US and Canada 2018 – Missing the flight to San Francisco

A quick flight to Melbourne followed by a L-O-N-G but reasonably uneventful flight to LA – approx 14 hours.  The only problem was we left late and then took a while before we could land and then taxi in which meant our flight was an hour late.

Due to the fact that the San Francisco part of the trip came after the original booking of the flights to LA, we didn’t have a connecting flight to LA, just a separate flight, with a two hour window, which meant we had to clear customs, collect luggage and board the next flight – all within two hours.  Bad planning.

So, being an hour late and then customs taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R and us missing the valuable orange ticket that got you fast tracked if you had a connecting flight  (Jay did suggest we should have asked about them, which I did but WAY too late) meant that we collected our luggage at about the time we should have been boarding the flight.

Then there was the monumental walk between terminals with a 14kg backpack on our backs after a 18 hours in travel and transit time.  We tried, we really did, but by the time we made it to Virgin Amercia, we had missed the flight.  Here we are thinking “at least it is still Virgin, so they will be able to arrange a quick flight to San Francisco easily – right”?  Wrong.  For starters, Virgin Australia and Virgin America are not associated.  Silly us to think otherwise.  Second of all, it is Saturday and nearly all flights are completely booked (and they overbook flights here).

So after our very long walk to Virgin America, they tell us there are two options, we can go on a standby flight at 2pm, but there is no assurance we will get a seat, or we can get a ticketed flight at 11pm, which will mean we will miss the basketball – the whole reason we were going to Oakland .- remember, Oakland accommodation and basketball are two of the only four things booked at this stage….

So, we get tickets for the 11pm flight, with the plan that we will head BACK to the terminal we just tracked from to demand that they get us on another flight.  Back we trek and the VERY inexperienced assistant clacks away on her keyboard and tells us she can’t find our booking, even though I had given her the Virgin America flight details I had printed before we left home.  She keeps clacking on her keyboard and still nothing.  More clacking, more nothing.  The very little patience we started with is quickly evaporating…  Finally, the more experienced assistant comes to help and says instantly – Virgin America?  We’re not associated with them, that’s why we can’t find your booking.  We go on to say, yes, but it was your flight being late that was the reason we missed our flight and they can only get us on an 11pm flight which will mean we will miss the game we have paid hundreds of dollars to see.  Sorry, there is nothing we can do if we don’t have access to your flight information we can’t transfer you to another flight.  We explained we had already been down that path and they had checked all the flights that they were associated with and the only option was the 11pm flight.  We then asked which flights they weren’t associated with and something kept telling me we needed to go to Southwest.  Southwest had been recommended on Trip Advisor as a great airline for internal US travel.  Lots of affordable flights and the first two checked bags were free.  By this time we were thinking that we would do anything to make it to the game, even pay for new tickets.  I asked if Virgin America were associated with Southwest and she said No.

We were all pretty despondent.  Jay said “it looks like we aren’t going to make the game, so let’s just go with the 11pm flight because at least we know we have seats on that”.  We were flying in to San Francisco and our accommodation was in Oakland.  That was easily workable during the day, but arriving at the airport after midnight and then trying to get to Oakland to get to our accommodation after missing the game?  That sounded horrendous.  Maybe we could fly straight to Oakland, which is really close to where our accommodation was….??

Southwest kept coming to mind.  So I said, let’s just get to the Southwest counter and see what they can do and if that doesn’t work then, yes, we take the 11pm flight and give up on the idea of making the basketball..  The terminal is the next one over, so not too far to walk.  The boys sit down with our bags and I go to the counter.  An Angel in Los Angeles – a big, black man with a friendly face and a big smile listens to my story and says, “lets see what we can do”.  He then starts talking about delayed flights and transfers and San Francisco and Oakland and gets increasingly urgent in his tone.  He has to repeat it a few times, but I finally get it and I signal to the boys to bring the bags as I’m handing over the credit card.

