OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2016

These letters are for you Phi, and anyone who loves you…

I love this drawing, Phi. Thank you!

There are always two sides to every story…

 

Sunday, October 2nd 2016

 

Hey Bella, how’s my daughter doing in her birthday month? Fourteen – fantabulous! Do you have a bit of Hermione in you? The grace & silk of Australia’s 400m track star, Cathy Freeman? The courage & audacity of Rosa Parks? The soul & spunk of Michelle Obama? I’m sure you do, in so many more ways than me. I can’t wait to chat with you about these amazing women, their drive & passion, and what it means for us.

This was the Xmas letter we sent to Nandee & Pa with your drawing (above)

And your Dad, what’s he up to? Well, I may just be a distant memory in your mind, but I’m not the Dad who ran away. I’ve been here the whole time, trying again, and again, and again to communicate with your mother about visitation. I don’t know what else I can do. I’m not the Dad who has forsaken you, nor forgotten you. Even so, most people I know here in Hong Kong don’t know about you. Mostly I feel it’s better that way. From afar, they would never guess that I am the father to the most beautiful soul in the world. Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice, my daughter. It makes me so proud to write that. I am so very proud of you, no matter what has been forced between us.

Look what Pa still carries in his wallet…

Sometimes I feel like dust from the ground up. Am I living a lie by not telling people that care for me about you? As much as possible, I try to block out the many tortuous episodes at the Family Court of Japan. So many years of doubt, ridicule, and emotional flogging. The shadow of that past is always over me. So, I gave your mother space in the hope that she will not see me as a threat. The space to love you unconditionally, to be comfortable with who she is, but most importantly, the time to put you first. Are things easier this way? Is it better you don’t know my perspective, my story? There are always two side to the truth – the torment of a missing daughter? Do you think I would ever leave you if I had a choice?

 

Be angry, be frustrated, be emotional, but don’t be ashamed of your feelings. You have every reason to wonder. Wonder what happened to your cousins, your uncles, your aunts, your Nandee & Pa.

 

Each year, as you slip by my life with no contact, alone without you, the tears come. It’s okay to cry; though I choose to cry alone. It’s okay to be afraid; but I have C to protect my soul. I cry every October 15th and every Christmas – your birthday & Xmas hurt the most, but I feel strangely alive after I’ve shed a few tears with you in mind.

Phi, I want you to know it’s not okay to bottle up your emotions and pretend you’re okay all the time. Your mother needs time, but she also needs to know the truth of your heart. What happened between your mother and me has nothing to do with you. You were cruelly used as a pawn, but none of the decisions were made by your heart. Share your feelings with someone you trust, someone who is thoughtful, encouraging, unbiased and wise.

 

In some ways, yes, I am a prisoner to my past. But I have kept my promise. You will always be loved, Phi.

 

Love Dad… XoXo.

 

SOMETHING TO PONDER

Spending time with children is more important than spending money on children.

 

Wednesday, October 5th 2017

 

So B’day Gal,

 

How’s your October shaping up? Have the leaves started to turn their brilliant yellows, browns & oranges in Nippon? Do you still head to the mountains of Nagano to ride horses in the welcome cool of Autumn? Here in Honkers, it’s still 32 – 34 degrees Celsius every day. Relief from the long summer still seems distant. Today we smuggled Toro on the bus (no dogs allowed) and took our Egyptian terrier out to a pop-up dog park. We arrived around 10am, and things were only getting underway, and yet, there were hundreds of dogs doing their doggy thing. Toro had his nails/claws clipped, and the three of us had a professional family photo taken. Toro enjoyed his sniffing, made a friend or two, and even found some grass to wander around on – grass is a scarce commodity here in Hong Kong.

Must go, answer a few parent/school emails, iron some shirts, and bed down.

 

Love Dad… XoXo…

 

YODA, NELSON MANDELLA & THE DALAI LAMA

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” Dalai Lama

 

Saturday, October 8th 2016

 

Hey Possum, how’s trix?

 

Dad ran this morning, and ran home from school twice during the week. How’s your running going? Are you a middle distance ace? How’s your 800m, 1500m, 3000m & 5000 metre times? What about the high jump and 400m hurdles? Now, yes, Saturday, Dad is at school finishing up a million things – clearing my inbox so I can truly enjoy my October Break and spend some quality time with C – write to you a few times too.

 

So Phi, how’s your reading going? Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Roald Dahl, Sharon Creech… who’s your fancy? I’ve been reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. The title has been daring me to read it for years, so yesterday, I started. I’m only on page 21 of Foxlee’s book, but already it has started to speak to me, “And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul.” I read these sentences several times Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice – your birth name, your passport name, the name your mother & I chose for you, together. And yet, without consultation, somebody changed your name. Every word in this passage tormented me. Every word brought pain and questions. A name is more than an official paper, more than skin deep, more than words and sounds. How could someone take that from you? It’s your name. It’s you. It’s who you are. Your name is your identity, your heritage, your soul. “So when they plucked my name from me with their spell, it was as heavy as a rock in their hands but as invisible as the wind, and it wasn’t just the memory of my name, but me myself. A tiny part of me that they took and stored away.” Dumfounded. Stupefied. Numbed. Tormented. Twisted. Angry. Why? What do you gain from somebody’s self-motivated actions?

Sorry Phi… I should read more from Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. Perhaps there’s a happy ending to an unwanted, unexplainable, unwarranted change of name. Have you read it? How does it make you feel? Let’s start a discussion… I love you… XoXo.

 

Dad – loads & loads of hugs & kisses… XoXo…

 

THINGS MONEY & LIES CAN’T BUY

Love, courtesy, trust, integrity, common sense, respect, morals, character, patience, truth – what you say, Phi?

 

WICKED WISDOM

“Always walk through life as though you have something new to learn, and you will.”

Vernon Howard

 

 

Tuesday, October 11th 2016

 

G’day Phi,

 

Less than 100 hours until your fourteenth birthday. What will your fifteenth year as a beautiful bicultural, bilingual person bring? Will the months to come, help you establish an identity that is your birthright? Australian/Japanese, English/Japanese, international wisdom versus ignorant monocultural insensitivity. Or will those who state they have your best interests at heart, continue to push their monologue, their monoculture, their own agenda? Who knows? I guess, you’ve got a pretty good view of how things sit. I want you to know that I will encourage you to embrace both cultures, both families, both languages. I will help you open your eyes, mind & heart to the beauty of multiculturalism, languages, friendship, peace and different perspectives. Embracing your uniqueness is your ticket to true acceptance – those who cannot, or will not acknowledge who you truly are, have no place in your life.

