Last Breathing


P1000037She was the first to stop breathing….

He, the Husband, the father of her two sons, he was to die seven years later…They were in lust and married in 1946 at the Bishop’s House in Maitland N.S.W…

The elder son, I was at the bed side for both of them …

She, Marie Theresa Blakeley, in the single bed she had slept in for the last 20 years,  at 2 Le Gallienne Crescent, Mulgrave, he, Robert Lloyd Blakeley, in a bed at The Alfred Hospital, Prahran….I forget the number of the Ward….

I saw the blood leave the faces of my parents.  I sat with their life less bodies.  The last breathe of each, some seven years apart, I was with each of them…the two people who gave me life…my parents..

Doctor David Bathgate told me to make peace with my parents before they die, he had not.  Often psychiatrists offer inaccurate information I have experienced …

The Last Breath….I am not a Buddhist but I Breathe

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Things My Mother Said


IMG_0365It was in the 80’s, in the late 80’s….I was visiting the second Family Home, quaint phrase these daze…..It was always an effort to drive from St Kilda/Elwood to Mulgrave, or has been described as North Springvale….I did it for almost twenty years, it was a display home that we moved to in 1968 after living in Murrumbeena since 1946….for me it seemed almost rural, but Mum and Dad needed a three bedroom house as my younger brother became older….it was a classical faux Colonial with ‘gold’ taps and ‘marble’ basin that you saw in brochures of the time…in fact from memory it became almost ritualistic for families to make pilgrimages to outer suburbs and visit Display Villages…

My brother was still at Secondary School and I was in my second year at Frankston Teachers’ College.  Both Mum and Dad had a car.  I did not.  I felt isolated but friends drove me to College each day and home again.

Initially the new house was a sea of polished boards, eventually they put carpet through the living and dining area.  No idea as to why.  Mum was the decorator.  And it was while we lived here that she applied for a job in a factory.  I can’t remember what she actually was doing other than to know it gave here independence after far too many years of ‘home making’.  My father was quick to stifle any of this and told her that if she were to go to work it would, in some vague way I have no idea of, affect his taxation.  Am an economic Luddite sadly.  Funnily enough he was a great admirer of PJ Keating..

This has been such a roundabout way of getting out the words that I want share.  I am an old, white man.  I tend not to be angry for too much of the time.  I do respond to outrageous injustice as many of you might have picked up from my Facebook Posts.  Having said that, I want to offer a tiny glimpse into an exchange twixt my mother and I not long before she died at 66 years of age from lung cancer.

It took place in the home I have just described, though far from the gold taps, closer to the carpeted living and dining room….she sat in her ubiquitous Green Chair and said to me :  ‘Lloyd, I am sorry, you are too much like me!’  I replied : ‘There is no need for Apology Marie, I consider you a strong woman, and that I admire’

I hope that her Legacy remains and her, the female members of the family, all whom had/have a great impression and influence when I was a young boy, strength is a gift.

Face En Face


Temples We Call Our Bodies


IMG_1304I remember as a young man when I hardly ever reflected on my physical being, I knew of the changes, but they were not the changes that I am now aware of decades later..One ran with a relative level of athleticism, even scored a few coloured ribbons in early Secondary School, but never a jock….tennis, football, soccer, swimming, handball, athletics, gymnastics, basket ball , were all part of my life ….It was a long time ago, all that is left is swimming.

My life began with Churches and went on to Temples….When I first heard the phrase “My Body Is My Temple’  many years ago, it was amusing when I heard it.   And now as the functions of my corporeality become lessened and a focus on the natural process of impermanence I reflect on how I treated this Temple in the last 50 years.  There are plenty of witnesses still alive who knew/know the Temple.

I have always found comfort in these words:  ‘If you are not living on the Edge then you are taking up space’

 

Organ Closure


Funeral of Pii RACHAN, brother of Sam 101This is the cremation of my brother in law in a rural village in North Eastern Thailand, geographically known as Issan or Essan…

He dropped dead at the age of 33 in a province of Thailand many kilometres from his home town/village…I had met him, he was the eldest of three boys, the elder brother of my partner…Sammy is the middle child, his younger brother an unknown for me..

Having lived in Thailand for 10 years I was daily, thirsty, for the culture…I had ten wonderful years as an immigrant, why is the term ex pat so acceptable…I learnt to speak the language, I did not want to live where I could not hear or understand the language..

Australia had a wonderful Prime Minister, Paul Keating, who reminded us that not only needs we engage with Azia in Trade but we needs engage emotionally, I got an A Plus for that St Paul…At 59 I learnt intimacy, not always an easy trip for a gay man…I arrived in the country with two suitcases, and left zilch in Melbourne other than family, biological and logical, the latter being the deep hurt.

Today I was confronted by a 40 something , female, nephrologist ….she had my number as we sized one another up…..’I would like to ask you some questions Kate?”  ‘Yes, and I will ask you some questions!”  Medicine has so much power.

I said to her that elderly people want to hear the A word rather than the D word regarding kidney disease….’Do you understand Kate?”  “Yes I do”, she replied.

That was the clincher….I see a nephrologist in three weeks, no guarantee it will be Kate but I will, buddha willing, be as charming and questioning as is my wont…

This is dedicated to the brilliant Wimmin and Men who work at The Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Melbourne

Sideways Mother Marie


There are many times during the day, the week, the month, the year, when one remembers/recalls the death of their Mother…..I don’t think I am alone in writing thus..