Turns out Southwest Airlines have a policy that if any flight is delayed more than 15 minutes, they will transfer you to any other flight at no cost.  So, what this clever man had worked out is that there was a flight to San Francisco that was delayed.  If he quickly booked us seats on that flight, that we had to pay US$133 each for, he could then transfer us to the flight direct to Oakland, which had three spare seats on it, at no extra cost.  That’s what he did.  So, all of a sudden, the basketball was back on!  AND we were flying direct to Oakland, which meant we didn’t have to then get from San Francisco to Oakland, which would have probably cost us another $50 or so, plus all the time and energy.  Yeah Baby!  Problem solving Master points to Southwest Airlines, and trusting instinct Master points to me!!

A quick flight with a pleasant chat to Austin on one side of me (who didn’t believe that Eucalyptus trees were Australian and a lovely lady (who’s name I didn’t get) that was from Texas on the other side of me and we were in Oakland.  We collected our baggage (something I took for granted until I arrived in Hawaii four weeks later) took a cab with a grumpy cab driver, where Bruce tried to sit in the drivers seat first and then went to the passenger seat and he grumbled “no” and so we all squeezed in the back.  A 10 minute cab ride, check in, change of clothes and we were off walking to the stadium like everything had gone completely according to plan!

A selfie in front of the stadium:

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We go to “at call” and pick up our tickets (I remembered to bring the credit card I used and then they didn’t ask for it).  Tickets in hand and we’re in!

Free Golden State Warriors t-shirts on our seats a very welcome surprise.  We confirm that Steph Curry is still injured and sitting on the sidelines – insert sad face.  I took a photo of him still, at least he was in the building (circled below).

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I found lime vodka cocktails (yummo), Bruce accidentally puts chilli sauce on his hot dog (yowzer) and Jay and I share a nachos with nothing but corn chips and cheese sauce, very dull …

The Warriors lost, but what a great night.  Such a spectacle with drummers, contortionists and dancers in the breaks.  So glad we made it.  Shame that we aren’t going to be in the right place to go to a playoff game (although the wallet is thanking us).

We walked back to the Hotel after the game, Jay learnt all about what marijuana smells like because it was everywhere – including billowing out of cars.  We got back to the room and then we slept for 15 hours.

Once we finally surfaced the next day, we found a T-Mobile and bought SIM cards for the three of us for the month.  Jay was overjoyed with having unlimited data. We then discovered the Double Double at In and Out…. Uh Oh.

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US and Canada 2018 – the planning and the take off

Such an amazing trip and I want to get some memories down that are about the trip and not about family history before I forget them.

We originally planned this trip when Jay was fanatical about basketball and we were going to come to some NBA games.  We put a rough budget together and a savings plan.  Then times changed and cricket took over and basketball took a backseat.  We kept saving.  Then we weren’t sure if we would put in a pool and travel and decided to have no pool so we could make sure we travelled.  We had a family meeting, made the decision and did a fists One, Two, Three “No Pool”.  Times changed, we missed our pool terribly during the hot summer, we rethought and decided to put the pool in and still do our US trip.  However, we realised we couldn’t do it in October as first thought – that was the beginning of cricket season, and Jay had just been accepted in to the Cricket Program at Adelaide High School as well as been invited to play for Adelaide Cricket Club under 14’s.  So we rethought and decided that it was to be in April, May 2018.  We would have the extra six months of savings and if we were lucky we could catch a basketball game at the end of the season.  So, it was on.  Just had to actually make it happen and book some flights.

We all had input on what we were on our must sees – Jay wanted San Diego, Bruce and I wanted New York, I wanted to drive the West Coast, Bruce and I wanted Grand Canyon and we all wanted Niagara Falls.  I dropped a considerable sized hint to Jane that if I was going to be as close as New York, maybe I could come visit.  She jumped in enthusiastically and I suggested the idea that I go to Montreal from New York and the boys might like a few days in Miami and then we all meet in Hawaii.  That was our rough plan.

Once I had that, it was almost like it was organised and months went by.  I spoke with Stacey, my cousin’s wife who lives in Ohio and had invited us to come and stay and they could take us to Niagara Falls from there – they do it with all of their visitors.  This sounded great and so I added it to the wish list and then she said “made sure you stop off in Hawaii on your way home to break up the flight”.  I realise what she meant when I saw that New York to LA is 6 hours and LA to Melbourne is about 14 hours, so 20 hours of flying – Ugh.  I discussed this with Bruce and Jay and it was added as a “must do” to the trip.