The agony of not knowing how you’re feeling about who you are, pains me. I’m not even a bystander in your life. I have no idea how you’re dealing with these thoughts, pressures, feelings. Are you happy, really happy? Do you sleep, or wake and wonder why, how, when? Who will help me? Are you comfortable in your identity? Can you talk about me? Do you have a best friend who is gracious & encouraging, willing you to be yourself? What’s your relationship like with your step-father? Is he kind, fun & gentle? What about your step-sister, Aya? Are you a good sister to her – considerate, inclusive & generous with your time & patience? And what about your mother – has she grown up? Or as she used to say to me, “It’s like Ophelia has the wisdom and maturity to be my own mother.”

 

I carry the horror & despair of not knowing. I have little choice but to accept the misery of being sidelined without a voice. The frustration and sadness of being ostracized from my own daughter’s life is like a dead-weight around my neck. Without C, my family, and my exercise, and the hope that one day soon we will be reunited, all of this could drag me down, down, down. One after another, the days come, bringing no news of you. Occasionally my C finds a snippet of your life online – a virtual relationship no parent should have to endure. How much longer much we wrestle this cruel fate? The years pass – the first seven years such a joy, with birthday cakes and celebrations together – the past seven years, not even the smoke of a burnt birthday candle.

What if our roles were reversed? What would you do in my position? And were I you, would I have the courage to escape the predicament those in your midst cunningly crafted? To wonder about switching roles, a sad & hopeless distraction I admit, but I still wonder what you would do if you walked in my shoes. Would you write to me as I do you? Knock down the door of the mother who keeps you? Would you continue to fight for our rights to see each other through the court system? A cruel question I know, but I guess you must sometimes wonder too – what’s my Dad doing? A destructive battle of despair I wish upon nobody.

 

At least it’s October Break, a week to recoup and convalesce spent energy. An afternoon nap to relax and a movie past 9pm on a weeknight – Mmm, sounds grand! This morning, your crazy Dad went into school again. Saturday & Sunday, I went into the classroom, too. I put up a new nonfiction/informational reading & writing display, completed loads of marking, checked my students’ writing notebooks, wrote a new class post, and caught up with a thousand emails.

 

Sunday night we went to Sophie & Maurice’s for a few drinks and a catch-up, and guess what? Go on, guess – tomorrow, your cousins, Allie & Chris, arrive in Hong Kong. How good would that be if we could all meet up?!

 

Love & licks,

 

Dad… XoXo…

 

BIRTHDAY WISHES FROM YOUR NANDEE & PA

“Hi GED, can we put a message on your Blog? 15th October. Happy Birthday Ophelia! Have a happy day. We think of you all the time, and we love, love, love you girl. Nandee and Pa. Xoxo.

Sent from K and Dee.”

 

GRACE, EMPATHY & GENEROUS SPIRIT

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein

 

 

Sunday, October 16th 2016

 

Happy fourteenth b’day for yesterday Phi. Here’s to you Bella – loads of hugs, warm wishes, beautiful dreams, and a future with people who truly love you… XoXo… I hope you day was magnificent, wonderful, brilliant, fantabulous! You deserve peace kiddo.

Your cousins, Allie & Chris, are here in Hong Kong with your Uncle Rich & Aunty Rach. It’s so wonderfulificent to welcome family into our home. There’s a feeling of warmth, love, respect, joy and understanding. There’s only one thing missing, you. Last night we all sang you happy birthday. Here’s the video: I’m sorry, there’s something wrong with the video – that & your Dad’s tech skills.

And later the same night, Uncle Sean sent a video of his family (your cousins Billie & Luca) singing you another Happy Birthday. Here’s the video: Dad’s crappy tech skills… sorry, can’t convert it to the blog.

Allie & Chris arrived Wednesday, October 12th. Around 7.30pm, Dad went out to the airport on the A11 bus from Causeway Bay. A lot of people were waiting for loved ones to arrive. A part of me imagined I was waiting for you – seeing you run into my arms, and then the two of us did wizzy-dizzes locked together. Did you know Hong Kong is the most visited place on the planet? 26,000,000 visitors every year! It’s the sixth year in a row Honky Town has held the title for the world’s most popular destination; I think Bangkok is next with about 18 million visitors, then Paris.

So back to your cousins. There was a real buzz our first evening together. Rach had brought some fantaslicious cheese from Oz – oh, the joy of scrumptious cheese, good company, good wine! In our tiny home in Causeway Bay, overlooking Victoria Harbour, with big smiles, your cousins bedded down in the living area. And despite the heat, Toro snuggled close. Wish you were here…

 

Thursday we took a taxi to the top of Wung Nai Chung Gap Pass, then started our hike up & over Violet Hill (altitude 440 metres). Chris was a superstar, hiking strong and positive. He was a classic, focused on counting each and every step to the top. A hiking machine! We had grand views from the top of our first peak. Christo & Dad had a little fun building a shrine at the top awaiting the troops. Then we hiked down toward Repulse Bay (near Dad’s campus). From Repulse Bay, we wound our way around the mountain and into Stanley for a noodle lunch.

Always one of your favourites…

I still can’t believe you cousins are here in Honkers. They’re great kids, but sometimes your Dad expects too much of them.

The next few days, we explored Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Wanchai, the ferries, and enjoyed a day out at Lamma Island. You would have loved our trip to the island. It was hot and sunny, so the kids & Uncle Rich had a swim, while C, Aunty Rach & Dad started on the wine at a nearby restaurant. Even Toro came along for a paddle.

I think it will look great on you…

After three nights, Uncle Rich & family moved into an Air B&B nearby. It’s a neat place, also in CWB.

Guess what? This morning our New Zealand buddy, Pat contacted me. She said she had been looking after her grandkids over the October Break. Pat told me to tell you that so many times she thought of you, as her grandchildren slipped their little hands in her hand. Pat said, “Happy b’day Phi!”

More b’day gifts

We all love you Phi, XoXo… Dad.

 

WISDOM IS…

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” Stephen Covey

 

Sunday, October 23rd 2016

 

Hey B’day Lass,

 

How’s it feel to be fourteen??? You probably don’t feel or even look any older, but I can only imagine what fourteen looks like on you. How tall you are, somewhere between 150 and 165cm? How long or short your hair is? How big or small are your feet? In any case, at 14, you are closer to becoming who you really are. Dad’s advice, be you. Be as brave as you can be. Be strong, and have the audacity to believe in yourself. Easier said than done, I know. I’ve had my stuff-ups in life. We all do. But it’s what we do with those stuff-ups that counts. Learn from your mistakes. Be humble, be grateful, be kind, and don’t be easily influenced.

