Tag Archives: love

Happy 2018

I love starting a fresh, clean New Year. I always have a brand new completely empty notebook ready to add my hopes, dreams and New Year resolutions.

This year I’m going to exercise more, eat less, watch my weight doesn’t get out of control and finish that third book. Fingers crossed etc etc.

Looking back at last year’s journal I find that what I’ve written is a more realistic jotting down of what actually happens. It can be nothing like what I’d hoped and dreamed but on the first day of this amazing brand new year I am totally optimistic and everything seems possible.

I’m teaching Memoir Writing again this year and will thoroughly enjoy being with a group focused on writing their stories.

I’d like to thank everyone that has touched my life in a positive way last year for all your kindness and support. You mean the world to me.

May 2018 be filled with happiness, good health, good will and love for you and your loved ones

ANZAC DAY: Memories Impossible to Record.

Sometimes it is impossible to record family stories. Several years ago, I was relaxing with my uncle under a shady tree and asked him to tell me about his experiences during the second world war. He looked at me long and hard, finally shook his head and said, ‘You should not have to live with those images. Never ask me again’. This same uncle when asked a question about the life of his older brother, since passed away, said,’If your father didn’t tell you, then I’m not going to.’

When you get answers like this it is time to forget that you are a writer, forget trying to record stories that may be lost forever and to respect the right of others to own their own stories. However, do write what you can to keep family stories from disappearing.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them                  

In Australia and New Zealand, as the last post sounds at the dawn services on the 25th April these lines taken from the poem For the Fallen Poem by Laurence Binyon – The GreatWar 1914-1918 are spoken at every ANZAC ceremony. In Australia’s Returned and Services Leagues, and in New Zealand’s numerous RSAs, it is read out nightly at 6 p.m., followed by a minute’s silence.  It is a time of reflection, a promise never to forget those who lost their lives. It is part of my life, my web of memories.  I stood beside my father in front of my mother’s coffin, his military training obvious in the set of his shoulders and his grief stricken, tear-less face. He lived by the saying, what can’t be cured, has to be endured. I will always remember hearing him promise her ‘At he going down of the sun and in the morning, I will remember you.’


Frank1             1995

Laurence Binyon’s poem begins:

They shall not grow old as we grow old. Age shall not weary them or the years condemn 


Another story is about Harry (Pop to us) Whitting who served in France during the first world war.  He was one of the fortunate ones to return home. Gassed in the trenches and suffering from malnutrition and an ear infection he was sent back to Australia on a hospital ship. He met Elsie (Ma) at an army hospital. She was a seventeen year old nurse and Harry was presumably eighteen but Pop Whitting lied about his age to enlist in the army. They fell in love, married had five children and celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. He never talked about the war but a large picture of him in cavalry uniform hung in the hall of the rambling home in Edithvale. Aged 86 he was weary and the years had condemned but he was still a jovial cockney lad at heart. However, he no longer looked like the vigorous young man in the photo .


Anzac 1

A war memorial stands in the centre of a grassed reserve at Beauty Point, where the Patterson River flows into Port Phillip Bay at Carvvrum, Victoria, Australia. I remember when there was a discussion about moving it to some other place so the prime piece of real estate could be developed. The community uproar and disapproval was overwhelming.


Research revealed in 1915 six local firemen went off to war together-but only one returned. In 1921 that man launched a public appeal for the funds for the statue and inscribed base. It was imported from Italy and cost 340 pounds when the average weekly wage was just four pounds a week. Bought with public funds, the ‘Little Soldier’ does not belong to the city of Kingston. He belongs to the people of Carrum and cannot be moved without their consent. Our solitary soldier still stands in pride of place as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives .

Incensed by the mere thought of moving the monument I decided to write a story from an elderly woman’s point of view.

My Soldier

ANZAC day. The last post has long sounded. The plaintive call lingered in the early morning mist and slowly died as the first flush of dawn lightened the sky. The speeches are over, marchers gone. I bend to touch the delicate blossoms placed at the base of the tall granite column. Blossoms that will soon fade and die. Red roses, bright camellias and a handpicked bunch of hardy daisies that will outlive the others by a mile. How many years have I come to this spot? Too many to remember. Beauty Spot, it is called. An integral part of Carrum, right on the mouth of the Patterson River. A place where mothers bring their toddlers to play and fishermen sit on the low stonewall dreaming of the catch of a lifetime. There is the fresh clean smell of salt and spray: a fitting place to close the eyes and dream of what might have been, to remember the handsome face, coiled puttees, khaki clad faded figure in the ornate frame over the fireplace.

The diamond you slipped on my finger that wintry night in June flashed promise and hope. The dream of manly boots next to my fluffy slippers. A line full of nappies and a cradle to rock. The joy of a family to cook for, a family to love.
That last night we danced and clung to each other before we hurried home to the rented two-roomed flat. The next morning the gate squeaked and I wept into my pillow.

I quietly read the words forever-inscribed in stone. To the imperishable memory of the soldiers of this district that gave their lives… Simple heartfelt words from a grateful community. I am always surprised at his simplicity. This is not an ostentatious crowded statue with flags flying and rifles raised in anger.
Here is one solitary soldier standing upright and alone, hand gripping his rifle barrel, the butt resting on the ground. At ease, but ready and waiting for…, what?

I have never known war, but when I gaze at him I can smell the acrid smoke, hear the whistle of shells and the cries as mates fall. I have lived my life under sunny skies and yet I can identify with his quiet sadness, his overwhelming sense of loss. The telegram read, ‘We regret to inform you that corporal T K Wells VX1068 of the AIF Infantry…’ I thought of planting a tree. At least then there would be something living and growing.

