Sixteen Years

Yesterday my cat of sixteen years went to the Vet for the last time. The decision to put her down was made after months of watching her deteriorate before my eyes. The final few days of her life were hard. (We live a long way away from Vets, so finding one that was open and within driving distance that was not going to stress her out, were all part of the decision making process.)

She was given to me by my long dead Father. So my memories of her as a kitten are mixed with the final memories of my own Father. (Just before he lost his sanity and the cancer in his brain consumed him forever). So this was no ordinary cat.

Athene – was a British blue shorthair. She was her own cat, one that tolerated humans for what they could provide, and preferred a solitary existence. She did though seek me out when I had my own bouts with tumours. She was there when I collapsed on the bathroom floor from a bursting ovary, she was there when I came home from hospital after both operations to remove the masses that took my uterus and remaining ovary. She would seek me out when the rest of the house had fallen to sleep and I was struggling to sleep. We shared many moments in the quiet depths of the night, together, her presence helping me through the sleepless night sweats that plagued me in those early days.

She was there when I met the person I would later marry, she managed to wiggle her way into his heart through sheer standoffishness. Athene made him like cats. It was his lap she would deign to sit upon for over a decade. She tolerated (barely) our child, I knew she was mellowing when she would sit still long enough for a tentative toddler hand to pat her. She never raised a claw against him, or tried to sleep in his cradle she just let him be.  She will always be his first cat.

Athene accepted the dog that was abandoned and we found. The sight of a large wolfhound trying to befriend her still makes me smile. Athene would have nothing to do with the dog, she was after all a solitary creature.

I miss her now, a day after she’s gone. On my nightly trips around the house seeking relief from my night sweats last night, she was not with me. Not giving me a quiet purr or a gentle head butt as I sat in the breeze of the backdoor. There is no Grey Ghost who would patrol the corridor and sit in my son’s bedroom guarding him.

She will be forever in our hearts.Pic_0512_118

 

 

A long time passes

Life flew by and I’m around again to the month that I find the hardest to deal with. You see my Mother died at the beginning of January and my Father at the end of January. Yes there was a few years between them, Mum died in 1998, Dad followed her five years later, but for me January is the worst kind of month.

It’s the month I dread for the rest of the eleven, because even though the years have flown by since I lost them, the grief is still there. It hides away, waiting for something or someone to remind you, to then flare up and you’ll find yourself (or I do) standing there in public with tears rolling down my cheeks. I find that hard black lump in my throat as I stand or sit or even lay there and really feel the loss that they have left behind.

I cuddle my partner, our child, our animals to try and salve this wound, and yet that isn’t enough, and will never really fill it up.  I’ve learnt to move on, to accept this grief as a small part of who I am, and adapt to the new paradigm that exists. And for folk who have never lost anyone in this permanent sort of way, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But for those of us who have, and will live a different life afterwards we do understand.

Catching up with friends, it is the ones who have lost something or someone (a relationship or a person) that understand it more. Who get where I’m coming from. Who accept the older woman with tears on her cheeks in public, mourning her loss in public.

A Pregnant Pause: What is the link between a 91 year old Australian, a Hospital by the River, and 43,000 Ethiopian women?

Source: A Pregnant Pause: What is the link between a 91 year old Australian, a Hospital by the River, and 43,000 Ethiopian women?

An inspirational woman works to make other women’s lives better.

If you’d like to support this organisation continue it’s great work then please click on the above link and follow her links through to the page.

Weekends

We’re back from spending a hectic 48 hours in a regional city. It was awesome, the weather was great, the selection of activities was amazing and I also snuck in some shopping at the retail giants.

It’s nice though returning to our small town and appreciate the stillness that comes with it.

We’re heading into Melbourne this week and I’m literally bracing for the onslaught of noise and crowds. I’m becoming much more of a quiet seeker in my aging years. We lived for nearly a decade right in the middle of Melbourne and thought nothing of the constant light, noise, people pressures. But now we’ve embraced the regional life it’s changed our thoughts completely on what makes a great day out.

Do we really need to be so overly stimulated? I certainly don’t take it well anymore. I crave the quiet and time to think and not be rushed.