 

Phi, strive to be an independent spirit, not so that others admire you, but for your own wellbeing. Ophelia, find freedom through creativity – build a billycart and keep a journal. Get dirty and paint your bedroom – close your eyes & use your hands. Find your way alone to the beach after a storm and pick through the flotsam for treasures – you can craft the sand crusted pieces into keepsakes with meaning. Head out at sunrise and explore the local environment. Look at things differently. Follow the call of a bird and climb a tree – look at your everyday life with fresh eyes. Be there alone, be afraid – it’ll refresh your soul & spirit, and your own good will shall help you find peace. Choose freedom, freedom of thought. Phi, be who you are – a proud bicultural, bilingual person with a mind of her own.

Here’s Lovey, our Guide Dog at school

Start a journal – that’s what I did, courtesy of Aunty Maur’s wisdom. My journal helps the soul, it really does. Write to me, write to your mother, write to your cousins, Allie & Billie. Write to those who love you. Be honest with your feelings & thoughts – you needn’t worry about our reaction – if we truly love you, we’ll allow for what’s really in your heart. We really will. Open eyes, open heart, no judgement, just love & support.

 

Phi, it’s been so long since we last met. There must be a hundred-plus thoughts flashing through your mind. Every night, every waking moment… where’s my Dad? Doubts, hope, fear, missed chances, almost forgotten memories, your perspective, your voice, your hopes, your dreams, your prayers.

 

Find your space. Make the time, and write about the meeting, that for so long now, has hung over your head – our meeting. There’s an odd sense of the unknown to our inevitable meeting. Though there will be a feeling that we have been family for ages, forever, there will also be a feeling that somehow, we have just met. A sad happiness. Joyful, yet hurtful tears. A fragile smile, and hands that shake.

 

Write soon. Share when you’re ready. I love you… XoXo… Dad.

 

I’VE LEARNED TO MAKE MISTAKES

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

 

Tuesday, October 25th 2016

 

Morning Phi. Dad’s on grade 4 camp up at Lady Maclehose Holiday Village. It’s 6.05am and surprisingly all the students are still sleeping (they must have talked through the night). I’ll wake them at 7am for breakfast at 8am. Last night, Dad did some storytelling. I told two of my favorites – a Bill Cosby classic about an eleven year old and a rollercoaster, and a Paul Jennings tale of a boy about the same age who has a terrible accident with his nose. One day I’ll tell you too…

Your cousins, Allie & Christo, left Hong Kong last Tuesday evening. They’ll be missed. Whenever I see your cousins, I can’t but help think of you. You all should be together. The privilege of family that was taken from you.

 

The day your cousins left HK the weather was shocking. It was building into a typhoon, wet & miserable. So by the time Wednesday afternoon rolled around, and the full force of the typhoon was almost upon us, our students couldn’t get home from school. The buses left on schedule, departing at 3.10pm, but with roads flooding, mudslides and the traffic at a standstill, the buses didn’t get far. For much of the torrentially wet afternoon, many of the kids were stuck on their buses. Some buses were only tens of metres from the school, but such was the ferocity of the storm, and the flooding of roads on the south end of the island, we just couldn’t get our students off the buses. Eventually, one bus at a time, we managed to walk the kids back to school. At school we opened the classrooms, brought out camp supplies such as chips, drinks and games, and for the most part, we all had a great time mucking about – singing and laughing while the storm battered the building outside. As it turned out, most of the south end of the island flooded, so the kids weren’t able to get away from our campus until 7.30pm! A night at school – it really did feel like camp.

 

And then Friday, another typhoon. Haima, near missed us, but as a precaution, HKIS closed its doors. So Dad had a welcome day off. By 6.30am I was out and about in the wind. I had a run up in the hills behind Wanchai, skipping over, through and under three or four fallen trees. Curiously, I was the only fit soul about. Everyone else was waiting for the winds to drop.

 

Unfortunately, because last week was such a crazy weather week, both the G3 & G5 camps were cancelled. My fourth graders from last year, this year’s fifth graders, were so disappointed. Cancelled, not postponed – real bummer.

But for me and my 22 kids from all around the world – camp goes on. In a moment I’ll go and wake my students, showers, tidy up, breakfast, then we’ll hike for two hours, indoor gym activities for an hour, lunch, two hours of swimming, followed by two hours of Chinese activities. Jam-packed activity day! Co-ki-co-co! Time the rooster awoke the sleepy heads! Okiru ji kan dayo!

 

Love you Phi! How’s that journal going? XoXo…

 

I BELIEVE IN YOU

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

 

Sunday, November 6th 2016

 

Hey Possum,

 

Welcome to November. By now in your part of the world, the Autumnal blaze of rusty colors must be in full swing. Has Fuji San had its first snowfall of the season, have you had your first kiss, and how’s that school report going? Here, in Hong Kong, the temperature has dropped considerably, especially the humidity. It’s lovely! Perfect fitness weather!

 

Dad had a run around Victoria Park this morning. Did my 100 crunches, 50 push-ups and 30 chin-ups – not quite the 100 Club, but better than a second coffee & croissant. Yesterday (Saturday), I again jumped on the #40 mini bus & hitched a ride into school. I find that when I’m in my classroom, free of distraction, I am much, much more productive. In three hours I might cover what might take me six hours semi-procrastinating at home.

Last night it was Johnny’s 40th. He’s the husband of a wonderful work colleague, Hyun. We were touched to be invited, and your young Dad even stayed out until midnight! Even hit the dance floor for a sort while. Dad’s bustin’ moves! How embarrassing is that, Phi? Mind you, as the night grew longer and longer, any later, and your Dad might have turned into a pumpkin.

 

Thursday & Friday, I had parent-teacher conferences. Can’t complain, I was well prepared, and everything went to plan. Friday after our final conferences, I joined a few choice colleagues, Stan, Carrie & Gretchen, for a beer down on the sand at Repulse Bay. And on Wednesday, our dear, Hyun, announced that she is pregnant with twins. I’m very happy for her. Their wish was granted – it couldn’t happen to a better couple.

 

Time to help C with our dinner… bon appetit!

 

Phi, do you want juice, milk or water with your fish, rice, veges & miso soup?

 

Love Dad & C… XoXo…

 

BITTERSWEET TRUTH

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

 

Sunday, November 13th 2016

 

Hey Ophelia, how’s your Sunday treating you? Had a kick of the footy today, yet? What are you going to be? A professional Aussie Rules footy star? Do you know, next year the first professional women’s league kicks off? Can’t wait, can you? Go gals! Kick like a gal!

