Sunday, 3 June 2012

Comings and Goings

This is another of those 'real life' posts while we pause to catch our breath in Melbourne.

It was a wet day at the end of April when we visited with Bill's cousin Kathleen and her husband Bobby at their house in a small village west of Newcastle. 

Ever since Kathleen's brother, Michael, returned to this area we seem to have formed the habit of gathering at each other's homes in turn. 

It was our turn, but Kathleen popped up with a date just as we proposed one and with all else we had on our plates after a month away, we went with it. 

I read somewhere that large arrangements of the same flower were best;
no idea if this is true, but we grabbed these lovely white mums at
the fleamarket on our way to Kathleen's.

Just as with Michael and Chris' house, the usual entrance is through a carport on a back lane.  Kathleen and Bobby's front door faces onto a small pedestrian footpath for their row of houses and their front window overlooks a large field, a section of which they have rented from the land owner  in order to have a larger garden area. 

Some of their neighbours have followed suit; one uses hers as a car park. 

While we were upstairs, Bobby showed me his pride and joy, a collection of minature lorries;  

that's British for truck. 

Bobby is also a serious fan of football (called soccer in the US) and of Newcastle United Football Club in particular.

I heard the patient resignation in his voice when he explained that his eldest grandson, age 6, isn't interested in football but would rather read a book. 

He has high hopes for the younger grandson who seems more keen.

The High Priests (players) of NFCU, the predominant religion of the area.

As always with these gatherings a major topic of conversation was Nora, Kathleen and Michael's mother, and how she was faring in her nursing home.  Nora managed to live independently - with daily visits from Kathleen - until well into her 90s.  Little did we realise that a month to the day we would be attending Nora's funeral.  Not that it was terribly unexpected.  The week before our visit she had celebrated her 98th birthday.

The service was lovely and, I gathered, 'very Nora'.  The hearse arrived with a tiny white coffin.  My first glimpse of one end showed a picture of a lovely little white Maltese terrier, possibly even of Nora's last dog, Jingles.  She had that dog for so long that she became known as 'Grandma Jingles'.  The coffin sides were decorated with a mural of flowers. 

The music included an opera I didn't recognise, but at the end was Sarah Brightman singing Time to Say Good-Bye.  There was a reading from her grand-daughter in Brisbane, who couldn't attend and a reading of a lovely poem, My Mother's Garden.  Apparently Nora was an avid gardener, a tough act, her former neighbours told me later when we gathered at Mike and Chris's, the new occupants of Nora's former home in Newcastle were nowhere near up to following, "They could at least pull the dandelions..."  

PicMonkey is great fun!

In lieu of flowers to the funeral, Nora's family asked us all to buy ourselves flowers to enjoy or, even better, plant something in our own gardens to remember Nora by. 

This scrawny thing should grow up to be a lovely ceanothus bush.  I gather
Nora often wore blue, so I expect it will be the Blue Nora Bush in at our house.

Every time we visit either Kathleen or Michael and admire their gardens, not to mention their lovely homes, I do think we really should try harder.  So, the next day we went to the garden centre and threw frugality out the window.  We came armed with some plant names from Michael's garden but also bought whatever caught our fancy.  A kind lady, one of Nora's neighbours, taught me aquilegia, also called 'old ladies' caps' as they resemble 'mob caps'; see lower left photo above.  We spent the afternoon placing things in the garden.  I thought about the funeral service while I pottered.  I doubt we'll ever catch up with either Kathleen's or Michael's garden, but it might be fun trying. 


Suburban Princess said...

*confused* Did you move to Australia?

Rick Stone said...

Not sure what it is about the Newcastle soccer team but we've got some fanatics for them here. My nephew has gone bonkers over them. He and his wife, along with my brother, Chester, and his wife are all going over there just to watch them play live. Don't understand it when we have REAL football here in this country. ;->

Speaking of gardens, I probably never will be known as a master gardener. In keeping with what Joanne started years ago I have at least kept up the front flower beds and the pots in the entryway. Yesterday my twin, 9 year old step-granddaughters helped me clean the weeds out of the pots and small flower bed on our patio and we planted them full of Impatient's. Jo would have been proud of us.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely gesture for a former gardener to make--that you purchase flowers or plants for yourself. Good luck with the new planting.

Shelley said...

SP - So sorry to be confusing. My fault for speaking metaphorically. I am still blogging at length about our trip to Australia, with 'real life - here in England' posts now and then. I don't blame you for being confused!

Rick - Interesting to hear that 'The Toon' as they call NUFC has appeal in Oklahoma. I've always said the two areas have loads in common. I think you should be very proud of yourself to be continuing in Joanne's gardening traditions. It's a lovely way to remember her and I know it's not easy to do something that you're not familiar with. I never did take to gardening in Oklahoma...

Terri - Yes, I thought it was a great idea; much more meaningful and (fingers cross) if the plants survive, a more lasting memorial. People tend to be cremated here rather than buried, so a plant is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely post on a sad topic, and on your note above I just cannot get my head around cremation, I find it so odd, luckily our family all head to the local graveyard at the end!

Rick Stone said...

Cremation is becoming very popular here. (Per Jo's wishes I had her remains cremated though we still buried them in the Stone family plot in Byars, Oklahoma.) After my mother's large, and expensive funeral, Joanne stated that she did not understand why people paid huge dollars for a very fancy box that would be put in the ground to never be seen again. My dear wife was a very wise woman.