Friday, November 28, 2008

morning glory

My dog may be a grumpy old beagle who snarls if I try to trim her toenails, but she is very attuned to her owner. As I lay sleepless in bed in the early hours of this morning, she barked dutifully at the paper delivery van - something she never does. She sleeps below our bedroom, and she must have sensed I was awake. I am strangely fond of that narky old mutt.

Too much coffee yesterday has undone me. From midnight onwards I slept only in fits and starts. By five am I gave up on sleep, and simply lay thinking. As much as I like to get enough rest, there is something exciting about being the only one awake in the household; I can think with no risk of interruption.

I thought of Mama, my maternal grandmother, and I thought of her quiet laugh, the glass of sherry she often drank as she made herself dinner, her cornflower blue eyes, and her face at the moment when she died. I thought of watching my daughter on stage tonight at her dance concert; how she moves her little body with grace, while her face shows every anxious thought. I thought of my patient yesterday who unexpectedly told me I'd made her feel 'a million dollars'. I thought of how trying to Christmas shop for my brother makes me want to cry. I thought of my friend, Belly, and the incredibly gentle guidance she gives me when I need advice.

I tiptoed out of the master bedroom, feeling the lure of writing. I sit in a silent house, gazing out the window. The sky is the colour of faded jeans and the sun is sparkling on leaves and grass and flowers.

It's a new day, full of possibility and promise.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Here in Australia, and in other countries around the world, the month of November has become a time for all men who are so inclined to grow moustaches. The idea has been generated by the Movember foundation, which aims to raise awareness of men's health issues, focusing particularly on prostate cancer and depression. Community-minded, caring and hirsuit individuals grow moustaches, and request that friends, family and colleagues donate to the foundation in support. Non-moustache-growers often give generously, whilst sniggering, hooting, and teasing the mo-grower unmercifully. I often wonder how permanently-moustached gentlemen feel during the general ridicule of the month of 'Movember'.

Schools sell fake moustaches to raise revenue, and my children will buy theirs today. They've been discussing what type they'll purchase (it seems there are different styles available for purchase. And here I thought a mo was a mo)

I give you the above information not because I am a good person who is aiming to promote men's health. I wish I was! I wish I'd thought of this as a genuine topic before now, but no! I am merely leading in to a comment made yesterday by my 6-year-old son. This is what he said to me:

"If you're a big person, and you have something wrong with you, or a moustache, would it be hard to get married?"

Seems a moustache rates right up there with a disability. Please dig deep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

thinking of you

She brought you home, swaddled against the biting cold, and laid you in the middle of the double bed. You slept there, wrapped up like the most unassuming gift - my brother. I felt expanded and light with sheer happiness; I felt as if I should hold my breath in awe. I slipped in every few minutes to watch your tiny chest rise and fall, to be sure you were alive and well.

Your head was dusted with the faintest blond fuzz. You smelt like warmth and comfort. I slipped my index finger into your curled-up hand, and you gripped on tightly. In my eight-year-old innocence, I believed this reflex hold meant you wanted me there. I stayed a long time, hunched over the bed awkwardly. I began right then to understand unconditional love; the ferocious and protective love I would have for you then and have to this day.

You have grown and gone now, far from here. You don't need my protection or care; you have a family yourself. You are no longer the chubby blond baby; you have grown beyond the shyly smiling, amiable small boy; you are stronger and more confident than the laughing, gangly teen. You are an adoring husband, a besotted father, and a military man who has been promoted quickly through the ranks. People like you; they are drawn to your understated leadership, your quiet assertion and wisdom. You are a good man.

Soon you will head into a volatile battle zone for several months. I know you are keen to play a part and to apply your years of training, and I am proud of you for your skill and courage. But fear clots in my throat and my stomach aches. And when I touch the soft blond head of my son as he sleeps, I think of you, my faraway brother, and my cheeks are wet.

Stay safe, be careful. Tell your enemies to beware your big sister.

Know that the delight I felt when first we met is undiminished.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

sneaking back in

I guess when you post as infrequently as I've been, no-one thinks you're dead/ill/seriously depressed when you don't post for a month. No-one leaves worried little messages saying 'Hello Jelly? Are you OK?'. Which is a good thing, because I am none of the above. However, it does make me realise that I need to write more often. After all, I have gotten to know (in a fashion) lots of lovely bloggers out there, and it seems my communication with you all has been slowly slipping away.

Like everyone, I get to feeling overwhelmed by the demands of work and home and life in general. I wrote an e-mail to a good friend of mine saying, tongue in cheek, "I've decided I don't want to see any patients who are sick. I want to see only happy, healthy ones, and even then only rarely." Sounds awful, doesn't it? In truth I think I was just a little burnt-out; in need of a break from work.

So part of the reason for not writing has been that we took a ten day holiday. Much to the shock of other parents at the school (some of whom actually tutt-tutted me!), this holiday was taken during school term. The photo above shows what our kids were doing instead of being at school. (Fatty and I like to think of education in more flexible terms!)
So anyway, I'm back - both physically and in spirit. I'll be visiting you all very soon.