Stories from childhood…for Patrick ‘Paddy’

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Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  



Of all the online places I visit including facebook, forums and youtube, my favourite place to be yet the one I am most absent from is wordpress. I suppose in a way these infrequent visits make sharing photos and journalling here more special. Something comes to mind and I think to myself…I really must take the time and make the effort and use my imagination to blog this.

A determined resolution to eat more fruit instead of chocolate was the prompt for this entry. Who would have thought an orange would make me remember……

Dad and ‘Uncle’ Bill – chapter one

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Aside from his casual attire of bermuda shorts and long socks for Saturday mornings cooking in the kitchen or trips to the shops and his even more casual old shorts and shirt for gardening and fishing, this photo above is how I mostly picture Dad during my childhood. A business man in a suit leaving early in the morning and returning late at night. But oh the fun and interesting things he shared with us and the friendly and fascinating people he introduced us to outside working hours. A world of dining in special restaurants,  entertaining clients at home with dinner parties and music and home slide shows and movie nights enhanced by Mum’s beautiful cuisine, receiving presents from overseas travels and being educated about anything and everything from speaking French to calculating the area of a circle to having a little bet on the horse races to the skill of catching a flathead or bream with a handline wrapped around a toe instead of a finger.

One of the best things about his business world was the new friends we made. One of the most difficult things – losing friends who left for business reasons that made no sense to a child. Thankfully many friends remained lifelong ones – like our ‘Uncle’ Bill who would always visit with smiles and laughter and treats – and who shared Dad’s passion for fishing and for music. Bill delighted in hearing me play the piano or joining in with a family ensemble – Dad with his harmonica, Mum with her comb and wax paper and all with their lovely singing voices.

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But what does Uncle Bill have to do with oranges? Well he once gave us a huge supply of them and as a thankyou Dad decided he and I should thank Bill with a song. We practised long and hard memorizing something sure to charm a fellow music and fruit lover and set about turning ‘Thanks for the Memory’, that we had heard Bob Hope sing, into ‘Thanks For The Oranges’….”the little ones were sweet, the bigger ones couldn’t be beat, the yellow skins we  threw in the bin, the juice was running down, how lovely they were….”. I can still sing it like it was yesterday. I wonder where are you now Uncle Bill?

Mark and Susan’s supper – chapter two


Mark and I met on 12th October 1974 during a blind date. Of our almost forty years together few of them have been without the joy and company of children. If I wasn’t babysitting I was teaching little kids to play the piano or guiding Brownies or making music for tiny ballerinas or allowing my heart to be melted by any baby that crossed my path. (No reborn dolls back then but I still had my childhood baby dolls tucked safely away). We became engaged October 28th 1976 and married on the 14th January 1978 and within a few months discovered our first baby was due to arrive November 30th. Beautiful Amy Mellicent was born on Saturday 25th November.  Five gorgeous boys followed – Timothy Mark, Geoffrey Stephen, Patrick Ainsley, Samuel Alexander and Michael Christopher – and two precious lost souls along the way. Time to ourselves was always rare but even when when we had the chance to arrange escapes, with the help of grandparents and friends, I usually preferred to have the children with us. No lectures on the importance of husband and wife bonding please. My strong maternal instinct is something I wouldn’t change for anything or anyone. I wasn’t exactly against taking a baby into bed with us from time to time however we did manage to get everyone to sleep at once most evenings while the children were young so we could enjoy some quality time watching movies or listening to music or just talking etc. Midnight snacks were something we looked forward to and often consisted of boiled eggs and toast and…at last getting around to an explanation for the photo above…the frequent hand peeling of oranges and sharing of fresh orange segments.

The twins  and Pa – chapter three

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Samuel and Michael were almost three when my Dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  Sadly, being so young, they don’t really remember spending time with him. Thank goodness for cameras and family storytelling to keep a person’s presence and spirit alive. These photos of the boys were taken during our last visit with their Pa at home in Ocean Shores NSW. Dad was very proud of his fruit trees and keen to show two inquisitive rascals these delicious and round edible treasures in nature, ripening as they should on the tree, very inviting but not quite ready to be picked. “Not ready to be picked!” emphasized Pa.  When he said something he meant it or beware his disapproving look. Hmm, alas they simply couldn’t resist. All was eventually forgiven after they’d helped themselves to one each without permission – and he gave in to letting them have the thrill of picking a few more, ready or not. Delightful pictures at the time and how much more meaningful these photos have become now.

