Travelling in the time of COVID-19

Finally it was time to return home after 3 weeks with my family after my Dad passed away. There were issues where I could not get a flight back. Eventually I got through to Qantas and booked for the first flight out of Queensland after days of no flights. I must say the time I had with my Mum was lovely and I enjoyed the time out at the beach with evening walks at sunset. The weather was just divine – so hot in Autumn, no wonder it is called the sunshine state!

I eventually moved in with my Mum to the house I grew up in and spent my morning exercising by huge golden orb weaver spiders like this lady! They were amazing to watch and I eventually got used to seeing these spiders around the place. The only guy I was not keen to see was the huge grasshopper we nicknamed Jimeny. The birds sang in the morning with squarky the crow notifying his pals of any leftovers out on the grass, we even saw a bush turkey come into the yard one day! I loved listening to the sounds of all the creatures around the place.

While I was gone I was face timing my hubby and kiddos every night and I even got to chat to my little kitties as I missed them so much. It was so good to see them again. I got home from the airport and ran up to the shower and tossed my plane clothes in the wash so I could go and hug my family again minus any outside germs.

The time came when I got a ride to the airport and left the beautiful sunshine and my family to go back to my super cold home! It was so strange going to the airport with no one there and I waited for 2 hours at the airport before I got on that plane back. There was around 60 or more people catching the same 737 plane. We were all separated by the centre seat but I was so relieved when we landed at long last and I could take my face mask off and breathe some cold fresh air.

Memories at the time of COVID-19

When a parent is taken away from your life, your world is incomplete and turned upside down. We had the funeral last Wednesday for Dad and the days have been speeding by, with each day working away through all the paperwork, pictures and memories of our life in our family. It is pretty difficult and emotionally exhausting to dig through photos but then on the bright side we discover some gems and reminisce about our memories together. My sister and I have been busy at work going through all the closets and clearing out anything that is not useful and donating to local charities in the neighbourhood. The recycling bin is chocca block with papers and I have found so many photos that my sister and I have sent our parents over the years hidden in bags in different areas of the house. Really who has so many walls to hang all theses photos and pictures – I had to apologise to Mum for sending her so much stuff over the years!!

Still going through the many pictures of our family life and travelling through time. At the moment it is so strange where I contemplate my life at the moment – where am I is this the right place where I should be in time? I have been living at an Air Bnb where I grew up in Queensland and after living in the USA for so long everything in our life overseas is like a distant memory. With all this time by myself I am reevaluating my journey through life with the memories fleeting in and out of my mind as I am wandering along the beach at sunset.

My sister and my mum are looking through the many albums documenting our times together growing up in this beautiful part of the world in the sunshine – where we were so free! Of course we did not appreciate it at the time and called our town Deadcliffe! Our lives focussed around celebrations and food and looking back I can see how my parents entertaining had a huge influence on my life. The other funny thing is going through the cupboards and drawers at my parents place is how my cupboards and drawers looked like before I applied the magic of Marie Kondo in my house 😀 Admittedly there are still a couple of drawers or spaces in my house that connect to my parents, and my kids think it is hilarious as we have a space with bread tags and rubber bands too!

Witnessing beauty in nature is something I wrote in the memories for the service of my Dad. On the day of the funeral I saw this massive bug fly by and it happened to be a stink bug that lived on the yellow flowered bush when we were younger. I currently have an incredible feeling of being hyperconnected to nature, where many serendipitous moments hold some meaning. Over the years we enjoyed family time together and back in the day there was this amazing retro restaurant in Redcliffe called the Fish Bowl and here we are enjoying a feed in amongst the vintage finds! Yeti the cat in the centre was Dads fave and there he is amongst the bushes under the stairs with so many beautiful tropical plants in the yard that Dad planted – it would be so nice to get some cuttings but I cannot take any plants over the border.

This was the sunset on the day we said farewell to Dad, the colour in the skies was lit up in so many shades. Every day I have enjoyed a walk in amongst the waters of these beaches and the feeling of the water and sand grounding me to the earth creates incredible memories that will hold dear to my heart. I know that every time I visit my mum in the future, I will have to come back to these beaches and spend time with my Dad and hear him say “Bye sweetie”.

Grief at the time of COVID-19

My Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in February this year and then we thought OK it is going to be intense and we will trust the doctors to see where it will take us. Little did we know in less than 2 months, cancer would take him from us. On the advice from the oncologist as the cancer was spreading to his liver, Dad had the chemo and he felt wonderful – two days later along came the side effects. The side effects took their toll on his life where he was so strong right up to the end.

