You can call me a woowoohead and that’s okay

She: “Mom I’m making a toy at school. It’s a project. I’m making a robot alien”

Me: “That’s so cool, babe. What are you going to call it?”

She: “424-424”.

Recently, my daughter’s been dreaming a lot about my mother. She has incredible grandparents on her dad’s side (the best!) and an amazing set of extended family. But, I’ve always mentally underplayed the role of my own parents in her life. Why? Because my dad wasn’t here for her growing up and my mother was only here for just under five years of it (thanks cancer, you really know how to mess up my folks’ plans of a dynasty… which they ended up having, but aren’t here to see it). 

I realise now that this is an error. Family ties aren’t based on time spent, but rather on connection. And the woowoohead part of me thinks that my daughter actually misses my mom, and my mom is, well, making herself evident.

These incidents were few and far between in the years after my mom’s death. We’d openly chat about my mom, her illness and her journey but I imagined that these conversations would fade over time. They did, for about a year but now, over the past few months, the opposite has occurred. As time has grown longer and my own ability to assimilate feeling like an orphan in the world has minimised, my daughter’s need for her maternal grandmother has grown.

Obviously, real life isn’t able to give her that, so it’s coming out in strange places — her dreams, her projects and, I imagine, her writing. She writes a lot, a lot more than you or I realise. I find it semi-comforting that she’s finding an avenue of peace through words, even if they’re little scrawls in notebooks or fantastic stories she pieces together. There’s a sanity to be found in that world that is peaceful, if you can get past the madness of word-mangling.

That is where my mother found her peace too, in the last years of her life. It’s where my father had found his for years. It’s where I find mine.

But somehow, no matter how much I write or create, or write towards them, I know I can’t bring them back to life. My daughter is, I think, reaching for them too, in her own particular way.

Is it grief that does this? Or is it acceptance? Either way, it is an avenue of healing that she is determined to integrate into her life (or it is being determined for her). I do know that my mother would, and could always, make herself heard. She would “speak the words” so that others would have to “hear the words”. Most of her life, she spoke them for the sake of someone else who did not have a voice.

Perhaps this is her, speaking them for herself. Speaking them to her granddaughter.

On Incomplete Sentences

I asked my dad once “how do you know? You know? How do you know you love someone? How do you know you want to marry them?” (Back then, I thought marriage was the only avenue to love… I’ve grown up a lot since then). I’ve been thinking about it a lot again and I’ve been working my way towards writing this for a while, but then life got in the way, I got stuck…and then the right sentence dropped itself into my head while I was in the shower this evening.




It’s this: The phrase “I love you” is an incomplete sentence.

The first time I ever said those three words to someone (obviously, outside of my family), I was told I needed my head read. He was probably right. The second time I said it to someone, their reception was a little warmer (thank goodness, or else I’d have been put right off the whole idea and probably wouldn’t be where I am today. This stuff burns people, and I wish we were all more cognisant of that).

This needs context
The thing is, “I love you”, on it’s own, is a threadbare and rather short sentence. Without any context, it stands alone like some sort of white elephant that nobody wants to talk about. It’s the context of that sentence that gives it meaning, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about recently.

It has to have a purpose
A dear friend of mine packed up her family and headed to new shores this year. I’ll miss them all so very much, but they went in pursuit of certain dreams and to create something they wanted to. They did it, with purpose. Their “I love you” directed at their life together created the context for moving forward, moving closer to something they wanted, together. So that’s my point – “I love you” has to have a purpose. And it has to be a good purpose. It is not some throwaway line you can halfheartedly chuck around and hope it maybe fixes a fight. That phrase needs a purpose, and it should be one that serves everyone who says it, and everyone it is said to.

It’s a simple phrase
The phrase, in itself, is a simple one. Broken down, it’s three short words that are imbued with a sense action. Love, really, is that simple too. Yes, love can be messy and chaotic and really difficult sometimes, but when it comes down to the nugget of it, it’s simple – you either love someone or you don’t. You’re either on their team or you’re not. Being on someone’s team doesn’t mean you live in this hallucinogenic bubble that’s all kittens and purring, but that you’re in it for the long haul. You can disagree, banter, bicker, whatever, but – when the chips are down (and life forces those chips down, trust me), you’re on their team.

What my dad said
Which leads me directly to what my dad told me in response to my question. I’m paraphrasing but, in short, he said: “It’s when someone can make you so mad, fight with you or you misunderstand each other but, when you wake up in the morning, they smell like freshly mown grass to you. They make you think of honey and sweet things, and they make the world okay because you know they’ve got you, and you’ve got them.”

