A Sad Goodbye

It’s been a week of decisions trying to create a fitting memorial to good man who lived an ordinary life filled with work, family, love and laughter.

In the end I think we got there. Our daughters are extraordinary young women who each created the most beautiful tributes. Simon’s brother, Jon, and I spoke and so many people contributed in different ways.

Thank you to everyone for everything.

 

 Eulogy

Simon Williams

To begin with I would like to read a message from Tiana to her Dad.

RIP Dad I’m gonna miss you so much and I already am. It’s hard knowing you are not going to walk through the door, I keep expecting you too.

We have had the best time ever, taking funny pictures, going star gazing, looking at the sunrise. I loved you past the moon and back, there’s so much I wish I could tell you. It would be your birthday in two weeks, we were talking about how you wanted me to make you pyjama pants in textiles, we even looked at fabric, and we were going to go see the muppets together.

I’m gonna miss the little things, us going to shops, going for walks, definitely going to the beach you loved the water.

You were so fun, caring and easy to talk too, even your Dad jokes were actually funny, you had high spirits and nothing could take that away from you.

You were looking so forward to our soccer season this year, my first game is on your birthday and we’re gonna win for you.

I will never, ever, ever forget you, I love you so much.

*********

Some twenty six years ago my friend Michele got a new flatmate. When I went over to check him out I found a skinny, hairy man in stubbie shorts and Dunlop volleys, who drove a jacked up a Hi-Lux Ute around inner Sydney and carried a fur covered wallet he had affectionately named “muff”. On paper nothing about that sounds attractive.

But that’s the thing about Simon, he never cared what others thought, his sense of self was strong and he was able to turn dorky into long-running gags that kept us entertained for years.

He spent 15 years drinking his way around South East Asia, sorry I mean serving in the Royal Australian Navy. There are so many happy memories from those years. Great friendships formed from Nirimba on. Adventures had in assorted foreign countries and right around Australia.

Simon liked it hot. He spent a lot of his travels trying to track down the spiciest food imaginable. In Hobart he and Tony Sim ordered a triple chilli, triple garlic, double pepperoni pizza which the bloke said there was no way they would finish it, but Simon sat and sweated it out, cause he never liked to lose a challenge and handed the box back empty saying “it wasn’t bad”. The shop owner was gobsmacked.

Tony also remembers the time they got that Hilux airborne at Kurnell apparently he was just “testing” the new twin cam celica motor he had installed. He loved tinkering. In fact you could say he drew inspiration from Tim the Tool Man Taylor.  EVERYTHING had to be modified, and given a “Bungy” improvement.

When his new smokey joe webber BBQ took too long to cook the meat he drilled in some extra holes, cause the manufacturers had no idea how to make a decent barbie. Subsequently we had flames to the eaves of the balcony and were able to cherynoble sausages in 1.5 seconds flat.

He loved to make things and was fortunate early in life to select a job that allowed him to do exactly that, the downside is he didn’t believe you had to spend money on anything because you could always make it yourself.

This was brought home to me on Sunday night when we tried to blow up an airbed for Bianca who was staying over. Simon had always inflated the mattresses when we had guests and I had never paid much attention to how he did it.

Turns out THIS is our air pump.

IMG_2042(and yes people I took a prop to a funeral and showed it)

Jon tells me I have a cigarette lighter mattress blower with battery connectors attached to a car charger converting 240 volts to 12.

How could I have not been able to figure out how that worked?

Simon was also good at coming up with outlandish explanations for things, he once justified his excess body hair to the fact – he was a “man from the snowy mountains” it got cold in Tumburamba, therefore evolution had given him an additional layer of fur to protect from the elements. This theory may have been developed after one too many bottles of Tyrells Long Flat Red.

Of course it was his dry humour we will all remember the most, the laidback comment, tinged with sarcasm delivered with deadpan accuracy.

Simon had a life-long love of fishing and he was thrilled when he found a new mate here in Port who owned a boat. He and Grant spent many a Sunday out on the water and he called it his “sanity saver”.

He had a developed a new love too, golf. He and Brett and CJ or anyone else they could con into joining them, regularly disappeared into the greens, they tried to tell me it was a serious competition of high ability, I always suspected it was more “hit and giggle”, this was confirmed in a comment from CJ this week “I’ve never seen someone lose so many balls on the course and still be smiling like he was having the round of his life”.