I kept saying “I must book the flights” and then finally in January 2018 whilst holidaying at Victor Harbor (where our best holiday planning usually eventuates), I booked the major flights.  Adelaide – LA (Virgin) and Hawaii to Adelaide (Jetstar).  The trip was on!

More time went by – “I must book more flights” was said a multitude of times again and then finally in about March I booked New York – Montreal (Air Canada), Montreal – Hawaii (American via Philadelphia and LA), New York – Miami (American), Miami – Hawaii (American via Chicago and LA).

Ok, now we had the bare bones of the trip organised.

I had always had dreams of San Francisco and LA is pretty close, would that factor in??  Grand Canyon is near Las Vegas – none of us are particularly keen on Vegas on it’s own, but our dream was a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, if funds permit.  Not sure if we wanted to see it just from the ground.

We got closer.  No more flights or any accommodation had been booked, but I discovered that the basketball fixture was out and look at that, we were landing in LA on the 7th of April and the season finished on the 11th.  There was a game LA Lakers vs LA Clippers in LA on the 11th April, which I looked at, but that would mean that our first part of our trip would be in LA.  What about San Francisco.  Then I found Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans at Oakland (near San Francisco) on April the 7th  the day we arrived.

Discussions with Bruce and decisions made – flight from LA to San Francisco, tickets to the Golden State Warriors game and accommodation for two nights in Oakland were booked (I had the forethought to realise we would need to sleep once we got back from the game).  I was right, we ended up sleeping 15 hours that night – thank God we didn’t have to check out.

On the 6th of April we dropped our two four legged kids, Stella and Turbo in to their holiday camp (which they don’t LOVE, but they are safe and well looked after).

The night before we left, I had trouble sleeping (no surprise) and was concerned that we didn’t have the night in San Francisco booked or the car, so I booked them.

On the 7th of April we headed off, armed with our major flights booked, the Golden State Basketball game, three nights of accommodation and a car for 10 days.  The rest we would figure out as we went (much to my Mother-In-Law’s horror who was desperate to know our itinerary in advance).  What a trip this is going to be!

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Collating family history information gathered in the last five days – Part 1 – Henry Eden Crout, Emily Jacobs and their children Harry and Leslie Eden Crout

This trip is a whirlwind of information provided by June.  She is the Catherine Crout Habel of the Canadian Crouts – the receptacle of the family history – she has boxes of certificates and photos and a head full of information, stories and memories.

Mum always said the stories and the photos put the “meat on the bones” of the names on the family tree, making them come to life and she hoped that it was the stories that would make the history more interesting for future generations, so that the information continues to get passed down.

It is the getting “on paper” of the stories that led her to creating this blog and so it is only fitting that it is here, on Mum’s blog that I order the information I have before I fly off to Hawaii in the morning.

This really has been a treat for both June and I to have the collation of information the number one priority of my trip, and it’s more than a little like spending a week with my Mum.  About as close as I can get, I reckon.

 

So, I’m starting with photos and information that I have that relates to Henry Eden Crout, and his four children from his two wives – Marie Ogilvie and Emily Jacobs.

 

Meeting Jane, the Cozens Cousin

We head off to Midland.  Only should take and hour, took us a little longer and then after some confusion we found Jane Cozens who was waiting for us at a great little Cafe in Midland, Ontario.

Jane was the other Canadian Cousin that became very close to Mum (long distance) in the last few years of Mum’s life.  What a treat for me to be able to meet her and “chew the fat” over lunch.  I ordered a burger and was convinced to have “Poutine”, which I’d never heard of, but was told it is a delicacy in Canada – fries with gravy and cheese curds.  Interested I agreed (even though June said I should wait and have Poutine in Montreal).

The Burger was sensational – better than the American Burgers – it had real cheese, rather than plastic American cheese.  The Poutine wasn’t fabulous.  It was ok, but the gravy was pretty bland, as was the cheese and the “fries” were soggy.  I’m glad I tried it, but I wouldn’t order it again.