 

Will you be a writer, an artist, a potter, a musician, an interpreter, a teacher, a scientist, a mathemagician, a lawyer, a dancer or an electrician?? Whatever you choose, be heard for all the right reasons. Listen and learn. Be proud, yet humble. You’re going to be a super star!

Here’s Dad teaching his kids how to dissect a squid!

Tonight Dad will catch up with Evan Hitchman & Yuta from Saint Maur. Evan is a fellow Aussie, who was one of the lads that Dad used to ride from Kikuna to Zushi & back with. Sometimes I rode from Tama, and back! He’s a good man. We usually catch up when C & Dad head to your homeland, but this summer gone, unfortunately, we didn’t find the opportunity to meet.

 

Yesterday Dad wrote reports pretty much all day. For each student, we write a page and a half narrative. It takes a good deal of time and effort to craft something that is informative and individualized. For a report-writing break, I visited two of my kids in Victoria Park. They were representing our school, and were creating peace doves for the Green Dragons club. It was good to see them so engaged and enthusiastic for a grand cause.

 

Friday night C cooked another ripper meal – homemade pizza and karage for Yuta & Evan. The boys are over for a PE conference at the HKIS Tai Tam campus. Oh, Phi, Madame C is a magnificent chef. You’re going to love standing alongside us in the kitchen – although our kitchen is tiny… there might not be room for the three of us. I know, I’ll do the dishes!

Thursday & Tuesday Dad ran home from the Repulse Bay campus. November, means it’s a good deal cooler, and lacks the heavy humidity of summer. It feels brilliant to be able to breath regular air and not the thick air of summer as I run the trails of HK. Each time I’m on one of those trails, I think how lucky I am. I take in the views, think of you, and think of the love of my life – my C Chan.

 

Also Thursday, my class Skyped Cairo America College (CAC) for some collaborative math. For the past few years, my students have teamed up with students from Chennai American School, Tokyo International School (with Uncle Travis Ion), and CAC to get excited about mathematics. Inspiring students to become passionate about maths. That is the role of the teacher, after all –  to make a subject not just compulsory, but compelling. Using collaborative Google docs, we create real life math problems for each other. And Friday, it was the much anticipated Teacher Appreciation day at HKIS, so all the teachers enjoyed a slap-up megalicious lunch! Lucky Dad, hey!?

I wrote this on the board the day after Trump was elected

Tuesday was a special science & math day for my students and I. Not only did we have our regular math centers with two parents assisting, we also dived into a classic squid dissection. Each pair of scientists in my class had their own squid to dissect. Brilliant! Bring on the mess! And just to top things off, Tuesday was also our Epic Story (free writing) day. My writers just love their Epic Story day, and each week is launched with a chapter and writing focus based around Dad’s story. One day, I’ll share my story with you – 26 chapters and counting. Here’s one of my more recent chapters that I read to my fourth graders in the Author’s Chair:

Chapter 18

DAD’S SQUEEZE

 

Strange but true, I was standing on the balcony watching a solitary crow watch me. Its beady eyes pierced my mind, making me mindful of the few million miseries that surrounded me. 14 months away from becoming a teenager, I was supposed to be a happy, sunny 11 year old, whose only problem was whether my football team won or lost. I didn’t need to think about getting a job, paying taxes (whatever they were), or even leaving home, I was happy at home. That was until my father took me from my home. Snatched me away from my treehouse. Dragged me away from Patty & Josh. Catapulted me into mega-misery. Uprooted my whole perfect world, and threw me into this mess. I had no support net, except for a Japanese girl on the other side of the world, who, let’s face it, I had talked to face to face, for probably less than 10 seconds in my entire life.

 

The crow tilted its head eyeing me suspiciously. The shiny black of a judge’s robe. A gurgling sound escaped from its throat. It was like the crow was engaging me, teasing me and sending me thoughts that reminded me that I had only ever communicated with Haruka via email. Guilty thoughts or just startling truths? I didn’t know, but the crow seemed to be smirking, arrogant in its certainty. The crow was right, the entire sum of my correspondence with my soul mate had been in cyberspace. As much as I wanted to see Haruka’s face again, I had never had the courage to suggest a Skype.

 

A police siren wailed in the distance, and my Dad had a girlfriend. How could he do this to me? So many questions. Why now? Where was my mother in all this?

 

Darkness was nearer, and from the balcony, the grey concrete mess that represented day was transforming before my eyes. My staring match with the crow dissolved as the black beast moved on. Instead of returning to the living area where my father no doubt waited, I sat on the cold concrete balcony, my back to the apartment wall, longing for just one more shot on goal with Patty and Josh, or to see Grumpy Guzzard throw one more wobbly at his noisy students. Or to take a walk with Haruka and take her hand. She was coming to her home country, Japan, later this month. It would be during the Winter Break. I wondered if I had the confidence to take her hand. Not likely, the thought scared the heeby-jeebies out of me. Exciting but ultimately my scrawny chicken legs would take flight. Would she want me to?

 

Dusk was giving way to darkness. I turned to the sliding doors of our apartment, and thought about re-entering the den where at least it was warm. Instead, I placed my hands on the coldness of the lifeless concrete, my fingertips brushing the dust lightly. There was something calm about tracing squiggles in the film of Yokohama dust. Why does my Dad need a girlfriend? I looked down at my hands, then slowly turned them over, and grazed my knuckles across the concrete. The sudden pain took some of the venom from my lips. Was Mayumi, Dad’s soul mate, like Haruka was mine?

 

I spied the first star of the evening in the darkening sky. What was wrong with Dad having a soulmate, I mused. Mayumi was nice. I thought I fancied Haruka, so, how could I justify moping around the apartment for days being upset with Dad? I had been bitter for all to see, but my sulking had gone largely unnoticed. Or so I thought.

 

“Shhhuk.” The sliding glass door to the balcony opened, and Dad came out with one of his protracted coughs. He shyly interrupted, “So, this is how you view the world…” and then trailed off. I wasn’t prepared for his apparent guilt. I longed for him to rage at my selfishness, after all, he had as much right to happiness as I did, perhaps more.

 

I slouched confused and angry, my bum numbing much as it had that first time he had told Nan and I we were going to Japan. I summoned brutal words, pulled them from my stomach and hurled them at lover boy. “Why the hell did we ever come here?!” I cried. Silence. Why didn’t he respond? I thought grimly.

 

Very slowly he lifted his wounded eyes and ventured nearer, and as he did he tripped over a plastic bag mostly filled with his stupid empty beer bottles. Green bottles. As if beer in green bottles tasted any better, I thought as I snorted testily out of my nostrils. I tried to pretend that I didn’t think it was funny, that he’d tripped on his own beer. As he tried to loosen the bag from his ankle, the wicked joy in my eyes probably gave me away. I turned his way without really looking at him, not at his eyes at least.

