On “road safety” ads:

they have no power over me.

I am currently seeing quite a few messages in social media regarding “road safety” ads … well, this may make me unpopular, but I don’t see the point of them.

They just cause distress in people who already try to drive safely.  People like me.

I see the warnings on speeding.

I see the warnings on mobile phones.

I see the warnings on alcohol.

None of it makes a lick of difference when push comes to shove: people will do what they think they can get away with.

It seems to me that most people can only drive properly when they think the police are watching. Ergo – they know what they are supposed to do but actively choose not to obey road rules.

Or in our case, you can be the safest, most experienced driver in the world, but circumstance  / karma / fate/ the fricken “Hand of God” can still fuck you over bigtime.

That’s what the witnesses said:  “It was like the hand of God came and swept them into the truck”.

I’d say it must have been the hand of the devil.

People don’t ever think it will happen to them when the cut off a truck before a red light.

When they speed through a school zone.

When they tailgate.

When they pointlessly switch lanes to gain a 5 second advantage.

So short of getting into a car with drunk teenagers, I just don’t see the point of the big road safety ad campaign.  They only affect the people who already get it.

I’d rather the money was spent on extra police as it seems that the sight of a speed camera or highway patrol car is the ONLY thing that I’ve seen that makes drivers change their behaviour.

Unless you are like me and already know what all those signs with numbers in circles mean and CHOOSE to obey them all the time, whether the police are watching  or not.

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The second worst day of my life

was Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

The day I buried my husband.

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It’s taken me a long time to write these words.  But I’m so fearful of forgetting even a millisecond, that I feel that I must write them…..

The day after Greg died, his brother came down to help me.  Much as GC and I have clashed in the past (and no doubt will again), he was a rock.
He collected Greg’s possessions from the morgue.
He helped me make decisions on the funeral arrangements.
He drove Greg’s car home from work.
He talked to the people I couldn’t talk to: the investigating officer; the coroner’s office; the driver of the truck; the family of Greg’s workmate who was also killed in the accident.
His wife busily scanned photos and slides in amongst recording her own version of a song for the funeral.

But there were some things that *I* wanted to do…

I met with our beautiful minister at the church who talked, counselled and helped me to organise the funeral service.  He made sure that the minister who married us and the minister who Christened our children could also take part in the service.

I wrote the eulogy and made sure that the focus was on his life as a loving husband, doting father, loyal friend over and above his hobbies or what other people saw as being important in is life.  I found out that I really was the only person who really knew all facets of Greg.  I knew that the machinery and the adventurous were just aspects of a person whose soul was full of love, and who’s brain was full of ideas.

I took the photos to a friend who organised them into a slide show the way *I* wanted it – less pictures of cars, bikes and tractors (which his family wanted more of) and more of who he really was – a decent human being who loved deeply and lived fully.
A “Daddy with whiskers”.

I chose the clothes he would be buried in.  NO – he was not going to be buried in thongs and a flanno.  Some family members wanted him dressed in daggy clothes so he was “comfortable”.  I wanted to know that he was dressed in something I’d remember with love and pride.
Even so, the funeral home decided that they could not make his body viewable, so I’ll never really know if they did manage to dress him at all…..

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On the day of the funeral, I dressed a sparkly shirt with a butterfly on it.  I’d bought it just weeks previously – I had planned on wearing it to my 40th birthday bash that had been organised for the end of the month.

I checked and rechecked the eulogy.  I made sure that my darling brother would be able to read it easily.  My brother is a fantastic public speaker, but I knew that he would struggle to deliver the words and sometimes just being able to read the words can make the difference.

I readied the children.  I packed the tissues.

My brother drove us to the church a half hour before the service was scheduled to begin so that I could spend some time with Greg alone… but when we arrived, the car park was packed.  Thankfully, the marvelous funeral directors had the common sense to reserve several parks for us and to stop anyone from entering the church.

Within minutes, people began flooding into the church.  Some spoke to me before the service.  I don’t recall who they were.

The kids and I sat down near the foot of the coffin, right in front of the pulpit.

I remember that almost all of Greg’s family were late – they were placing the photo and hat I’d asked them to bring (they were staying at our house, I was staying with my parents) all over his coffin within minutes of the service beginning.  The garden flowers I’d asked them to bring  were handed to me just as the minister began the service.

I remember my darling cousin sitting behind me and fanning my back  – she was worried that I would faint.

I remember feeling so proud of Greg whilst my brother read the eulogy.

I know I couldn’t sing any hymns.  Singing hurts too much even still.