Simon had worked hard for years to provide for his family and I’m so pleased that in these last couple of years he found the time to create new friendships and enjoy his time on the water and the golf course.

But of course the most important role of Simon’s life was being a Dad. He was enormously proud of his two girls and loved them more than anything in the world.

He used to brag about Daneesha’s art and singing and Tiana’s photography. Particularly when one of Tiana’s pictures won us a $12,000 trip to Sydney. We got to go to the X Factor Grand Final, stayed at the Inter-Continental, received $4,000 in new clothes and a professional stylist to help us choose them. Yes the man from the snowy mountains found himself traipsing around Sydney shops for four hours getting fashion advice from a trendy young thing who usually dressed movie stars. I think it was a unique experience, for the stylist. Of course his reward for the shopping was a degustation dinner at Matt Moran’s Aria restaurant where he enjoyed seven courses with matching wine for each dish. We rolled him out at the end of the night.

When the girls were little many hours were spent in his workshop under house in Brisbane, the girls banging nails into blocks of wood while he built a cubby house, with flying fox, a billie cart and bunk beds amongst other things. Our former neighbour Matt, at the time childless, admired Simon’s parenting style. “He had a very casual attitude to his parenting. While most parents these days put their children in cotton wool with helicopter parenting methods Simon would let his girls do almost anything. I remember on a number of occasions I would see Tiana with scratches and bruises from running down and falling down the driveway. Simon would say ‘well one day she will learn’. I think I learned a lot from him in this regard. He can love his family without being overbearing and let them make mistakes and learn.”

He loved watching the girls play soccer, offering advice from the sideline, his complete lack of knowledge of the game didn’t stop him from having an opinion.

Even when ill health struck it didn’t stop him parenting. I remember sitting next to his hospital bed at the Prince of Wales Hospital after his double heart bypass, he couldn’t sit upright but he was on the phone to the girls helping them with their maths homework.

In the end your legacy to the world isn’t measured in money or possessions. Simon’s gift to the world is the laughter and happy memories he leaves to his friends and family. And two beautiful girls who have grown into funny, clever, talented young women who I know will go on to live happy, successful lives in honour of their Dad.

We will miss him forever.

 *******

There was also an article in the Port Macquarie News.

Then the World Changed

Last Sunday our family changed forever.

My husband Simon tragically died in a rock fishing accident.

We are in the midst of planning a funeral which seems so wrong when he was just 46 years old.

As we struggle to come to terms with our situation I want to say a huge thank you to our family and friends who have been an amazing support.

I also want to say my daughters Daneesha (Hippie Child) and Tiana (Princess Child) are the most incredible children and have been a huge support to me while dealing with their own grief.

Readers you must all hug your family and friends and tell them you love them today.

Simon Order of Service

The Middle

Nicole Kidman is middle-aged. Yep, I’ve said it. The woman is getting on. It comes as a shock doesn’t it?

I know this because Nicole and I are the same age. At 46 we are at life’s midpoint. That’s providing we make it to 92, if we cark it earlier then we could right now be beyond the middle.

Funnily enough Nicole Kidman’s middle-age looks very different to mine.

Nicole’s translucent skin glows. Make-up companies pay her millions to use her image to sell their product.  My blotchy face has frequent outbursts of rosacea and in one of life’s cruel jokes, the odd pimple. Seriously, how can you be in your forties and still seeing pimples pop up? That’s just not fair people. I pay hundreds to the make-up companies in a bid to look like the Nicole Kidman in their advertisements.

Nicole’s pencil thin figure bounced back into place after giving birth to daughter Sunday five years ago. I’m aiming to lose my baby weight any day now. After all, my last baby is only 14. If I start now I’ll be only slightly overweight by the time she leaves home for uni.

Nicole has a red carpet fashion style admired the world over. I have a school gate fashion style whispered about at the tuckshop. C’mon guys trakkies, thongs and a breakfast-stained t-shirt are perfectly adequate when I’m simply tossing my children out of moving car, it’s not my fault the eldest forgot her laptop and I had to unexpectedly leave my vehicle to chase her down.

Nicole has an award-winning career. I wandered out of a job to find myself and now realise at my age I MAY NEVER BE ABLE TO GET A JOB AGAIN. However, I was once voted “most reliable” in my past employment. It’s not an Oscar but it’s still an AWARD.

Nicole is financially secure. I am not.

