Thursday, 29 January 2015

3 Years

When everyone heard that my Dad was in hospital, I got a lot of messages from friends saying that it was the last thing we needed right now, as they knew that the anniversary of Aaron's death was coming up.  In some ways having Dad in hospital was a good distraction as I wasn't focused on the day coming up.  

I was finding it a lot easier this year, and had decided that the boys and I would go to the beach with all of our friends, as I felt like being social on Australia Day for the first time since Aaron had passed away.  But our plans changed two days before, when we knew that Dad was very sick and probably wouldn't pull through so we headed to Hobart.

My Dad has always been very straight and that's actually why Aaron loved to tease him so much.  He knew that he would get a laugh out of him with his inappropriate jokes, and Dad actually started to loosen up a lot and would bait him a lot.  

When we were growing up Dad would never drink Coke or Pepsi because it had caffeine in it.  Aaron's favourite drink was Pepsi, and now and then he would get Dad to have a little drink.  After Aaron passed away Dad would drink Pepsi more often - saying he was doing it for Aaron.  We loved joking with Dad that he had gotten off the straight and narrow, and he loved us stirring him about it.  

He loved the excuse of having a Pepsi on Aaron's birthday or anniversary of his death over the last few years and I know he was planning on having on Monday again. On Australia Day I went to the supermarket and stocked up on Pepsi for the day, and just had to put one on Dad's bed for him. 

We were all so sure that Dad was going to pass away on Australia Day so he could be the same as Aaron, but he obviously was waiting for something and had other ideas.
We didn't get to go to the beach, but I knew I still wanted to do something for Aaron on the day.  Because it was a public holiday we couldn't get helium balloons everywhere, so I decided that instead we would just take some Pepsi to the top of Mt Wellington

 My brothers Jared and Chrish and sister Nicki and some of their family also came.  It was nice to have them with us.  A lovely German girl took our photo for us, and was probably wondering why we all had Pepsi.

Kobe is being a clown - again!
 For lunch we of course had to have Aaron's favourite.
When we got back to the hospital, our beautiful friend Chelsea had dropped off a basket of beautiful food and drinks for the whole family.  It was so kind and thoughtful.  We were so blessed the whole time we were there to have so many people drop off food for all of us.
The boys, Chrish and I were staying with my friend Sarah and her family, and when we got back that night, there was a lovely surprise in the room I was sleeping in.  It was such a nice thing to come home to. 
Three years have gone so fast, and I still feel like Aaron could just walk in the door at any time.  As much as we wish that Dad was still here, I love knowing that he is with so many that he loved and missed so much.  I bet Aaron is stirring Dad up and hopefully there's Pepsi in Heaven so that they can have one together, while they catch up on the last three years:)  

January will always be remembered now for three dates when I lost the three men that I love so much - my Pop on the 25th, Aaron on the 26th and Dad on the 27th. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Goodbye Dad

My beautiful Dad passed away at 2:37 pm yesterday - Tuesday 27th January, 2015.  He was under palliative care for two and a half days.  It was a very long and tiring two and half days, but it also went fast.  It was really hard seeing Dad the way he was, but he was unconscious the whole time and kept comfortable by all the wonderful doctors and nurses. 

On Monday night we all left Mum at the hospital, as she was sleeping there with Dad.  We were all up late messaging each other though, and I Mum said how hard it was seeing him like it, and how she just wishes he could go. We all agreed and I said that maybe was just waiting for something.  She said she didn't know what he could be waiting for, as we had all told him it was okay to go. 

That night was when I couldn't sleep until I finished doing my blog post about Dad. I just did it on my phone, and finally posted it at 1:30 am.  I just really wanted to post it before Dad passed away - I guess kind of hoping that Dad could see it and see how much we all loved him.

The next morning my Aunty Wanda (Dad's only sister) commented that the blog post really helped her, which made me happy because I knew how sad she was.   At about 2:25 pm my Aunty Wanda walked into the room with her son Tim and his family. She was very emotional and it was so good to see them.  My Mum, brother Chrish, sister Nicki and two of her kids were all in the room when they arrived.  She said she was just so upset all morning, and just wanted to come down and see him, so Tim took off work to bring her down.