Low tech child raising in a high tech world

I’m upfront here about my wish to install in my own child a very low tech childhood. Yes I do let him use the computer once a day on school holidays to play computer games for an  hour, or research his favourite television shows – under supervision. But he doesn’t have access to a smart phone, an Ipad or any of the other devices that a lot of other children his age appear to have. (We have a PS2 but that’s rarely used too).

We’re the rare family, who when we go out, we all sit together and talk. No one has a screen at the table, and I don’t babysit my child with a screen. We do have a take away bag filled with drawing paper, pens, textas, crayons, and books to read. So if he does finish early and wants to draw, then we do let him – it gives us that extra few minutes to catch up with him, and finish our meal.

However I look around and see the number of children propped in front of a screen – the parent sits immersed in their digital world and the children each have a screen each. There is no or limited conversation going on. I wonder if they perform this ritual in their own homes and if so how much of the quality face time they give each other. (Or is updating their twitter or facebook posts that important?).

We’ve also read to our child since he was born. Passing to him the greatest opportunity ever – the written word. He thrilled me last year when I walked passed his room and he was sitting on his bed with a book in his hands devouring the pages. This to me was hitting the goldmine.

Call me old fashioned but the book is the ultimate entertainment device. It needs no electricity, no batteries, but it fuels the imagination like nothing else. Transporting you to ancient worlds or far flung universes – it will take you where you want and back again.

I also feel that the jury is still out about what happens when we expose young brains to the high tech devices too early. I want to raise a child who can use his imagination when he’s bored, to pick up a book, play in the sandpit, chase the dog, to transport himself into his imagination. Not be fed worlds to him by a screen. So far my son seems to be enjoying the fact he can entertain himself, and the children who approach our table when we’re out eating, attracted by the child who sits drawing elaborate worlds, who ask if they can draw please, reinforce my belief that we’re on the right track.

Cyborg

So I’m sitting here typing into the computer, and reflecting on a conversation my partner had with his class this week. As he looked around the classroom where all the heads of the students were bent over their computers interfacing with their digital worlds, he asked how many of them thought they were Cyborgs. After some conversation they came around to his interpretation of what a Cyborg is now.

I don’t use social media, so I’m not as connected as most folk. I don’t own a smart phone either. So my own interactions with digital worlds are when I’m sitting down with my child when he needs help establishing a colony in Age of Empires. We grow and build the colony until he’s ready to go off and wage war.

So I don’t consider myself a big C Cyborg – I walk down the street and greet people personally. I live in a small rural town where the majority of folk on the street don’t have their heads down, or ear phones on as they live their digital lives. I live here, now, in the present. Not waiting for the promised lands of the digital environment.

I use the internet but not as a reference tool, as an entertainment tool. (I’m hanging out for the next Star Wars movie but that’s another story). I prefer my interactions to be face to face, but have been known to text and email folk who just need to know that I care and love them. (Usually when they’re going through tough times and don’t want to talk….).

I wonder at the future my child will inhabit if the vast majority of the world is caught in the digital world. How often they will interact one to one, not through the safety of the digital tools, but in person. Will it be better? Or worse. He’s growing up in a world where the internet is the norm, Facebook is everywhere (at least amongst the teens at my school), and Minecraft is what you do with your lunchtime.

Unlike the Cyborgs of the present, I’ll be shutting down the computer soon, and heading out to spend the afternoon gardening in my veggie patch, and watching my child play with the dog. I won’t be waiting for the next Facebook update or any of the other digital “musts” that this age we live in seems to insist we do. Instead it will be me, the earth, and the sky – as I prefer it.

Back blogging

So much time and space has flown between now and my last blog – and I apologise. Life got busy – going back to work, learning a new job, learning a new small town, and all that life could bring with that.

I’m now living in a town with a population of 800 people. Imagine that – imagine walking down the street and everyone knowing who you are – you can’t hide. Especially as my job involves customer service to a large proportion of this population.

It’s taught me that country folk are welcoming, and also so much more friendly then the city counterparts. When was the last time you were personally greeted by folks down the main street? I love it, they say hullo and genuinely want a chat. They’re not like the city folk who would rather freeze then make eye contact. (Don’t get me started on the fact that most city folk are attached to their electronic devices and wouldn’t even know you were there so caught up in their electronic selves…)

So life is growing, and changing and I’m loving it……I hope you are too and hopefully I’ll be back with a longer update soon!

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