Sunday, October 27, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Saturday, September 21, 2013
His grandchildren, did not have the pleasure of knowing Dane before he had Parkinson’s.
So I ‘d like to share some things with them, things that they might not know.
The first is that growing up, I firmly believed that the name ‘ Doctor Dane Sutton’ had magic in it.
When I introduced myself, people’s faces would light up and with an invariable note of reverence and respect they would ask, “Are you Doctor Dane Sutton’s daughter?” and then the magic would happen – kindness would flow, doors would open, free tickets to the show appeared and often cake would be presented.
With his name magic was invoked in daily interactions but was particularly spectacular with his patients, people in the medical professions and the brothers, nuns and clergy who all adored and respected him.
People respected and loved Dane because he dedicated his life to love and care for his community unconditionally, with spiritempathy and stamina.
His magic was so strong that even when trapped inside his physical self, barely able to communicate, carers, nurses and respite staff would feel the magic and pour out love and respect for our Dane.
I always wondered how they knew about the name magic when he couldn’t say his name.
That’s when I realized the magic wasn’t in his name, it was in his spirit - in that twinkle in his eye.
And that spirit remains in all of us.
Now the other thing you need to know about Dane, is that Dane was, above all else, an ideas man.
And once an idea manifested itself, Dane had the drive and stamina to pursue that idea, sometimes in the face of all logic, reason, bylaws and minor legal requirements.
Dane did not set limits on his life.
He had farming ideas with a property atNotley Hills where he ran a few sheep and cattle and he created beautiful gardens in each of our houses.
He held a 99 lease on Tamar Island, bought when he was young, where he ran some cattle. He gave the island back to National Parks and it is now the Tamar Wetlands project. In order to transport his animals across the river to the island, he got this great idea to purchase a punt. He was very find of an eccentric mode of transport.
One bull famously refused to board the punt when the cattle were moved off the island, and so began the tale of Bruno, the loneliest bull in the world. He was left to roam wild and free. http://www.travelways.com.au/travel-diary/123-short-walk-has-some-tall-tales
When the walkways went into the island a few years ago, Bruno was discovered, and he wasn't happy about it. Bruno’s story was out and animal lovers everywhere responded to his lonely plight. His story was even picked up by Reuters and featured in international press and a 'Save Bruno' petition was circulated. When Dad was asked by the press what should be done for poor lonely, abandoned Bruno, Dad responded "I've got a couple of bullets in my top drawer” – Dad also had an uncanny knack for inflaming a situation and political correctness was never his concern.
Dane had alternative ideas. He embraced the practice of transcendental meditation, every evening at about 5pm, silently in his study, while the noise and chaos of “arsenic hour’ reigned supreme outside with Mum and us 7 kids.
He explored organic gardening when it was considered outlandish, learned acupuncture and believed strongly in the mind–body connection years before it became accepted theory.
When Dane had an idea he followed it through.
He didn’t look for approval or permission from anyone, even Mum.
And Dad knew how to have, not just a good time, but a great time.
One of his best ideas was the purchase of our house at Alanvale. That house was almost big enough for all of us and all of our friends and Dane’s spirit.
That house was all about spirit. Those parties were legendary and Dane lead the charge, his incredible stamina kept him going till the early hours, often outlasting the cocky teens and uni students who had lobbed for the do.
That stamina kept Dane fighting his disease and its limitations to his very last breath.
So kids, listen and remember, Dane left us with an incredible model for life.
Live a life full of spirit, of fun, of love and service, pursuing
your ideas with stamina and self-belief, even in the face of logic, disapproval and political correctness and when necessary, minor legal requirements, because that is where the magic is.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
- treatments that can palliate the painful symptoms of the disease
Origin of PALLIATE
We don't know how much longer we have with our father, maybe weeks? Maybe.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Apparently, according to a random on WikiHow, being a 'good son' involves being nice to your siblings even though you hate them, doing all your homework, being loving towards your parents and not using bad language.
Anyway, my boys are better than good, my boys are gold. But they do know how to be good, which I think is very important. My boys do behave well ... at school. At home things get a bit more loud, messy and swear-y obviously.
I love the gentleness of my boys and that they will review one of their little sister's drawings earnestly with "That is beautiful, Sophie" and that Joshie has been known to brush her hair and read her a story at bedtime. I love that they get angry and scream and swear but rarely raise a hand to each other. I love that they don't define feminine and masculine in the same way that tradition or society does. I love that they can run around, dig holes, hit balls, build stuff, be noisy and tell each other to 'get stuffed' (in the contextually appropriate moment, of course), and that they can be quiet and creative, affectionate, sweet and soft, at least some of the time.