She had a good cry as she spoke to Dad, and Mum told her that he wasn't in pain and explained everything that was going on.    She told him it was okay to go, and then Mum and Aunty Wanda sat down on opposite sides of Dad's bed and kept talking. 
It was a lovely moment as they chatted across Dad's bed, so I passed my phone to my brother Chrish who was sitting at the end of the bed, and asked him to take a photo for me.  I looked back up at Dad to see what the photo would look like and I noticed his chest wasn't moving.  For a sec my heart jumped, and then I saw him take one more breath and it stopped again.  I yelled 'has Dad stopped breathing!?' and Mum and all of us jumped up.  He had taken his last breath and it was just so peaceful as he slipped away.  

We couldn't believe that he had been breathing quite strongly when she arrived, but just went in an instant. He was obviously waiting for his sister to arrive, and we were so grateful that she came and could be there with him when it happened.

We were all very emotional but were so happy for him that he had finally, and imagined the reunions that he was having at that moment.  My boys actually weren't with me when it happened, and I think that it was the best way it could've happened.  They arrived about forty five minutes later and it was nice for them to see him so rested and peaceful and still warm.

We spent about four hours in the room with Dad's body before we all left to come home.  I told the boys as we were driving to see who the first one to spot a rainbow would be.  I just knew we would see one on the way home because I have no doubt that Aaron sends us rainbows at different times, when we need to know he's around.   About twenty minutes after I said it a double rainbow appeared.  Jalen then said 'okay, maybe the rainbow theory is true' :)
I literally pulled over about twenty times on our drive home, to take photos of the sky. I was sure that Dad was letting us know he was happy. 
It's such a different feeling losing my Dad, compared to losing Noah and Aaron.  I'm so sad and can't imagine life without him around, but I'm more concerned about how my Mum will cope, and what I can do to help her. 

My Dad sometimes went to respite because of his dementia, and I like to think that right now he's in the most beautiful respite that he could be in and he's having the most wonderful time with many people that he loves, and it hopefully won't be too long until we see him again. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Saying Goodbye To My Biggest Fan

Out of all the people who read my blog, I would have to say that my Dad is my biggest fan. A few years ago he got an iPad and he straight away wanted me to set it up so that my blog page was on his home screen. 

Mum and Dad live an hour from us so we usually see them at least once every few weeks - sometimes more. If we hadn't seen them for a while, Dad would tell me how much he loved reading my blog, and seeing what we were all up to. 

When we all joined up on a Instagram, Dad also wanted to join up.  Not so that he could post pics, but so he could see photos of his kids and grandkids regularly.  Whenever I would talk to him the first thing he wanted to talk about was what I had blogged about or my Instagram photos. 

He would always say 'I love reading your blog' and would make us laugh when he would quote things from it. He would say things like 'we are not counting the days, but making the days count'. 

He would always ask me what I was going to blog about next, and would sometimes even suggest things for me to post on my blog. 

Dad has had health problems his whole life but lately it seems like it's been one thing after another.  He started to lose his hearing and was diagnosed with a benign tumour in his brain. Because they did a scan to figure out what was going on, they also discovered at the time that he has hydrocephalus - too much fluid in his brain. 

He actually felt a little bit chuffed that he had something similar to Noah. I kept having to explain that he had excess fluid and Noah's brain had been replaced with fluid, but he loved that they had something in common. He had a shunt placed which helped to drain the fluid away, but it didn't always work well and he often had to have it adjusted. 

I've always given Dad hair cuts and it always made my tummy squirm when I could feel the shunt on his head. He thought it was funny that it made me feel sick. 

Dad was diagnosed with dementia just over 5 years ago. We knew Dad wasn't right for a while, and once he got the diagnosis we understood why.  We were told that the hydrocephalus was the cause of early onset of dementia.  If that wasn't enough we also found out that he had a major heart condition, that was going to shorten his life. 

For the last few years, Dad has not been the Dad we remember growing up. He was always such a hard worker. Suddenly he just wanted to sleep a lot, he became very frail very quickly, and his personality changed. 

