Father has passed away and I am very sad that I was not there to support you at his Memorial. He was such a lovely and entertaining man – I have many happy memories of those wonderful dinners we used to have at Woodlands and to wander around those lovely gardens with him!
I know he will be sorely missed by you all and please pass on my condolences to your amazing Mama.
Big hugs and God Bless
Christopher 07710 129110 Christopher Willmott | LinkedIn
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Christopher thank you so much for your lovely message I have fond memories of your visits to Woodlands too – they were happy days xxx
Tears while reading this….and laughter too…What a whirlwind time for you…..and in the midst of great sorrow…some wonderful cherished memories of your father…huge lovable character…unique 😊
I had absolutely no idea of your deafness…yet another surprise….When driving through your end of Long Melford I always say « Hello Camilla » …Smiling at the memories of you and your galleries 🕺🏽💃💕😊🥂xxxxx
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Oh Mo such lovely words xx
What an amazingly moving blog. What a wonderful way to remember your a Dad and to pay tribute to him. You have very much been in my thoughts recently.
I love the idea that the Koala was there to comfort you. When my 2 beloved uncles ‘passed’ one had a swan land outside his house, the other a fox sat in the garden, ironic really as he was a keen huntsman and organised the ‘Liberty and Livelihood’ March some years ago. The spirit world really is amazing and very powerful.
They often say that your best party is the one you don’t actually attend, but I very much believe you do attend, when my grandmother died I know exactly where she sat and I can still see her!
Tons of love to you both, we remember our time with you in Oz so fondly.
Xx Lucy xx
Lucy Knox – Court Farm, Glemsford, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 7QP
Tel 01787 280144 – Mob 07790 914187
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What a beautiful post, Mila. Big hugs to you xxxxx
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Hi Camilla – Ben Parry here. Can I have your phone number please? (You can reach me at the email I’ve left below). As you may know, I’m up here in Sydney. Would be nice to have a chat sometime soon.
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Hi Ben I’ve just sent you my number via Facebook messenger 🤗