5DEBF2A9-433D-45D9-8ABC-C78D2A6582BDI felt like I had known Jane forever.  I guess we’ve been FB friends for years – Mum introduced us and she set up a private Crout, Cozens and Cousins FB group that we shared family information from time to time with June and Geoff Embleton.  I saw a lot of communication including lots of jokes between Jane and Mum for years.  Then Jane and I have developed our own relationship in the last four years, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Conversation flowed easily and I felt like Mum was watching and smiling.  It was a wonderful couple of hours, spent with two of Mum’s most precious people.  What a Joy.

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Landing in Canada

I landed in Montreal airport after a very quick flight from Newark Airport in NYC and was struck with French instructions, French speaking people and I was hit with a moment of panic.  I’m here alone, so I have to figure this out on my own.  Where to go and what to do to get through customs, where to get my bags and then how to get to where June is going to pick me up.  How to contact June and even how to order and pay for a coffee.  I settled the panic and took it a step at a time and it worked just fine.

The only hiccup was that June was expecting I would take much longer to get through customs and get my bags (based on previous experience) so she was 15 minutes away when I got to speak to her first.  Great!  I said, time for me to get a coffee.

Off I toddle (thanks Mum) to the coffee shop, as for a flat white and you would think that I asked for an elephant in a cup.  He had no idea what I was saying.  Changing the instruction to a “latte, “o go” seemed to work.    The guy before me get a coffee and it was less than five dollars.  So, I go to the plastic bag filled with the Canadian cash of Mum’s from 1994 and pulled out three $2 notes – $6 will be plenty.  I handed him the $6 and he looked amazed and says “wow”.  “Oh, are they old?” I say?  “Yeah!  Are you sure you don’t want to keep them?”.  Nah, I say, I’ve got more.  I only found out later, that similar to Australia, $2 notes were replaced with coins many, many years ago.  He he he.  No wonder he was shocked.

So, coffee in hand I head out to where I told June I would be, and looked for a black Kia.

Not long and we were off, we stopped in a beautiful front patisserie and June got a coffee and something to eat and eight croissants to take with us.  Not really knowing where I was, or where I was going I happily listened to the family stories June told, I took notes, and we kept driving.

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Seven hours later we were at Roger and Jenn’s house.

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Roger is the grandson of Annie Ruby Crout.  Annie Ruby Crout is my Grandad Harry Scarborough Crout’s sister – same father – Harry Eden Crout and same mother – Marie Ogilvie.

This is Annie Ruby Crout, circa 1962 on a trip to Tijuana

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Back L-R Harry Crout, Alan Barry Crout Front L-R June Leslie Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Annie Ruby Crout, Doris Beatrice Longhurst, Bruce Milne

This is Annie Ruby Crout, circa 1980

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L-R Annie Ruby Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Doris Beatrice Longhurst

From left – Annie Ruby Crout, Thelma Patricia Moore, Doris Beatrice Longhurst

Roger had no idea my grandfather existed until a day or so before and yet, he warmly invited us to come and stay when June contacted him to see if we could meet up.  Because Roger is part of the line of Canadian Crouts that stem from Annie Ruby, he is a full blood relative, and it was very important, if at all possible for me to meet him while I was in Canada.  June knew this and so had worked very hard to get in contact with him to see if there was some way she could arrange it.

I met Roger and his wife Jenn and was handed a glass of wine.  June and I explained where I fitted in, which Roger admitted was still a bit overwhelming.  They were fascinated and so pleased that we had “reached out”.  They both have complicated histories and so didn’t really know their extended families growing up and Jenn said she has enjoyed meeting her cousins as adults more recently.

I heard about Jack, Roger’s father (Grandad’s nephew he never knew he had).  He was a character, by the sounds.  Roger told me how at 14 Jack took him on a road trip, and this is when Roger learnt to drive – across the country!  Roger then lived with Jack.  This is Jack, circa 1978

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Jack when he was older, circa 2002

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We sat by the fireplace, drinking wine and telling family stories and I met Frank, the big sook of a cat.

We enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal (something I was missing from my three weeks travelling) and more wine and we talked more before heading off to bed.  I was given Roger and Jenn Emily’s room who is an artist

 

The morning was cold – my first sight of snow

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We drank coffee, ate croissants and June shared some stories, documents and photos and Roger shared what he had.

