Remember to Answer Their Questions

The boy requested instant noodles. Lord only knows where he got the idea from. “Which ones?” Poppa asked. “These ones are 99 cents. Those ones are $2.30.”

“What’s the difference?” Mr 5 inquired.

When I arrived to pick up Ollie from Poppa’s place later that afternoon, they were both at the table, with two steaming pots of noodles in front of them. One pot was plain-pack, the other an ironically unidentifiable name brand. They had compared the contents of the flavour sachets, and were conducting a taste test worthy of a 3-star sommelier. Ollie was quick to point out that both pottles contained a “foldy fork”.

“So” said Poppa. “What’s the difference?”

Ollie’s eyes swivelled up and left, indicating deep thought. “We-eeell”, he said in trademark singsong, “I thought the one with pictures would be better, but they taste the same.” The conclusion was obvious. “The pictures must cost a lot, but I don’t think they’re worth it.” He nodded sagely to himself.

I think it was about three months later that Dad passed away. It’s been four months since then. In those four months I’ve never answered Ollie with “just because”, or “I don’t know”. And I hope I never do again.

Miss you Dad.

Life, Death, and Other Opposites

The morning after my father died, the NZ Herald had this article on their front page. The first signs of Spring – cherry blossoms, daffodils – have always brought a smile to my face. I smiled at the image, and then … well … didn’t smile.

Spring is a wonderful metaphor for what we’ve been going through these last couple of weeks. Our gorgeous new baby girl arrived one week, almost to the hour, after Dad died. The timing, while far too early for Wallace, was logistically perfect. Dad always had lists and calendars. Bookings and management – everything organised to a tee. He was the same in his death: the drinks trolley rolled past his hospice room at 5pm. We had time to charge our glasses, and then he slipped away gently at 6:15pm. Yes, the drinks trolley. St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice is a wondrous place. Part hotel, part hospital, and completely caring.

Ollie and AmelieSo with the arrival of Amelie, it will truly be springtime in the Fleming-Gracewood household. The end of an unusually cold winter. The closing of one chapter and the opening of another. Spring also marks the transition from one extreme to another. Have you ever walked on a beach in winter, looking at the icy grey sea, and imagined diving in? Isn’t it weird that that same sea is so incredibly inviting on a hot summer day?

Those summer days are made all the more wonderful because we remember the frosty winter mornings.

Without cold, we wouldn’t know what warmth is.

Without death, we wouldn’t know what life is. Continue reading “Life, Death, and Other Opposites”