Sometimes, though, I wonder, should we have taught our two little men to wrestle and wrangle and be tough? Should I be concerned that my number two son, stands in the back of the soccer field during a match, ignoring the ball as he is too busy re-enacting the entire choreography from the Bellas "I Saw The Sign/Turn the Beat Around" mash up routine from 'Pitch Perfect' while his team mates are hell bent on the ball and the goals? That in the school nursery rhyme play he wants to audition for the part of "Jill"? Should we berate ourselves for not pushing our sons towards a more traditional masculinity so that they can mix it with the big boys when they are men? Naaaah. I never held much respect for the 'boys wiill be boys' philosophy. And, no matter what philosophy I hold, my boys can only be themselves.
There is nothing I can teach my sons about becoming a man. What I can teach them, I hope, is how to look after themselves, how to live and love wholeheartedly and what it is to be loved wholeheartedly by their Mum, (and, of course, the right moment to use the words 'shit, bugger and douchebag'.)
My aspiration for my golden sons is not to be 'good', but to be themselves and to live their lives as they see fit. To be wholehearted men of joy, kindness, pride and passion.
I wonder if my mother-in-law realises how lucky she is?
Friday, June 14, 2013
Friday, May 31, 2013
The piano is a grand old lady. The story goes that my grandmother, Dorothy, loved a singalong and was a star whistler. She would stand by the piano and whistle to entertain her family and guests. I never met my Grandmother and I really wish I had. It's only since becoming a parent that I have realised what I missed out on, growing up grandparent-less, and how hard that must have been for my parents of 7.
My Dad always loves a singalong too and would often burst into a little Al Jolson or Johnny Mercer in a deep, warm baritone, weird, ancient songs to a little girl of the 70s. I just opened the piano stool and there they all were, hits by Bing Crosby, an Al And Johnny and old time movie hits, ageing sheet music unearthed like treasure. And in the bottom of the stool, I found this beautiful sheet music that brought a smile and a tear. The music for 'Georgia On My Mind' ... my song. Men of Sue and Dad's vintage would often break into this one when they learnt my name. And Dad (and Ray Charles) would sing this one just for me, I am sure.
Thanks Sue. It's such an grand legacy. It's an honour to have the Sutton song and spirit in the house. A grand old lady passed on from two very grand old ladies.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Me: Who is it?
All: muchos giggling
Sophie: Her name is ... Invisi-babe.
They are completely crackers, but what would we do without them (apart from sleep, drink too much, dance all night and have disposable income?)
Happy Mothers' Day Ladies!
Thursday, May 09, 2013
The program requires focus, discipline, commitment and organisation in order to transcend to a higher physical level. So, I am wondering if you can buy those traits at the gym with your protein powder, because I don't have a clue where I left mine. Maybe under that pile of discarded soccer gear on the living room floor? Or the pile of bills, drawings and important school notices on the ... hang on, I just need to finish the washing up and did I just eat that last biscuit?
The transformation plan has been motivated by the many reminders of mortality that I've experienced lately, and by turning 40. No one wants to be fat and 40. I want a nice, long, able-bodied life. And I certainly haven't gone through the joys motherhood to drop off the perch early or be too unfit to play with the grand kiddies when they eventually arrive, not if I can help it.
The only times I have ever really lost weight, as an adult, have been through the power of sheer, anxious and dedicated self-loathing. Starvation diets, no exercise and it was all about looking good. Like being thin is the best thing you can be and being fat is by far the worst. Ridiculous. Now that I have actually learned to like myself a bit, I thought it was a good time to love myself healthy instead. Ew, that sounds a bit untidy but you know what I mean.
Today is weigh in and measure day. Yipes! It is a sad moment when you realise you are a 'Before' photo. But the hope for a better 'After' is tantalising.
Now, I am off to unearth that focus and discipline ... It must be around here somewhere.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
This late coming Autumn has a beautiful soft feeling and with the luthier working from his atelier in the garden, our small life has a rhythm and flow.
Of course with the school holidays comes the bickering and the mess, and the job of short-order chef. But Monday will come fast, with its lunch boxes to fill and socks to find, so Monday can take its sweet time. And besides, I'll miss them.
Yesterday Sophie had been quietly and intently drawing away for quite some time, when suddenly she looked up and exclaimed 'Hang on! I've been entertaining myself!'
Perfect. That's what school hols and slow, sweet time is all about.
Monday, April 15, 2013
The kids have all trotted off to school with Dad.
I have stumbled upon a moment of happiness.
