I was not long back from the US in early May 1994 when you deteriorated quickly, I did get down to see you before you died, but it was strained.
We were not close in your later years, there was a bitterness and anger in your life which I did not understand.
I did not then and I still do not, understand bitterness. Things happen and there are invariably a whole host of reasons, it is unfair to blame these things on a single person or event.
You blamed Dad, with some justification; for many of the things you could not or did not do, through your life.
It was not fair, though; to blame him solely for the ills that became your family; that was a team effort.
You blamed Madeline for Steve being gay and ruining his life, you blamed Gordo for the wrecking of his and Chloe’s marriage, it was not Jerry’s fault his marriage, ended in tears and trauma, you even held it against Sas for the demise of my own marriage.
I am not sure who was at fault in all the others, but I am damn certain, Sas did not have much to do with the breakup of our marriage.
We were all deeply flawed, we were all fighting our own demons.
Was it the lead in the water tanks that Terry says caused the madness? was it the constant conflict between you and Dad? was it the depression you suffered after Terry was born, was it the isolation? was it the dichotomy of beliefs between you and Dad?
It was a combination of all the above and a whole host of other reasons. Blame, does no good, it hurts us and those we are closest to. I am sorry my kids did not know the mother of my early years, that loss of time with their grandmother is the loss I feel most deeply.
You had so much wisdom, you had so much kindness, you battled your cancer with bravery and fortitude, my kids did not get to know that and for that; I am sad.
I cried for that loss when you died.
Your funeral in Henty, was a typical country send off, no one wanted to leave and the undertaker was getting more and more agitated. It was an hour’s drive to the crematorium in Albury.
He sidled up to me “Bruce, it is after 2.30 pm, the crematorium shuts at 4.00 pm”
You were in danger of being late to your final send off, you would have enjoyed that.
The trip to Albury was fast and furious, Sas and the rest of the family were following in their own cars, I had the two Aunts with me.
Phoebe and Irene had never got on, Phoebe the boss and Irene the timid.
“Bruce how fast are you going?” Phoebe asked, doing her imperious best to assert authority.
“I am doing 140 kms Aunt P, but the hearse is still in front of us, so they will get booked before I do!”
Irene spoke from the back seat “we are going to be late, Cath would not be happy”
“Oh, just enjoy the ride, she would be giggling if she could” Phoebe retorted.
We made it, I was taking Phoebe and Irene back to their homes after drinks, when the afternoon exploded.
Phoebe said something, Irene took offence “we have just buried our sister and you can’t even be nice to me today”
I pulled up at the traffic lights and Irene was gone, somehow; she got herself out of the back seat of a Saab convertible and was storming down the street.
Phoebe breathed; “So much for her bad back!”
I dropped Phoebe home and reflected on the afternoon, I think you would have been laughing.
Bye Mum, I do remember the good times.