 

“Obviously, we need to talk,” he awkwardly muttered. The soft, painful tone in his voice made it difficult for me to be angry with him. Rather it sent shards of guilt into my heart. I looked out at the dark grey clouds and even they seemed to look away, keen to escape the fire and spite of the lost foreign boy.

 

Could I really blame my Dad for seeking the company of a beautiful woman? It had been a decade since my mother’s disappearance, and to my knowledge, he had never dated, or so much as mentioned another woman. But why now? What if my mother returned? Didn’t he owe her something? Shouldn’t he wait? The sun had completely slipped over the concrete horizon, and there were few frothy clouds now.

 

My Dad held his tongue. Patient and stoic, as he always was. I could see that now. In a strange way I was kind of absent from myself, in that I could see what a selfish, spoilt, only child I had become. My Dad had sacrificed so much for me over the years. He was the only parent who attended each and every one of our weekend football matches, every year. He took me camping, taught me to make billycarts, and he was the only Dad who made a lunch for his kid every day. He showed me how to fix a puncture on my bicycle, told crazy ‘Dad’ jokes, and he still read to me every evening before bed. I wanted him to shout and rage so I could continue this strange desire to remain in a depressed state. Instead he spoke calmly and with love. His eyes told me he understood my resentment of Mayumi. It was not what I wanted to hear, and yet it was. I listened hearing few of his words, but understanding what was in his heart. A few minutes passed and unconsciously I edged closer to him. With his huge arms, he pulled me close and hugged me.

 

Minutes before, I had never in my life felt so alone. Dad had enjoyed a happy Sunday night, and afterwards I had done my best to ruin things for him. At the same time, he refused to talk about my mother and forbade Nana from doing so.

 

I wasn’t finished. Why was he always so reasonable? Why couldn’t he holler at me? I stiffened and noticed that I could hear my breathing. Something inside of me that I didn’t understand wanted to hurt him. Quietly and rather too coldly, I randomly threw salt in his wounds, “I remember seeing you break down and cry, when your hard drive on your computer collapsed.” I sensed his head nodding above me, and I felt him take a long deep breath.

 

“You’re right,” he croaked.

 

“So, why are my problems so trivial?” I blurted. Everything was so disjointed. I knew I wasn’t making much sense, even to myself, but I continued anyway. “I don’t have a job, nor a kid to remind to take their shoes off. At 11, I have no mother, and except for Rishnag, no friends… Dad, it doesn’t get any worse.”

 

Dad shifted, but kept me close and ignored my rant. “You know why I cried that day?” he offered, barely above a whisper. “It wasn’t the fact that I lost work documents, I could create them again.” He paused. “It was the photos of you. How can I get you to recreate that Superman pose you made just before your 6th birthday? You, my young superhero, are my everything, and those photos of you prancing around, were just about the best thing that happened to me that year. All those photos are gone. Do you remember? It was just before you jumped through the window.”

 

I could feel his voice smile. I pulled away from his chest and sheepishly grinned at my Dad. It was true, back in Australia, where everything was perfect, I had worshiped Superman. I was in grade one, and had so wanted to believe in the man of steel and his power of flight, that I had launched myself through our sliding glass door.

 

I didn’t want to be brittle and frosty with my Dad anymore. I believed in him, like I believed in Nan. I winced, as I remembered the shattered glass door, and the mess the shards of glass had made of my arms, legs and face. I chuckled, because at the time, I certainly wasn’t expecting the pain. Even before my cries for help, I recall I had so many questions swirling around for Superman. I discovered through tremendous pain that a Superman cloak did not equal superpowers.

 

My mind drifted to the hospital bed I lay in for two days. My Dad was there beside me in hospital. Every time I woke, he was there.

 

“You remember?” he asked again softly.

 

I nodded, “I remember a lot of things,” I murmured. Through my tears I looked Dad straight in the eyes and asked innocently, “Will you tell me about my mother?”

 

Dad closed his eyes, and to my surprise he nodded slowly in confirmation. “Deal,” he sniffed. His eyes were as wet as mine. “Same time, same place tomorrow?” he proposed.

 

I let out a huge breath. I opened my mouth to say “Yeah” but it took seconds to come from my lips. I wasn’t sure if I should be happy or sad, excited or miserable. I had waited all my life for this moment, I thought grimly. Now, in the moment, I wasn’t sure I was ready for the truth.

 

 

What do you think, Phi? Still requires revising. Writing is never done. Gotta allow it to evolve.

 

Well Bella, time to tidy up. Be grateful, and as Bailey’s dad in my story suggests: be the person your dog thinks you are! Run, read, run & read!

 

Love Dad – XoXo…

 

EFFORT IS EVERYTHING

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill

 

Sunday, November 20th 2016

 

How’s my Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice?

 

Been busy writing Christmas cards, buying presents, dusting off the Xmas decorations, and searching for a scented tree to warm your living area? You’re right, it’s too early to be thinking Christmas. But, oh, didn’t the two of us just love Xmas! Do you remember Christmas with Dad? Finding a tree, decorating the tree, wrapping the presents and placing them under the tree. Can you still smell the fresh pine as we entered the living room? Can you recall the twinkle of the lights upon the tree, and those extra lights we hung from outside? Once upon a time…

 

Friday was Adventure Day at the Tai Tam campus. It was a glorious sunny day for the kids to rotate around 20 or so activities. After 90 minutes of sweaty smiles, the grade 4 team set off to hike back to Repulse Bay. Along the way, we stopped for a picnic lunch.

 

Next weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend, Dad will visit Siam Reap, Cambodia, with my principal as a teacher-teacher. What’s that, a teacher-teacher, you ask? Apparently, many teachers in Cambodia have never received any teacher training. Evidently, many of them haven’t been afforded the opportunity to attend university, so in many cases, Cambodia’s teachers are just operating on goodwill. Indeed, many of their teachers volunteered for unpaid positions, particularly after the war. Dad and a small group of teachers are kind of on a reconnaissance tour – we’re hoping we’ll someday be able to work alongside some of Cambodia’s teachers, and perhaps we can all share our teaching experiences and skills. Gretchen, Carrie & Sarah will join the team. We’re hopeful of visiting Angkor Wat, too.

 

Love you Phi… XoXo…

 

GOTTA LOVE A BIT OF YODA WISDOM

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda

 

Sunday, November 27th 2017

 

Well, well, well Phi. Who’s a lucky Dad! I have just experienced something truly special, truly memorable, truly enlightening.

