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Dec. 23rd, 2006

10:41 pm - The Funeral

Wednesday was Dad's funeral. I'll edit in the "script" the celebrant used when I get a copy of it, I just have my own script for now.

I'll rewind a bit. As usual, I got into town somewhat earlier than needs be - I'm hopeless at just waiting around at home. Anyway, I had shopping and still-not-getting-text-messaging-right to do. I bought a new black shirt with long sleeves (all of mine have short sleeves), and needed new trousers and belt anyway. To finish this off, I bought a tie in the Ross tartan (for Dad's mother - and I asked but they were sold out of Fraser - his grandmother's family).

I toddled along to my Aunts' place - only to be picked up just as I got off the bus by my Aunt on the way to pick up Mum! Anyway, trip there and back made, a leisurely lunch (including introducing everyone there to a drink called Irn Bru) and a quick run-down and edit of the eulogy, and it was time to change and go.

Met up with the other mourners at the gates of Karrakatta - we arrived in the nearest carpark just as my two bosses arrived. We waited for another funeral's procession to leave, then our party followed the hearse up to our chapel. Well, except for the pallbearers - Alan Deverel, Jochen Rudiger, Bill Whitney and myself - who kept pace with the car (I was told later that everyone behind had trouble keeping up at normal walking pace).

I took the right foot of the casket, and we walked in after the rest of the party had entered the chapel, to the closing bars of Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon. After we set the casket down, the service was begun by our celebrant, a friend of Mum's Irene Oram, who had volunteered her services.

Even if I could recall everything verbatim, I'd wait until I had a copy of the script before writing it. Anyway, the service was started, then we launched into a singing of the Wings song Mull of Kintyre. After that it was time for my eulogy, below.

EulogyCollapse )

Yeah, I got through it just fine (was repeatedly told afterwards I did great). No voice catching or crying or anything. It was while I was up at the lecturn that I got to get a proper look at the gathering. We estimate about forty people turned up, Dench Chapel has seating for twentyfive. I think it was more fitting that we had people standing, but still standing relatively close, as opposed to booking a larger chapel and have it be partially empty.

The service resumed with an address by Alan Deverel of the Returned and Services League of Australia giving a brief run-down of Dad's time in the British and Australian Armies (although it's a pity I didn't get a chance to give some of the details Dad told me a year ago, like being in Libya the week before Colonel Gaddafi took over), and the laying of poppies on the casket, after which The Last Post was played with the minute's silence after, then the Reveille.

The last few prayers were said, then the piobreachd lament The Dark Island was played as the coffin was lowered into the pedestal and out of sight. At which point the service was brought to an end, and the lounge opened for refreshments and meeting and greeting the family for the next half-hour. Simple biscuits with tea/coffee/cordial, but effective. At the end of it when Mum was able to get free for a few minutes the funeral directors gave her the mourners cards, and an audiotape of the service so we can send a copy overseas. One of the cards had been attached to the flowers on the coffin - we didn't pay for any flowers at the service, it was only once we'd gotten home that we managed to find that card, and luckily it was from Dad's sisters and brother, they'd managed to get the orders delivered in time (we weren't sure, since it was placed less than a day before the funeral).

I found out a couple of things at the post-service do, like one of his friends from Beverley had been on the same Hill in Borneo as him at the same time. Dad was with the British Army at the time, his mate was with the Australian Army, there were only about 120 of them out there at the time, and years later they meet in the pub in a small country town. Also heard how he met "Auntie Kim and Uncle Jochen" - just after they'd come out from Germany some people in the pub (probably the Windsor at the time) were giving them grief for being German, so Dad went up and put them in their place, then turned and introduced himself to Kim and Jochen, welcomed them to the area, and the rest is history.

Anyway, we saw the rest of the people on their way back to work, or home, or in the case of some of Mum's cousins to visit family graves then onwards for a drink and a meal, we went back to my Aunts' place for dinner and to pick up our stuff, and was dropped home just after nine o'clock, feeling somewhat exhausted. I stayed up for a little while, until a massive headache sent me to bed until lunchtime the next day, out like the proverbial light. Another bunch of flowers was delivered the next day from work, and I had my own bottle of Irn Bru to drink for Dad's birthday.

