This tattoo honours my late father, my family, and my unique identity within it. My family’s surname is Dutch: Groenenboom, which translates to ‘green tree’.
I am thankful to be starting the new year by doing something to deeply meaningful. It is a positive way of acknowledging those who have passed, including my dad and my beloved cousin six months ago, those who remain and are still flourishing, and my connection to them all.
I spent months choosing the tree design, as there are myriad options available and many are gorgeous. I chose this one because it symbolises strength, beauty and grace. The maple leaf represents me, obviously— unique among the other leaves, but strongly connected and coming from the same source.
I am so proud that this symbol is now part of me.
The word tattoo is interesting because the one word has two completely different sets of meanings that have come from entirely distinct sources.
That makes it a homophone, a homograph, and a homonym all at the same time: as it is pronounced and spelt identically for each of its various meanings.
Anyone who knows me well enough to be in my front yard knows how much I love my maple trees that I have carefully and lovingly grown as reminders of my beloved Canada. I can’t get there anywhere near as often as I want to, so the least I can do is have a bit of Canada in my own garden. It’s not too much to ask.
Today, though, someone who was in my front yard — unbeknown to anyone who lives here, of course, heartlessly ran down one of my maples.
Yes, it was a fairly small tree. That is irrelevant, because it was on its way to being big. Big maples cost lots more than smaller maples in Australia, and small ones cost more than enough. More importantly, it was my tree.
The only notification they left of the destruction of my tree was the tree itself, now horizontal rather than vertical. No note. No phone call or text. No apology. No identification of the culprit.
I am so sad. I’m sad for the loss of a tree that actually meant something to me.
I’m also sad that whoever is responsible felt it was okay to not be honest with me.
If I knocked over someone’s tree or broke something that belonged to someone else, I would be guilt-ridden and desperate to replace it.
Apparently, not everyone I know is quite so principled.
Fortunately for them, I have absolutely zero clues as to who is responsible.
Unfortunately for me, that means that my already cynical INFJ mind will not just go “oh well…” and let it go. Self-destructive as it may be, a little voice in my head will wonder ‘Was it you?’ every time I see people I should be able to trust. The question will probably never come out of my mouth, but it will be there, nevertheless.
The group of people in whom I have absolute trust was already a very small group indeed. And people wonder why.
Over the past few weeks, I found myself growing heartily tired of advertisements and posts about Fathers’ Day.
I sincerely wish all the dads out there and their kids a very happy Father’s Day, and I truly hope they can spend some quality time together. I hope kids of all ages cherish their dads and make the most of every opportunity to spend time with them while they still have them.
For me, though… it just hurts. This is my first Father’s Day without my dad after 53 years of having him in my life. It has only been 11 weeks since he died and I miss him enormously every day.
I have so much to be thankful for. Dad was wise, and funny, and encouraging, and consistent, and caring, and always there when I needed him. I loved being able to care for him and provide for him, to spend time with him every day, and to take him to the places he needed or wanted to go. We were father and daughter, but also great companions and partners in laughter, day trips, good coffee and sweet treats.
All of that is why I miss him so much. And while everyone else is celebrating their dads as they absolutely should, it feels empty for me.
So, I spent part of my day commemorating my father.
I went to visit the grave where both my parents are now buried. I placed flowers there, took some photos, and had a big howly cry.
There was a young guy nearby, placing something on a grave — maybe his own dad’s or grandfather’s resting place, I don’t know. He approached me gently and asked, “Are you okay, miss?” We we’re both wearing masks, but his eyes were kind and I could see he was genuinely concerned for me. I thanked him and explained it was my first Father’s Day without my dad as he died in June, and he nodded. “He was lucky to have a daughter who would cry for him,” he said. Then he patted my arm and walked away. What a kind, compassionate soul!
As I calmed my breathing and emotions, I took some photos for the family.
My next stop was the Camperdown Botanic Gardens. I love walking there. It’s so pretty and there is always something lovely to see. It was the perfect place for reflecting and mindfulness as I walked. Surprisingly, I was the only person there: everyone else was missing out, because it was an absolutely glorious day. There were blossom trees covered in buds and blooms, new leaves on limbs that have been bare all winter, a glorious grove of bluebells, pretty tulips and cheerful daffodils and jonquils. They were all sights that were good for the soul.
My third destination for the day was the nursery: I wanted to buy a tree to plant in memory of my dad. There were some lovely options – silver birches, ornamental pears, weeping cherry blossom, and a range of decorative blossom trees. In the end, I couldn’t decide between the crabapple and the Persian witch hazel, so I bought both. They both have leaves that change with autumn colour, and pretty blossoms to give cheer in late winter and early spring.
