Grief, joy, a strange emotional mix


Scarlett Rose and me

What a strange juxtaposition of emotions my life has become.  Husband’s death has plunged me into excruciating grief and now a beautiful new grand-daughter has been born lighting up my life like the floodlights at the AAMI stadium.

I have swung like the big dipper from the sheer joy of handling the newborn to the depths of despair at the loneliness of my life.


My life also hovers between the need for friends and family to support me and the need for solitude to grieve.


Somewhere as I have groped along the grieving path, I have rediscovered reading as a way to stave off the sadness which has seeped into my soul.  What better choice than the “heartbreaking and compelling’’ Tete-a-Tete by Hazel Rowley on the lives and loves of famous French literary couple, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. It had sat in my bookshelf for at least five years since it was published six years ago without my attention.


Yet, nightly – and each morning – as I read of their outrageous life, I discover passages relevant to my own journey.  Here – as a full moon shines its rays into my bedroom thanks to Olivier’s insistence on a high, long window – I discover a passage of Simone de Beauvoir’s own distressing take on grief, which aptly captures my own state of being.


“I am trying to interest myself in my past….I have got to kill time somehow….Didn’t sleep much…. I am so tense I have been taking Sarpagan….after the tension, depression… I am too down to write…I slept badly and woke up with my nerves in knots…I am always seized by panic just before I wake up…tonight once more, life sinks its teeth into my heart.’’


She wrote of suffering one of many heartbreaks, while I am suffering the loss of my soul mate.  My  agony of a shattering emotional emptiness through the finality of death, surely is worse that her broken heart, which, my the next reading session, had been replaced with yet another affair in “the Beaver’s’’ life.


However do you heal? For my healing, I am trying to build an imaginary stepladder of “doing’’ things, the first and last being to reach for my book in bed.  In between, it remains a struggle to fend off sadness and engage once more in “quotidien”” (dailiness).


So let me share my days, which begin with a new routine.


I wake. I lie there and gauge the time by the varying dawn-time silhouettes of the huge gums outside my window. I don’t want to move, but nature calls.


I crawl back into bed and read. Oscar whines and scratches at the laundry door. I rise to let him into the hallway. His morning antics make me laugh;  I grab a glass of water before switching on the gas wall heater.  This is my precious meditation time, a TM practice which has kept me more or less sane for 40 years.   I harness Oscar and walk into the early morning mist for 20 minutes, picking up the newspaper on my return.  Make pot of tea, prepare breakfast. Read morning paper. Consult diary.


Each day includes an “engagement’’ for coffee or lunch or I plot a visit to the nursery to buy herbs, or a visit to the library reading room. I book a French lesson once more after missing two weeks and note that tomorrow I have my grief group. Each week I buy flowers and cut foliage from my own garden to create a floral arrangement for the home.


Olivier and I rarely watched television. Now I follow the Olympics and have begun eating simple meals again – in front of the telly. (He would be shocked as we always met at the kitchen bench to eat together until his last days.)


Now I have the added pleasure of driving to the western suburbs to visit the new parents and my infant grand-daughter. To hold her in my arms (after cleaning up a shocking, smelly, pooey nappy) is pure bliss.

Scarlett within hours of her birth.


Somehow time passes and the fear of facing life alone without Olivier is easing.






Sweden swings and Germany surprises

Intrepid world traveller Heather Caddick writes from Sweden, where her family now lives.

“We are all steaming along and loving the Swedish summer, where intrepid Swedes have dumped tons of white sand to make sandy beaches along the pristine lakes….perfect for swimming, boating and just lazing around. We live between two lakes and it is only a two- minute walk to the ‘beaches’ along a small river trail.
The days are long, and all our family, along with the rest of Sweden is on holidays, and you are regarded with stark amazement if you attempt to do anything serious, like work, at this time of year!

From Sweden, travel is easy, with places so much closer…we have just sampled the volcanic thermal delights of Iceland, and tracked Killer Whales, and Puffins from a fishing trawler off Iceland’s coastline.

Later in the year it is Africa, and keeping in touch with friends there working for Rhino conservation, still my absolute passion, and sadly in such a precarious state with Rhino poaching increasing to alarming levels in the past two years.
South East Asia, now boasts health drinks, containing ground Rhino horn!! So, the bounty is huge, and attracting powerful crime syndicates.
The fight is real and current and requires so much support and publicity.

Next month we will have our introduction to Russia when I travel to St. Petersburg with my daughter in law for a short culture-soaked break….to include Ballet and Opera, and galleries, and lots of walking.”

Meanwhile, Dr Pamela Schulz, captures the glory of old Germany


Visiting Germany is quite a surprise. The trains are on time, the people mostly can speak English, the food is delicious and they love Australiansand Australia! What more can one ask for you might think? Well what about a visit to an old German aristocrat town once the province of the Dukes of Baden-Württemberg not far from the Black Forest and replete with history and castles.


A tour of the Schloss shows such treasures as giant vats for wine, an ancient bell tower, and cobbled streets. It is within these streets that one can find jewellery dating back to the German Royals, Wurst Hauses selling great sausages and the ice creams are very nice indeed.  Germany is a worthwhile holiday, prices are good and service is excellent… Southern Germany is a wonderful trip and well worth a visit.