The MS math teachers Dad worked with in SR

Thursday, November 24th, around 4pm, Dad flew to Siam Reap, Cambodia. My principal invited us into the VIP lounge at HK airport – Ooo-la-la! We had a quick drink, then boarded our flight. We stayed at the fancy Borei Angkor Resort and Spa! Better yet, HKIS paid for our flight & accommodation. Our first evening we went to a Cambodian / French fusion restaurant. Pretty special, but not as affordable as I had imagined.

Early Friday morning, Dad went for a run and watched the sunrise. When I returned to the hotel, I still had enough time for a swim and then met my colleagues for a delicious buffet breakfast. Dad enjoyed an omelet and plenty of fresh fruit. Shortly after breakfast, we were picked up and visited our first school. At first, we observed, then Dad worked with a group of Cambodian Middle School math teachers. A real privilege. Later in the day, we enjoyed lunch in Siem Reap, did some shopping in the market area, had another swim at the hotel, then for dinner, we met some teachers for Mexican, downtown. It was a grand evening talking about our day in the classroom, next steps, and how we can bring our own faculty onboard.

Saturday morning, Dad ran again, this time into downtown Siem Reap. Some of the tourists were straggling home from clubs and pubs as your Dad whisked by to the rising sun and a new day. After another delicious breakfast we visited a few schools and observed teachers trying on our tips from the day before. Later in the day, we were taken to the majestic Angkor Wat. WOW! Unbelievable! We really should go together one day soon, you, me and C Chan. That evening we had Indian with the director of the programme and talked more about HKIS’s role in the future – I really hope we get this off the ground!

And today (Sunday), we pretty much just flew back to Hong Kong. I bought myself, and my madame C a bag made from recycled products; cool, hey! I’m so grateful for the opportunities I have. Thank you for reading, listening, being you. You’re one of a kind kiddo! Love you… XoXo… Dad.

 

SHOW THIS ONE TO MUM – TELL HER IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE…

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown

 

Sunday, December 11th 2017

 

Salutations my Grand Aussie Possum,

 

How’s the Christmas lights at home? Wrapped presents thick & cuddly around the base of the tree? Gotta love the site of gifts beneath the fresh smelling pine tree! Christmas cards from loved ones hanging to passing smiles around the room? Cosy red & green tinsel warming your wintery home? I so wish we could put our warm hats & gloves on and head out in search of our unique Xmas tree. What do you say, Phi? Then we could prepare heart warming hot chocolate with extra marshmallows for someone like you, and decorate the tree together. What you say, my not so little Christmas angel? Is December, Christmas, and all those memories hard for you, too? I so miss you Ophelia Morice… XoXo…

Kids coming up with their own rules

Yesterday and today, I went to school to prepare for my appraisal. Didn’t feel too bad, accomplished a lot, and kept the students in front of any needless and unnecessary documentation. All the “extra” work seems manageable as next Monday, December 19th your Dad flies home, to Melbourne – your home too. Wanna come? Catch up with your brilliant cousins, Luca, Allie, Billie & Christopher. Snuggle up next to your Nandee, and be the medicinal therapy she so desperately needs. Pa will secret you out for surprise sausage rolls and visits to the trotting track to reacquaint yourself with the horses you used to visit all those years ago. Ah, imagine that… Christmas with your Australian family. Now, that would be every Morice’s Christmas wish!

This morning (yep, Sunday) I spent a good deal of time reexamining “inquiry” and what it might look like: Genius Hour for the classroom. Why is why why? If a saltwater crocodile met a great white shark, what would happen? It’s possible, right, especially in northern Australia. Learning should be a life long journey, right? As Sir Ken Robinson said, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.” Children at five years of age ask on average 28 questions per hour, by the time children get to grade 5 they’re only asking one question per hour. What happens? In many ways, curiosity is the engine that drives achievement – as facilitators we should be encouraging questions, experiments, exploring & investigations. What you say, Phi? What sorts of self-initiated inquiry does your school encourage?

Wanna build a treehouse? Great, design it, source your materials (preferably recycled), investigate how to build it, and do it.

Ask questions. What will school be like in the future? And, what’s my role in this question? Why do acorns wear hats? Why do tigers and zebras have stripes? Why is the sky blue? Is the Australian drop-bear real? Why do we have homework – are there any benefits to home learning? What is fake news?

Keep wondering Phi, keep questioning, keep imagining, keep dreaming. Time Dad signed off. Love you Bella… XoXo.

I WONDER WHAT YOU MOTHER WOULD THINK OF YOU, DAD & MELBOURNE

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand

 

 

Sunday, December 18th 2016

 

Hey Mathlete, how’s your December running going? Your Dad had a run in Victoria Park again this morning. Joined the 100 Club and banged out 100 push-ups, 40 chin-ups, 100 crunches & 100 squats. This afternoon, C Chan & Dad went Christmas shopping. For Kris Kringle (Secret Santa), Dad drew Uncle Sean. I ended up buying too many things, and when I spied his favorite bag designer, Crumpler (an Australian start-up), he had to have that too. C drew Lauren. She bought her lovely tea, delightful soap, and a cool scarf. We also found something very special for you, too. Actually, our C found your gift once again… she never forgets you, ever. I can’t wait for you to see her heart, her character, her wisdom, her strength, and her selfless grace.

Merry Christmas Bella!

Later this afternoon we wrapped & photographed your present. I wrote you a Christmas card and tried hard not to cry. We made kaki (oysters from South Korea) fry for dinner, and washed it down with miso soup and a glass of chardonnay.

Did you receive your 2016 Xmas gifts from Dad & C?

Yesterday Dad bought Xmas books for your cousins. I had a lovely time choosing what might suit each of your cousins, Luca, Ally, Billie & Christo. I managed to select some choice books to go along with the different gifts C had already found for them – The One & Only Ivan, The Giver, Holes, Walk Two Moons, and four more titles your Dad has already forgotten – hopeless, isn’t he! LOL. They’re all crackers – I recommend you read them, too.

Do you like it, Phi?

Friday, Dad finished up at school. It was a wonderful feeling, knowing C and Dad are on our way to Melbourne soon. Several of my colleagues & Dad went to Middle Island Yacht Club for a drink to celebrate the end of 2016.

Wednesday Dad ran home after my appraisal meeting with Linda & Jen. It had been a much anticipated, on-again, off-again meeting that had been giving me considerable stress. The meeting lasted nearly 90 minutes, and though I came away exhausted, I feel all the planning & preparation reaped understanding. Mentally challenged, it was good hard run home – I really pushed myself, blew out the cobwebs and felt 28 rather than 48! Run for life!

 

Time to pack for Australia – won’t you come with us?

