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9 February 2009

Family stories

We had a wonderful weekend here full of family, both old and new. On Friday night, Tricia and I went to cousin Susie's home on her brother Stephen's 55th birthday. Stephen died a few months back and as he didn't have a formal funeral, we chose that day to remember him. My uncle Hal, Stephen's dad, was there, as well as Susie's husband Nick and children, Angie and Billy. It was a good night, Susie, as usual, presented us with the most delicious meal (she is ,without a doubt, the best home cook in our family) and we talked and listened to some good music. Some of that music was Angie and Billy's brother Tom who you can listen to here. Have a listen, he is very good and this is a beautiful song. Tom is in Ireland at the moment.

Back: Billy, Angie, Billy's girfriend Zoe.
Front: Tricia, Susie and me.

I thought about family a lot over the weekend, triggered by that gathering, where we all sat outside on the deck on a perfect late summer's night with the bush surrounding us and the stars shining. Tricia and I are both early birds in the morning so we were tired and went home early. Honestly, it felt like it was about 3am when we got home, but it was only 9.45pm. LOL! Still we both went straight to bed, Hanno was already asleep, and I drifted off thinking of Stephen and how he would have been smiling down on us, happy to see us all there, and possibly surprised to see his father. They had been estranged for years. I will remember that night for a long time. RIP Stephen.

Of course, the next night was Shane and Sarndra's engagement party and wouldn't you know it, I didn't get a photo of them together. But here they are nontheless, Shane cooking, as usual, and Sarndra looking her gorgeous self, talking to some of the 50 guests.

We took Alice with us to the party. Hanno had stayed home with her the previous night as she is deaf now and becomes quite confused when left alone. Everyone made a big fuss of her and she behaved as if that was to be expected. I made her a new red bandana to wear. Here she is watching Shane cook sausages on the BBQ.

I am a very fortunate woman to have been born into this family of mine. They are all good people. It feels a bit like the changing of the guard to me now. In the past our important family gatherings were organised by our parents or grandparents, but now they are are no longer with us. Now, Tricia, Susie and I organise the gatherings and pass on the stories of our family to our children, so they can tell them to their children. It's an important part of family life, because if we don't do it, no one will. I am still thinking of the benefits and consequences of being part of my family. It's an ongoing thing and it's slow, like me, but I do know I'm a proud mother and very happy to welcome Sarndra into our family. I also love knowing that my children, Tricia's and Susie's are all similar, and interested in our family stories. I told Billy and Angie about my blog, because that is part of my story, so hello to them and to Zoe. :- )

There is a lot to be said for families, they can either make or break you. While nothing is ever perfect, generally a family will help you live to your potential and help you survive when times are tough. And they're dynamic, when they are made, they change again, new members added and old ones lost. The trick is to tell the stories to the new family members so they know where we come from and what type of people we are. The rest, I think, is up to luck and consistency.


  1. It sounds like you had such a lovely time.

  2. A very lovely family you have, Alice included. Donna J.

  3. What a lovely weekend, and thank you for sharing it with all of us. I love the photo of Alice, perhaps waiting for HER sausage? LOL!!
    Certainly it is a particular time to think of loved ones and give thanks for them, especially in light of the horrendous casualties in the Victoria bushfires. Our thoughts go out to all of those affected.

    Judy in Adelaide

  4. What a lovely family you have. Thank you for sharing it with us. Great too to see the happy couple. There are no riches on this earth that can compare with being part of a family - the bigger the better....
    Today our family had a get-together to celebrate the return of my son, daughter-in-law and our little granddaughters. After having their house burn down in Norway, they have now moved into a house here. My two sons and my daughter now all live within walking distance of each other and we are a 15 minute car drive away. Bliss....
    Good to hear too that you are all safe from fires and floods. My heart goes out to those poor people. I remember our last few days in Sydney (lived there for 13 years, but 30 years ago). Although it was midday and summer you could hardly see the sun for the thick smoke blanket round the city. Scary.
    Keep well
    Ramona K

  5. So glad you could spend time surrounded by the love and memories of family. Congrats to your son on the engagement! Changes in family are always interesting transitions. Great thoughts in your last paragraph Rhonda! Hope you are well!

  6. Am so glad you had a lovely weekend. Family is so important to me and I am so thankful that I have them. I'm excited for May as my younger brother will be retiring from the Air Force and is coming to stay the entire summer with us! We have many plans made and he can't wait to help me in the garden! Alice looks so adorable in the photos! Take care!


  7. Oh, how Alice looks like our Abner. (I'm miss him so!) I like the High Alert pose guarding the sausages. Aren't Airedales simply the greatest dogs, though a wee bit nuts.

  8. Greetings Rhonda!
    It's been a while since Iv'e commented but have been trying my best to keep up sporadically with your blog as I've had very little access to a computer for some weeks.

    It was lovely to hear about your celebrations and I so wanted to send congratulations to you on your son's the engagement, so belatedly, congratulations! It sounds like you had a great weekend in all and it was rather comforting to hear something good happening somewhere in the country! Connecting and sharing experinces as you describe surely are some of the most important times we can share with our families and friends. They create special memories and bonds we can cherish and take with us through life.

