Tombstone

As a young girl I never really knew my dad growing up,my mum and dad seperated when I was 3. My mama (my dad's mum) partly raised me she was to me my mama a strong but loving lady (the pied piper).

When she died my world fell apart 8 yr's ago and I never got to say goodbye so I had a poem published in a book called the Tide of Hours and the title was "My Mama". Years passed and my health was deteriating with depression etc...so my mother rang my dad to talk with him. (unknown to me that my dad was also sick) He rang me and said that I needed to find peace and happiness within myself (these were just words to me) at the time!

Sometime later I heard my dad was ill so I rang him. H e was very distant and offensive so I left him alone. Then one day I broke down and my family encouraged me to go to him, I said he won't let me! My daughter talked me into going. (which was a huge thing for me being an agoraphobic) It was not a good feeling being on a plane but I did it and stayed at my uncles place and rang my dad from there.

After some persuasion I talked him into letting me come over for a visit. It had been over 10 years since I'd seen him and choking back the tears were unexplainable as I saw this frail thin man standing at the door. Aged at only 64 his big brown eyes looking into mine like it was the first time he looked at me. He let me in and we talked in between his naps (he was sicker than I thought) and I left with him the poem of my mama. He cried and held it. He looked at me and said, "can you ever forgive me for being a bad father?" I said, "yes dad". When he slept I snuck out as I told him I might go for a walk, and dad knew where I'd be (the cemetry) I wanted to go on my own, it's something I had to face, not knowing where my mama was I walked and walked and being Father's Day noone was there to help.

I stopped some passers and I'll never forget the mans words, I'm so sorry I hope you find her but without a number I don't like your chances, you'll never find it dear, I said thank you anyway. I walked for over 2 hours looking at all the gravestones (there would have been thousands and thousands) the cemetry was so huge it even had roads for cars to drive but it was endless and so quiet.

The tears were streaming down my face, the sweat was unbearable as I prayed and prayed and called on my angels to please help me find my mama and that I'm not leaving till I do, my body was so burnt from the hot sun but I didn't care. I could feel her very presence around me! Her home I was born in was only a 5 minute walk from the cemetry, you could see the cemetry from a distance on mamas back stairs. Please my angels I need to say goodbye to my mama, sobbing and sobbing I cried like a baby and didn't care when all of a sudden I looked sideways at a tombstone that shone in my eyes from the suns reflection. I dropped to my knees when I finally saw the name Thelma Maude Retchford) oh my god I said! It's really you mama) I thanked my angels and god and stayed to talk with her about my feelings kept in for so long and how much I loved her.

if I never believed in miracles before that day,I do now. I could not stop smiling and my face so swollen from crying I looked up and felt heaven, I thanked the angels again and asked them for a sign and nothing happened so I asked again for a sign and out of no-where I heard a voice come here angel, angel come here. I looked and saw this young woman calling her little dog that was jumping up at my leg for me to pick her up. The woman said I'm sorry as she approached me I said that's okay shes beautiful. She was kissing my face and returned to her owner.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone leaving a cemetry with a smile on their face so huge I cried again, this time from happiness. This was my sign from my angels and my mama and as I walked away from mamas grave I smelt the sweet scent of jasmine whch was unusual as I looked around there was no jasmine bush in sight only old trees here and there. Then I thought oh my god mama was around me as I was leaving as jasmine was her favourite flower. She always had it in the house in a small crystal vase on the table and she grew it around the back on the bush-house. It was the sweetest I've ever smelt it. Maybe she was coming with me as I wanted to go back to the house I grew up in only 5 minutes away and also wanted to sit by my old summer place opposite rowes bay caravan park (the ocean was so calming as I remembered it). I used to go there with mama.

But as I was leaving this car pulled up and the young woman was offering me a lift with her mother, I thanked them both and told them of my story and they were so happy for me. The little dog angel was licking my face in the back seat as I held her and the women proceeded to tell me she never ever goes to anyone, not even family members.

I felt mama was in her to give me all the kisses she could and that was her way of telling me with the jasmine. I thanked them and proceeded to the beach so exhausted I lay down on the sand. I'll go home another day I thought! Then out of the blue I heard a voice (my uncles) look it's the queen, he said. He then said Tracey your Dads with me and he's trying to find you, I ran as I saw him trying to walk towards me, with my arms out to hold him I broke down and said dad I found mama he held me and said I knew that's where you'd be and he said oh my god how did you find her?

We all went to the car as I told him he said stop your going to make me cry, on our way past Bishop Street I asked uncle Brian if he'd stop off for a moment so I could show dad the house where mama lived for well the same age as me? 40 at that time! Dad observed the house and shook his head and of course I cried as so much had changed, but not the memories inside of me.

I pictured myself running as mama would call out to me Tralah! I asked if dad could come to mamas grave on our way back and we took photos, dad said I'll never know how you found her without the number (I said that the angels led me to her) and he then smiled. He said the only way he knew to remember it was the numbers 201 and he would think of his name (to Owen) it made alot of sense, how clever I thought! We drove back home as it was exhausting for dad to even take 5 steps I went with him to his hospital appoint etc...and he even wanted me to got o town with him so I did. As one day we sat outside maccas he said this is nice (do you know what we're doing?) I asked, "what dad"? he said we're bonding. I smiled as he looked at me with a smile he bought me a couple of things and I bought him a nice black shirt. I said now you look like the mafia dad and he laughed.

It was time to come back home and he didn't want me to go which felt good but I was sad to leave him in that condition so I arranged for home helpers etc...prior and promised him I'd be back with Wayne my son to see him and this made him happy.

Four or five months passed and Dad was in and out of hospital and Wayne and I finally stayed at Dads unit while he was in hospital. He was extremely sick and had to be on kidney dialisis - he'd had alot of trouble with his bowel. So wayne and I went up there everyday on four buses there and back. He was so happy to see Wayne as he was only sixteen when Dad saw him last and we took care of Dad and took him for walks and I cooked Dad a Lebanese stew. He loved it. It was his first home cooked meal for years and he only ate a little but it was beautiful he said.

I decided to arrange to move near him to help as he had to have the bowel opperated on and carried a bag around in the wheel chair (It was so hard to see him like this. I told dad I would return again to look after him and live nearby, he was so happy to hear that. We finally got back to Brisbane and back into my own routine again when a couple of weeks went by and I had an urgent phone call from the hospital asking me if I was his daughter etc...and they had to tell me my Dad was dying.

I cried so hard as my kids held me, when I arrived home from shopping I had a massive panic attack and knew it was going to happen soon. The hospital rang me again and this time put Dad on the phone. His words were we probably won't get to see each other again and I said yes I know dad. My kids got to say goodbye even though they never really knew him. They gave dad what he requested, a whisky and the priest was there with him as I said my final goodbye. I told him I loved him as he told me, only 5 yr's after my mama died, my father passed away and left what possessions he had to me.

Dad was a beautiful artist I have his paintings, canvases, brushes, books etc. with me and after battling ill health myself, almost 3 yr's after he died I decided to pick up the canvas and brush and paint. I now am carrying on my Dads legacy and my paintings are hanging up in the Inala Art Gallery today. I've now sold 2. It's funny isn't it (the circle of life) I had no idea I had that talent, I now have found the peace and happiness within myself, thanks Dad, goodbye!

Lot's of love to my mama Thelma and my Dad Owen. xxxxxxx

Tracey