Revelations at Dawn

Our new house (that’s really not new anymore, we’ve been here long enough but I’m clinging to the new feeling, stick it out with me) has a beautiful view of the ocean. But this is not the first home I’ve lived in that looked out to the twinkly sea, so I’ll leave the epiphanies I’ve had over an early morning coffee in 2015 (there have been many!) to one side for now.


In fact, my home that looked out to the sea before this one, looked over a city landscape too. With the swirl of a cosmopolitan city splayed out below it, it was on that balcony that I began and experienced a bunch of important life moments. It was where I’d spend many an evening, at first cradling a bottle of wine in my early twenties, and then later, cradling a colicky baby at all hours of the day and night. I still think the scenery helped to soothe her.

But we’re talking about mornings, aren’t we? There’s one morning on that balcony that’ll stick in my mind forever. She was still tiny, so tiny, and I woke up (uncharacteristically, for the mother of a newly minted infant) to see a sprinkle of winter sunshine peeking through the curtains.

I crept out of our room, that was festooned with all the things you’re “supposed” to buy when you have a baby but, really, those items end up being so useless or fleeting in purpose, after all. I slunk away down the passage to forage up a cup of tea, being careful to not let the teaspoon tinkle too loudly as I stirred.

Sitting down on a chair that was probably ready to be retired, I looked at that cityscape and out on to the ocean. With the sun just beginning to do its daily thing, I exhaled. In the calamity of noise that you come home with from the hospital, and the seemingly infinite list of things to do that go with a new baby, I’d felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath for a while. It was nice to just exhale for a while.

Looking down at my phone, I saw a stream of texts that had clearly gone on through the night, but that I’d slept through as they beeped. They were from my dad, as he lay in his hospital bed not even 500 metres away from me. He’d awoken, confused and surrounded by machines and sick people he didn’t think he belonged near, but was convinced he was on holiday, and would I mind bringing him a ciggie? I giggled to myself, but let my responses rest for now, as I hoped he was.

The thing about terminal cancer is, while it may rob its host of bodily functions or even dignity, it doesn’t take the mind for a while. And when it does begin to consume the brain, it doesn’t grind it into a halt right until the end. No, it explodes it, with colour, light and fantasy. A sort of party in your head that the disease gives you, as one final blast before your curtain falls.

I didn’t know then, that the funny conversations and confusing dialogue my dad and I would have over the months just before that sunrise, and the final ones, this text conversation…would be the last ones we’d ever have.

You never know the last conversation you’ll ever have with someone. Even with my mother, I refused to accept it would be the last time we spoke when we did on a peach coloured afternoon that had left me pacing and desperate.

But as the sun rose up to the sky that morning, and the new life of our family mewed itself awake into the day, the old life, the one that said he “had to make space for the new one” began to slip away.

He would die just a few days after his last text message to me.

It said: “Where am I?”

Oh my darling. I wish I knew.


I’m very pleased to be a part of this collaborative blogging process. Each week, on Wednesdays at 2pm, Dave, Mandy, Brett, Nick, Scott and I publish a post. The same title is shared between us, but we have no sight of each other’s posts until we publish. As Dave says “The point of the exercise is to give a group of writers a title, and then to sit back and watch how their creativity and word skills deliver their very personal interpretations.”

You can read the other collaborators’ blog posts here:

The Yardstick of Nine | Dadadadad.

Dear Dadadadad,

It’s been nine years. The idea that it’s now just a skip and a little hop of a year to a full decade since I last heard your voice or held your hand, scares me. The marking of this time…the marking is a mixture of cruelty and healing. The marking is a reminder, and a yardstick that helps me take the next step.

That void of time seems to have moved so quickly and yet, I feel it like an ocean between continents. You are not here, and you have not been here for more of my adulthood than you were. Technically, you were with me for seven years of it, but you have been gone for nine years of it.

The time of you being gone is marked, indelibly, into each day, as I look at your first grandchild. Her growth is an indication of the time you have been gone, and she’s now growing into a young woman. She is no longer a little girl, and – just like she – my missing of you takes on new shapes, grows longer and becomes a life. I mark the years of you being gone, by the notches in her growth chart. The one she now supersedes. There is no growth chart big enough now, as she grows beyond the years marked on it. I wish you were here to see that.



As I screech towards the middle of my thirties, my auditory memories of your voice fade, and I hear that voice only in my own now, or in those of the people of our family. It is in the calm and measured planning, the carefully crafted words and the tinkering of 2am thoughts…that’s where you are.