Marie, my Mother, is often with me, in some form or other, than my own self.  Images on walls, pieces of paper I have kept, an iPhone with a few select smiling shots of the girl from Maitland.  The Lipstick, the frocks, the beads, the dignity, all these things attracted the first born of two sons…the first in the 40’s, the second, in the 50’s…

Whenever I write about her, the woman who said I was too much like her, it is always a tribute to her, she was a far more strict teacher than I ever was, compassion with a hard surface, not uncomfortable..

It was in a lonely suburban street in Mulgrave Victoria on a cold June night that she let go, her remaining sisters, my father, my brother, and a special Uncle, Graham, who gathered..It was nearing the end of the six months that the surgeon had allowed, almost eerily and scientifically accurate….there was some familial High Drama to follow but the worst was yet to come..

They came, put a gurney under her dead, 66 year old, wasted body, wrapped it in some kind of fabric and then turned it Sideways so they could remove her from the bedroom, through the hallway, to the front door, and ultimately to the vehicle that comes to take the dead bodies…that night I will never forget…IMG_0365

I Never Sang For My Father


It was the 40’s, I was the first born, my father was a Lieutenant in the Australian Army, my mother a young girl 4 years his junior, who grew up in Maitland.  My father was from a middle class family in Glen Iris.  Already geographical distance and difficulty.  I was 10 months old when he first saw his first born child.  I found out years later he never lifted me up into his arms upon our meeting.  This may be myth but accords with what was a cold relationship with him for most of my life.  Not unusual for the homosexual son and his ex service man father in the 1940’s.

As we both aged we often talked politics.  He had voted Liberal but in his latter years became staunchly Labor due to the policies of Paul Keating.  We found some commonality.  On a day when South Australia votes and in my home city of Melbourne there is the Batman Vote.  I miss being able to discuss the ramifications of such a day.

Those times when we engaged in a fragile form of intimacy are those which remain with me some thirteen years after his death.  We made peace with one another before he became ill.  My mother had predeceased him some sixteen years.  Their relationship was complex.  They did their best in raising my brother and I.

I often heard my father sing.  One of these times sticks in my head.  Bob was on a ladder painting the side of the house in Murrumbeena on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  He was singing ‘Blue Moon’ then there was an almighty crash and a loud “Jesus Christ!”  He had fallen from the ladder.

Robert  Lloyd Blakeley   1919 – 2005

 

Domus


We are in the same room

He supine, and myself seated avec desk, monitor and mini mac, late Thursday Night..The Televizual Audio in the other room…

The Streetscape, now screened by linen blind…Intimacy

It did not rest easy for me for decades, and now, the Domus, the Domesticity, this has been my gift from Sammy and for it I am grateful

I am not easy to live with…

Kop Khun Maak Na Krub Samran

Kindness….Is it still relevant?


A rather foolish question to begin with, as we already know the answer….a qualifier, some of us know and practise, others exclude it, do not entertain it, I know it has a Dalai Lama ring to it, but it is not exclusive to Buddhism, surely…

As a young boy, it was the gentleness of older people that impacted, they exuded kindness without a moment of reflection….my grandparents quickly come to mind, the three whom I knew.  I felt no aggression as as grandchild, more talcum powder and the soft smell of petals…and endless adoration, being the first Paternally.

I am not too sure nor do I really need to enter some forensic analysis as to why I value the concept of ‘kindness’….My initial surge is always to the Elderly, the vulnerable, those who do not stand with the same firmness that others of us are able to do…The taken for granted Mobility Mantra….Many of us have unsure steps across our physical and psychological landscape, a couple of Grams of Kindness are always appreciated, not that it needs measurement in any way…

Both my grandmothers were a tsunami of Kindness, it was overwhelming at times, but it was always relevant…,.

There are many times I have not been kind, there are many times I have not been relevant….

Does not have to be a continuum, I walk the village streets and see the Panorama…I find it a natural response in the Community to show a little Kindness…

VOWS….NOT WOWS…


The creative juices, ooze from many septuagenerian writers, artists, performers…I acknowledge and admire however for this post benjamin law, tom bollard, joel creasy poof, the effort of the ooze is immense..

At 16 I think I knew the game plan with the Congregation of The Most Holy Redeemer had a finite , in terms of Vows and Ordination, but it was 1963…..The rolling hills of Galong in rural New South Wales were one of the most spiritual landscapes that now 54 years on have an impact….The Galong Castle, the Ryans’ the Redemptorists…the earth and soil I felt nurtured by…the City boy who feels a calling to become a Priest….a Missionary, but for me it seemed a real path to Sanctity, what an extraordinary concept for a 14 year old youth from Murrumbeena to hold in his heart….Never really got it clearly, lots of interesting interaction with the world ….

So there is a Postulancy, look it up, before a Noviciate which for me began in 1964 at St Clements Retreat House , Galong, N.S.W…….My class from the Junior Seminary had graduated and some of us chose to continue our vocation, others left ….

The Ecclesial Officialdom was the taking of Temporary Vows, this was a ceremony where we prostrated ourselves and took the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience…had one become ordained there was a further Vow made by members of The Redemptorist Order which included the rejection of any Ecclesiastical Benefices which translated you could not become a Bishop which like many things Catholic, is weird , as the Founder of The Order became a Bishop…..I took those Temporary Vows as a 20 year old. bespectacled youth in a a black religious habit with the dream of becoming a Redemptorist Priest..

Some of my dear class mates are still decent Redemptorist Priests, others are just decent men whom I continue to love, they are an extradinory group of men who I am fortunate to still be Family//