I had seen a bit of you, Tamsin and David when I had been in Perth for work in the early ‘90’s.
Your mum would bring you up for dinner, but these occasions were brief and generally strained as we tried to reconnect after many years of cursory Christmas and birthday greetings.
It was when you came to live in Canberra in 2011, that I really got to know the person I now treasure, as not only as my niece but as a very dear friend.
You and I had a road trip to Albury mid 2011 when Jassy and Jorge were there for a family wedding and I was co-opted to look after Horrie and Esty.
A night at Terry’s with your extended family, many of whom you had never met, must have been a little daunting but you sailed through the initiation with flying colors.
The hours in the car together had been the perfect opportunity for us both to get to know each other and bridge the years of neglect.
When Kris came over to join you, we spent a lot of time together and my affection for you both grew exponentially.
My 60th Birthday in February 2012 was something I had feared I would never see.
Jassy and Kayla made wonderful speeches, Phil was the MC and he rambled on as only Phillip can, Sas and Douglas were there, and of course; you and Kris came up from Canberra for the day.
A motley crew of old country friends, Melbourne and Sydney Friends, family and people from all ends of the country, made it a triumphant gathering, determined to stare down the spectre hanging over me.
Annie, Wally and Otis could not make the trip from England, Your Mum and Dad could not make it across The Nullarbor, Terry was busy and Kearns was stuck in New York but, whilst they were missed, the joy in the room was contagious.
I think I did warn you that Kris would be a magnet for many of the lecherous, older gay men spread amongst the crowd. I had to break many hearts by telling these old farts, he was soon to be married to my niece. As expected, Kris handled the good-natured attention with ease.
I was saddened and more than a little proud when you were first posted overseas in 2013, Kayla had been back from England for much of the past year and I had been delighted to see the two of you forming a bond as long lost cousins.
Two women with much in common, re discovering the joy of family. I was proud of the role I had played in sewing these threads.
In 2013 as the skies grew darker, Billy and I decided it would be terrific to have an Easter with as many of the family as possible.
We chose Beechworth because of its proximity to the Albury crew, it was a joyous gathering attended by most of this reunited clan.
The thrill of seeing Annie and her family home from England, Jassie, Jorge and the kids up from Melbourne, Kayla, Sas and Douglas all there, mixing with Madeline, Terry and their families from Albury was made even greater by the surprise arrival of you and Kris from overseas and your mum making the effort to come across from Perth.
The fun of the night extended to late and the hilarious sight of you and Kayla’s special bonding session at the back of the car on the way to our hotel, is not easily erased from my mind. I suggested to Kris that maybe, this was the time to prove his love by pretending you were Pink.
Billy and I were thrilled with the two days and the joy of a family coming together happily, despite or perhaps because of; the dark cloud hanging over our future.
I was thrilled when I was asked to MC yours and Kris’ wedding in March 2014, you had been back living in Perth for a couple of months and Billy, Kayla and I flew over for the weekend.
The site on the beach at Margaret River was breathtaking and I can only hope I did justice to my small role in making this day very special for the two of you.
The opportunity to see Chloe after all these years and to catch up with her family, was yet another big brick in the rebuilding of the family wall.
The delight in seeing my big sister now being able to laugh at her own demons and to see her two daughters, Jenny and Caitlin, thriving; despite the traumas of the past made this wedding so very special.
It was your day of happiness, but I am not sure whether it was you and Kris, or our family; who were the biggest winners.
Love to both of you.