Mum has been doing a great job of caring for him on her own, and over the last couple of years has had to have more help by having people come and spend time with him in their home, to give her a break. 

A few months ago Dad was really sick with a chest infection. He was so sick that we actually thought he was going to die. He got over the infection and not long after that Mum and Dad came to visit. Mum walked in first and said 'something's happened to your Dad! He's back to normal! He won't stop talking, he walking so fast I can't keep up with him and he won't sleep!'.  Dad came in and I could see straight away the big change in him. 

We aren't sure what had happened, but for the last couple of months Dad has been on a massive high. He had been talking so much, and all of a sudden he could remember things that he had forgotten for many years. Dad has always been quiet - even more so once he got dementia, but all of a sudden we couldn't shut him up.  

Dad not only had energy, but he had more energy than he had in years. He started to make a 'bucket list' of things he wanted to do but he told us it was called his 'wish list'. He had places he wanted to go. 

He just wanted to go to the cemetery to visit graves, to my Pop's river flats where we spent all our time when we were young, to Bridport, to Binalong Bay, to Wineglass Bay (which we told him wouldn't be happening because the hike was too hard for him, but we could drive to Coles Bay) and to Noah's memorial garden at school

He also started to write down all the things he could remember from his life - names of people and dates of events, girls he had crushes on, friends he had at school and things he could remember about his family. 

He had a little note book that he wrote everything in and whenever we visited he would pull it out and would read us his latest entries. He told us he was writing a book about his life and was sure it was going to be a best seller. We would laugh when he would tell us that was sure he was going to make enough money off it to send Mum and I to the USA for a holiday. 

Some days I would visit and he would tell me to come into his bedroom as he had some things to share with me. He would tell me that he has been getting visits from his Dad and Aaron, and asked me what I thought about it.  He was so happy that they were around and kept saying that when he did die they would be there to meet him.   He kept writing all these things down for his book. 

When I would ask him when he would like to die, he would say that he was ready, but really would like to live till he's 70.   We knew that with his heart condition that he probably wasn't going to make it that long, and Dad also knew it.  He's 62 at the moment.

Last week Mum and Dad came with my brother Jared to pick up some things to take back for their new home, which they've been building.  I heard Mum mention that maybe Dad would stay with my sister in law Becky while they came to get the load, but I said why don't they bring Dad in while they pick it up, and he could hang out with me for an hour or so. I remembered him saying he wanted to visit Noah and Aaron's graves and Noah's memorial garden at school, so that's what we did. 
Dad was so happy to go there with me and we decided to pick some flowers from Noah's garden to take to the cemetery. 
It had rained the night before so I ended up getting wet as I tried to get some flowers. Dad cracked me up when he said 'do you want me get a photo of you all wet so you can instagram it?' :)   He sat down on Noah's bench and said 'here you go - get a photo of this!' and looked so proud and happy sitting there. 
We then headed to the cemetery and he was so happy to be there. He said 'which one will we visit first?'. I said Aaron as he was the closest to the road and Dad went over and started talking to him straight away. 'Hi there Aaron - what are you up to? What did you always call me? That's right...Nickel Ass! (My Dad's name is Nicholas, but he's called Nick most is the time) and I used to call you 'pretty boy.  We miss you so much, Lisa and the boys miss you so much. I wonder what you're up to up there?'.  
He lovingly put flowers in the vase for him and loved that some petals fell over his plaque and then we headed to Noah's grave.  
At Noah's grave he started talking again and then read what we put on his plaque 'we were blessed to have ten years with our monkey, who taught us to not count the days, but to make them count'.  As Dad finished saying the sentence he started sobbing. When we were little it was very usual to see any kind of emotion from Dad, but the last couple of months he has laughed and cried more than I've seen my whole life. 
We then went to visit Aaron's Nan and Pop's graves and he had a little chat to them before we went home to my place.  Once we got home Dad asked me for the broom and he was so happy, sweeping the paths outside for me, talking to the guys doing some work out the front, and even wanted to do a bit of gardening.  We hadn't had Dad like that for so long, so it was nice to see Dad enjoying working outside again. 

