My father’s death in July this year was not
unexpected. His health had been deteriorating for some time and in his final
few weeks he was able to do very little for himself. His passing was a release
for both him and rest of my family. It’s very hard to watch a person you love
have no quality of life. What comforted me about my father’s death, aged 81,
was that he had lived a full life, containing experiences that he wouldn’t have
dreamed about as he grew up on a rural property in a remote part of Southern
My sister’s death nearly four
years’ ago was quite different. Although she had been fighting breast cancer
for over three years, we all remained optimistic that it was a fight she could
win. Her passing was shocking and devastating. At age 44, Mary’s life still
stretched out in front of her for many years. Her first child, Ned, had just
started school and her second child, Lola, had just celebrated her third
birthday. Professionally, firstly as a teacher then as a school inspector, Mary
had accomplished much and there was still much more on the horizon for her.
Mary’s husband, Sam, along with Ned, Lola
and Sam’s partner, Martina, arrived in Australia two weeks’ ago for their first
visit since Mary’s death.
I was a little apprehensive about how
emotional I might be when seeing Mary’s family without her present. I was sure
my sense of loss would be sharp and painful.
I am happy because I got to know my nephew
and niece a little more.
Ned is a focused and serious rugby fanatic,
who trains every day in his father’s gym to be the best rugby player he can be.
He is inquisitive, loves animals and looks just like his mother.
Lola is a playful, wide-eyed free spirit
who engages with everyone around her. Ned may look more like Mary but Lola has
her mother’s infectious personality.
Sam has done a wonderful job as sole parent
in such devastating circumstances and Martina is delightful, a truly caring
person who is committed to Sam and his family; I know Mary would have fully
I am sad because I know how thrilling it is
to witness your own flesh and blood make their way through childhood as they
develop their own identity, passions and personality; an experience Mary only
had a short time to savour.
The deaths of both my sister and my father
and the visit of my niece and nephew have made me look more critically at the
person I am and how I am impacting those around me every day, whether I realise
it or not.
I choose to adopt the attitude that Dad
lives on through me and Mary lives on through Ned and Lola. Of course, nothing
or nobody replaces those I have lost but being present to life each day and
committing to being the best me I can be each day, is the way I can be true to
the spirit and values of those I have lost.
I want my life to count: As my father’s
life did and as my sister’s life did.
All the best for making your life count in
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