Recently I drove in heated comfort past an Avenue of Honour where row upon military row of silent trees flashed past in the khaki haze of a misty morning. Tall old trees, some over fifty years, planted when young soldiers fell. They no longer stood at the edge of endless paddocks. Ballarat was running out to embrace them, to include them into the teeming life of what is now a city. There were so many trees. Each one a son, daughter or husband and I saw the ghosts of their kin stretching back as far as the horizon. Like a stone in a pond, so may lives caught up, like mine, in the far-reaching circles of the wars to end all wars.

I was shell-shocked for months until it finally seeped into my unwilling brain that you would never again be by my side, your arm around my waist as you kissed everything better. But life goes on and I have known love. Not your love but the worn tartan slippers beside mine in front of the dying fire are comfortable.

I shiver as I gaze up at the long list of names etched into cold stone and run trembling fingers over the rough rock. So many did not survive to witness this new millennium, to drink in the beauty of spring blossoms, or to come here year after year. I gaze up at his strong young face and wonder what he would think of my knotted veined hand pressed against my heart. Time shall not weary them…
The glow in the west bathes him in gold as I sit and dream. And there’s talk about moving him. Some people want a car park, others, townhouses with sweeping bay views. Cart him away to some easily forgotten spot? Over my dead body. I’ll not let them take my soldier. Not this time.

IA2015 gnangarra-145.jpg

The shrine of remembrance and the eternal flame Melbourne Victoria, Australia

Quotes to live by

To be your own person takes courage and determination
To be who you want to be takes dreams
To live life to the fullest takes love.

I don’t know who said this, but I often refer to this quote when feeling down or when life has taken an unexpected turn. It has the power to lift my soul: to inspire me to keep going, to take one step at a time until the emergency has passed and life is calmer. It reminds me of all the good things to aim for and to live life with love.

It also reminds me how powerful and inspiring words can be.

purole flowers      spells

Happy writing

on the wheel

Tying the Knot

We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.

 Anais Nin. 

Who wouldn’t like to write about a special day and relive the memories? Everything was perfect the day Ainslie Sterling married Ty Johnstone. The sun shone on a couple totally in love and celebrating the best day of their lives.


Marybrooke Manor in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges Victoria Australia  is an old country manor nestling amongst tall trees. They know how to discreetly organise the perfect wedding where everything runs like clockwork; smoothly, quietly ticking along without a hitch.

mum & dad

When I saw Ainslie walk down the aisle she took my breath away. I already knew that she is a beautiful person inside and out and that if she wore a hessian bag for a wedding dress she would still look gorgeous. I was not the only one to have a lump in my throat and wipe away tears. I noticed Ty was also having trouble controlling his emotions as he saw his future wife, on the arm of her father walking towards him.

ainslie & stuart

And how could my nephew, Stuart Sterling be the father of such a grown up young woman? I remembered a young, lanky boy coming to stay for holidays and going with us on outback camping trips to Innaminka. Of days he spent playing in the back  yard with our two boys. My Dad skidding his FJ Holden around a big tree at the top of the street with them screaming, laughing, calling, ‘Do it again Gramps, pleeeeese.’ This ethical, kind man walking his daughter down the aisle and giving her hand in marriage to Ty Johnstone was definitely Stuart,  but where had the years gone?

ros & stuart

It seems like only yesterday that Ros and Stuart married and how beautiful it was to see their love for each other as they took their vows. Now the second eldest of their five children was marrying the love of her life. Life has a way of whizzing by until an occasion such as this pulls us up with a jolt and, when we now belong to the older generation, we realize how short it can be. I know for one I intend to live for the moment and enjoy every minute of the rest of this fabulous journey.


How romantic to have a garden wedding and I was delighted when we were told no photos allowed. It meant that we could all relax and enjoy the moment without thinking of videos or jumping up, leaning over, in an attempt to take the perfect photo. There were professional photographers employed to do all that . I settled down and relaxed. The love for these two young people was palpable and I made sure the love-heart good-luck trinket was ready and waiting to later slip on her arm and join the happy horseshoe trinkets from others wishing her well.

garden 2  garden drinks

The newlyweds, four beautiful bridesmaids, four handsome groomsmen all relaxed, laughed, talked and celebrated together on the croquet lawn,


Tradition. It keeps us grounded, gives us a feeling of continuity. Mother, fathers, aunties, uncles, grandparents had all come to wish the young couple joy and happiness.

joy and cousin

The reception was time for everyone to have fun. After the bridal waltz,  a fabulous wedding breakfast, Stuart’s great speech about how it takes not only parents but a village to raise a child, the cake was cut and everyone danced the macarena.

1 kiss wedding dinner happy

We stayed at Marybrooke Manor overnight after fare-welling the newlyweds who fled to their accommodation through an archway of well-wishers after first throwing the bouquet. The following morning they boarded a plane to an undisclosed location for their honeymoon.


Who knows what the future holds but everyone at that wedding wished this lovely young couple every happiness and blessings for their life together. As I waved goodbye I saw Ainslie and Ty’s parents and ‘village’ gathering around them and I knew they would be there to support them throughout their lives. Stuart and Ros’s family, Amelia, Bailey, Finley and Isabelle beamed love to their sister and her new husband and cuddled Ros and Stuart. It reminded me of one of my favourite poems. A family is like a circle, the connection never ends, and even if at times it breaks in time it always mends. A family is like a book, the endings never clear, but through the pages of the book love is always near.

We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect

This post has given me the opportunity to do just that: to relive, enjoy and share with you the love, joy and happiness such a day brings.

Thank you Ainslie and Ty Johnstone for sharing with us your special day.

!cidbear hugs