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Dec. 19th, 2006

10:02 pm - Thank You

Thank you everyone for your condolences and hugs and prayers over the weekend. :)

I hope you'll forgive me if I reply here instead of to each comment. I do feel the need to write, but at the same time I just can't handle too much writing of it, you know? I'm still finding the emails to some old army mates hard to do, and I can't face the Family Tree Maker program...

Ok, where to start... Dad had already been started on the morphine by the time we got there, and the dose was increased as time went on. He wouldn't have realised that he couldn't cough anything up normally and had to have his mouth swabbed/suctioned every so often (that's what happened to make them call). He was only in pain once the first day when he was being turned and a pump had stopped working, after that he was just settled further and further.

Saturday morning I had wanted to go and freshen up a bit (having been in the hospital over a day), but the nurses said I mightn't want to even take the time having a quick wash, that's how close and settled they saw him as being. By this time they'd taken him off the oxygen, which wasn't helping anymore. A couple of hours later they came in to give him a quick clean up and turn him. Mum and I went out to the lounge to give them some space. A few minutes later they came to get us, and we held his hands as he took his last breaths. Yes, it was hard to watch, but I can't imagine not having been there. I don't think I could've forgiven myself if I hadn't been.

It's strange. All this time we were given estimates - two months, two weeks, and so on. Last week whenever I heard Mum talk about Dad's condition on the phone, I thought maybe we should bring the family get-together forward a few days (especially since the 21st is actually his birthday). I would have liked him to make it that long, but once we got to the hospital and saw his condition there, I just wanted him to let go. He was alive for all that time (from the fact we were called in early-morning, I was surprised he made it to sunrise at first), but it wasn't really life for him. He was a soldier, independent. The most he wanted people to do for him was to get him a cup of coffee, I can't imagine what he'd think of the level of care needed at the end. Indeed, he was still insisting he could manage to clean up himself when he was at home, and still trying to talk rather than write.

So, the funeral is tomorrow - managed to find a director for about half the price of the company that Grandpa used (he pre-paid his). No frills, but Dad was specific about getting as cheap as possible - if he'd had the strength, he would've probably gone down to WA Salvage, bought some wood, and built the casket himself. We can use some of the money saved towards a plaque at Karrakatta. Of course, I won't actually see the eulogy I'm meant to be giving until about three hours beforehand. :lol: Not to mention adding my own notes to it, and anything Dad's sisters might phone through. So, big and long day tomorrow.

Oh, and I got to a scanner yesterday (had to go in to work to put in the leave paperwork, change over the computer stuff and clear desk-stuff and all), so I've edited in a photo to the last entry like I said I would.

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Dec. 16th, 2006

01:07 pm - At Rest

John James Banks
21 December 1944 - 16 December 2006



Edit: picture of Dad in 1983 added - that's a darts trophy, probably still from the Windsor Hotel at that point.

Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous entry.

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Dec. 15th, 2006

02:13 pm - Bethesda

At 2.15 this morning I was woken up by some strange racket going on next to me. The time was all wrong for the alarm, and it wasn't the radio going. It took a few seconds to wake up enough to realise it was the mobile phone ringing and vibrating on the table next to me (and this is the first night I'd kept it switched on). I didn't recognise the number of the just-missed call, and was thinking about going back to sleep when I thought I'd look up the number in the phone book (once I found the right one).

Bethesda Hospital.

I called back, and it was the call that wasn't meant to come for a couple of weeks - Dad had detoriorated considerably during the night shift nurse's time, and it was time to come in.

On somewhere in the region of around 1.5 hours sleep, I was running just on adrenaline when I called the cab. One fun little $50 trip to Claremont later (since neither me or the driver had been here before), and I met up with Mum at the front doors waiting to be let in. We were told what's happening and then led through to Dad's room, so for the last coming-up-on-thirteen hours we've been sitting with him, waiting for the end. He showed some response to Mum and I talking in the early hours, I think, but now he doesn't even respond to the nurses helping him out.

I just had to get out for a little while since there's nothing I can do but wait, and find something I can do, which is type. I tried calling my holidaying aunts in Sydney, but nothing so far. One of Mum's cousins dropped in though.

But yeah, just a matter of waiting now, though I think he's hung on longer than was expected.

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Dec. 14th, 2006

11:26 pm - The State of Things

So, it's been a busy week for me.

