Hazel to Joan Foster on December 3 or 4, 1997

A letter sent to Joan (Hazel's sister), Ken (Joan's husband), Diane (Joan and Ken's daughter), and David (Diane's husband).

[3 or 4 December 1997]

Dear Joan & Ken,

Lovely to hear you on the phone yesterday.

Rob, Pat and Ada have gone up to the Blue Mountains today. They just phoned to say that the house is unscathed but the fires are quite close -- firemen nearby & helicopters overhead. Rob is desperate to clear away wood around the house (wood from the old demolished deck) and cut down tree saplings. 2 firemen died in the local town this week and several houses have been burnt down.

Ada and Pat are quite energetic after the long trip -- Ada giggling at obscure references and Pat walking much better after treatment to her feet and not a tissue in sight.

We'll be leaving for Melbourne about the 21st and a neighbour's mum and friends will be staying here together with a large tabby cat who appeared about 3 weeks ago and decided to live here much to the kids' delight, Rob's irritation and my relief that they no longer want a dog.

I think 2 months at Christmas time is equivalent to 2 weeks in the middle of the year. Christmas approaches so quickly. I forgot to say that we haven't posted anything to you but will be using the travellers as couriers. Your presents have been hidden as safely as they can be, given the determination of kids to sniff out parcels.

Well, Pat will be lugging wood at this moment and Ada will be pretending to.

Have a great Christmas,

All our love,

Hazel, Rob, Joshua & Zoë

P.S. Pat & Ada came to my art class yesterday. Pat did a nice black & white oil.

Ada and Pat arrived for a two-month visit at the beginning of December, just as Hazel's remission was ending. They stayed an extra two months, and then Pat returned for twelve months from April, 1998, to April, 1999, after Ken and Joan's long-planned visit in March 1997. Christmas in Melbourne did not happen, as Hazel's bone pain worsened. We had Christmas 1997 in Sydney, with Hobbes the cat, and then I took Ada and the kids down to Melbourne for a week in January. Hazel did not return to her art class, and her teacher, Graeme Inson, died in May 2000.

Hobbes the cat was hit by a car outside the house, and died soon after, during the night of January 26, 2005. As I told the kids, "Hobbes was a cat of the street: he came to us from the street, he lived on the street, and he died on the street." RIP, Hobbes. (Here is Zoë's epitaph for Hobbes.)

Last Updated 12 March 2005