There was one funny moment when the lady who runs the nursery suggested a maple tree. I had to confess to her that I adore maples — they are my favourite tree— but I couldn’t get a maple this time because nobody would believe I bought it to remember Dad. A maple would definitely be just for me.
It has been an emotional roller coaster of a day, but I have tried to fill it with positive things and happy memories instead of dwelling on the past or wallowing in misery. I experienced a beautiful moment of kindness from a stranger, enjoyed fresh air and sunshine on an absolutely cracking spring day, and I have two lovely new trees that will brighten the garden and my life.
The crabapple has been planted, and the Persian witch hazel is just waiting until tomorrow evening for its turn.
Counting my blessings instead of my tears is definitely what Dad would have wanted me to do.
After several absolutely brutal weeks, my bestie and I headed out to spend the day together— a day just for us.
We didn’t talk about grief, or death, or funerals, or wills, or medical treatments. We just enjoyed each other’s company and pretended as much as we could that the rest of life and corona and lockdowns and work and pretty much everything else was not happening.
Don’t get me wrong, though. We sanitised , we distanced, we avoided people as much as we could. We’re neither stupid nor irresponsible.
We drove up-country and visited places we haven’t been to before.
We stopped in a little country town, took some photos, bought a Coke, and kept going.
We stood on top of a mountain — well, technically it’s a dormant volcano, albeit not a very big one— and saw as far as we could see. We watched in silence as a wallaby fossicked for sweet blades of grass to eat, then hopped away. We listening to birdsong and tried to work out how many different birds we could hear.
We visited a bookstore, as we always do on our expeditions, and we both found a couple of new treasures to bring home with us.
We visited two different waterfalls about 9 kilometres apart on the same river, and looked at rocks and water and cascades and lichen and soil profiles.
We ate lunch as we watched the water running and leaping its way down the rock face, and as we watched other visitors walk all the way down to the river bank and back up again. That’s a great way to wear out the kids during school holidays! We packed up our rubbish, along with some left behind by some other less considerate visitors to the park, and put it in the car to bring home with us, then returned to the falls to take photos.
We watched the most delightful older couple walk hand in hand as they explored the park around the waterfalls, obviously as delighted with each other’s company as they were when they first met. She used a walking stick with her other hand, and he carried two umbrellas. The way they looked at each other was just adorable.
We looked at trees and enjoyed their beauty, their shapes, and their different profiles. Then we drove down country lanes where the gum trees on either side almost made a tunnel and commented on how magical and beautiful that felt.
We found a campground we want to go and stay at. It’s nestled in the bush near one of the waterfalls, and it’s just natural and quiet and beautiful.
We met a lady with a gorgeous little dog named Milo, who insisted on wrapping his lead around my legs not once, not twice, but three times. We laughed.
Oh, it felt so good to laugh. It felt so good to breathe fresh air, to not feel pressure from time or commitments or places and things that reminded me of my losses.
It felt so good to just be. No responsibilities, no demands. Breathing deeply, enjoying the moment, and feeling refreshed. I can’t remember the last time I was able to do that.
I am so blessed to have a friend with whom I can share days like today, but who has also supported me so faithfully through the trauma of the past few weeks. She has been an absolute rock for me, and I am thankful.
I am blessed to live in a place where I can go and spend time in nature and feel at peace there. I’m very blessed to not be in an area that is locked down, as Melbourne has been once again.
Today didn’t make all those other things go away — far from it. But it gave me time to breathe, and it was very good therapy.
A Day For Healing. #therapy #emotions #grief #trees #waterfalls #personal #reflection #blogpost
This post caught my attention today because it echoes many of my own thoughts and feelings about the gifts I’ll be giving – and receiving – at Christmas.
I’m keen to give people what they want and what they need for Christmas, rather than spending money on something they won’t value. I’m also increasingly aware of the level of waste and discarded goods that are piling up on our planet.
So, this year, I have gone a little green in my requests and in my shopping.
My gift request of my husband was to buy me a couple of trees for our yard. The first one I chose is a maple, as anyone who knows me would assume,- and the other is a spruce that we can use as a real-life Christmas tree each year, and dress it up in the garden. Both hearken to my love for Canada and the very happy memories I have made there. I am unable to travel there at the moment, so why not add a little more Canada to my home? While some might say that I should only be planting Australian species, I would argue that tree is a tree, and any tree is better for the planet than having none. And in this case, two trees are better than one!
Without disclosing any secrets about gifts I have bought for others, I have rejected anything plastic, disposable or wasteful. I’m using recycled paper giftwrap and cloth ribbons rather than the curly plastic foil variety. I’m buying from local small businesses, and hopefully helping them provide their families and workers with a good Christmas too.
My contributions might be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but making a difference even on a local scale is still worthwhile.