Bosslady came back on Monday, so I'm no longer in charge of the library, just trying to catch up with stuff, and do little things like decorating - started Monday arvo, finished it Tuesday morning - has to be me since I'm the only one who has a chance of reaching the ceiling to hook stuff in there - and that's with a ruler-with-carved-notch for lifting the hooks up. Anyway, the front ceiling is strung with lengths of tinsel, many dangling over the walkways with hanging things just in tempt-people-to-bat-them positions (it works too, even if I don't dare anyone :lol:)

Anyway, that's it for the year, I'm on leave now, so hopefully when I go back there'll have been certain changes made and morale will be much better - it's been the lowest anyone can remember, even I've had to play counsellor after certain people have made instant decisions with no consultation.

I was originally just going to take yesterday and tomorrow off - tomorrow I'd planned for a while, and yesterday was to go and talk to Mum about a funeral director. I went up to my parents' place as planned (with some extra, like a chair tall and sturdy enough for me and a tree). Looked in on Dad when I got there. The last time I saw him in the hospital a few months ago he was thin, even for him - he's never been an especially big man. Now he's skeletal, that's the only word for it. He can't really talk anymore, since he needs the machines to help him breathe for any more than a minute or so, so for him to talk he needs to basically hold his breath and shout to be heard at all. Anyway, during the day between visits from various people from Silver Chain I gave him some messages from his old unit, and he showed me stuff about his mobile phone - I've taken that so I can be called immediately when the time comes. He didn't think much about writing the instructions though, he still tried to vocalise them.

Anyway, he's gone back into the hospice for a few days to a - give Mum a break, and b - escape the weekend's heat. The Silver Chain nurse says that the doctors there are only giving him two weeks now. So, I decided to take the rest of the year off at least, to be able to visit Dad or at least help Mum (who's getting a bit narked at well meaning questions). As long as I got the doctor's certificate, I have plenty of various types of leave. Did really get the stuff done we meant to, what with counsellors and carers dropping in.

Today I went back up there - everything managed to connect nice and easily, and I got the right train to Bassendean (along with some early risers among the Barmy Army) to get the first 62 instead of waiting for a cab. I was glad of this, since it means I was able to pop my head in and see Dad before the transfer-ambulance showed up to take him to the hospice. Dad said that he'll just go in for a few days (I'd say at least until Wednesday because the start of the week is going to be a stinker). Mum says she doesn't think he's ever coming home. Our family plans for Christmas were to meet up there on the 23rd - I suggested we should pull that back to the 21st - his birthday, and hopefully he'll be home for that at least. So, Mum and I made further plans, asked another funeral company for a quote, and are now just waiting for some word on who do a good job before arranging the deposit (since even the deposit is near $2000), and then went on a big food shopping trip (so I could pay for the food, and cabs there and back - I'm sure Dad would be horrified that I'd done that and would try to pay me back). Went home after putting Mum in the cab (I live in a totally different part of the city), and took a nap, rather tired out after the last couple of days (not to mention the holiday crowds in Galleria).

Tomorrow, I go in to work for a short while just to change the computers over and hand in the doctor's note for my leave, then out for a long-planned day out. I think a day of fun is just what the doctor ordered right now, there'll be precious little opportunity much later.

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Dec. 3rd, 2006

11:27 pm - Dad

As you might remember, my Dad's been diagnosed with lung cancer that's teamed up with bronchitis, so the two treatments cancel eachother out.

So, two weeks ago Dad was back in hospital. A while back in a previous trip in, I asked Dad if he wanted something like a portable DVD player to keep him occupied in hospital since he'd seen everything the hospital-tv could offer. He refused of course (this is Dad, he didn't want me spending the money on him). This time he rang up, to say he'd reconsidered this, is it possible to get it now? I took the morning of Wednesday the 16th off to meet up with Mum, and buy the player and some TV seasons so she could take them to Dad (I had a cold at the time, not a good idea to go see someone with pneumonia/bronchitis).

I bought a nice little 9" model for $200, some stuff like Minder and MacGyver, Spooks and JAG to keep him busy, and went as far as the lift - even if I had been feeling entirely better, Royal Perth doesn't exactly have a lot of room on the wards for a visitor, let alone two. Anyway, he was happy with that, even though he went home the day after getting the player :lol:. Says that the picture is very good, and at a lot closer to his eyes than the ceiling TVs are it should be.