I remember rising with the children as the slide-show began to the sound of John Williamson’s “Flowers on the Water”.  I did not look around at the congregation.  I knew I’d howl.  Someone told me later that they estimated that 500 people were wedged inside the church.
Then as the music changed to Kate Miller-Heidke’s “Last Day on Earth” , so too, the photos changed from Greg the son, brother, farmer, adventurer, to Greg the husband and father …… but the sound guy turned the music down and the minister  (the one who Christened the children) got up to do a bible reading and I almost had a fit signalling him to sit back down – the slides  had not yet shown the depth of love Greg and I shared nor his rapture at being a father….

Thankfully my deranged flapping caught his attention and he waited while the slides played out and I calmed down – lost in the memories of moments in our life together.

I don’t remember much else from the service aside from the fact that the ministers were all beautiful.

Then it was time for “the boys” to carry Greg out to the waiting hearse.  The children and I trudged on behind the coffin, not raising my eyes from the floor, lest the quiet tears become gasping sobs. ….. and as the boys were loading the coffin into the hearse, and I was offering up a quiet prayer I felt a tap on my shoulder and my sister-in-law saying “Amanda – I just want you to meet XXXXX”.

!

I clearly remember looking at them and saying “Give me a moment please.   We’ll be back to meet you after the committal”.

The kids and I piled into my brother’s car and we pulled into line behind the hearse.  The three ministers walked in front of the hearse down the drive and out to the road.

It was at this point that I felt Greg’s love surround me.  I can only describe it as a psychic hug. My scalp and ears were tingling and I felt full of love.

It was only a short drive to the cemetary, and there were only about eight cars in the funeral cortege … and yet a thoughtless woman cut in between the hearse and our car whilst we were travelling down a backstreet on the 1 km journey to the cemetary.  God bless the hearse driver – he came to a full stop in the middle of the road and the woman was forced to drive around him.

We wound our way around to lawn 11 and down the rocky, grassy slope into the afternoon sun.  Four chairs were placed by the graveside – I had to shoo away a niece and nephew so we could sit down.  My best friend held an umbrella over us to shield us from the hot afternoon sun.

The coffin was placed on the supports. The minister performed the committal and the coffin was lowered.  I remember throwing some ashes onto the coffin.  I don’t understand burial services – I’m more familiar with cremations, yet Greg had always said he wanted to be buried….

One of Greg’s sisters had brought some proteas with her to put in the grave with the coffin.  The kids and I threw one in each … and then all the family and pall bearers also threw one in … and I was sat there, hearing the thud of each one hit the lid of the coffin.  If I wasn’t already crying, I’d laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

I remember one of Greg’s brother-in-laws taking photos of the kids throwing in extra flowers.  I thought I’d either scream or laugh hysterically.  But thank goodness they began to squabble over the flowers as it made it really easy for me to pull the pin on the ‘farce of the flowers’ and head back to the church hall for the wake.

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I walked back to the hall with my brother.  Outside the hall, I saw a young man I’d studied with – online – when we both did our Dip Eds lest year.  I was blown away that he came.  Within a few weeks of starting the course, I’d quickly worked out that he was one of the other ‘brains’ in the operation and we e-mailed and facebooked our way through first semester, finally meeting midway through the second semester.  By this time, we knew each other quite well via the e-mails and online project collaboration.  Ironically, at the graduation ceremony last year, he was the only other person I felt I *knew* and we were seated together…. and there he was, standing outside my husband’s wake and it blew me away that this 20-something bloke had taken the time to come along.

I never made it inside the hall.  People kept wanting me to come inside, to feed me, but I knew as soon as I ate, I’d vomit.

So I stayed outside in the cool breeze, talking to lots of people, only glimpsing other people who I hadn’t seen in years and desperately wanted to speak to … but who melted away before I could find them.

Mum held the fort inside.  She played hostess when I could not.  My Mum is one of the main blessings in my life.  She is awesome and the best Mum a girl could ever have.

Finally the mourners had almost all left and we were able to leave.  Mum’s lovely church friends washing up the cups and plates and putting away the enormous tea pots.  Clearing away the remains of the last “party” Greg would ever have in his honour.

We arrived back at Mum’s house, exhausted, but feeling that we’d sent Greg off with as much style and grace as we could muster.

The kids were exhausted and my brother helped me carry them into bed.

I lay in bed that night, clutching his pillow and shivering in the 30-degree heat.  The feeling of pure love filled me once more as my scalp tingled and my ears buzzed.  I prayed for calmness and I received it.

I fell into a deep sleep.

How my BFF helps me get through every day…

This widowhood shit is hard.  Really really hard.

People asked me “what can I do” from the start which is really nice – if only I could think of something that would be useful.  I can feed us and look after the kids just fine.  My mental health, however can vary between “fine” and “Fucked up” really quickly.