In the time that you have been gone, my work has brought you closer to me. Sometimes your name even comes up when I’m in the middle of something…and like a spark in the silence of midnight, you’re there.

A few weeks ago, I had a health scare. The kind that kicked my bum, and had me lying on a bed in a medical examination room, staring into their light. As I lay there, waiting for some specialist I did not know, to come in and tell me my future, my brow furrowed and…I remembered your words “I’ve let the team down, duckie”.

You didn’t let the team down, Dadadadad. If anything, you taught the team the way forward. You never were letting any of us down, and I don’t feel you ever did.

But, if that appointment had not gone the way it had, at that time, I fear it would’ve been me who would let the team down. That scared me into a blinding realisation, and it wasn’t just the light shining in my eyes.

When this man-I-did-not-know, told me that I was fine, I uttered the words we as a family used to mutter. Mom, as she washed the dishes, you as you would on the phone, and my siblings and I, as we’d feel relieved over something. It is, as I lay there, the moment where I think I saw you, stomping your foot and clapping in relief.

I realise it’s just a reprieve. Losing your parents when you’re younger than most, ingrains into your days the fact that we are all mortal…we are all never safe from the other side. We’re just all moving towards it different ways – the end result is always the same. What is left behind, becomes our legacy.

The start of that legacy.

And that legacy? Well the legacy you left, the one you created with The UM, has children in it. There are words in it. There are parties and dinners and love and stories. There’s history created and memories that become facts of our life stories. There’s legacy and there’s love.

I miss the warmth of you beside me, and the easy banter of a Sunday morning laugh over breakfast. I miss your teas and your spontaneous giggle. I miss the gentle reassurance of you, and the compelling motivation behind your “get on with it”. I miss your calming “cool your jets”. I miss your speeches and your absolute inability to not go off on a tangent. I miss you grabbing my hand and squeezing it. I miss the smell of you, and the knowing I can call you. I miss calling you, even though it’d mean yelling half of the time. Haha. I miss calling you so damn much.

Just as you have been gone from my life for nine years, you are still in it. But your voice is in mine, not outside of it anymore. So, really, maybe I should just call myself. That’s what you’d tell me to do, anyway.

Perhaps you already did, that day you said:

“I can promise you the excitement or the attraction isn’t ‘out there’, it’s in you”. 

FJD – 27/07/1933 – 12/07/2005 

life is… the great editor.

I’ve just finished off my work for the week and am settling down for a little quiet night to myself. But, maybe, just for a minute, I’d like to just write, just for me.

While I was working this evening, I came across my dad’s name while searching for something online. It surprised me (it shouldn’t), it catapulted my heart into the ceiling, and I ended up doing the crysmilesoblaugh that my family members are so very well known for (When we’re happy, we cry. When we’re pissed off, we laugh. When we are many things, all at the same time, we do the crysmilesoblaugh and occasionally stomp our feet). It felt weirdly comforting, for so many reasons.

But it got me thinking. I write. It is what I do, and I don’t think I can do much else with as much glee or intent. The hardest part of writing, though, lies in the editing. So, yes, all you funny people who email me “lyk dis, becuz you wanna be a riter becuz it luks eezi and i am gud at it” (THESE PEOPLE EXIST GUYS!), I’m certain you have some talent, somewhere. But it’s not your writing I’m ever going to look at. I’m probably going to look at where you edited yourself, if you did. Trust me, it shows.

But while I’m here, thinking about writing, editing and all the little nitpicky things I bang on about every day (see Twitter for rants), I realise…I’m not the final editor of my life. Heck, everyone gets edited. And subedited. And then edited again.

I absolutely can create the best story I can. I can fill it with ideas, activities and colour. I can stock it with daytime naps and dreamy sex, love and friendship. I can commit to composing stories that riddle together like cheese on toast and I can depict as much of my story as I want to.  I can edit and sub and scratch out, backspace and delete as much as possible but, I am not the final editor.

Life. Life is the final editor. She’s the one that injects the surprise twists in the tale, kills off characters and gives new ones a grand entrance into the plot. Life is the one that leaps the story ahead when you least expect it and forces you to pore over each word of a sad scene, over and over again. She’s the one that takes the story, shakes it up or she lets it glide along for a chapter or two.

i found my dad through my work tonight.

So when I found my dad through my work tonight, I remembered. I’m in a stage of my life now where I *know* he’d enjoy it so intensely. Not just as a grandparent, not just as my dad. But as my greatest sounding board. I wish for him, when I have to edit my own work (which is, lovely reader, all the time). I wish for him when I need a question answered and I want someone to explore a peripheral idea with me. I wish for him, because he’d understand the nuances I want to explore. I want to call him up, fight with him over a sentence I love and he hates, have us slam the phone down on each other in frustration and then laugh about it all again the next morning.

