Sunday, 30 January 2011

I'm grateful for Graeme

Sweet Planetarians, thanks so much for your kind and caring expressions of empathy and support over the past few days since our family friend, Graeme, died.  I haven’t been able to blog. So many memories have been flooding back to me, just washing over me as I've tried to keep my head afloat and continue on with daily life on Planet Baby. 

We've had to explain to the older pixies about death and what that means for ‘Uncle Graeme’ (my parents had a tradition of naming their friends ‘Auntie’ and 'Uncle’ for us, tags which have stuck to this day, a whole generation on). It’s their first experience of death. They have a very simple understanding of what’s happened, based on what Joshua learnt at school last year in ‘Faith and Life’. He told me, “It’s okay, Mummy. That night, his soul went up to Heaven and one day, we'll meet up with him there, too”. India has given me long, heartfelt hugs, displaying empathy far beyond what I’d expect from a 3 year old.

This is my first time joining in with Bron’s ‘I’m grateful for’ blog hop at Maxabella Loves. I think the time is right.
I’m grateful that:

* I’ve known Graeme all my life, for all my 40 years. As my godmother’s husband, from an early age, I carried the simple, childly reassurance that should anything befall my parents, ‘Uncle Graeme’ would help look after me. That was a great comfort throughout my childhood. He was such a kindly fellow, his eyes always creased with laughter marks. I don’t think I ever saw him get cross, so gentle was his nature.

* Our families are very closely linked so Graeme was always a presence in my life. My godmother and my Mum are childhood friends and the godmothers of each other’s daughters. His daughter and I have carried on that tradition with our own daughters. Our families are intrinsically connected for yet another generation.

* When we were younger, every Friday after school, without fail, Mum would take us up to their house, set on bushland high up in Hobart, for afternoon tea. Graeme would always be there, pottering around in the background, an easy smile on his face. We’d play chasings and tennis against a wall. They owned a chicken hatchery so he showed us children so many interesting sights. We especially loved the ‘hatching season’ when we’d peek in the heated areas to see if any of the eggs were cracking yet.
* Spending that time on their land allowed us children to roam free, without a care in the world. There was so much more space than in our suburban backyard. In summer, Graeme erected their big above-ground pool for us to splash around in. He built a cubby house which provided us with endless hours of delight as we played ‘houses’. In recent years, he made an even more elaborate version for his three young grand-daughters to play in, all beautifully painted in pink. The older pixies delighted in using it as well, having to ‘take turns’ as they couldn't all fit in at once! Elevated on a hill, it has a spectacular view overlooking Hobart.
Just drink in this view of Hobart!
* With our families so closely connected and with my parents’ desire for us to maintain close contact with our godparents, Graeme and my godmother were often at our place for a birthday party or the annual ‘godparents’ barbecue’ held the Saturday before Christmas. Our godparents would arrive with their children in tow and we children (up to 18 sometimes) would be left to our own devices while the adults made merry. We hurtled down the nearby grass lane on our billycarts and played ‘Hiacky 123’, ‘Hide and go seek’, ‘Spotlight’ (with a torch) and ‘Murder in the dark’ (are any bells ringing for you Gen Xers?). I only ever saw delight on Graeme’s face as he watched us make our own fun.
Ours wasn't much fancier than this one
* Graeme also put on an annual bonfire to celebrate ‘Empire Day’ (remember that? It used to mark Queen Victoria’s birthday.) for family and friends. It was always a grand affair with logs and sticks piled metre high after months of his careful construction work. Back in the 1970s, before fireworks were banned from use by individuals, we had such a ball as we’d shoot off Catherine Wheels and skyrockets from old milk bottles, whilst avoiding the Tom Thumbs the older boys would throw around our legs. All while we stood on the hill, admiring that spectacular view of Hobart laid out at our feet.
* We were invited to Graeme’s bonfire last year, the first in about 20 years for me, as we hadn’t really attended much as teenagers and then Mr PB and I lived in Sydney for 11 years. This time, my parents babysat Sam and we took Joshua and India with us, all rugged up for the winter night. We ploughed on through thick grass, torchlight our only guide. And then we saw it. The most gigantic bonfire we’d ever set eyes on. Graeme had been carting wood there for the previous year and I swear it was about 5 metres high and about 10 metres wide. Seriously. And it was alight. It was flaming, sparks swirling high in the nippy night air. Joshua and India were enthralled. And a bit scared, too. No fireworks nowadays, alas, but we made do with plenty of sparklers.  
The whole neighbourhood had been invited and Graeme and my godmother had laid out a huge spread for us, about 3 trestle tables long, just groaning with food and wine. Our little family had a ball. And I had a lovely chat with Graeme who thought it probably would be the “last bonfire as the Council is getting fussy about having a permit and it's all getting too complicated”. And so it was.