My BFF however, is working on my mental health…

My BFF (I’ve known her since we were 11) not only brings me food on a semi regular basis, does nice stuff for me and my kids, but one of the main things she does is e-mail me every single day.  Not the condescending “how are you, poor poor you”, rather “how are you?  – if you don’t tell me I’ll assume you are crap and make you food / make you laugh”.

And I do laugh.  Every day when she sends me an e-mail.  She and I share a sick sense of humour and she gets me every time.

I know that if I fall in a screaming heap, she’s got my back.

So just for today, I’ve cut and paste one of our daily exchanges below for you to see how “supporting the grieving widow” works for us.

From: D & J
Sent: Monday, 14 June 2010 9:20 PM
To: ‘Amanda
Subject:

Hi mate,

How was your weekend? Did you get up to anything interesting? Get plagued by any outlaws? Get any outlaws making good on their promises of help?

Tried to call you today, but assumed that you were only taking calls from those not stalking you. No matter, cupcake, when I move in up the road, I’ll be able to get you via the intercom I’m having installed in your house. It’s only because I love you this much that I invade every inch of your personal space.

Anyway, D took the girls for half of each of the days of the weekend, which gave me some peace (much-needed after K’s wigout and my poor handling of it and subsequent beating myself up for not doing better) and time to do some jobs around here. Didn’t get them all done, of course, because I was calling up places about intercoms….. but I’ll get there.

Fr*gging hell, this baby of ours is bad for my ageing back- I need a chiro on staff, to add to the chef, masseuse, gardener, cleaning lady, and very extremely hot pool boy

D just asked “How can you name a toy urine?” I said “What?” He said “Wii”. To which I responded “How can you name a toy Pooh?”. Stupid morons.

Quote of the day: Bush said today he is being stalked. He said wherever he goes, people are following him. Finally, someone told him, ‘Psst. That’s the Secret Service.’

Stupid gub-ment

Hope you get some sleep tonight, and you are OK. See you tomorrow  J

From: Amanda
Sent: Monday, 14 June 2010 9:41 PM
To: ‘D & J’
Subject: RE:

Didn’t I e-mail you earlier to let you know that it was a genuine not-home thingy? You, my dear, are one of the privileged few who do not get screened. Unless I’m on the dunny – then it’s pretty much a given that I won’t pick up. You can thank me later.

H is sick – croup I think, but since we’ve never had it before I’m not sure. He’s talking in a whisper but barking like a seal and has a ripper temperature to boot.

In other news, the fluoro light in the kitchen died this afternoon (AFTER the shops were shut) and I broke a bit getting the bulb out. I will try a new bulb or maybe just ring my nephew and ask him to come and fix it.

Welcome to my fucked up life (FUL) where every little thing is like another punch in the pancreas. Actually, you may qualify on your own for a FUL as you have the requisite amount of fuckupery going on in your family with food intolerances and associated pain.

Hmmm – better go turn the tv off – some knob is singing “Mandy” and I hate that song….

XA

PS – are you as extremely unexcited about the fete as I am? I have no idea how I’ll be simultaneously manning the stalls I said I’d do, getting my kids to their appointed entertainment locations and chaperoning them on any rides they may be lucky enough to get on (or rather being ready to punch the ride-operators in the pancreas if they are mean to the kids). Dammit – I did the last fete by myself and said I’d never go alone again and that G would have to come too. Bastard will get out of it again! When I get to heaven I’ll tell him that he owes me bigtime.

From: D & J
Sent: Monday, 14 June 2010 10:02 PM
To: ‘Amanda ‘
Subject: RE:

Man, that made me laugh!  Not at your misfortune, just the way you worded it.  I’ve never had a punch in the pancreas, but you make it sound so appealing.

We had a similar light bulb experience the other day.  I thought I’d change the bulb in the girls’ room, so D didn’t have to do it (as a boy job) for once.  I thought we’d both be proud of me.   But the stupid bulb came right off the metal housing bit.  Used pliers to GENTLY try and unscrew the metal bit, but it shattered into heaps of bits and the main bit was still left screwed in.  Nothing is easy, is it?

Sorry about H.  Poor thing.

We can take your two around on the rides with us if you like.  They might think that is fun, because remember that I am, in fact, H’s preferred mother, and I don’t threaten their lives.  It’s all in the detail.  Also, we have to take S to choir anyway, so can take your two as well if you like.  We haven’t volunteered on any stalls, so happy to help you out since that slack-ass husband of yours has bailed on you again.  The HIDE of some people.

When you get to Heaven, tell him I was mighty p*ssed at him for leaving you, because he was a good egg.

See you tomorrow.

J

PS thanks for not talking to me on the crapper.

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Some people won’t get this.  That’s OK.  I do, and J does. ….

QOF, YWHNB, SLF, BFF….