 

Dad… XoXo…

 

PRESIDENTIALLY PROFOUND

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Monday, December 19th 2016

 

Morning Ophelia.

 

It’s 9:06am. Dad’s waiting for his flight here at Hong Kong International Airport to Melbourne, Australia. Checked-in, passed immigration, and am now sitting down with a complementary Starbucks coffee (thank you to one of my students) writing to my beautiful daughter.

That’s Tish & Luca hanging cool and Christo perched on the branch

Wishing you were coming with us… Just now, I got to thinking, daydreaming really, about our trips together to Oz. You, in your knitted sky blue jumper snuggling into me. You, playing in the airport kids’ play area. You, smiling as you received a kiddy pack from the Qantas crew. You, smiling shyly as your kiddy meal arrived. A tear escaped, and before I knew it, I had been staring off to space thinking of you, and 15 minutes zapped by.

Billie, Sean & Lauren

Gotta board. Love you Phi… XoXo…

 

WICKED WISDOM

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

Thursday, December 22nd 2016

G’day mate! Your Dad is Down Under, Melbourne, Australia. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday we were mucking about here together, and sometimes it feels like 9 long years ago, and other times it feels like forever. For the most part, Melbourne is still the same. Same dreadful, expensive, inefficient public transport system, same muddy Yarra River, same congested roads – courtesy of the neglected public transport system. It feels drier, if that’s possible. Port Phillip Bay is unswimmable in places, such is the pollution. A good coffee at a local café is no longer less than $2 – I don’t even know if they do baby-cinnos anymore. Melbourne – still awaiting your arrival. So much to show you, so much to share, so much to talk about, so much to do. What do you remember about Melbourne? Puffing Billy, the beach at Barwon Heads, the Royal Melbourne Zoo? What about Nandee & Pa’s home at 39 Andrew Crescent, Croydon South, 3136, Victoria?

 

So, what’s your Dad been up to? Well, Monday, your Uncle Rich picked me up at the airport around 11.30pm. By the time we arrived at your cousins’, Ally & Christo’s, Camberwell, it was well after midnight. Your cousin, Chris, had tried to stay up to see Uncle Geddy, but he was calmly sleeping when we walked in the front door. Another 30 minutes and he would have been able to give Uncle Ged a welcome-hug. He had, however, created a beautiful welcome card for me – I love that! Bedded down in Allie’s room as she was up at Jo & Mary’s farm. Wouldn’t you love to visit the farm! They’ve got horses & sheep! Snakes, too! There’s a dam we can have a swim in, bicycles, and plenty of work to help Jo with. Shall we?

 

So, my first morning in Melbourne, awoke early, as is usual for your Dad, but your Aunty Rach, Uncle Rich and cousin Chris were still asleep; so I had a run and threw in a few chin-ups, too.

 

Around 9.30am, your Pa picked me up and we went to the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) to renew Dad’s Australian driving license – fortunately (and surprisingly), the procedure for lapsed renewals was surprisingly smooth. Happy Days! With my new license, Dad then had a drive of Pa’s new French car, the Peugeot 307 – very nice. After many years of reliable service, KD decided to trade in his trusty Subaru Forester. Remember the white Forester we bought in Numazu for Pa all those years ago?

 

After a little banking, KD (that’s your Dad’s nickname for Pa – Kerry Daniel) and Dad enjoyed a welcome coffee & a pie I had been salivating about since the last time I was in Oz. The cool part, was that the café was part of the bank, the Bendigo bank at Ringwood East. We had a great chat with the owner, a South African & former teacher, who had loads of questions about the international teaching scene. From the bank, Pa & I went to the post office to send your Christmas present (a bracelet & necklace)… hope you love ‘em Bella! Oh, I miss you Bella, and so wish, C & Dad could hand you your gifts on Christmas day… XoXo.

 

Finally, after a good chat with Pa, I saw your Nandee. Your grandmother still has her generous spirit, physically, however, she needs some tender loving care from you. As she’s had this cruel chronic fatigue syndrome for years and years now, she knows she needs to cautiously approach each day. Any needless exertion can push her recovery back significantly. Unfortunately, the wicked syndrome zaps the sparkle that was omnipresent in her eyes. Your Nandee is as brave as they come, and the love that she & Pa share, is an inspiration to anyone who knows their devotion to each other. Wish you were here to spread your good cheer!

After a lovely catch-up chat, Pa & your Dad headed to Aldi, a cool German supermarket chain. By mid afternoon, Dad needed a nap, then I drove into Uncle Sean & Aunty Lauren’s for pizza! When I pulled up in the car, your cousins, Billie, Luca and Tynesha were playing outside. Your newest cousin, Tish (Tynesha), has been living with Sean & Lauren for most of the year under a foster care program. She’s a six year old classic! I was most impressed with her generosity, genki-ness and her joy & passion. She’s a spunky little devil, who would, I know, jump into your arms and cling to you like a cheeky, yet comforting monkey. Undoubtedly, Tish is a little ripper! You’ll love her. After pizza, we all enjoyed a kick of the footy up on the oval. Tish & Billie treated Dad to gymnastics show of twirling, rolling & somersaulting.

 

Tuesday evening, I read a story or two to Tish, then Luca gave up his bedroom, so Dad bedded down with a great book by Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. At sparrows’ fart (pre dawn), and quite obviously early the next morning, I was reading, when I heard the pitter-patter of small Tynesha feet. Tish, the little affectionate monkey had crept to the top of the stairs, spied me reading, then sprinted and launched herself beside me. We had a chat, then she raced downstairs to retrieve her book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. After about 10 minutes of Aslan, Peter et al’s adventures, Billie joined us for more reading. It was a very, very special read with my nieces… a moment in time I’ll never forget. Just wish you were there, too.

 

That morning (Wednesday), we all had a run along the Merri Creek – Sean, Lauren, Luca, Billie & Tish… only you were missing. Of course, Uncle Sean smashed me, but it was grand to blow the cobwebs out coming up the last hill in front of their home!

 

After breakfast, Dad drove out to Croydon South to see Nandee & Pa. It was good to sit with Nandee and just chat, although, I was conscious that even these chats can exhaust her.

 

Things to do – off to see your cousins. Will be back to you soon, Phi.

 

BREAK IN TIME & FAST FACT

Your Pa’s middle name & your Dad’s middle name is Daniel.