Never did we imagine that so many short months later, we’d be attending his funeral tomorrow morning. I’m so grateful his wife and all his children were there with him at the end. I haven’t yet had *those conversations* with my godmother and her daughter, my dear friend. There’ll be time for all that. For now, it’s simply “Vale, dear Graeme. I love you and will never forget you”.


  1. Very beautiful Jane. He sounds like he was one of those really special men. xxxCate

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss.


  3. I am so very sorry to hear of your Godfather's passing. The memories you describe paint a vivid picture of lots of wonderful times you had, thank you for sharing them with us. You are in my thoughts, take care. xo

  4. That's a lovely post Jane. I am glad you have such beautiful memories. Sometimes "those conversations" are easier than you think.

    PS - Strong memories of Spotlight and Murder In The Dark...! Made me smile.

  5. Jane,
    Very beautiful post! I'm very sorry for your family's loss. Great tribute!

  6. What a beautiful tribute and wonderful memories of your dear Godfather, Jane! Graeme sounds like a very special man and I am so sad for your loss. Wishing I could do more, but am sending all my love to you, sweetie ~ Txx

  7. What a beautiful post about a treasured person and memories.

    Thank you for the Hobart vista - now I can picture you there :) And I've never heard of 'Empire Day' - I find that absolutely fascinating.

    Sending you the love, especially for tomorrow XOL

  8. Jane you've depicted a beautiful man, father, and person in Graeme here.
    You've a lovely gift to share with your godchildren by knowing this man like a second father, and being able to pass on all the special memories you hold of him to them. Kids are amazing, and yours seem set on making you feel better. Lovely creatures they are!

  9. Oh that is very sad. I wish you well for the funeral tomorrow. It is hard to lose the people we love. xx

  10. A lovely tribute, Jane. I feel so sad for you and will be thinking of you tomorrow.

    Vale Graeme. Enjoy that great bonfire in the sky. x

  11. Best wishes for tomorrow Jane. Take care. I am so so sorry for your loss )-:

  12. I am so sorry for you loss Jane. I hope that writing this post had helped you to remember and focus on all those lovely memories that were part of your family life with Graeme. I will be thinking about you tomorrow. x

  13. Oh Jane, so sorry for your loss. A beautiful post commemorating a wonderful friend, whose memory will live on in all your amazing stories of him. It sounds as though he touched a lot of peoples lives, so he'll be fondly remembered by many. My thoughts are with you. Lx

  14. So sorry for the sadness Jane. Memories are such wonderful things to have though. I'm glad you have such lovely ones.

  15. A beautiful tribute! I hope the writing down of it all has helped in some way.


    P.S. I didn't realise so many others played Spotlight, murder in the dark and giant bonfires - some of my favorite childhood memories too!

  16. Jane, that was a beautiful post, a wonderful tribute to someone obviously very special.
    Sending warm wishes during these difficult days.

  17. Much strength for you today sweet Jane. What fabulous memories you have - and a great way to remember. I remember the games but ?hiacky. I am sorry for your loss and thankful that there are still amazing gentlemen in the world. Much love Marthaxx

  18. Loving your post sorry for your loss,you have great memories,sounds like he was a wonderful and sweet man,sending you big hugs down your way... Luv melli xx

  19. hello, im your newest fallower :)
    your blog tips are very helpful!

