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.

The ideas are flowing, now I need the priorities

Ok, so now I get it Mum.  When you have all of these ideas of what you want to write about and share with anyone who is following your stories and thought patterns, but you have trouble organising yourself to prioritise your time.

Mum used to talk about how she felt like the spirits of her Ancestors were “bothering” her, jostling to the front of the queue when they got impatient for their story to be told.  I haven’t (yet) felt that as such, I’m sure as I turn more in to my mother {chuckle} this will happen.  For now though, I feel like I’m having ideas and starting a few different things, so that now I’ve got multiple stories on the go and I’m not sure which one to focus on first.

I have this wonderful story that is the story of the Canadian Cousins – that is a big story and will take time and I have decided that I am going to follow Mandy’s suggestion and write a book – Mum’s book.  Mum always said she was going to write a book and she just didn’t know what it was going to be about.  So, I’ve decided I’m going to write Mum’s book for her.  It will be the story of discovering her Canadian Cousins existed and then how she sought them out, created a strong relationship with them and began to uncover the mystery of their family.  I will pull extracts from that to share here, on Mum’s blog, but for the whole uncut version of the story, you will need to buy the book 🙂  The plan is not to become a millionaire, but perhaps to raise enough funds to keep Mum’s rellies “in the ground” by paying the lease fees on their graves as they become due.  That seems pretty fair.

I also have another book that needs to be published – Grandad’s book, which was written by my Grandad in the late 70’s, early 80’s that chronicles the first 4 years of his time in Australia, when he was 16-19 years old.  He wrote it on a typewriter and the font is quite faint and hasn’t scanned all that well.  Although my Husband assures me that there is technology that will assist the transfer of it to a Word document, I’m a bit slow at working that kind of thing out, and I’m kind of enjoying typing it out – reading it as I go.  Not sure how I’ll go about publishing that one, I guess that will be the learning then to take on board to publishing the bigger one.

Then there is Mum’s trip to Shipley to discover where Grandad came from in 1995.  She has talked about it a few times in her blogs.  As Grandad’s health (and in particular memory) was fading in the 1990’s he was getting increasingly distressed about the fact that no-one could find where he came from – 42 Mossman Street, off Crag Road, Windhill, Shipley, United Kingdom.

So, Mum made it her mission to discover where Grandad came from, which she did.  Being the storyteller she was, she wrote a diary on her trip, which I took with me when I went to the UK last year.  I began writing out her diary then.  It is a fantastic story of her discovering her Father’s homeland.  Then when she got back, she put together a folder of photographs and notes and she gave it to Grandad, who was overjoyed to know that she had found his homeland and could see photos of how it looked now – his memories of his childhood came flooding back and Mum felt as though she had calmed his soul, just before the dementia took hold of him.  The saddest part was that years later Nana had told Mum that she should take the folder back as Grandad was past the point of it being useful for him and she knew how precious it was.  Mum never got it back and thought for years after Nana had died that it had gone missing when Nana’s treasures were sifted through.  This was very traumatic for Mum and she thought that someone in the family had taken it and may not have known the true value of it.

When I was cleaning Mum’s house out after she died, I found Grandad’s book – which I had never seen before and I found Mum’s precious folder she made for Grandad.  It was in with Nana’s keepsakes, and had been kept safe after all.  I am sad that Mum never knew that, but I think she would be happy for me to share the story of her trip on her blog.

So, after writing out my to do list here, I think I’ve worked out that what I need to focus on first is the Shipley trip in 1995.  I will put a series of posts together of the trip from a combination of the diary and the folder.

Yep, that’s it.  Ok, maybe I’ll see if I can make a start…. How great for me to have a place to come to clear my head about which direction I should take….

By the way, the other job I got finished this week was the final proof of the words on Mum’s headstone.  The stone should be delivered in mid October, so I imagine the headstone should be finished by the end of October, and I am pleased to say that the Canadian Cousins made it in to my life in time for me to immortalise their link with Mum in stone – Mum would be thrilled with this – I just know it (and I’m pretty sure that a couple of the Canadian Cousins will be pretty chuffed too).

The Canadian Cousin story continues to grow and unfold – just yesterday June told me that she found Grandad’s sister’s grandson (so the same generation as me – our grandparents being blood siblings) and I have sent him a message on FB.  He’ll probably think I’m some nutjob (which I’m sure many people thought about Mum when she contacted them out of the blue and told them she was their cousin) but maybe not.  We’ll just have to see.  Like June said “see, us coming together is working, I just needed a bit of a push because I would never have done it on my own”.  Yes June, it is coming together and is making the story I have to write bigger all the time!

As June says often in her emails TTFN (ta ta for now).

Kirrily

 

 

 

 

The best story I have ever read

I am in the middle of the best story I have ever read.

There is nothing I love more than getting completely engrossed in a story, so that even when I’m not reading it, I am thinking about it and wondering what will happen next.  This doesn’t often happen to me, it has to be the right mix to really pull me in, otherwise I get bored, put the book down and then never finish it.  No chance with this one.

It is a story full of intrigue – mystery, love, family, war, discovery, understanding, reconciliation, honesty, loyalty, respect and loss.