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Original Marriage certificate Henry Edward Crout and Mary Cozens 1846

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Inscription on back by Henry Edward about the birth of his son Henry Eden and the death of his wife

 

L—R Henry Eden Crout (Harry Scarborough’s father) early in his military career when he was about 18 or 19, Harry Eden Crout, Emily Jacobs and Harry (June’s Dad), Harry Eden Crout (far left) as bandmaster in the 60th Battalian of the Canadian Army, 1915

Then Roger took June and I for a tour of their property on the “Polaris” – we rugged up – it was pretty cool and we assured it would be cold on the tour.

What an exciting (and a little hairy at times) way to see the spectacular property of Roger and Jenn’s.  We took photos in front of the fireplace, said our goodbyes and armed with a map, June and I were off to meet Jane – a Cozens cousin.

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The grave of my Great Grandfather Harry Eden Crout, his mother and second wife

I am in Montreal, Canada, staying with one of my Canadian cousins, June.  I have plenty to blog about, but for now I’m going to start with what happened today.

June has been a wonderful host and has been my chauffeur all around Canada since she picked me up from the airport, three days ago.  Today started with breakfast at a beautiful French patisserie – Premiere Moisson in Vaudreuil-Dorion, where you chose three types of bread for toast and your jam and I chose a large cafe lait.  Little did I know that meant it was going to be a BOWL of coffee.  It was spectacular!

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Sufficiently fuelled for our day, we headed off to Mount Royal cemetery, armed with the plot number of the grave that my Great Grandfather, Henry (Harry) Eden Crout was buried in, with his mother Annie and his second wife, Emily Jacobs.  My Grandfather Harry Scarborough Crout was born to Harry Eden and his first wife, Marie Ogilvie in 1912.  June’s father Henry Eden Crout (also called Harry) was born to Harry Eden and his second wife Emily Jacobs in 1911.

June called ahead for directions as she wasn’t sure where the Protestant section of the cemetery was and then off we headed.  I didn’t realise that there was no headstone on the grave until we arrived and asked for specific instructions to the plot and June mentioned there was no headstone.

The plot was only a short walk away and so we followed our map, mentally ticking off all of the markers the administration person had told us about and got to the section where the graves faced the other way and then counted back seven rows, as instructed and looked for the second section.  This was the hardest part, finding where the first section finished and the second began.  Then we counted forward three plots, looking for an empty plot with no headstone and then I saw it – CROUT.

I said – “isn’t that it”?  A shocked June agreed and there it was, the grave of my Great Grandfather Harry Eden Crout, buried with his mother, Annie (Moodie) and his second wife Emily Jacobs.  How wonderful, not only to find the grave, but to find that it did in fact have a headstone, and to have discovered this with June, who hadn’t been there for many years, maybe even as long ago as when Emily died, which was 45 years ago.

 

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June is pretty sure that “Uncle Les” – Leslie Eden Crout, the youngest and most recently deceased of Harry Eden Crout’s four kids is most likely the person who organised the headstone.  She thinks most likely around the time that Leslie was burying his son, Peter, who died in 1983 at the age of 35, from an Asthma attack, or his wife Helen (Sorlie) in 1993.

That means that this headstone has been here for at least 25 years, maybe longer.

The lichen had taken over, and so we spent some time cleaning the writing to make it legible, with what we had.  Even after doing that and editing the photo, it is still hard to make out the inscription.  It reads:-

CROUT

In loving memory of

1856 Annie Crout 1940

1880 Harry 1961

His wife

1881 Emily 1973

We thanked Les and enjoyed sharing the moment of discovery and unveiling and June said she hoped that Catherine (my Mum) could see.  She said “we know your secret Grandad, and it’s all ok”.  I agreed.  How wonderful to be in this position, meeting family that I didn’t know I had for most of my life and all because of my Mum.

The cemetery is a beautiful garden cemetery.  Spending eternity there wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

It was a special moment in time – the sun was shining and we were walking in a beautiful garden and I had just found my Great Grandfather’s and Great Great Grandmother’s Grave.  I am so glad I invited myself to stay with June and she so warmly accepted.  Wow.