Does Nicole ever waste a day wondering how she ended with the life she has landed?  If, she’s got her own sliding door moments where she veered left instead of right and it could have been oh so different?

Do you think Nicole ever stops to consider half a lifetime has passed; the to-do list is still lengthy, the bucket list looking more urgent by the minute?

How does one wade through the murky waters of middle-age? Is it possible to reinvent oneself as children gain their independence and disappear leaving a bewildered woman wondering where the time went? Are dreams still doable when your resources are low? Can you finally live up to your potential when the retirement village looms ahead?

I bloody well hope it is possible. I’m determined to take the world by storm just as soon I find my glasses and the arthritis medication kicks in.

 

 

Weekend Notes – Sunrise

The Princess Child and her father decided they would do a sunrise excursion this morning for a spot of photography and fishing.

2014-03-16 09.02.27 2014-03-16 09.09.112014-03-16 07.09.012014-03-16 07.05.34

Photo by Princess Child.2014-03-16 07.55.39  2014-03-16 07.56.252014-03-16 07.51.53The pair did sunrise at the beach, a photo stop at Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park and the Historic Cemetery and breakfast at McDonalds.

When the girls were little they were happy to build things with their Dad, ride the home made billy carts, go bicycling, run around the footy oval. But now they are teenagers it’s harder to drag them out of the house to spend time with anyone!

This activity combined his love of fishing with her developing interest in photography, win/win.

What father/daughter activities did you do as a kid?

All photos by Princess Child.

 

We Need To Talk About Kevin

I don’t know what it is about Kevin Bacon, he can still make my heart flutter. If you look carefully he’s not really that handsome, not in the “pretty boy” way of many Hollywood actors.But he’s always been one of my favourite stars.

As an actor he’s appeared in many a dark role – I tried to get into The Following but failed. But to me no matter what he does he’ll always be the cool kid who arrived in the country town and taught ‘em all to dance again. C’mon everyone sing along “now I gotta cut loose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes, please, Louise, pull me offa my knees, Jack, get back, c’mon before we crack, lose your blues, everybody cut footloose”.

I’m projecting aren’t I? Gone hook line sinker for a character and finding myself trapped in the 80′s.

Kevin’s put out a community service to try to show people born after 1985 what the 80′s were really like.

Are you a Bacon fan?

How do you explain the 80′s to your kids? 

Mine goes something like this …

Kids once upon a time we had to WAIT for stuff.

Yep, nothing was instantaneous. Mail took a week to arrive. You could only reach people by phone when they were actually home. Movies arrived in country towns  after they had finished doing the rounds of well EVERYWHERE else.

You spent a lot of time bored ’cause there were no such things as iPods, iPads, computer games (well you could play space invaders at the local take-away shop but it was a big contraption that would have given you a hernia if you tried to lift it). We did really retro things like read BOOKS. Hell I even watched the cricket on the TV because there was nothing else on the two stations that beamed into our town.

Life was tough people.

 

 

 

Remember Written References?

Reference HeaderDo you remember a time when you left a job clutching a written reference from your ex-boss? A little bit of paper documenting what they liked about you, outlining all the good stuff you had done.

Apparently we don’t do written references any more. Instead you list three referees with their contact numbers. The first challenge is finding THREE people. Once you get past your last two bosses that third one is tricky. Is it OK to list a colleague? I suppose they can attest to the team player criteria “oh yeah Janine was a great member of the team, she kept us entertained each morning with stories about her latest disaster at home, laugh, god she made us laugh”.

The second challenge is remembering to email your three referees each time you apply for a new job, you don’t want them getting a surprise call with no idea of what the hell job it is you’ve applied for this week. “yes Janine is a highly creative individual with a great news sense and a keen talent for writing scripts … oh right secretary in an accounting firm … well yeah she’d be good at that too”.

I suppose the bonus is my increasingly desperate emails regarding the latest application are causing my referees to invite me out for drinks and/or lunch. They are obviously feeling sorry for me.

I miss the good old written reference you attached to your applications. It was a little heads-up to the potential employer that other people had found you at least adequate in a working capacity, just a little bit of positive reinforcement from an outside source rather than the convoluted selection criteria responses you have to write about yourself.

I found some of my old references from a past life yesterday. It’s been so long the paper had actually gone yellow but people I was AWESOME.