It is the story of two cousins, with the same Grandfather, but different Grandmothers, on opposite sides of the globe, finding one another and then working as a team to piece their shared history together.  A history that is more unbelievable than any fiction they have ever read and is far better, as it is the truth – their truth.

They were both the historians of their families, with a trunk full of photos, certificates and memorabilia to share.  The communication was via email, daily in the beginning, and most days with multiple emails.  Most emails contained multiple attachments and were received by the other always with great appreciation of the time taken to compile and share.  Their shared love of discovering the story spurred each other on to keep scanning and sending anything they could find that was relevant, to help map out the story, as well as bring the people alive.

This story continued over two and a half years as they both became completely obsessed with ensuring that this story was documented accurately and with compassion and understanding.

Then tragically, their story came to an end as one of them died, very suddenly.  That person was my Mum and the other person was June Kendall.  Their story started in June 2011, and with June’s permission I have begun reading the emails between the two of them.  In three days, I have read more than 130 emails and looked at every attachment.  I am so sorry to know that I only have about another 50 or so to go until this part of the story ends.

The wonderful part is that it is all there, documented for me to read and then to go back over, look at what Mum has pieced together and ordered so far, fill in some missing blanks and then share the story, here, on Mum’s blog that she started the year before they first met.

Perhaps that will awaken the passion to finish the discovery that I believe died in June when she lost my Mum.  She said that I would understand how much she missed my Mum when I read their emails, and she was right.  I now know just how important they were to each other, and how tragic it was that they only had the three years together before Mum died and they never got to meet each other, or even hear each other’s voice.

I don’t even need to ask June whether I would have her blessing to write the story here, as I know, from their emails that is what they both wanted – for the story to be told honestly and compassionately and be there for the world, but in particular the descendants to know.

There may just be other descendants, like us, who want to understand how there came to be two families, joined by the same man on two separate continents, who never knew the other branch existed.  There may be even other people completely unrelated that will find the story fascinating.

As well as finishing reading the story in the final 50 emails, I need to work out exactly how I want to go about telling it….  So, if you would like to join me on the journey, watch this space ….

 

An orange can make the world a better place

Today, as I sit and eat an orange and juice runs down my arms and gets all over my face and I get orange bits between my teeth, my world is just that bit brighter.

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You see, this is no ordinary orange. This is a very special orange – it represents something that I thought was a missed opportunity.

My Mum had an orange tree. It was her pride and joy and every year she delighted in eating the fruit, but more than that, she loved to share the fruit with her loved ones. I have vivid memories of eating oranges at her dining room table while she sat and watched, and smiled. I know as she lovingly watered it, she thought of the fruit that would come and the happiness it would bring.

When Mum died in July 2014, the oranges were on her tree as they were every year. I had not had an orange from her tree that year, she had been too ill and we had been in the whirlwind of her rapid decline in health and sudden death. Then there was the funeral to plan and the day of the funeral to get through.

My brother Cullen had the forethought to pick a basket of oranges from her tree and take them to her funeral and asked her friends and family that were present, to take an orange and to enjoy it and think of Mum.

I thought it was a wonderful idea and I took an orange, but I could not bring myself to eat it. It went rotten in my fruit bowl and it matched the gloom that descended upon me.

Last year my brothers and I were still in the throes of sorting Mum’s house out and getting it ready for sale and I went on my overseas trip following my ancestry, thanks to Mum.

The oranges didn’t really enter my thoughts too much, but as I think about it now, the fact that the tree was not cared for after Mum died, meant that it got diseased and didn’t bear fruit last year.  Cullen gave it a big prune and laid the slate for it to fruit this year. Same with the peach tree.

Then as fate may have it, I decided to buy my brothers out of Mum’s house and to keep it as an investment property so that I could keep the house that meant so much to me, in my life. It was a house full of memories – I had moved there with Mum when I was 17 and turned into an adult there (even having a cracking 18th birthday party there and then a rerun three weeks later). My Mum had sold the house to my Nana and Grandad in their ailing years and moved next door and then bought it back when they moved into nursing homes. So not only was it full of memories of my Mum, also of my grandparents who died in 2007.  It was just too important to me and the thought of not knowing who was in it, or whether it was being looked after, was too much for me to cope with and so it became clear that I needed to keep it.  Which I did. I then prepared it to rent out, rather than for sale and was overjoyed with the final result.

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Now that I am another year down the track and a fair bit stronger, the thought of sitting down and enjoying Mum’s oranges is a thought that brings me  joy.  The fact that I kept the house, and found a wonderful tenant, means that now, every year, we are able to enjoy Mum’s oranges. So, this is the first one of Mum’s oranges I have eaten since before she even got sick. This is something I thought I gave up the opportunity to do when I didn’t eat the one I took from her funeral. That makes me very happy.

I have now finished it – devoured it in minutes and it was quite possibly the sweetest fruit I have ever eaten in my life. I thought of Mum with every bite and felt her watching and smiling and saying “that’s my Girl”.

Love you Mum and thank you for all the years of looking after the orange tree so that we can enjoy the fruit for years to come. The decision to keep Mum’s house was a great one, for even more reasons than I first thought.