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The first meeting of the Australian and Canadian Crouts

I am in New York City, half way through a fantastic family holiday with Bruce and Jay.  We have been in the US for two and a half weeks.  We started in Oakland, to go to the basketball and then a night in San Francisco before driving down to LA with a couple of stops on the way and then on to San Diego, then we flew to Vegas for a quick stop to fly over the Grand Canyon and then flew to New York City and have been here for three days.

We have been saving for and planning this trip for a fair while.  In amongst the plan was for me to go and stay for five nights with June, my Mum’s closest Canadian Cousin.  I wrote about the connection between Mum and June here.  That is the next stage of the trip after we have had our 7 nights in New York.  I will certainly be blogging about that, so watch this space.

The last blog I wrote, in September, I talked about two Cousins who had contacted me from seeing a blog post of Mum’s – that post you can read here.  So, the most amazing thing just happened.  Here, I sit in my hotel room blogging after returning from dinner with one of them – Peter Harp, his beautifully glowing pregnant wife Jesse and Peter’s brother Mac and his beautiful wife Elise.  There the three of us and families sat talking about the similarities and differences between Australia and America and specific particularities about New York, we got along wonderfully, we ate beautiful very affordable Chinese food and then took some photos for posterity (plus June told me I had to) and then we stopped for Ice Cream, said our goodbyes and headed off our separate ways.  Before we did, I shared with Peter and Mac how this is historical as it is the first meeting of the Australian contingent of Crouts from Henry Eden Crout from his first wife Marie Ogilvie and the Canadian contingent of Crouts from his second and lifelong partner Emily Jacobs.  You can read about the Canadian connection here

The two photos that were taken with Jay were really white in the bottom half, like there was an unearthly presence …. Mum? any chance you were letting us know you were there????  I’m not so sure about that, but what I am sure about is that she would have been clapping her hands with glee.  All that she wanted was for Marie and Grandad to be honoured and the best way this can be done in my mind is for everyone to know about them.  I am making sure that they have their place in the Crout history, and I am having the fun of meeting some of the cousins along the way!  I know Mum would have loved to meet them but she just ran out of time, so I’m making sure I do it for her.

Thanks for organising a great night Peter, it was a pleasure to meet you all.  I look forward to being in touch with you all, and meeting you again someday, either when we come back to USA or one day if you come to Australia!

Family is a complicated, intriguing and wonderful thing and I remain so grateful that Mum’s final years were spent not only obsessing over family history, but actually writing it here for the benefit of us all, her enduring legacy.

 

 

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Canadian cousins coming out of the woodwork

I love that Mum’s blog is still doing what she set it up for, three years after she died.

Mum wanted a place to share her family research publicly, so that it would be immortalised and be there for generations to come. She wanted there to be a place for her family to go when they were interested in particular members of the family, to find out what their special place in our family was.

She wanted stories that were buried years ago to be brought in to the open so we could all learn from them.

How fantastic that in the last couple of weeks two separate cousins via our fascinating Canadian Connection, have been researching Crout’s and been led to me, via Mum’s blog.

The photo above is of Leslie Eden Crout (Les).  He was one of the half brother of my Grandad’s, same father, different mother.

The two people who contacted me are both connected to Les.

One lives in Brooklyn and is Les’ grandson.

The other one lives in Canada and is the descendant of Andrew, Les’ wife’s brother.

Both of their heads are spinning now I’ve told them how Les had a half brother, Harry Scarborough Crout, who was for years older than Les and lived in England with his mother. He then went to Australia when he was 16. and stayed on after his mother passed away three years later and then ended up marrying my Nana. It is taking a while for it to all make sense to them, which is understandable. As I said to them, I’ve had years of processing, to get to this point.

Geez, it’s a bit scarey that how these Canadian Cousins all fit together is making so much sense to me now. I really am turning in to my mother! I know she’d be rapt.

Stace – two years without you

My friend for almost 38 years, my partner in everything hilarious for the last three of those years, you have been gone now for two.

So much laughter and happiness left my life the day I said my final goodbye to you.

I am lucky to be able to still hear your laugh when my mind is still and I concentrate.