Janine’s pleasant personality, adaptability and willingness to assist in emergency situations make her a valuable and versatile employee. – Radio Executive

Janine was completely adept at dealing with the 1001 unusual situations (and people) which seem to be part and parcel of a prime time personality radio programme. Janine was at all times thoroughly efficient, completely loyal and a cool head in a crisis.- Radio Broadcaster

Janine was always a thoroughly efficient and highly organised person. I always found her friendly and a highly motivated “ideas” person. – Radio Broadcaster/TV Personality

I have found Janine to be extremely diligent and conscientious with above average office skills always undertaken in a pleasant manner. – Film Company Executive

See this is where I feel sorry for young folks nowadays. Without anybody committing anything to paper what are they going to do when they hit a mid-life crisis and begin to question their abilities?

They won’t get to spend a morning rifling through old paperwork, remembering people who inspired, irritated, educated and amused them. They won’t have evidence that once-upon a time they possessed a variety of skills worthy of employment.

Do you remember references or am I the only dinosaur left? What was the nicest (or worst) thing anyone ever wrote for you in a reference?

 

 

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I May Have Accidentally Retired

I woke up this morning and the realisation hit me that I may have accidentally retired, at the ripe old age of 46.

It seems the combination of age, gender and living in a regional area delivers a triple whammy of despair when it comes to employment.

Last year I wrapped up a contract position and decided  to take some time-out to work on some personal projects.

After a short break from the workforce, I was reinvigorated and keen for a new (paying) challenge. Unfortunately the options were limited and the interest in hiring a woman in her 40′s was lukewarm.

It seems I’m not alone with this problem, over at The Conversation today Eviction from the Middle Class: how tenuous jobs penalise woman outlines just how easy it is for woman to slip into poverty as they get older.

After 40, due to a combination of age discrimination and scarcity of full-time, permanent jobs, they found it very difficult to find an equivalent-level job despite good education and skilled employment histories.

Woman’s work trajectory is disjointed, we take time out to have children, we adapt our working life to accommodate those children and we are willing to trade-off income for flexibility which seriously impacts on our financial security.

I spent 10 years at home, raising children and running a small-scale home-based  business. When I returned to full-time employment I ended up working for three years for a large organisation on a casual basis, no sick leave, no holiday pay (yes technically they pay you a little more to compensate for the lack of leave but frankly when you crunch the numbers you lose out).

Lisa Lintern wrote a great piece in response to the Prime Minister’s comments this week that “women have it pretty good”.

Tracy Spicer at Daily Life wrote a piece on the amount of “unpaid” work asked of women.

We need to stop giving it away for free. You know what I’m talking about: Unpaid work, pro bono projects, and endless internships.

Women already work 62 days a year for free, because of the 17.1 per cent gender pay gap. So why are we expected to put up our hands for more of these so-called “opportunities”?

A combination of self-sacrifice, and structural discrimination, leads to men being paid bonuses twice as big as women’s.  This creates a perfect storm, in which we are condemned to a rocky retirement. The MLC Retirement Report reveals women end up with 40 per cent less superannuation than men.

There is no doubt my work history includes volunteer work, teacher-aid work (despite actually having a teaching degree), part-time work, contract work and jobs with a 3.00pm finish so I could get to school pick-up. Hell, even this blog is a unpaid vehicle of creativity.

It was a combination of choice and circumstance which saw me take less than I was worth because in the daily juggle that is modern family life I needed to maintain a balance of – get some bills paid – raise the children – try to keep some semblance of sanity.

The result was a giant jigsaw of work history an “eclectic” mix accompanied with loads of life experience. None of which fits neatly into the job criteria so popular in the human resources sector.

Those choices turned me into a living statistic.

My super balance stands at a massive $62,000 while my husband with his unbroken work history has accrued $200,000. Given that I may have slipped into early retirement I will be destitute before I’m even old enough to access the pittance that it is.

My earnings over the past 17 years are less than half what my husband has made in that time.

Now as my children are older and there is light at the end of the long caring tunnel I find myself with more time available to dedicate to work, yet it appears I have passed my use-by date, oh the irony!

We see examples of high-flying women who have worked and raised children simultaneously but I’m struggling to find some role-models of women who took time out and, when the time was right, reinvented themselves into a successful, financially rewarding careers. Does anyone know of any?

In the meantime I’ll take my statistically representative self off to try to figure out how the hell I can earn an income without an employer.

PS This Spicer piece at The Hoopla has more of the sad statistics also.