This rare sweet morning, the children dressed and fed themselves. This morning gave us time. Time for long hugs, with smalls on my knee and wrapped around my neck, faces buried in the nape.There was time for their two breakfasts and time to curl Sophie's hair.
(I have sent her to school looking like a beauty pageant entrant, but it made her very happy. We held off on the lip gloss and fake eyelashes.)
The sun is warming me up through the window.
There are wattle birds and rosellas chirruping and squawking in the gum tree that hangs huge and heavy over the fence from next door. It is a mass of pink fluffy flowers.
The house was cleaned yesterday so it's just the morning dishes and some washing to pack away. The door on the kids' room lego mess can stay shut.
There is work to do, work for the luthier, but it doesn't feel like work.
Of course, there are jobs, there are always jobs, but ... this moment of peace is sublime.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Walking to Duck Reach on your own on a sunny Autumn morning.
Walking and listening to podcasts.
Finding art on a rusty door.
This speech made by David William on the Future of Creative Arts Education in Australian Universities.
This workshop given by Marcus Buckngham on Oprah.
This podcast from ABC's Life Matters "The 91 Year Old Midwife'.
Trusting your instincts.
Dad coming home from hospital yesterday.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
This week my Dad has teetered between the light and the dark a few times. It has been a wild ride. But he has, with the power of his beard, and his incredible force of will, recovered. He is getting ready to go home.
We celebrated my Aunty Sue's life and bade her our farewells. The wooden box looked too small to contain her. It was festooned with dusty pink roses and she descended to 'Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Good-bye'. She always had a golden sense of humour.
Life and death. It makes me come over all philosophical.
What is it, do you think, that our purpose is? Do you think it's predestined, or a choice we make?
Dad's life purpose has always been so clear - a clear vocation to save lives and to make lives (all 7 of us). Aunty Sue's purpose seems clear too: she was a great friend and mentor to everyone she knew and loved.
Big, ordinary lives.
I am one of those hippies that believes that every experience holds a lesson. (You don't watch as much Oprah as I have without that little chestnut becoming firmly embedded in your psyche.) This week has felt like being squeezed through an emotional mangle, but being close to death is a gift. A gift that hurts like hell and feels like a big kick in the pants. A hot pink neon sign flashing, 'Pull your head out of your arse and get on with it!' in curly cursive.
I'm still not certain what it is I need to get on with, but the answer that will have to satisfy for the moment is 'Something'. Stop thinking, worrying, analysing and act.
Also, being the Oprah watching hippy I am, I think the answer is to love. Open whole hearted living, must be the way forward. That is not easy for a person with mild social phobias, like me, but fears are to be conquered. Trust is not something I hand out willy-nilly, and as for revealing my vulnerable self to the world? I would really rather avoid it. And so I walk around in an opaque armoured box of politeness wondering why no one can see who I really am.
Ooh, I think I might have just workshopped myself through an, 'A-ha!' moment.
Do you know your purpose? Or do you think that idea is ridiculous? Maybe you are what you are, you do what you do and that is all there is.
Or did you have an epiphany, a moment when your focus crystallised and you knew exactly what it's all about for you? Exactly who you are?
Or did you just follow a path? Choose a way forward and plow on with your head down and your bum up?
Maybe none if these questions matter. Maybe you get one shot at living and so you better suck the marrow from it.
Maybe the best lives are those that are too full of love and survival to stop and waste time pondering existential dilemmas?
The thing I know for sure is that, with all it's light and dark, I am so grateful for this one sentient lesson-filled life and everyone in it.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
I crawled back under the covers, the novelty of the morning chill made me grateful for their cosy comforts. I drifted back to heavy sleep and slept wrapped in those weird morning dreams.
At 9.15, a distant mobile ring dragged me reluctantly from that deep, dreamy slumber, and I half heard half the words wafting out of it:
'It's Mum... Dad... bleed ... emergency...'
I shot out of bed like a startled cat, was dressed and heading for the hospital before the message had time to play out.
Hurried in by the Triage nurse, (you always know things are serious when hospital staff hurry) I fastwalked, dazzled by the glare of fluorescent hospital lights, to find Mum and my sister by a bed, holding my prostrate father's hands, all of us white as his sheets.
The morning passed with nervous whispers, cafeteria coffee, more hand holding and Dane's humour keeping us buoyant. Always a man of few words and even fewer now, Dad's motivations to clarity never fail to amaze me. My sister said to him. 'You're tough, Dad' to which he quipped. 'Yeah, of course... I've got a beard!' And later when talk was getting a little grim and the medical staff were looking nervous, Dad piped up 'I'm not dead yet.' We laughed loudly and nervously and watched the machines that go beep.
Things were not looking good. He needed a procedure but finding the source of the bleed was a long shot.
We called the siblings, warned them of the potential end, waved him off to his procedure, looking down the barrel of a cure or to 'palliate' (who knew that was a verb?). We went home and worried.
'I'm not dead yet' he had said, and indeed he was right. They found the source of his bleed, fixed the glitch and now he is being doted on by ward nurses with veins pumped full of only slightly used blood. That beard is really working for him! And we are all booking in to the Red Cross to replenish some of the precious blood resources that saved Dane's bacon today.
So he lives to fight another day. Halleluia! Praise be!
The rest of us are a little pale and nauseous after the wild ride of today's emotional roller coaster, but nothing some Haighs white chocolate eggs and a gut full of hot cross buns didn't fix.
Trust Dane to make us reenact the Easter story for real, he always was a devoted Catholic. And what with that miracle beard of his and a lifetime of saving lives 'n all, he really is an excellent candidate for the part of the Messiah in today's Passion play.
It was a very good Friday.
Happy Easter to you!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
If you can't see the YouTube screen, click in the link
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
My tween age boy ...
He can be a bit of a worrier, but his capacity to push himself through it and do what needs to be done is formidable.
He is independent and organised.
He has empathy and kindness in spades. Swears like a trooper and has been convinced by his father that playing in a band is the best part time job to put you through uni.
He sings like an angel.
He was the 12 year old boy gifted cookbooks, kitchen scales, measuring spoons and an Adriano Zumbo packet mix and was well chuffed.
We bought him an XBOX Kinect and tickets to the 360 degrees Allstars.
Colour and movement. He was super chuffed.
I had a turn on the XBox tonight... It's awesome! The highlight was my three children comprehensively losing their shit at the action snap shots that the box took of me and my enthusiastic attack on Reflex Ridge. Ha! Happy days
12 years ago on Tuesday, J entered the world and he has made it a happier place.
I can't wait to see what life has in store for this excellent kid.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
So, I'll just say that the last few weeks have been fun. We've been to art exhibitions and a party, we boarded the PFunk mothership with George Clinton at the concert at MONA last weekend and stayed overnight in Hobart and had a hotel buffet breakfast (kid's highlight). We've worked really hard and spent some really nice time together, us Smiths.
Tassie is going off at the moment, Ten Days on the Island (our bi-annual arts festival) is on and there is art, theatre and music in every Tasmanian nook and cranny. Even Dame Kiri is on tonight in ol' Launny town!
There is a dynamic vibe going on the island and in Smith-life in general and it's just so good.
And, 12 years ago today, for the first time, I commenced the long journey of labour. Two days later after many hours of mono tonal wailing (the luthier, or 'the man who has seen too much' as he referred to himself post-babies, said he knew that something was finally happening when I changed pitch, hitting a higher note of course) our wonderful J- boy arrived. That's right, my eldest son is turning 12. We are so close to having a bona fide teen in the house, I don't know what to say, except ...
Holy shitballs, Batman!
Saturday, March 02, 2013
I've made mine just the way I like it
and lying in it feels fantastic.
Made, of course, with a help from my little friends.
This changed life feels like active rest, if that's possible. Like floating on your back with the current and staring up at the stars, moving with the flow with the confidence that its heading just where you need to go.
It flew like this:
I received thanks and sweet-smelling gifts from previous workmates and counted my blessings.
Work rolled in and the challenge was to say 'No' to too much rather than to chase not enough, for which I am truly grateful.
I got into 'Digital Ready' and met other people in our town making their own beds in business.
Hunted for venues for camerata concerts.
Embraced my Stepford side and cleaned house.
Baked cupcakes ready for school pick up to ward off the 'after- school hangries'.
Poached peaches with a dash of Pimms.
Walked out of a yoga class that felt more like beating yourself up with your own limbs than strength, spirit and movement and received a well-intentioned lecture from the very young, unmarried, childless teacher about the importance of embracing challenge.
Talked to first-time expectant mothers, shared their impending joy and shivered at everything they are about to learn that is impossible to explain in advance.
Was gifted 'The Red Tent' by a new sister and remembered how significant is domestic work and are the stories, culture and spirit passed from mother to daughter and the immense power of sisterhood and motherhood.
Welcomed my big boy home from camp and caught a bittersweet glimpse of the man he is becoming.
And I sat with Dane, honouring his life and going with the flow of his slow decline.
Even when it's messy, a bed of my own making is my favourite place to be.