Clock Watcher-The Hand of Time


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Published: January 31st 2014
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The pilot spoke over the intercom and said that we are on our decent in to Perth and would be touching down and on the stand by 10.40, I am generally not a clock watcher, but after being away for nearly four weeks I couldn’t wait to see my girl again.

As advised, the 330 Airbus touched down and soon I was in the baggage hall waiting for my bag to appear on the carousel.

I had been excited about using my new Australian Passport, this would be its maiden voyage, as a bona fide Australian, I thought that I would hand my passport over to an Immigration Customs officer, who, if I would be lucky enough, would stamp the official document, but sadly not !

As I get into the customs area the signage directs you to “Australian Passport Holders this way” and I am soon being scanned and let through what look like a glass sheep gate, the passport is scanned and my photograph is taken and literally without even a blink of an eye I am let through and on my way.

As I walk in to the arrivals hall, Caroline is striding up to embrace me with her arms out wide, god it was great to see her, there she was looking so suntanned, dressed for the heat and looking really well, what a relief we are back together.

We walk out of the airport in to the warm night air, I took my coat off, jumper off, it’s about quarter past eleven in the evening and a balmy 28 degrees, oh bliss, it’s so nice to be home, where all things are familiar.

Despite both of us being tired, it had been a long day for Caroline and I was pretty exhausted from the flight, our drive home was full of chatter, with Caroline explaining how she had got on and I explained what had happened back in the UK.

It took us about an hour to get back to the house that we are currently sitting and as soon as my bag was deposited in a pile on the floor, it was on with the kettle and we just fell in to the chairs in a big heap, then eventually we fell into bed at about 1.20 am.

The mission had been successful, It just goes to
StripperStripperStripper

Hilary stripping wall paper
show just how quickly you can mobilise when you are required to do so and with the help from certain of members of our Australian family, namely Jenni Davis, my transit out of Australia was secured and my temporary role was to support what is left of my UK family in the organisation of my Mum’s funeral.

Sadly, it was 2012 when we were last in the UK and when we saw Mum, but my peace had been made then, you can’t expect to live the other side of the world as we do, and not have situations like this one to deal with, it is the huge amount of travel the amplifies the situation and makes it look like such as mountain, but again with the aide of amazing people this mountain is made much easier to navigate.

When I left and got on the plane in Perth I sat next to a young British guy, probably in his early to mid 20’s who told me that he was flying back to surprise his sister, she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and I guess he may have been going to say his goodbyes as well.

I arrived on Saturday December the 28th at around 4.25pm when we all disembarked the jet, I had flown Perth to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to London Heathrow, and December in the UK is generally yuk and today was no exception!

Leaving the airport building, waiting for my transit bus to the rental car collection, area, it was a shock, I had to get my coat and jumper out of my bag, as the afternoon was cold and wet and very dark and it was only 4.30, far away from the Australia summer I had left 16,000 Kilometres away.

I honestly don’t know what would have been worse, travelling this huge distance, in the hope that mum was hanging on, waiting for me to cross those miles, just to be able to hold her hand once more, and say my good byes, but that luxury had passed, my mum had quietly slipped away in the presence of my sister and having my niece and nephew being with her throughout the day, Jane (My sister) held mums hand to the very end, which I think is a very brave thing to do. So with this knowledge I
Old FriendsOld FriendsOld Friends

Kenny Hollis and Gary Barber
boarded the aircraft, with a heavy heart and my job was to support my sister.

This blog, may seem very matter of fact, even blasé, but it is not intended to be, it is just a factual record of events in our Australian Life, and however you wrap it up you have to be somewhat practical in these matters and with all the crying and chest beating in the world, it would not bring my mum back, however much I wanted it to.

Without question, the one person who would be doing it tough would be Caroline, she was required to stay in Australia, as it is a fundamental belief that you do not break a promise, I appreciate this was a very tough call on Caroline, some might see it as insensitive, but our word is our bond, we don’t make promises that we don’t or cannot keep and we had made a promise to the owner of the house (Anne) that we would sit her house and her little dog (Bitsy) for 80 days and that was it, she was now relying on us, to provide what we had agreed to and that was that.

Caroline and I shared each other’s New Years together, as they were eight hours apart, (Yet it takes 30 hours to get to the UK) ?? it was important that we did so we felt the connection with each other and by using Skype it allowed us to see each other when the clocks chimed midnight in each other’s part of the world.

As I had arrived on the 28th December the first real day of play, as far as making funeral arrangements, was Monday the 30th December as It was the first day of business after the Christmas break, so Jane and I set about make arrangements as was required.