The next day I remember pulling into the driveway and commenting about how nice the front yard looked since Grandpa worked on it. 

Last Monday Dad had a fall and went to hospital by ambulance to get checked out, because he wasn't responding for a little while.  At the hospital a scan discovered that he had a massive bleed in his brain which had caused the fall, and he was flown by air ambulance to Hobart.  
The doctors thought that the bleed was caused by the shunt draining too much, so they adjusted the shunt and hoped that doing that help the blood clear as well, and decided to wait to do surgery.  They knew that surgery would be very risky - not only because it was brain surgery, but because of his heart condition.  

We drove down the next morning to see him and he was very chatty and so happy to see us.  When we walked in he said 'here they are! Come and give me a really, really big hug' as he lent over to give me a hug. He was very chatty and on his usual high he had been on for the last couple of months and was happy to have my brother Jared and sister in law Becky, visiting as well. 

He was so happy to see the boys and straight away got on his iPad and opened up Instagram to ask them about our latest photos I had put up. He wanted to know all the details about what was going on in the photos and called over one of the nurses to show him the photos. 
He asked the nurse if he had met me, and introduced me. I joked with the nurse that I was his favourite child, and Dad cheekily put his hand up like he was telling him a secret and said 'my real favourite child is in Melbourne!'. I cracked up laughing and told him off and then he said 'no you're my favourite one today because you're here'. 

He then asked me what my latest blog post was about, as he hadn't checked it for a few days and couldn't get the Internet at the hospital. I told him I had blogged about going on dates and he said 'there were some single men on the plane down here' which cracked me up as he knows I never want to date or get remarried, but he's always joking with me about getting married again.  

I got my blog up on my phone for him and showed him photos from our trip to Swansea and my dates with the boys.  He then said how sad he was that he was in hospital as he was supposed to be going on a trip to Binalong Bay with his brother Tom.  He said he wanted to go there and put his feet in the sand and talk to Aaron, as it was where he spent his last day.   The Friday before he was so happy to go to my Pop's river and to visit his brother Kim with my Uncle Jim. 

Dad said to the nurse 'ask her what's happened to her husband!'.  We are used to Dad now and the nurses knew he has dementia so I told him that he could fill him in over the next few days. Dad made me laugh though when he said 'no you tell him, it's an interesting story'. The poor nurse was so lovely as I told him that Aaron had passed away. Dad laughed as he told him it was on Australia Day and how unAustralian Aaron was. 

The nurse was from Hong Kong and Dad asked him how often he went back, and asked if he would take him on his next trip. The nurse was so lovely and said 'why not!' which made Dad happy, even though Dad knew it wasn't really possible. 

We stayed the night in Hobart and went to see Dad again the next day. In the morning he was quite chirpy and seemed good, but after we let him rest and went back in the afternoon he couldn't remember Harri and Kobe's names. He knew who they were, but kept calling Harri 'Jalen' and even called him 'Kaden' at one stage.  We had to laugh, because you either laugh or you cry. 

Even though Dad had dementia he had always remembered everyone.  It was sad knowing that the bleed was affecting him, but he didn't seem too worried about it - he would just chuckle as we tried to help him remember.  
Before we left Dad joked with the boys that he had some 'parting words' to give them, just in case he didn't make it through surgery (if he had to have it). He looked at Kobe and said 'now you know that thing you like to play?'. I said 'cricket?' and Dad said 'yes, when you play cricket you have to remember to be a good....' and couldn't think of the next word. I said 'sport?' and he said that was it.