 

G’day Phi. I’m sitting next to Allie at Hays Paddock in Kew East. Chris is busy riding a ripstick (a swervy – wobble skateboard). It’s a beautiful day, perhaps around 21 degrees Celsius. The playground is pretty cool, even for 14 year olds! We’re waiting for Lauren & Sean to arrive with your other cousins, Luca, Billie & Tish. Just looked up and noticed Chris is missing. I think he has ventured back to the playground, or perhaps he’s looking for the missing piece in his cousin-jigsaw, you. We all miss you, Phi. So wish you were with us! Allie’s reading over my shoulder & helping me with what to write to you…

 

This afternoon, I’ll take your cousins back to Camberwell, then head back to Kew to see Uncle Hayd. Tonight, Tim, Hayd & myself will have a bbq on Hayd’s deck… how do you like your scotch fillet steak? It’ll be good to see Timmy, especially after the cancer he’s overcome. As a result of losing two vertebra to myeloma, he’s also lost about 10cm in height.

 

Just so you know, we’re expecting 37 degrees Celsius on Xmas day – if you’re able to make it, bring your swimming gear! Did you receive Dad’s present? Perhaps tomorrow… Oh, look who’s here!? Sean, Lauren and your cousins, Billie, Tish & Luca. They have just arrived at Hays Paddock, too. Fun times…

 

Wish you were here… XoXo.

 

Dad & Allie.

 

 

Saturday, December 24th 2016

 

Hi Ophelia,

 

At the moment, it’s 5.15pm, and Dad is sitting in Xocolatl café in Kew. Wishing you were beside me sipping your favorite milkshake. C Chan is now on her way from HK to KL (Malaysia). She has a night in KL, and then arrives at 7.40pm tomorrow night (December 25th) – 24 hours to go, so not long to wait now.

 

Just a couple of days ago, I was back in Kew for a BBQ with Hayd & Tim on the deck. It was grand to see my old mates. Hayd & Dad have known each other since grade 3, that’s more than forty years. And Tim & Dad met in year 7, so that friendship too, has been almost four decades. They’re both beautiful men. Loyal, generous & full of fun. They’re both worldly, well traveled and so interesting to chat with. I hope in the near future, you get to know Dad’s mates well, too. That night, Dad stayed at Uncle Hayd’s and enjoyed a workout the next morning. We ran along the Yarra River, and threw in a few push-ups and chin-ups. After we sweated, Uncle Hayd made a grand breakfast with salmon, eggs & hash browns! Brilliant. You would have loved it!

 

Yesterday, Dad had the good fortune of meeting Lian – Nandee had been teaching his parents (Burmese) English, and ever since, they’ve become family friends. Lian, a local middle school student at Ringwood High and about the same age as you, helped Pa & Dad clean the gutters at 39 Andrew Crescent. I asked him, did he want to earn $20 an hour doing a few jobs with Dad. He jumped at the idea, and wow, did he work hard! After a couple of hours work (he refused to take a break), we scoffed down a vegetable pastie, then we took to pruning trees in the front yard. I was so impressed with this kid. A refugee with such drive. Australia is lucky to have such kids. Respect. Brilliant work ethic. Polite, humble, driven. Champion kid. I would love you to meet Lian one day, and hear his story.

 

Later in the afternoon, I drove Lian home to Kilsyth. Then Dad enjoyed a bourbon with Pa. While we sipped our evening drink, we cooked ravioli together.

 

Later Dad headed to Uncle Ralph’s for a chat with my old mate. What a generous man, our Ralphus Maximus is. You know we’ve been mates since we were 12 months old! Incredible, hey! Love him!

 

Good times… XoXo… Wishing you the best for Christmas… Love always… Dad… XoXo.

 

COOL FACT – AUDREY IS ONTO SOMETHING HERE

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Audrey Hepburn

 

Sunday, January 1st 2017

 

Happy New Year Phi! Did you watch the rising sun break into 2017 earlier this morning?

 

This morning, Dad cleaned out Pa’s gutters (once again) after the crazy rain on December 29th. Just as well Lian & Dad had cleaned the gutters out pre-Xmas. Uncle Richo had his gutters overflow, and Uncle Sean had leaks in the roof because his gutters clogged up. It was like a typhoon, such was the downpour. The only bonus, courtesy of all the rain, was that we were able to water the garden with all the excess run off into the water tanks and rubbish bins placed beneath downpipes.

Merry Christmas 2016, Phi… XoXo

And right now, guess where your Dad is? Presently, I am sitting in the back of Rich & Rach’s car sandwiched between your cousins, Chris & Allie. Allie, is once again generously helping Dad with what we’ve all been up to.

 

So, let’s see, what’s been happening in your country, Australia. Well, the evening of the 29th, Dad & C went to Uncle Ralph’s for an amazing meal of seafood from the Victoria Market. Ralph had been in the kitchen all day cooking up a storm! We started with mussels for entrée, fried calamari, and then his signature dish, the astonishing spaghetti marinara! Scrumdillyumptious! Diana & C had a great dance to Abba before Ralph & Dad took control of some choice music. Too much wine, too much food – we needed your common sense!

 

Wednesday, December 28th Dad & C caught up with Aunty Brenda & Uncle Allan from Sydney. Again, we reminisced about you, Numazu, Katoh, and all the good times we shared together when you were little and always amongst us. We talked about David, Nicola and Tim, and hope the four of you enjoy each other’s company some time soon. Deb, another teacher from our Katoh days also joined us. Dad drove us all out to the Yarra Valley for a bit of wine tasting. For lunch we dined at the Yarra Glen pub. C had snapper & potato mash, while Dad had prawns and a trout tartare with salad. That evening, Madame C & Dad headed to Uncle Sean’s for dinner & a play. Sean tried out his new bbq, Pa arrived unexpectedly, and Uncle Jeff was also there to keep the banter alive & well. A great night with family; except your poor Nandee couldn’t join us. Oh, Phi, how we all wish Nandee’s chronic fatigue would loosen its stranglehold on your grandmother.

 

Boxing Day, Monday 26. C & Dad ended up at Rich’s and had Vietnamese in Box Hill. Earlier Hayd arrived for a chat. That evening C Chan & Dad slept over and the 27th C, Rach & Allie went into town for some Xmas sale shopping. You could have joined the girls! Dad, Rich & Chris drove out to Pa & Nandee’s, where we worked in the garden. Sean & Lauren arrived with Tish. Great working bee! Nandee & Pa’s garden is looking good!

 

Xmas day was hard without you & C. Your beautiful Uncle Sean played one of Dad’s favorites, Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun. Fortunately/unfortunately memories of you flooded back and Dad had to take himself upstairs for a quiet cry. Inevitable, I guess. Every Christmas my heart splinters some more. I hope Xmas 2017, we’re finally reunited, together again, forever.

 

I miss you Phi… XoXo… Is it possible to miss a person more…

 

WICKED WISDOM

“Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.” Charles Swindoll

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