My journey began when I got the call when Dad was put into palliative care, heck how am I supposed to travel to Queensland the borders closed plus I do not want to put my immunocompromised Dad at risk of the virus. Lucky there was legislation in place that I could visit on compassionate grounds and I had all the paperwork minus my evidence which was collected by the police with a phone call and email to the hospital. Then I was through, after having my face mask on for 3 hours I only had another 30 minutes or so to go before I could breathe some fresh air again and see my family.

With the advice of my friend, I needed to dump all the clothes I flew in and have a shower and change before I went to the hospital. And then I was there with my last few hours with my Dad in a palliative care unit – knowing that the time when he will pass will come soon but not knowing when. The doctors had him on morphine to help with his breathing and he was coherent the day I arrived and I shared some videos of the family and showed him our house progress, we laughed and spoke about our house build. We shared time together over a hospital dinner when I could see his body was giving up. I knew deep down that the time was coming very soon, so we held hands, hugged and I said “I love you Dad”.

It was the next day when I noticed a difference in his communication with fading in and out of consciousness it was scary and we had 1 hour per day to visit him. So I was with mum, her brothers and sister and we took turns to say hello. Then we left him and he was sleeping deeply and snoring away which was a good thing as he needed to rest after all the visitors. The next day was when the call came to my mum at 6:30am, he had a fall on the floor from getting tangled in his blankets as he wanted to get up and go to the loo. He felt he had the strength to get himself there but the mind body connection was not there, then the nurses settled him with a catheter and he was peaceful and that was when he passed on.

Life will not be the same again as my friend agrees that losing a parent is so hard and complicated. I am thankful that I had such a caring and kind Dad who was always patient no matter how hard I tested his patience as a teenager. That is just a period of life and as you get older, your parents are there to support you with unconditional love. Living away in San Francisco Bay Area for 12 years was really hard but then I made the decision to come back to Australia every year over the long summer and it made a big difference to be with my family. Each year it was so important to spend as much time as possible with my parents and create memories. In 2018 we had a wonderful time together whale watching, enjoying our day on the ocean mesmerised by such incredible creatures.

We go through life thinking our parents will always be there for us but when the inevitable happens everything is hard to comprehend. I am now here alone in an Air Bnb away from my husband and children. I am going to stay here as long as I can to help my Mum with everything. The borders closing on Queensland means my husband and children cannot even come up for the funeral with a maximum of 10 people.

In a sense I am glad that Covid-19 made me stay here in Australia, as we planned a trip to Hawaii right at this time. I would not have had the chance to say goodbye and see my Dad one last time. There is always a silver lining no matter how tragic the circumstances are. Even though we have to stay at home, I have come here to be with my family and no amount of elbow taps and shin bumps can replace a hug to express the love and care for each other and I understand that we need to stay safe and protect the ones we love. Let us hope that we are safe from this virus.

Rest in peace Dad, you are forever in my heart x

Winter holiday in Queensland – Part 1

Winter break and it was time to head on up to Queensland to get some sunshine and maybe if you dare a bit of a swim! We stayed at this lovely Air Bnb near my families house and enjoyed some peaceful times by the pool watching the birds come and visit every day.

This little fella had a couple of other mates who came by to visit each day. I love magpies so much and their morning song reminds me that I am home again.

The kiddos really were a bit excited about having a pool where we were staying so they braved the chilly water and hopped on in when it was nice and sunny – which was most of the time.

We spent some lovely days with my mum and dad and went down to the beach for fish and chips at Suttons Beach. The kiddos love going there to collect hermit crabs and then they build them little homes out of sand.

We were in an area that I was not really familiar with even though I went to primary school down the road. Behind where we were staying were many new developments and the urban planning has included many parks within 15 minutes of where we stayed. I enjoyed walking around discovering new places for the kids to play on and this obstacle course was the perfect spot for challenging their times on how quick they can get across. Afterwards we found this interactive fountain and the kiddos got drenched on a winters afternoon!

The afternoons for me were spent by the pool knitting a scarf with the beautiful yarn I scored in Sydney – this is Hedgehog fibres yarn with a pattern with intentional holes. It was so relaxing to sit by the pool and listen to my audio book and watch the birds fly home for the evening.