He looked at Harri and said 'you have to help Kobe to be good okay? You have to teach him'. He then looked at Jalen and asked him what the missionaries names from church are at the moment. Jay told him their names and Dad said 'you should spend a lot of time with them. They're good fellas and will teach you a lot'. 
He then said he had one more thing to give them and put his hand in his pocket. I thought he was going to pull out his wallet but he pulled out a comb and started brushing each of their hair! We couldn't stop laughing and Dad was cracking up saying 'you won't forget this will you!'. He then came over to me and started brushing mine. It was nice just seeing Dad so happy so I let him go, and he kept saying 'you have beautiful hair! It's no wonder Aaron loved you!', which made us all laugh. 
He then put his arms around my shoulders and said 'oh I LOVE you! I really love you'.  Dad is not known to tell us that very often, so it was lovely to hear. 
He wanted to see if Jalen was almost taller than him and loved that it's not going to be long till he is. 
We gave him hugs and kisses goodbye and as I walked out the door, I had a feeling as I looked back at him that it would be the last time I would see him like that. 
The next day he had surgery under a local anaesthetic as the doctors were worried he wouldn't cope with a general. He came through surgery with flying colours and Mum said he was even more talkative than before - if that was even possible!  She said he kept saying 'it's great to be alive!', over and over again.  He even asked Mum to write down all the nurses names and take their photos to add them to his book :) 

My brother Eden and sister in law Steph got to see Dad after his surgery and said how great he was, and that he said so many lovely things to them.  We were all very relieved and a little shocked that he had come through surgery so well.  I think most of us were probably expecting him to not make it through it.  

He spent the night in ICU and next morning Mum got a phone call to say that Dad had been having seizures for an hour. Because of Dad's heart condition and dementia he had decided that he didn't want to have any intervention or life support if anything ever happened to him.  He wanted Mum to make sure the doctors knew that before he went into surgery and had signed papers to say so.  

When Mum got to the hospital Dad was in a coma.  A scan showed that the fluid had built up in his head and had caused a catastrophic brain injury. We knew that if Dad was to come out of the coma that he would have brain damage. 

He also has pneumonia and as a family we knew that Dad wouldn't want any more intervention.  He has now been under palliative care for two days and my whole family have been here, as we wait for Dad to pass away.  It's so nice to all be together again, but it's for such a sad reason.
We are spending the days sitting around his bedside as all the cousins play together, and we laugh as we share funny stories about Dad and cry as it's so hard to imagine life without him. 

We have been told that it may be between 3 to 7 days before he passes away, and as much as we don't want him to go, we also hope that he doesn't hold out that long because it's so hard to see him like this. He's not suffering, but it's like he's already gone.  We joked that he would go on Australia Day like Aaron, but it has been and gone and he's still holding on. 
We keep talking to him and giving him messages that we are getting from people, and we hope that he is hearing the things we are telling him.  People have been so kind to all of us and we have been blessed with lots of food being dropped off for the whole family and places to stay.  
It's sad to know that Mum will be moving into their new house on her own, but we can also see that Dad has been getting prepared for this. He would often go between saying how excited he was to work in the new garden, but would then say he wouldn't be moving into the new house. 
Just a couple of week ago he bought my sister Nicki and I a present each, which he got the shop to gift wrap. He has never bought me a present in my life. Mum was always the one who bought us things. He told me it was for Valentine's Day but I could open it then if I wanted. It was a little plaque with a lovely saying about daughters on it, and I remember at the time thinking that it will be something that I will always treasure. It means so much to me now to know that Dad picked it out for me. 

He has been talking a lot about how his Mum and Dad, Aaron and Noah and my brother Daniel, will all be there to meet him when he goes and imagining what their reunions will be like makes me so happy. I just wish that all of us could be together right now. 

Monday, 19 January 2015


I've always said that I'm not interested in dating or getting remarried, but I've changed my mind ;) I have actually been dating three cute boys.  They're very different to each other, but I love them equally. 

The first date was to see 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay'.  We had a great time and this date loves to talk - especially about superheroes and funny things he watches on YouTube.

My second date was desperate for a date with me for a long time.  Being the busy woman that I am, it took a lot longer to have a date than he liked, but we finally had our date last week.

He chose to see 'Paper Planes' and we loved the movie, but it was actually quite sad in parts as the Mum in the movie had died five months before, and the boy and Dad kept having dreams and flashbacks about her.  The Dad in the movie was grieving a lot and wasn't coping very well, and my date said afterwards that I wasn't like the Dad in the movie, because I always get out of bed and go to work.