So much has happened and so much is different now. I miss your family who I also saw regularly over those last three years. I imagined that I would still see them, except for Glenn and very occasionally Jess and Jayden, I don’t. I hold Glenn’s friendship close and make sure I keep in contact with him. I’m really glad that my friendship with him has grown from just being about my bond with you. We are bonded by Jay and Bruce now as well as our own long history, thanks to you.

Thanks to that phone call you made to him in high school, pretending to be Allison Hayes asking if he liked you. Thank God you made that phone call and brought him in to my life.

Jayden is working and Jess has gone out on her own, standing on her own two feet. I know you would be proud of them as you always were.

Vikki and Adam have moved in to a great little place – you would be so happy to see her so happy there.

Your Mum and Dad are moving to Victor. A massive thing for your family, leaving the family home (finally) and moving somewhere that makes them happy. I’m so pleased for them.

Glenn is working – too hard. He needs to keep busy, to keep moving to keep his mind away from thinking too much and getting too blue. He’s finding his way, in his way. He’s about the only one that I feel like I am able to keep my promise to you to look after for you.

Rachel and Jim have been travelling a lot and loving it by the looks of the photos.

The rest are finding their own way to look after themselves.

We all miss you. The void you have left is huge and the glue that held us all together – you – is gone. Things are very different.

I remember Stace. I remember all the fun, the laughter, the happy tears streaming down our cheeks, the sad ones occasionally escaping, your octopus arms, Sandra being too nice to strange people in the hospital.

I have a new person who has come in to my life who kept throwing me the other day by saying “REALLY?!” in EXACTLY the way you said it – over and over. It made me smile, but it made me ache inside.

I love you friend.

Kathleen Mary Crout – love you Nana

Ten years ago today, I lost my very much loved Nana and my Mum lost her much loved Mum and became an orphan.

Mum and I sat with Nana and held her hand as she passed away peacefully, in my mind. Mums experience was that it was a terrible passing – that Nana wasn’t given sufficient morphine to keep her fully sedated.  That always made me uneasy that our experiences and memories were so different. It made me sad that it tortured Mum so much and I never really knew how to discuss it with Mum without feeling as though I was challenging her.

Three years and two months ago, I then held my Mum’s hand as she took her last breath. Hers was not a peaceful passing, lung cancer will do that. Struggling to get sufficient air in to your lungs is scary and trying to find a comfortable position is exhausting. Thankfully it was quick, but Mum was nowhere near as settled as Nana was and it plays on my mind that if Mum thought Nana’s passing was terrible, I really hope she wasn’t tortured in her final hours.

One VERY big difference was that Mum was not deserted in the years leading up to her death by her closest family. She was the lifeblood of our family, right there in the centre. She knew it and she loved it. Her kids were her greatest achievement, her greatest joy and her best friends. She had a deep and loving bond with her son and daughters “in-love” and she was adored by all of her four grandchildren. And we were all there in the room with her in her final hours (except for Lisa who was overseas) and most of us were in the room when she took her last breath. She made sure of it –  she waited for my husband to make it from the other side of town and 15 minutes before her last breath when Cullen and I were out if the room, she knew her time was coming and she called for us.

I tell myself that wasn’t a tortured passing. She was able to be conscious right up to the last moments – so she could wait for Bruce and call for her kids when she needed to. She was in a lot of pain and had been for hours, but she had found a way to transcend the pain, so she chose not to ask for drugs. I have wondered why we didn’t push for morphine to make  her difficulty in breathing less traumatic for her, but things happen the way they should and she wanted to be present in mind and choose when to go, which could be quicker than if drugs dulled her senses.

This was going to be a post about Nana – on the 10th anniversary of her passing, remembering her and what an amazingly strong woman she was and how she influenced my life. I miss my Nana, but bloody hell I miss my Mum more. I guess this was supposed to be a post about both of them and how 10 years ago we had to learn to live without Nana and then seven years later, I had to learn to live without my Mum.

I wish I had’ve talked to Mum more about her experience of losing her Mum. How difficult it was for her and how she felt.

But then again, maybe I didn’t want to face it. Now that I know how painful it is to lose the most important person in your life, maybe I actually couldn’t have coped with what she would have told me back then. I think she knew that and that’s why she didn’t talk to me about it.

I love you Nana and I love you Mum.

Two amazing women.

Much loved, and greatly missed.