10 May 1948 - 14 September 1998
Subject: Hazel: One year later ...
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 11:58:47 +1100 (EETDT)
Yesterday was the day, a year ago, on which Hazel died. Zoë calls it "Mummy's Death Day." On my birthday, six months ago, Zoë asked me what we were going to do on the day. Before I could answer, she said, "I know. We'll do things that Mummy like to do and eat food that Mummy liked to eat." When I asked her what food Hazel liked to eat, Zoë was dismissive: "I don't know, Daddy, you know that!"
So I picked son and Zoë up from school at three, and the three of us went home and lit a candle for Hazel and sat in silent remembrance of her around 3:40 p.m. Later we went to Circular Quay and walked to the Opera House, after having a meal at Rossini's, a restaurant that Hazel and I used to frequent before son was born, and that the family have been eating at since the kids were very little.
Since my last email to you, a year ago, I have continued to work at the Web pages in Hazel's memory. I have not yet finished: I have not yet keyed in all the reminiscences of Hazel that you have sent in; I want to add a gallery of Hazel's paintings, including those I filmed in England during our recent trip overseas; I want to add images and perhaps clips of Hazel that I have recently received from Dov & Cathy and Connie & Roger; as foreshadowed, I'd like to add some of Hazel's written thoughts from her travel diaries and other sources.
I also plan to add some images of the churchyard at St George's, Mount Wilson, in the Blue Mountains, where Hazel's ashes are buried, at her request, among the rhododendrons, tree ferns, and Japanese maples, where snowdrops and daffodils bloom in spring, where the calls of the native Superb Blue Wren and the introduced blackbird mingle.
I have started writing notes of appreciation to those of you who wrote expressing your condolences, and will continue until I'm finished, also thanking those of you who made donations to charities in Hazel's memory.
The kids and I went overseas for twelve weeks, visiting friends and family in the U.S., Canada, Britain, and France. We'd especially like to thank Stan & Mary Anne, Steve & Nancy, Linda, John, John & Elaina, Gerry & Marica, Lindsay, Gila, Pat, Jim & Ann, Joe, Dov & Cathy for their special hospitality, and Harlan & Sarah, Jim & Sandy, Jim & Susan, Joyce & Tom, Laurent & Cristina, Pauline & Patrick, Sue, Ada, Judy, Joan & Ken, Diane & David, Sarah, Connie & Roger, Lee & Anne, David & Gail, Vivian & Rich, Darrell & Denise, Ellen & Kent, Maria & Tom, and others for their hospitality too.
In Australia, Judy & Tony, Graham & Dedee, Paul & Miriam, Erika, Michael & Denise, Pera have extended especial hospitality, and I'd also like to thank Janyne & Hugh, Andy & Alison, Mike & Wendy, Sid & Felicity, Jono & Sue, Jennifer & Ralph, Jan, John & Sue, Ruth & Leslie, Ken & Sharon, Robert & Nancy, Bob & Sally, Sue & Jeff, John & Marilyn, Christine & Tom, Trevor & Anne, John & Charlotte, Paul & Suzanne, Bill & Lisa, Anita & Jeremy, Amanda, and others for their hospitality.
A few weeks after Hazel died, I had to look for the kids' birth certificates. They were not in Hazel's filing cabinet in the bedroom, which meant that they had to be stored in the attic. Eventually they turned up in the last envelope of the last of seven boxes of Hazel's papers that were up there. In going through all the boxes, I found several things I would not soon have found otherwise (including one of the travel diaries I had no knowledge of) so that, half facetiously, I remarked to the kids that Hazel's spirit must have been with me as I rummaged in the semi-dark. "Oh," said Zoë, "I've felt Mummy's spirit with me ever since she died." A few days later, son asked me what Hazel's spirit was doing "today". "Why today?" I asked. "Well," he said, "today's Hallowe'en, when spirits are around." "But," said Zoë, "it's only naughty spirits that come out on Hallowe'en, and Mummy wasn't always naughty."
It hasn't been easy. Although half of us will outlive our partners, Hazel's death was too soon by about thirty years, and the kids were too young. I think they have taken it as well as they could have, partly due to the preparations we made while Hazel was alive. Certainly, they have continued with tennis, soccer, cricket, pottery, Cub Scouts, and piano, and both are doing well at school. Friends tell me that both have seemed much less stressed since their twelve weeks abroad.
Soon after Hazel died, Harold W. suggested that I continue my emails to you, with news of me and the children, instead of Hazel. Although I haven't burdened you with such emails, I did take up Harold's suggestion of writing, which I found helped me to deal with the pains of separation and to adjust to my new monodic status. There are echoes of these scribblings at the Web site in Hazel's memory. One thing: grief affects concentration -- I almost had two accidents while driving in the week after Hazel's death.
In times of loneliness, I have been helped by friends and family, and the roller-coaster continues. It doesn't seem a year.
Thank you all again,
Robert (for son and Zoë)
Please feel free to email me, Robert.
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Last Updated 9 October 1999