It made me happy to know that even though I have been grieving that I have been able to function enough that my boys haven't noticed how hard it has actually been.

After the movies we went to Cold Rock.  He was a great date, except he made me pay for everything, including a new t-shirt!
My third date cried when I went out with my second date, because he wished it was his turn.  What can I say - I'm a popular woman! Boys are lining up for dates with me! 

My third date was very chatty the whole time - especially through the movie that we watched - Paddington.  He cracked me up when he yelled 'here comes the big battle!! That's when we know it's getting towards the end!'.  We both loved the movie.  Afterwards he went to check out the games and then we went to Cold Rock.   He was a lovely date because he wanted to hold my hand a lot :)
He kept asking me if his date was the longest date I have had, as he wanted to make sure that he could tell my other dates that his was the longest.  I told him it was, just to make him happy.   He was too cute to upset!

 I've decided that dating isn't too bad.  I think I should do it more often, but only with these three :)

Friday, 16 January 2015

River to Sea

We just had a lovely night away at our friend's beautiful beach house at Swansea.  It's called 'Rio al Mar' which means 'river to sea' because it sits right next to a river that meets the sea.  We have stayed there before and felt very lucky to go again as it's so relaxing and therapeutic.  Even just one night there makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

We kind of decided on the spur of the moment to go in the morning, and it's probably what threw me because we ended up going the long way there.  I know the 'quick' way which usually takes an hour and a half, but I saw the first turn off that said to the East Coast and because it was always the way we went to St Helens, I just turned without thinking.  

As we had been driving for about an hour and fifteen minutes, it suddenly dawned on me that we were still a long way from Swansea. I pulled over to check a map on my phone as I knew there was a turn off somewhere, and then it hit me that I had taken the really long way around! It added an extra hour to our trip, and at first I was really cranky with myself when I knew how far we still had to drive, and how close we actually were to St Helens.

Once we started driving along the coast though, I wasn't cranky anymore and kept yelling at the boys 'get off your electronics and look at the scenery!!' as it was so beautiful as we headed towards Bicheno.  We have been along that road a few times, but I can't help but pull over every time to take photos.

The boys loved hearing the story about the day we went for a drive to Bicheno from St Helens and decided to pull over at this beach, but it was so hard to get Noah's wheelchair onto the beach, and it was so windy, that by the time we got to the beach Aaron was really cranky and had enough of the wind, so we only lasted there about 10 minutes before we decided to pack up and get in the car. 

We were so happy to finally get to Swansea, and headed straight to the beach. 

Milly absolutely loves the beach and seems to understand what we are saying if we ask her if she wants to go to the beach. When we ask her she sits down straight away, waiting for us to put her lead on so we can go.  All she needs is a ball, and she's in Heaven.

The beach was empty except for a couple of people walking past.  It's so relaxing and you feel like you're the only people in the world when you are there.  The boys couldn't wait to have a game of cricket.  They always do 'rock, paper, scissors' to see who is going to bat first.

They then moved onto touch footy, and were brave enough to get into the cold water.   I only made it as far as my knees.

Last year we took a photo on these steps, so had to do it again.  I know my boys are growing up, but it hits me so much when I see photos of just a year ago. They seem like totally different boys now.

October 2013

I wanted to get a pic of the three of them together, and Kobe decided he was going to be a clown  because everyone was laughing at him.  He is the funniest kid and kept doing different poses to make us laugh.  Harri then joined in.
We loved having tea on the deck as we looked out to the amazing view.  
After tea we decided to have a play outside and go for another walk on the beach. 
Silly selfies on the beach :)  
When we woke up this morning it was very windy, but we couldn't resist going to the beach for a walk before we came home.   We ended up staying on the beach for about an hour because I just hate dragging myself away from it. Thank you to our beautiful friends for letting us stay there again.
As we were heading out I saw the sign to lots of different places that we love, and said to the boys that if it was a nicer day (it was sunny but too windy) and we didn't have to worry about Milly I would have turned the day into a massive road trip, as there are so many places I wish we could visit before the end of summer.   Hopefully we will get to a couple more places before school goes back. 
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