A music teaching theme – chapter four


I guess you could say I am easily inspired – and inspired by all sorts of things. The creative mind can be exhausting and difficult for its owner and for people around it to bear sometimes. Mine is particularly over-active. Always has been and always will be for as long as I have full use of it and old age or medication don’t diminish my brain pathways and eccentricities. I am also easily pleased and more than a little obsessed with acquiring the unattainable – especially when it is clearly ‘not for sale’. Few people would get truly excited over a cardboard prop in a supermarket but there I was having a desperate ‘must get it’ moment at the sight of a fake fruit tree laden with oranges (mandarins or peaches it was later suggested to me to which I turned a deaf ear). My back to school ‘oranges’ theme was realized. Unsuccessful visits with greengrocery staff and store managers plus phonecalls to other shopping centres followed until one kind young man said “Sure we’ll hold it for you. We were only going to throw it away”  Just what I wanted to hear. I am also very keen on rescuing and recycling junk. Add some rhythm flashcards and the orange tree becomes a music tree ready to greet students. To cut a long story short other orange items were hunted for and found – including artificial orange blossom, scratch and sniff stickers and plastic orange savers to which I hid inside theory revision questions.


Today – chapter five

Apples have also played a big part in our lives since Mark lived and worked on an apple orchard during our early years together. But I will save that fruity tale and the spin off journalling and photos for another time. I have pretty much lived by the ‘apple a day keeps the doctor away’ belief for as long as I can remember but today I’m reflecting on my original prompt for this blog post and thinking that there’s really no need to give up chocolate for fruit when you can find fruit IN chocolate!


The end

Published in: on November 21, 2013 at 2:04 am  Comments (2)  


The gift of writing

A sincere “thankyou” to friend Maria who recently gave me a very special gift – a now aged and yellowed letter I had written to her in January 1996.

We became friends through ABA, the Australian Breastfeeding Association (formerly NMAA, the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia) and caught up with one another a few weeks ago after she invited me to hold an early childhood music session for babies and toddlers at our local Community Centre.

Words can’t express just how much this treasured piece of writing means to me and what wonderful memories it has stirred. Although I have a good memory for details, especially when it comes to family history, this handwritten letter took me back in time to a place I could easily have forgotten without prompting. A journey to the highs and lows of an era when I had a few months prior lost my dear father, when I had six children at home – the eldest, Amy, having just finished year 12 – and when I was trying unsuccessfully to wean toddler twins….well, not really trying….because who would want to say goodbye to the magic of nurturing your possibly last babies in such a comforting and healthy way.

Here below is a snippet from this piece of printed ‘gold’

“Michael has been wearing Paddy’s old Batman suit for a few months now and the super hero has just mellowed and hopped on my lap for a feed. The suit was worn by three brothers and two cousins before him – Samuel gets a few turns but got tired of the ‘discussions’ so generally gives in to his younger brother. Sam actually asks for a drink etc for himself and adds ‘and one for Batman too!’ The last thing Michael needs is more encouragement to fight and fly but I guess the novelty will wear off and in the meantime we have a few hours break while the outfit is in the wash.”


The letter


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Timothy wearing the heirloom batman outfit in 1985, the year Geoffrey (next in line to inherit superhero status) was born 

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Michael in 1998, still wearing the batman suit!

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Samuel with ‘Batman’….sharing….and waiting for his turn 😉

P.S Because twins shouldn’t have to share ALL the time….both Samuel and Michael actually did have their very own Batman costumes too (September 1996). Perhaps not quite as unique as the original but obviously loved and valued enough for one of the capes to have coincidentally surfaced this week – almost seventeen years later 🙂

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Grandson Bailey as Batman, May 2002 🙂

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…and below – grandson Jaiden wearing the original suit too ❤

Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  


‘Four generations’