Fortunately, my sisters family are all involved with rugby and my Nephew Harry (17) and all 6ft 5” of him play for a rugby club, and one of the Senior players is a Funeral Director and the guy who assisted my sister in finding a place for mum in a care home when she moved from Birmingham in the West Midlands to Hatfield in Hertfordshire, so she would be near to my sister and her grandchildren and therefore just how I was assisted by Jenni Davis in
Old FriendsOld FriendsOld Friends

Jo, Gary Mike and Ken
getting my travel sorted out, Jane was being provided help, from her friend, Justin, in making arrangements for Mums funeral.

When Caroline and I had made the flight bookings we had just guessed a return date of the 22nd January without even knowing if this was even going to be achievable, sadly it is a busy time for Funeral Directors in the UK so we knew that we may need to wait for longer than normal for the funeral.

The first available date for the service was going to be Thursday 16th January at 1.00pm, so at least we had something to work towards and now most things had been done, including talking with the Vicar and organising a venue for the wake, we were certainly on track.

It was important to make sure Caroline was part of the process and I wanted to make sure she felt the connection, so I asked Caroline to produce the order of service, which is basically the documented format, music requirements etc of the funeral.

Now ask yourself a simple, but hard question. Do you know, your parents favourite piece of music or the music they would want at
My FamilyMy FamilyMy Family

Gary Lily Jane and Harry
their funeral? Well I certainly did not know the answer to these simple questions so you have to sit down and sort of reverse engineer it.

There are three basic parts, to the funeral service,



Introduction



● Music to entrance to the service



Hymns & Prayers



● Reflection music



Hymns and Prayers



● Committal Music

Now the entrance music is fairly easy, something nice and respectful, not too sombre, friends and relations will be taking their seat in church or as in our case at the crematorium and a bit of back ground music is required.

The refection music is slightly trickier, this is when you want something that makes to think about your deceased loved one and the hardest one of all the committal music, or curtain music as we call it in our family, this is when the curtains, come around the coffin and then it’s just about over.

I have to explain something a dear friend said to me whilst I was staying with them, we were talking over dinner and I said to Gary
"Aunty" Barbara"Aunty" Barbara"Aunty" Barbara

Looking great at 87
and Karen, that I felt the worst part of the ceremony is when the curtains come around the coffin as it seems so final, my friend Gary said, “Why Andy, why does it seem so final,? Your mum passed away 2½ weeks ago, isn’t that final enough?” what difference do a pair of curtains make and when you think about it he was 100%!c(MISSING)orrect. Even though in some way we all still seek that closure.

Well the day of the 16th arrived, it was a fairly bright dry day and I had stayed a couple of nights already in the area with Gary and Karen, so I didn’t have far to travel, it also gave me time to check out the availability of internet access at the crematorium.

The reason for this was simple, Caroline had wanted to be part of the service and I needed to find a way to make it possible, looking at avenues in real time such as video conferencing or Skype providing we had a good connection.

I went up the day before to the crematorium with two mobile phones from different service providers to check the strength of signal and
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Deb, "Aunty" Beryl and Jon Bennett
with both providers we had 5 bars of strength, so all I had to do was ask someone to open a Skype link to Caroline, who would be waiting at 9.00pm Australia time and she would see the funeral and be a part of it, just as it was happening.

The family were delighted so many people attended to give our mum a respectful and final farewell, the crematorium was packed, with friends and family, my niece Lily and nephew Harry each did a reading that was awesome and sang the hymns we had chosen, the only funny thing was when the music on one Hymn started I saw my sister “mouth” to me that it was the wrong tune, still otherwise everything went off without a glitch.

So rest in peace our amazing mum, you truly were an inspiration to us all, you had so many awesome qualities, at least Mum and Dad are now back together.


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John and Shirley HockingJohn and Shirley Hocking
John and Shirley Hocking

Caroline's mum and dad
Mother and Son Mother and Son
Mother and Son

My sister and my nephew (17) and 6 ft 5 tall
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The Eves Family

What a fantastic family


1st February 2014

Condolences and greetings from Welwyn Garden City, my home town. I'm sorry that your visit to our part of the world was, sadly, to bid farewell to your mum. Happily, however, funerals also serve to bring together family and friends from distant places - and the smiles on their faces confirm how pleased they were that you journeyed here from the other side of the world.
1st February 2014

Thank you
Hi Mike, Thanks for your kind words, it was a bit of a shock arriving at LHR at 4.20 pm dark, wet and cold. Still all done and we gave our mum a great respectful farewell. My regards Andy

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