That was two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Friday I got a call from Mum - ok, from my Aunt, to call Mum after she got back from taking Dad to a hospice (but not to panic).

Anyway. Called Mum. This weekend has been the start of Summer here. Dad won't see Autumn. He'll be in the hospice for just a couple of days so they can try and get his breathing controlled, then he'll be back home about Wednesday. But yeah, two months...

So now we're starting to make plans, get in touch with people. Dad's brother just might be coming out here soon (Mum told Aunt June today), and I'll tell Dad's old regiment. I'll also ring Karrakatta tomorrow to see what their basic services are, and Mum will see what Veterans Affairs can do.

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11:22 pm - Long time no see.

Ok, so I've been somewhat incommunicado lately... I really have to stop doing that.

What's new? Well... *waggles eyebrows at Napoleon hat* For the last few weeks, and this week to come, I've taken over the library! My boss has taken some time off, so I've taken over. Not that I'm letting it go to my head or anything...

Since I'm the only library person left, I get a nice acting level 3 - this gives me the power to authorise payments, make selections and so forth. I think I got rather good quite quickly, since the journals are coming up for renewal I've surely spent a few thousand dollars already... *was really just running around Borders madly* ;) I also get my own minion assistant since this just can't be done by one person. Luckily he wanted to come back to the front somehow, plus now I can make him do all the getting up on tables to do the decorations this year ;) I may be tall, yes, but I don't do tables. :P

Plus I must say it's nice to be able to make some kind of reference and not have to go into explanations. Someone actually gets it when I say something like "hyperaccelerated on coffee like Fry"! Although, yes, I do have to go to meetings as well. Blah! :P I have no business being called a supervisor - one time in my TAFE course (this would've been after you left us Natasha) we did this exercise on where we'd fit on some kind of managerial scale. The lecturer couldn't believe my result, we were meant to get some kind of triangle, I got a line because one of my results was zero on the "make them work, NOW!" scale.

Part of this was last week going to fly the flag at a PD day forum. Luckily there's a bus (almost) directly there so I didn't have to go into the city. Some 80 people turned up *eek* (yeah, the much-trumpeted networking part was totally lost on me, even when I wasn't watching the cameras suspiciously). Anyway, the sessions themselves were interesting enough, although some are designed more for much bigger places.

Anyway, I won one of the doorprizes! Lucky last too, a $50 Borders voucher. And because I'm evil like this, I ducked away back to my seat before the big group of winners could be photographed. And I'm keeping the floating fish keyring too. :D

After the forum I bolted out to just make the bus back, and kept going to the Bullcreek Shops (so I could catch the Circleroute back home, not walk from a barren, broad and busy looking area of South Street). I found in the House of Target I'd wandered into that we actually do have the Batman Lego sets here, and bought myself a massive Batmobile - turns out to be helping me to just be thinking of making that instead of thinking of other things (to be explained next entry). They also had a copy of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries still there, so I can go on to that once I've finished the original series (my first time watching it - I'd told myself I'd get it when I could get a discount, the next week Borders sends a 40% discount for DVDs...)

Can't really think of anything else at the moment (or a couple of things, but they'll keep for another post), still trying to get used to the new times for everything since we just got the gift of daylight saving (but I'll leave that for a ranty post). Be well, all.

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Oct. 8th, 2006

11:46 pm - *brushes off the dust*

So, here I am again, after a short break of... um... longer than I intended.

Haven't been up to much this last month out of the ordinary. The most noteworthy part of the week saw me finally living up to what people have thought for years - I took Wednesday off to get a wireless card and account for my computer - people have thought for years that I've had broadband, now I've found out that we can get it here without having to tear up all the wires in the house, I spent a few days thinking about it, then finally decided yes. I've got the card in and the various bits configured, but I haven't got the nod from the ISP yet, so I'll wait until their call before setting everything up.

"Well if I must, I must. Personally I'd rather be Meryl Streep, but then, wouldn't we all?" - The Real Ghostbusters

While the techie people were messing around with my machine, I killed time (since I was given a pick-up time of 3, and it was 9.40) at the movies and in Fremantle. I just had time to get in to the early screening of The Devil Wore Prada. I chose it just because I thought it would the least likely to be chockas with kids (it's school holidays here), but I enjoyed it - the reviews I've seen afterwards rave about Meryl Streep in this, and they're right. And yes, I did compare Runway to Just Shoot Me's Blush magazine - hey, the main characters even have similar (actress') birthdays!