A photo tribute, Mother’s Day Sunday 13th May 2012

My paternal grandmother – Annie Julia

My maternal grandmother – Elizabeth Mary

My mother – Dulcie Joan

My sister – Lesley Ann

Me – Susan Kaye

My daughter – Amy Mellicent

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh


Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  


How quickly we are expected to slip back into our normal routines after life changing events. Understandably we are all busy, workplaces require our return, study shouldn’t be put on hold, household chores need our attention and pets can’t look after themselves. Still, there are days when it would be a blessing to cry uninhibitedly on someone’s shoulder or to have the ability and the opportunity to completely shut down  or to ‘crawl into a hole’ as the saying goes. For some of us, some of the time, keeping occupied is a comfort. Indeed, I have just spent the last eighty days of my youngest son’s absence focussed on a job I love with a passion while desperately trying to do more than my best in order to not only remain distracted but to begin the holidays stress free. Unfortunately running a business from home is rarely straightforward and I am not resting as easy as I’d hoped. Nevertheless I am fortunate to be in a position where I could do whatever comforted me the most today, aiming to put aside any teaching issues while I tried to think positively and share photographs of a ceremony that for better or worse has altered our family dynamics, tugged at our heart strings and at the same time made us all proud. I am certain by the look on my husband Mark’s face and by his quietly spoken words as he left for work this morning that he too found it difficult to accept normality on the second day of this new era – an era that began yesterday at the march out parade or perhaps a few months ago with the signing of a form or even years ago with an unfulfilled dream and a goal. So once again we wished our youngest son Michael a safe journey, even more significantly this time, because he was no longer an army recruit but an Australian soldier. 

Sadly, in the past few weeks we have heard through friends and family members of four lives tragically lost under various circumstances unrelated to war. May they rest in peace – and we thank God that no matter how real our concerns, ours is a very different kind of heartache, one that is possibly based on a fear of the unknown. 

I have been a part of many life changing events in my 54 years such as moving house, moving interstate, school transfers, taking different study and career paths, miscarriages, early menopause, debilitating migraines, relationship breakups, losing touch with a sibling for a while, seeing my beloved sister ill after her heart attack, having my own heart health scares and losing both of my dear parents to heart attacks. But the biggest life changing events in anyone’s history must surely be the births of our children and in the years that follow the different paths they choose to take. At the moment I am struggling with, among other things, examining and making sense of our strong reaction to Michael’s particular change in path. 

I have watched daughter Amy leave home to raise a family and start a career, son Tim to study further in Melbourne, son Geoff to live and work in the UK for almost two years, son Patrick to work and travel several times in the USA, son Samuel to play gridiron in American Samoa and son Michael to play drums in Japan.  With every wave, every goodbye and every wish for good luck it is like a piece of me is leaving or altering amidst mixed feelings of  worry and of pride and joy. I believe that is being a mother and I would not give up my protective maternal nature for anything or anyone. 

I don’t want to hear reassurance that it will all turn out for the best or empty promises that Michael will stay safe. I don’t want to be told I’m over reacting. I want people to know that grieving for a 19 year old son in the armed forces does not make me weak. I want someone to listen and tell me they understand how I must be feeling. I want permission to feel the way I feel and I want time to adapt. I want to know what my father would have thought about his grandson joining the army. I want to cry with my mother like we did when my brother had to enlist and fight in Vietnam. I want to write and think and remember and look at photos. I want to make sure Michael’s sister and brothers understand this is not because I love him any more than I love them.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

From ‘Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)’ by John Lennon 

Keep smiling Mikey.

We love and miss you xo

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 6:44 am  Comments (2)  


There exists in Ipswich a place where I feel even more at home than I do in my own home. The kind of place you want to visit in good times and in bad. A place where you feel so comfortable that you never want to leave.

After an intimate family gathering there for my beautiful sister’s sixtieth birthday, her son and daughter in law organized this memento of the day – a photo book of all the special moments. When I first saw it, I didn’t want to put it down. Pictures of us – the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents and grandchildren – relaxing, playing and catching up on stories we’d missed when life became too busy for us to share them before. Weeks later I contacted my niece and nephew to let them know I’d seen the wonderful gift they gave their mum, adding a little plea that I must arrange copies of a few of the photos sometime. Then to my surprise, on my birthday last year, I opened a parcel to find my very own copy of the whole book, complete with photos of family members unable to attend the occasion and with an added message just for me.

Thankyou Linda and Tony for this treasure.

Thankyou Lesley and Allan for always making us feel welcome in your amazing house and garden.

Published in: on March 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm  Comments (1)  


Our children

Amy, Timothy, Geoffrey, Patrick, Samuel, Michael

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment