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I’ve been back in the good ole USA for two weeks now. I go back to Australia on February 19 and we land on the 21st Australian time. I returned to the USA because another sibling has died. To say I am a basket case would be putting it lightly. I feel like a yo-yo emotionally. This is my last full day in Crestview with Judy and Eric. Adam and I fly to Oklahoma City to visit Margaret’s daughter, Cassie for six days tomorrow.
Please don’t feel sorry for me. We all lose loved ones at sometime. Bittersweet is how I feel most of the time on this trip. I have been reunited with loved ones that I haven’t seen in a very long time. Next year when I comeback, it will be celebratory. I guess you could say that this trip is celebratory as well but it’s filled with sorrow. I am happy that my sister Margaret is no longer suffering. She is with God and other family members who have died. I just wish I had more time with her but I can hear my mom’s words of wisdom echoing in my head when I was trying to feel sorry for myself when my dad died, “Be grateful for the time you had with him. There are others out there who never got to know their father or had their father as long as you have.” Mom was right though as moms usually are.
Those who were blessed to know Margaret Mason know exactly what the world is missing now. Margaret was a very humble lady who didn’t think she effected those she had come into contact with but I can assure you, Margaret may have been quiet but her presence will be sorely missed. She tried to live her life by the example of Jesus Christ and from the outpouring of condolences that we have received I can proudly say that my sister exemplified her Saviour and lived a surrendered life.
Chuck, Judy and Cassie spoke very eloquently about Margaret at her Mass. I know Judy wanted me to speak at the Celebration of Life that they had at Lifepoint Church but I was not drawn to do so. She and Cassie both spoke of Margaret eloquently. It is now that I will share my experience of Margaret and of loss but also of the expectation that I have of hope.
Margaret Alice was the 6th child of Alice Margaret Miller and the first child of Clement Miller. She was a quiet child with a gentle disposition. She had a great love of the Lord and lived by his example. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Cassandra Marie when she was 28 years old. She was a kindergarten teacher for a time and then became an enrolled nurse.
Margaret, Judy and I were very close. The last eight years, Judy and Margaret were pretty much inseparable. Margaret moved in with Judy after her husband Glen was placed in a nursing home because Margaret’s mental state had severely declined. She was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder which effected her so much she could not work. The stress had gotten too much for her of working, taking care of others, and neglecting her own needs so much to the point that she could no longer function.
Margaret was a staunch supporter of Adam’s and my relationship from the start, she trusted my decision to move to Australia and always knew what to say to make me feel better about what was going on in my life. I would say that she was like this with everyone she knew and loved because that is the type of person my sister was.
On this trip as Judy and I go places and people ask her about Margaret, I am moved to see just how much she impacted others. We went to a restaurant that they frequented and Judy had to console the waitress because she was shocked and horrified to hear about Margaret’s death. Words can’t seem to do justice for the way I want to express myself about my sister.
Margaret and Kevin are both now in heaven. Why is it that I have lost two siblings that I felt close to? I always thought that I would have more time to spend with Kevin but that didn’t eventuate. With Margaret there is less regret but the shock of not having on this earth is still feeling unreal. I thought that she would be here for my 50th birthday but I have to be thankful that I have had her as a sister. What a gift I have been given! Kevin was the fifth child of Alice’s and Margaret the sixth. They were 4 years apart I think. I thought of this parallel as I lay in bed with Adam. Chuck is the eldest boy of Alice’s with 3 younger sisters and a younger brother with the same father. Kevin was the youngest boy but the eldest to Alice’s three youngest daughters with the same father, Clement. 4 children with an older brother and 3 girls with Edward Koval. 4 children with an older brother and three younger daughters with Clement raising them. I grew up idolising Kevin and Margaret and now they are with God watching over us.
I will miss singing with Margaret and Judy at Mass like we did growing up or around the house harmonizing. It is such a beautiful memory to have but at least i was blessed to have the experience. Yesterday Judy and I went to a birthday party of one of our cousins that we hadn’t seen in 40 years. She has two sisters as well. We were all together and I felt Margaret with us. We learned how to paint a weeping willow and the colors we used reminded me of Margaret. I hung both paintings in Margaret’s room where Adam and I sleep. It just felt right to me.
Yes, I am sad that I have lost my sister but I live with hope that she is in heaven with all our loved ones who have passed because I believe in the resurrection of Jesus who lives and reigns now and forever more.
Adam and I decided to go up to Brisbane to surprise our matron of honour for her 60th birthday which is going to be celebrated on January 3. We drove up the day before and instead of taking the Pacific Hwy we went the inland way which took us through Casino, Kyogle and into the scenic drive area of Queensland. It was only an additional 10 minutes to our trip. We stopped in Grafton to buy another name tag for Mitch and it was then that we decided to go the inland way instead of the usual route on the Pacific Highway.
It was interesting how the trip turned out. It was a hot, sunny day. It was nice having our dogs in the back of the Jeep. We tied Mitch down because he has become arthritic and tries to jump out before we have the back door open. Adam noted I seemed much more light hearted with the two dogs as travel companions. They always love looking out the windows and Grady snuffles at the window trying to smell the new areas we travel through. It reminds me of my mom telling stories about Judy wanting them to roll down the window on long road trips they would do as we travelled places.
I notice all the strange little signs and read them aloud so Adam can also hear what I am seeing. There was a Pringles Way which made me think of my brother Kevin’s partner, Lisa because she loves Pringles as well as a Grady creek(our youngest dog is Grady). The name of Summerland Way changed to Mt Lindsay Way when we reached Queensland making me think of my friend Lindsey whom I met through World of Warcraft.
My dad always asked us girls to read the signs for him as we would drive to different places because he was blind in his left eye from a childhood accident which I always say prepared me to be Adam’s wife in a round about way. He doesn’t mind me reading out all the things I see because he is blind since birth. My first husband didn’t appreciate me rattling off the signs like I always do. It is funny how things just seem to work out.
On the way home, I am sure we will go back the Pacific Highway because it will be way less winding. There will be lots of construction but that is to be expected. Adam and I have had discussions about US roads and Australia roads. I still find it remarkable that Australia hasn’t a big interstate system like the United States but then again, Australia is still a young country and doesn’t have the population that the US has. Its infrastructure isn’t as established as the USA in many ways. The majority of the population is pretty much along the coastline of Australia where the USA the population is spread out across the expanse of the country which is why I assume the US government built the interstates across the country like it has.
I enjoy being the driver and eyes in our relationship but in many ways Adam can help me see things better in his own way. I often wish that he could see all the beauty that I take for granted but he seems to enjoy the ooh’s and Aah’s which escape me or me saying wow look at that! While driving on the Summerland Way in the summer, I was amazed by this one particular mountain. You could tell it was once a volcano. I was moved inside. It’s the only way I can describe this and took pictures.
You can see how ancient and beautiful Australia is because of how the mountains are. You can be moved by the majestic panorama of the undulating mountains that have trees on them and escarpments. As we drove the winding road I noticed there had been a bushfire on a mountain but I couldn’t pull over. I continued driving and noticed how the road revealed the back of the mountain which had a sheared back with lava tubes or caves on the cliff face. It was amazing but there was no place for me to pull off to take that picture. I have it in my mind though still marvelling at the beauty of it.
On my first visit to Australia, I recall Adam saying that he wished he had someone who could travel with him across his native country and I thought to myself “I could be that someone” but I didn’t say a word I just thought it to myself. I now have the chance to do it and perhaps this year we might get to enjoy more road trips and exploration of his native land which I am blessed to call my home as well.
There is something about Australia that calls to me. The more I learn about it the more I know I am where I am suppose to be sharing my experiences with the one I am supposed to be with.
I want to share this journey and I am so glad to do so. Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment.
Today Adam and I decided to get a new toilet seat for our ensuite because it finally cracked itself so much that if you sit on it in a certain way your get your bum pinched. It should have been a pretty easy job to do. Just undo some wing nuts, take the seat off and take it to the hardware store to find a replacement and away you go to fix a broken toilet seat. It should be easy right? WRONG! In the world of Dianna and Adam Morris nothing is so easy but in our usual fashion we tag team it into a sort of win.
At first Adam goes into the ensuite and says to me “Honey, this toilet seat has 4 things to undo.” I go in to help investigate and then I try to figure out what he is talking about. He then realised that he had taken the cistern wing nuts off instead of the seat wing nuts and I get the corrosive spray because the toilet seat wing nuts are pretty much rusted on the bolts that are holding it to the toilet. I spray them down and try to get it but I can’t. Adam grabs a screw driver to try and tap it to start it moving. He gets one side started but can’t get the other done so he gets pliers to try and help while I coat the rusted bolt again. It still won’t budge and falls apart. Adam gets one side off we jimmy rig the other side to release the toilet seat. We aren’t happy that we can’t get the other one off but hey, it will do until we get the replacement. We decide to go out for lunch and to go to Mitre 10 to buy replacements because if we are getting one toilet seat replaced we may as well replace the front bathroom toilet as well. We arrive at Mitre 10 and find out that he doesn’t have any that will do the job that we want. He suggested we go to Reece Plumbing North in Coffs Harbour which is what we did after we dropped off some groceries we had in the car. Coffs Harbour is about 32 kms from our place.
I drive us to Reece’s and show him the toilet seat. The helpful stockist then asked me if I had any photos of the toilet as to help identify which would do the job. We finally make our selection only to find out it’s not in stock. I laugh to myself and say “Just our luck, not in stock”. So Adam has a discussion with the stockist and we decided to just go home, take photos and sent them to the store so that the right one will get ordered. Since we had problems taking the toilet seat off we are going to have a plumber put it on for us once we get the replacements.
This is what happens when you buy your home from a self-builder who uses the cheapest equipment to build a house but I still love my house just not all the little buggy things I find out about it. There is one thing I know for sure, I love being able to do things with Adam even if it gets complicated because one way or the other, it will get done. It’s called partnership, teamwork and my marriage to Adam has always been built on that.
Yesterday Adam retired Lenny (Leonard) his guide dog of eight years. I have to say this man inspires me as usual. He has this sort of Spock logic which can be astounding. I am the illogical one at times when it comes to all things emotional like giving up a pet but the whole thing is Lenny was not my pet.
Lenny was a very special kind of dog. His love of work never faded and he is still full of life but Adam wanted to do the right thing for Lenny and for Guide dogs so he decide he was ready to retire Lenny because frankly he wasn’t working him. He tried to give him back to Guide dogs about two years ago but someone told Adam Lenny was too old to retrain. Since neither one of us are working at the moment we can’t afford the medications that Lenny is on due to irritable bowel syndrome that he was diagnosed with not long after he turned 2 but Guide dogs helped with reimbursing us the cost of the medicines.
Another circumstance that affected Adam’s decision was the fact that Lenny was dog distracted. It didn’t matter if he was in or out of harness. If Lenny saw a dog, “George Bush” (He had to get them before they got him) came out in him. He had to show that he was the dominant one so that the other dog would be intimidated. Grady, the bane of Adam’s life, was also vying to be the dominant dog but Lenny always held his own. It was Mitch our eldest Labrador who acquiesced to other dogs. He has gotten stitched in his ear from Grady but for the most part our pack was tight.
I didn’t want Lenny to go but I know in the long run it was the best decision for all of us. The house is certainly quieter. Adam got to sleep in to 6:30 this morning. Lenny would always want to be up at 5:30. The stress of walking the dogs and keeping an eye out for other dogs was pretty tolling on my nerves. I am pretty certain that I can let Mitch and Grady go at the beach and everything will be okay except when Mitch gets wanderlust in him. Mitch is going to be 12 in July and getting arthritic but let him free run and you wouldn’t have any idea about his problems.
Lenny will be 10 in December but he still has lots of life in him. We want him to find a great home and are pretty certain he will get what we want for him. He is well loved in Glossodia (The Guide Dog Centre in NSW). I know everything will be ok for Lenny because he is very lovable and energetic. He is a great head thrust-er. He knows how to get attention but he could also be a tad clingy. He always had to be near you.
We had a good chat about Lenny with the instructor who picked him up in Coffs Harbour. She reassured us that everything would be fine and she would let the new owners know we would like to stay in contact. She also saw Lenny’s progression from puppy to trainee to full fledged guide dog. She has helped Adam and Lenny in their work together.
I feel very privileged to have seen for myself the potential of partnership between a guide dog user and guide dog. I have seen them grow and know what a wonderful team they became. It was sad letting go of Lenny for me but I can’t ever phantom how strong Adam has been about letting go. I guess its his Spock logic that comes through so strongly. I hope one day after I get my degree to go on to become an orientation and mobility specialist and perhaps even become a guide dog instructor.
Some people can’t let go of the past but Adam truly knows when to let go and when to hold on. His vision on what he wants in a partnership whether it be canine or human is breathtakingly extraordinary. Words can’t quite express the emotions coursing through me. I feel inadequate in translating this into words but I had to attempt to do it.
Last week while skimming through my Facebook feed I saw my name tagged in a post which angered me because there was a reason for me to react the way I had towards a person. I actually unfriended the person who tagged me. This person isn’t a bad person but I choose not to have her in my life anymore because I can not trust her. I still love her but how can a relationship exist without trust? I can’t. I forgive her but I don’t want to associate with her because there is doubt clouding my interactions with her. I know we make mistakes but when the person keeps doing something continuously and you catch them in a web of deceit it just kills the trust factor.
I know it’s not a very Christian thing to do but I made a boundary and this person likes to overstep boundaries and thinks a simple sorry is the solution. True sincerity acknowledges a change which is something I didn’t see.
So call me unchristian for not taking her back with open arms. I’m tired of the disappointment. It’s time for an ending.
Or is it a new beginning for being true to me?
I have been way too quiet as of late with my blog. Things happen and often do which is why I not been writing my blog as much. I am now studying by distance for my bachelor’s degree in Health and Leisure. This term I am taking Management 100 and Recreation 167.
With Recreation 167, I am learning about leadership and communication. This is actually the course’s true title. In this course, we learn about leadership and styles of leadership. It also focuses on reflection as a huge part of the process of leadership so that we can become better in leadership roles figuring out what works best and what needs tweaking. Naturally I am very big on reflecting anyway.
It may seem like I am waffling a bit here but hopefully I will pull all these tangents together. A few nights ago I was talking with Adam about how many Easters we have had together. In fact, Adam and I met in person for the first time around Easter 2001. This would make our 15th Easter together.
Easter is a very special time for Christians because it is when Jesus rose from the dead giving us all an opportunity to have new life through Him. It also occurred to me that when I met Adam, I had no idea the opportunity that I had in front of me. I was not really looking for a soul mate yet I had come face to face with him even though I tried denying it and was scared at first to admit it to him because we had only met.
Easter is not about chocolates and boiled coloured eggs. Easter is about renewal to me. Everyday when I wake up, I face a new day with all its challenges and rewards. Lent is a time of reflection leading up to the great celebration of Jesus’ new life which He wants to share with us if we choose to accept it.
This Easter, I am reflecting on the greatest gift I received which is love. Love comes in so many different shapes and ways. It is platonic and it is familial. It is romantic and all encompassing. I am blessed with all sorts of love for which I am very thankful.
I have had the privilege to spend Easter in the Spring when living in the United States and in Autumn because I now live in Australia. I am sure there are quite a few people out there that have also experienced this. The time of year doesn’t really matter. It is the reflection that counts.
May your Easter be filled with love and awe. May you reflect the love which you are given and receive not just for Easter but every day of your life. This is my wish for everyone.
It seems like a very long time since I have actually sat down to write down some of my thoughts. Has it been a year already? At times it feels like it has been longer and other times it feels exactly right.
It seems that things don’t stand still with WordPress. It took me a little while to figure out the configuration to get to blogging but I found it. I will not be deterred. I feel like writing and sharing again. I am not even sure if anybody is interested. I am going to give it a go though and see what happens.
Things with me are going along at a steady pace. I am now studying through Charles Sturt University via the Distance Education route. I have completed 2 courses last term and in this term I am taking another 2 courses. It just started last week. Going back to school has been good for me. I had been busy getting papers written for both courses last term. I think this term it is only one big paper for Leisure, even if it isn’t I think I will do okay. I hope to maybe go up to 4 courses next term except I am nervous that I am going to muck it up. It’s kinda scary plunging back into study after so many years. The end result though will be a Bachelor Degree in Health Science (Health and Leisure). I am then going to hopefully get into a graduate program to become an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. I will also be able to work as a Diversional Therapist.
It’s winter now down under. Last year didn’t seem so cold. There was actually snow inland up near the border to Queensland. I am sure most people from the northern hemisphere would just laugh at the way some people are reacting to the temperatures we’ve been getting here. It’s not like we have to run around with huge parkas. It’s a shock to the system though when you are use to running around in shorts but it hasn’t stopped some people though. I have seen them running around in thongs (flip-flops), shorts, and maybe a sloppy joe (sweatshirt). Adam and I are in our sweats mostly. We’ve also been putting on the heater at night. I am sure last year we only put it on in the morning to get the chill off the air.
I didn’t mean for this lapse to happen for so long. I just got busy and self involved. I didn’t feel like sharing because I thought it was boring but hey, maybe somebody out there missed reading my thoughts. I will do my best not to be such a stranger. I can’t promise to write every day or every week. I will try to do better though. I do enjoy blogging and maybe some of you guys like reading.
Any questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section!
Yesterday Adam and I did the back lawn. I like to do yard work either earlier in the day or later in the afternoon especially in the hot months in Australia which is opposite of the northern hemisphere. Next month will be one of the hottest which happens to be Adam’s birth month. We are planning a trip to Hervey Bay Queensland for about 6 days. I will be driving us so I suspect another blog will come forth from this trip. I am digressing here but hang on, I will get back to topic.
I made an observation about us as we played in the surf. I like to make muggacinos. The best part of the cappuccino for me is the frothy milk. I enjoy using the spoon after I drink the milky coffee with lots of chocolate sprinkled on top to collect the dregs of froth which I cherish. As Adam and I cooled off in the surf of Safety Beach, I noticed how it resembled the froth that I so love to have. I was tickled with that image thinking that I was playing in frothy sea water that was cool and invigorating to me.
The water was supposedly 25 C (77 F) but it felt more like 22 to me. It didn’t matter because we were so freaking hot. I used to get freaked out with the tide especially if the waves seemed to be tossers. When I say tossers, I am meaning that they look like they are full of sand. We tried body surfing but the surf wasn’t great. It just didn’t have the pull that it should have had. Not that I am an expert body surfer, I can barely swim but I am getting more confident as the years go on. If I can stand up waist deep and not freak out when a 3 ft wave is baring down on me it’s a great improvement. I used to be so scared. I am relishing how brave I am feeling now in the surf. Adam has even noticed it. He was surprised that I had gone out again.
When we were sitting on the edge of the water, I was looking out and saw a fish surfing the wave before it crashed. I was tickled to be sitting on the beach with the froth surrounding us both. The night before, I saw a shooting star. I was thinking to myself, how truly blessed I am. I not only get to have frothy coffee whenever I desire, I get to play in the frothy sea, and watch beauty around me.
Adam and I have been showing Lisa around the neighbourhood. We love the birds. I know this is a short blog but I wanted to show off some of the shots I took. I know we’ll see much more as we take her around the places that we love. I must admit I do like showing off Australia so I thought I would also show you some of the birds I’ve captured with my trusty Sony camera I got from Fry’s in Burbank, California.
I’ve done a lot of study over the years about Catholicism and some soul searching. One of the key principles that I have grown to love is the idea that Jesus came as a bridge to breach the gap between God and man that occurred when original sin corrupted the world.
What if we are also sent to be a bridge to others when there is a gap between each other based on the idea that God sent Jesus to be a bridge for us? It is a beautiful concept that I have seen in action throughout my life. Most recently it has been through the death of my brother Kevin.
Kevin was the last child born from the marriage of Alice Albano and Edward Koval. His parents divorced and Alice married my father, Clement Miller. To the older 4 siblings he was their baby brother but to me and my two older sisters, Judy and Margaret, he was our big brother. Our family dynamic wasn’t the best. The older Koval children were pretty much out of the house when I was born. Only Roberta and Kevin were the ones that I got to know before they moved out.
I had a pretty special connection with Kevin. I guess it is due to the fact that when we moved to Leesville, we roomed together until he moved out. I know I have written about how jealous I would get over his girlfriends until my mom sat me down explaining the fact that I couldn’t marry him because he was my brother. If I really loved him, I would have to let him go since he would have to do the same with me some day.
The years went by and he married Lori. I was the flower girl at the wedding. I was happy for them but sort of jealous. I know how silly that might sound but I thought I would never find anyone as charming or special as Kevin to call my own. More years went by. We drifted apart as we were bound to do. We all have our journeys to make. I tried to stay in contact. Some years were good and others weren’t the best when it came to keeping the connection alive. Kevin’s marriage to Lori failed. I didn’t even realize it had happened until my mother informed me. I was married too and my own marriage failed. Kevin felt broken I am pretty sure because I knew how much he loved Lori. I ended my own marriage but I was not broken due to it. I just knew I couldn’t continue living a lie or existing in a marriage that didn’t produce anything nourishing to myself.
To my great surprise I found my soul mate when I least expected to do it. I contacted my sister, Aggie, to let her know about something. I found out that my brother Kevin was staying with her due to an injury to his leg. Our connection was ignited again for a little while. I tried emailing him or staying in contact through MySpace but that sort of dwindled out too. I know he was quite excited about meeting someone online. I tried teeing up a time to meet up when I went over for my sister Judy’s 40th birthday but it never came through. Years went by again. In 2012 I let family know that I was returning again for a visit. A mini-family reunion ended up happening that June but one important person wasn’t there. I tried messaging him through an email but no response. I believe it was my nephew Dan who finally got a hold of him so we spoke on the phone. It was nice but not as good as actually holding him. It was through this phone call that I connected with his love, Lisa. I vowed to myself never to let go again of my brother.
In all the years we were apart, I always dreamed of hugging him tight. Hearing his voice on the phone was great but nothing can compare to actually being in the presence of the one you love. I always thought that I would get to hold him again but it wasn’t meant to be. May 24th our family got together again just as it did in 2012. The one thing that I always wanted finally came true. We were all together but Kevin was in an urn. I got to finally meet Lisa but it was a bittersweet moment. All the hours of talking were great. The most important person in our lives was gone. We all loved him and I know he loved us too.
The bridge in my family is gone but not forgotten. He gave us Lisa and Sandy. He wanted us to be there for each other. In some ways it is working but in other ways it is a massive fail. Lisa could have easily not told us about Kevin’s illness and passing. She did the best that she could. In her own way Lisa is a bridge to me and vice versa.
In some ways my own mother was a bridge to my father’s sisters when he was sick and dying. I know he had asked my mom not to let them know but she convinced him otherwise. My father’s death in some ways mended some wrongs that occurred between my mother and his sisters. I am not sure why death holds such power over us. If anything I am learning that life is precious. We never know when our last day might be so we had better make the most out of what we have. We need to cherish each other.
I am going to take the time and try to be a bridge to others like the great examples I have been given before. Have you ever been a bridge for others?