I remembered, all too strangely tonight, of the days I’d work away at essays for University, and he’d edit me. I giggled to myself over how I would secretly send him articles I wrote for my first “proper” corporate job, and he’d edit them, and then send them back to me, so that my boss would receive beautiful work, each time (I was a silly 22 year old then, and mostly insecure about everything). I want to juggle angles on stories with him, and find a little hook to hang my coat of words on.

But I can’t do those things anymore. I haven’t been able to for nearly 9 years now. I’ve had to learn to find his voice within myself, and use the critical but kind guidance to cross out lines that don’t work. Sometimes I can’t find him, and I want to throw my hands in the air and scream: “It’s shit! It’s all shit! I should go be an accountant or something!”

I can’t do that either though, so I must pummel through and keep looking for his guidance somewhere, for life is the great editor and she, she needed me, my siblings and my mom, then, to start writing our own stories.

Just like all editing that happens though, if you look really carefully, you’ll still find the remnants of the original story. That punchy word, that funny little phrase or the great perspective that makes you think long after you’ve finished reading. So it’s that, that is my rebellion against life. Even though she edited my dad out of this world, I can still find him, somewhere, in my words, in my work, somewhere in my head.

You might be the great editor, Life, but I am still the one who writes this story. My dad taught me that.


I miss him every day.


Father’s Day

There’s alot I can say on this day. So much. June is always the month

where I miss my own father the most. Where I feel his void the

greatest, and when I, on the cusp of adding another year to my life,

want to turn to him and say “hey, am I doing okay?”.

So much to say. Instead of saying things, I thought I’d just be

thankful this year. I have been lucky enough, blessed enough, to have

had the most inspirational, stubborn father who believed in his family

more than anything, even when we pissed him off. heh. The gentlest, yet

firm when needed, paternal unit.

he used to say, that whenever we would fight, whenever he and my mum

would disagree, that the next morning, on rising, it wouldn’t

matter…that we’d still ‘smell like honey’ to him. That constant love

given, those 2am teas, the talks over the table.

When I was very little, I remember thinking my dad was very tall. very

strong. When I was a teenager, I remember thinking my dad was always in

my way. When I grew a little, I remember always knowing my dad was

always beside me, no matter what happened. The truth is, he’s always

been beside me – from walking next to the donkey at The Oaks, when he

wasn’t riding horses himself, to sitting next to me in the principal’s

office, to signing away his surety into my juvenile hands, to holding

my hand on the couch when I was in labour.

Always beside me.

Then I look at the father figures in my life.

My brother. Father to two, uncle to my daughter, always loving, always

working hard at everything. Always doing his best. Once, when I was

needed at work, and Cam was ill, he looked after her for me. Once, when

I was a teenager and in the middle of a dodgy situation I didn’t even

know I was in, he got me out. Once, when I was just verging on the

teens, I sprained my ankle. He carried me into the house, crying like a

baby. My brother, and yeah, we’re siblings, dudes, so of course we have

differences, I always feel, is the greatest tribute to our father any

of us could make. His constant love for his family, that drives him,

and holds us together, is unwavered by life. Proof of that lies in how

he loves his daughters, his wife and puts his heart into everything he

does. Yes, that includes rocking out, air-guitaring and laughing at my


Always beside me. Always beside his family.

Cameron’s dad. My lifelong best friend, my confidante for every

formative day and deed of my life. I could write you three books on

him. But, he is Cameron’s father, first and foremost. How weird that

really is, I suppose, for me. From being the number one person in my

life, above all, to being the number one person for someone else. And

that someone else being the number one person in my life. A strange and

idiosyncratic circle. That said, his fatherhood, flung upon our lives

like a wayward balloon, is constant. Life is life, but his love for his

daughter exists even when he cannot see it himself. To see her eyes

light up for him, to listen to them talk in their own, special language

to each other, to watch them play, to the days when I used to watch

them sleep. How, four years on, when he picks her up and she nestles

her head into his shoulder, and the world is at peace. The look on his

face when she entered the world is the same look he has when he picks

her up for his weekends. Always constant love. In his own, particular way I
battle to understand.

Always beside Cameron.

My point? My point is simple. The father figures in my life, have loved

me, hated me, questioned me but always supported me. What makes a great

father? I don’t know, I’m not a father and I can’t judge. But, what I

do know, is that I am surrounded by brilliant, constant examples.

So, today, I say, Thank you.

Miss you Dadadadadad.