I know she lead me to make the decision to keep it, and I know that she had a hand in Ruth being the tenant. There are just too many co-incidences for her not to have.

I am grateful that she taught me how to trust my instinct and the Universe.

It’s a day

Today is the 6th of July, 2016. Two years ago my Mum, Catherine, the owner and creator of this blog was taken from us. Almost a year has passed since my last blog when we were in the UK. An amazing, special time.

I have hardly even visited the blog in this last year.

I have been busy finding my way in my new life, without my Mum. I navigated my way through losing a friend who had a 12 year battle with melanoma in April 2015. Then I stumbled my way through losing my oldest and dearest friend, Stacey, who had a five year battle with breast cancer in September 2015. I managed to get through both of them without Mum. Amazing what you can do, when you have no choice.

I’m doing ok, my son is now 11, I was able to move him to a school which is a much more positive place for him to be. I’m sure that would have been handled much better if Mum was here, but we got through it.  I have finally managed to get him keen on reading. The library is now a favourite place for him to go and I am delighted to see that he has discovered a series which he loves and is spending every spare moment buried in it. I know Mum would be clapping her hands with joy and sharing her love of books with him.

I have become a much easier person to live with than I was when I first lost Mum. Grief was very hard and I was so unhappy and stressed and emotional. Thank God I have an amazing husband who with the assistance of my wonderful grief councillor gave me the space and understanding to find my way.

Today I knew was going to be hard. I was prepared for it, which I’ve decided I need to be more often. I need to plan to give myself space to grieve, and then it’s likely I’ll actually cope with the day better than I expect. I spent a few wonderful hours with my Big Brother last night. In anticipation of having a hard time today and wanting to connect with him – the closest link I have to my Mum. He flew to Singapore for work today, so seeng him today wasn’t possible, but we managed to squeeze in dinner and drinks  last night.

I was talking with him about why I find anniversaries, birthdays, Mothers Days and other special dates so hard. Mothers Day this year was particularly hard. I had told myself and everyone around me I was fine and then I woke up and I was in a big, dark hole. Horrid. I wasn’t ready, it snuck up on me and it sucked. Big Time. I realised that those times are the days that I really stop and think about Mum and how much things are different now. How different I am now, and that makes me really sad.  I now feel like I don’t have somewhere else to go when things get really tough. I would always go to Mum. She was always there with a warm hug, soothing words, a cup of coffee and would help me put a plan together and gather the strength I needed to re-enter the real world. No longer do I have that safe haven, that soft place to fall and gather myself and my strength.

Of course I still have people to go to – my Husband, my Son, my friends and I have my Big Brother. Thank God for my Big Brother. I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these two years without him.  He provides a different safe haven to that which Mum gave me, but I love the fact that Cullen is so much like Mum in different ways to me. Our relationship is different to that which I had with Mum, and different to how our relationship was before Mum died. Back then we really didn’t understand each other, and now we share the fact that we are navigating our way through without Mum and realising that has had a profound effect on us. I feel like he has taken  over from Mum in being able to know when things aren’t right with me and he picks up the phone just to chat. Sometimes I don’t even realise what is coming – the tidal wave of grief, before he calls. I am so grateful for him, and I know he is of me.  When we left each other last night, his parting words about today were “It’s a day”.  He meant it in the way of today being a big day – hence the title of the post.

So this morning I was exhausted – I slept all morning and then felt like I was in a numb dazed state. I decided I needed to achieve something meaningful from the day, so I took myself off to Nalty Memorisls and organised Mum’s headstone. I’ve been meaning to for months, actually more than a year, but the time hasn’t been right. Today, everything fell in to place, and the deposit has been paid, the shape and design of the headstone set, and all I need to do is provide the text – that’s the easy part. I’m really pleased. It,s going to be amazing and then every time I visit the cemetery (which I don’t do all that often) I will be so proud of the headstone and the statement it makes about Mum and who she was, and what she meant to us.

The other thing I wanted to do was write a blog post, so this is my second accomplishment of the day.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be over two years since my Mum died. I’ll be in to the next phase. For now I’m happy to have quietly seen the day through, and ticked a couple of boxes.

We are headed off for a week in sunny Cairns on Saturday to spend with my Dad, which should be a nice getaway. I look forward to feeling warm. It’s been so bloody cold lately.

Then I will prepare to mark the one year anniversary of Stacey’s death in September and will be very pleased to post photos of Mum’s headstone here, when it’s complete.

I hope all of you here reading this today still remember my Mum often and with love. You all meant so much to her.

Until next time,

Kirrily

8 month anniversary of Mum’s Death

Its been a very long time between blogs.  I have been busy with a lot of other stuff, which I will find time to blog about soon, but I needed to post this today.

8 months ago today was a day from hell, that is etched in my memory torturing me with its cruel pace, whenever my mind is still.  But on the morning of that day, only hours before she was taken from us, my Mum had the strength to make and allow us to record memories.  Here are two of my favourites.  One shows her strength and one shows her pride – she was full to overflowing in both.

I love you Mum and miss you more than words can say.  😦20140706_130649 20140706_130947