Stepping out into the world again and suddenly realising that I'd left my sunglasses at home, I made my way to Fremantle (ah, the ease of having a direct bus route, and getting on the one after the one that was late). There's a bookstore on South Terrace I just can't seem to walk by without popping in - if I had any actual artistic talent I'd be doomed, this place has a large bay just of folio art books. Walked around a bit (I had thought of visiting the Army Museum, but I couldn't remember where it was), then found myself pointed down the arcade from High Street to the Post Office corner (I can't remember the name of it, or find the street directory).

I had thought just to browse in the windows at the model shop, but rounded the corner past the sweet shop, and saw a much sweeter sight. Comics. Shelves thereof. New comic shop, hooray! Called The Comic Box, I found out that they'd only opened three weeks ago. And much of what was on display were older comics, stuff that one can't find a lot of anymore. I managed not to go too nuts (just the right amount ;))...
Cut for comic ramblingsCollapse )

So, that was my new favourite store in Fremantle - I wandered a little bit more before working my way back to the circlebus, to get back to my computerstore pretty much on the dot of 3, to find the computer ready and waiting to go. Picked it up, did a big shop since I had to catch a cab anyway, and now all that's left is the waiting for the go-ahead to connect.

Friday of last week saw me taking my sweet time before going into the comic shop. I had a look in Empire, and almost got out without having to exercise my wallet... "Almost", I said. ;) I got to the DVD section, and what had just arrived that day (after being on back-order for five weeks I'm told) but the second season of Veronica Mars, which has been pushed from pillar to post, and then delayed for the football finals - yeah, I was done waiting for the show to start up again, I gave in after a minute and bought it. Long weekend viewing taken care of, marathon time!

Apart from that, the long weekend did give me a chance to see just how quickly the year's passing. I took a little walk to get a few supplies, which includes a short-cut through a small bush area (nice sense of being totally alone in there). In that patch at least, the first Christmas Trees are starting to flower - Mother Nature's beaten the City of Perth to start with the decorations this year!
First decorationsCollapse )

During this last week I got a packet of photos from Mum. A while back someone put an ad in the paper that they were going to visit the war cemeteries in France, and if anyone wanted him to visit a relative's grave to let him know. Mum wrote to him, and after being delayed in his trip, we got the photos he took of Great-Great-Uncle Maurice's grave in Doullens - some wide shots and some close-ups, with and without a little flag flying.

This weekend has seen a fire in the south-east of the city, smoke haze across these southern suburbs - luckily it was all blown away today, my eyes weren't looking forward to another day of burning. The late afternoon light was red enough to make it seem like the sun was shining through cordial - was less unsettling than the dirty yellow light before that though.Red SkyCollapse )

So, that's most of the last month accounted for, apart from a couple of things I'll get to posting eventually.

Sep. 11th, 2006

12:16 am - Giraffe photos

Ok, I don't know how long until I'll be able to get a proper write-up of Friday's zoo-trip done, so until then, a little something I remembered justace would like:

Giraffes under here!Collapse )
The younger of the giraffes was really close to the viewing platform! We couldn't get to the right side though, since a school group was there.

I also had the perfect shot a bit later of the older giraffe walking while on the path to the next exhibit, but in the true form of too-smart-for-its-own-good technology, my camera had shut itself down, and it was a really that-second-or-never shot.

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Aug. 27th, 2006

11:59 pm - Six things meme taken from calliopes_pen

Rules: If you're tagged you must list 6 random facts about yourself - 3 true 3 false, so people can guess which are which. Then tag 6 people to do this meme.

I won't be tagging anyone (I'm too lazy)--if you want to do the meme and haven't already, then feel free. Also, there might be a bit of truth to some of these just to make things harder.

1. I've been in an Order that requires me to not be around "others" when eating.

2. The first time I went to the snow I only had a t-shirt on.

3. I was married for a while when I was younger.

4. I was once selected to go and recite Shakespeare to the senior teachers.

5. I won a telly without even trying for it.

6. I've been asked to help collect teachers names for my school reunion.

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