  20. It's now early Monday morning in your timezone, so I guess you will be heading towards the funeral soon. I hope you will find strenght today, I'm sorry for your loss Jane. Big hugs, Maureen xx

  21. What a lovely tribute. You've painted such a nice picture of a really lovely father and friend. HIs family will love reading it. A x

  22. What a lovely tribute to your friend. I am sure his wife and family will be very moved by how much he meant to you. Lot' of happy memories to treasure. Hugs to you and yours Deb.

  23. This is such a poignant post Dear Jane.

    What a wonderful gift Graeme has been in your life and how clever your parents were to choose Greaeme's wife for your Godmother, it sounds like they both truly relished their connection with you and your family.

    As you move through the sad times ahead I hope that you are able to keep all of the positives uppermost in your mind and comfort yourself and others who loved this special man with the knowledge that he truly made the most of his lifetime.

    Biggest of hugs Sweet Pea,

    Felicity x

  24. ... 'groaning with food and wine' a fabulous memory amongst so many. He now lives on in you. gxo

  25. Thanks, sweet Planetarians. I am so moved by your generous words of sympathy and condolence.

    I'm a little weary and teary so won't comment individually as I usually do. I hope you understand. Know what I am truly grateful for your support. J x

  26. I'm so sorry for your loss - it sounds as if he was a wonderful man.

  27. Oh Jane. Such sadness but your post was a lovely tribute to your Uncle Graeme's memory. He lives on in the happy memories, and your love and respect for him and his family is evident. I love that you are teaching your children the same family values you grew up with. xx

  28. Oh gorgeous Jane, God parents are just such a security blanket aren't they?? So sorry you lost your Uncle Graeme, what a fantastic man & leader in your world. I'm sure you'll take on many of the adventures he brought to you, to instil in your own children. Much love, Posie

  29. Sending you love Jane - uncle graeme sounds like an amazing man xx

  30. Thanks, ladies. The funeral was a fitting tribute to a gorgeous man which should be of comfort to his family. J x

  31. Such a beautifully written post. My thoughts are with you and your family dear Jane. xx

  32. these are all such beautiful memories Jane ... Take care and i am thinking of you x

  33. Your love for Graeme
    makes me love him, too...
    What a treat to read
    about such a lovely man
    and your childhood memories
    of him and growing up in
    Hobart. Continued hugs
    coming your way....
    xx Suzanne

  34. Oh Jane, I think there are never the 'right' words on these occasions. Thinking of you and your extended family, remembering the wonderful things is sometimes the only thing that helps.

  35. Jane, what a beautiful touching post and such a moving tribute to your beloved Uncle Graeme. I'm glad you have many fond memories of happy times with him x

  36. i'm thinking of you this morning's night for you on the first and you must be laying there thinking about the morning....

    he was lucky to have created so many memories with the special people in his've all been blessed....

    melissa xxx

  37. I'm really touched by all your expressions of concern and compassion. Thanks - it has provided me with a little solace. J x

  38. Jane, what a beautifully sad post... my heart goes out to you with sympathy and love. Your tribute was so eloquently written - such things come from a place deep within us.

    Re: my new blog... thank you for being No 2 follower! I'm about to be featured in some blogging course so thought I better get my A into G and get the baby blog off the ground once and for all! I just take the photos myself for the headers and use the Simple template on Blogger - was going to get it professionally done but Andre said NO to frivolous spending of Leo's eduction fund!

    You are such a sunny soul and I'm sure Graeme is looking down with immense love.

    Ang xx

  39. Thanks, Sweetie.

    And it's my honour and pleasure. Gee, you've done a fantastic job with it. You have such a gorgeous eye for composition, texture and colour.

    If I had a house (instead of renting out our Sydney apartment and renting a house in Hobart) and I had the means to fly you down, you would be my very first choice as an interior designer and stylist. No doubt about it. J x

  40. Hi Jane,

    So sorry for your loss. But, you have some wonderful memories, and memories are golden. He will always be in your heart.

    Deb xx

  41. Thanks, Deborah. Too true. J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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