    Thankyou for your thoughts yesterday on our bushfire situation down south here. It has been an incredibly devestating weekend. This morning there are so far 108 dead. The conditions with the heat and winds are the worst I've EVER seen. Thankfully, although there were small fires in our area they were contained quickly. I'm waiting to hear from my sister's step daughter who was evacuated from Marysville. They lost everything but their lives when the fires destroyed the town. She's 23 weeks pregnant, they've heard that two of their friends are dead and are cut off from our help due to road closures and unsafe conditions, (we're the only family she has here, being from QLD). I spent the best part of yesterday in shock myself, and am anxiosly waiting until I can give her and her husband some comfort and a home here with us.

    I think the whole state will be in mourning for a while to come. I pray that we get no more days like that again this summer. Although a lot of these fires were deliberately lit the weather conditions that set the scene must surely give us pause to think of what havoc global warming is producing and where our overconsumption is leading us.

    Kindest regards always to you, Rhonda,

  9. Thank you for today's gentle comforting post Rhonda.

    Like Marilyn above, I find myself shaken this morning by the Victorian tragedy. It's so reminiscent of Katrina and so confrontational in terms of global warming and overconsumption.

    A good post to read.

  10. Thanks for sharing that moment of your life Rhonda, it touched me as I just returned from my Father's Celebration of Life a week ago. He died suddenly of cancer in early November and we were lucky that all 3 of us kids made it home in time to say goodbye...well I didn't say goodbye formally but I was there and it broke my heart.

    My Dad didn't believe inj funerals and such so he was cremated and the family,and many of his old army buddie and many of their current friends gathered Feb 1 to honour his memory and share his life story.

    More passings should have these celebrations as they really are more about the lost one than about the grief you initially feel right after a death.

    So thank you again for sharing such a personal moment...

    Janet in Canada

  11. Yes, thank you for sharing such a personal moment... Family gatherings are always a great event. And the stories you mention remind me of my own family's family folklore. It's really part of being part of that family. And trying to tell those stories to someone outside that family is a bit like trying to tell a dream... they sort of have their own set of logic. Maybe you also know what I'm talking about.
    Right now I'm alone and it's not much of a family time. One sister is studying in Latvia at the moment; father went to Lithuania as part of his job (though he's about to meet my sister there, because she visits a book fair in Vilnius); the other sister lives with her boyfriend; mum's in work... but we'll have dinner together in the evening. :-) I'm about to bake chicken for the first time in my life... wish me luck.

  12. What a beautiful post Rhonda. SO very timely too when so many Australians are being reminded by tragedy of the importance of family.

  13. Rhonda, thank you so very sincerely for sharing these happy family times. I have been smiling all through reading this post.

    On the radio here today the news from Victoria became worse every hour with the hourly news.

    It is very dry here too, yet we haven't had such extreme temperatures and winds. And rain is forecast to hit most of NZ for the rest of the week.

    Special pats to Alice, I hope she got to eat a sausage after such sterling service as the sausage guard dog. She does look hopeful yet patient in the photo you've kindly posted.

    Again, thank you for sharing, much care to you and your Family,

    Mickle in Wellington

  14. I know what you mean about now being the ones to pass on family histroy and memories. With my F.I.L gone and my M.I.L suffering from dementra I have a need to pass on the heritage of my husbands family to my children and there cousons..

  15. Though I'm not even on the same continent (I'm in Georgia in the USA), my thoughts and prayers have been with the Aussies for the past several days, and will continue to be until the situation is brought under control.

    I think the bitter cold that has ravaged my country this year is also part of a global change in the weather. Coupled with the economic climate, I think everyone is in a world of hurt, throughout the world.

  16. Such a beautiful family!
    Love the pictures.
    And you are right, telling the stories of the family past is so important, everyone needs to know where they come from, so they know where they are going.

  17. Mary Stump in N.C.February 10, 2009 2:17 am

    You have a lovely family and what a pleasure it must be to have an opportunity to share your ancestry with them. I realize in your post the other day you said you were not physically near the fires. The news we get here in the United States doesn't show the situation improving, but getting worse. The air quality there couldn't possibly be good. Please know that I pray for you each day that this will be under control soon.

  18. Hi Rhonda
    You truly have a lovely family, you are very blessed. I am glad your weekend was filled with Joy. I loved Sarndra's dress, she looked beautiful.
    I have just seen the news about the fires in south Australia, what horror some people have been through. Kevin Rudd your Primi Minister was on there talking about the types of people that have started the fires and he came across as a very genuine nice normal guy.
    I am so glad your family is safe and glad you are far enough away from the flooding also.
    Take care and hope you are having a nice week.
    Lv Steph x

  19. Thank You for sharing your gathering. Best wishes to Shane & Sarndra!! All the photo's are beautiful and very much enjoyed viewing them! Alice looks like a sweeties too! I'm glad she was able to attend. ;o)

    Blessings to all!

  20. Very nice glad that you are safe from the fires!

  21. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Catching up here. This is a lovely post! Thanks for sharing about these times that are precious to you. Love, Q

  22. Yes I think so too. The children now young adults. Most of my peers are having their grand children. Mr and I have a 11 and 7 year old. It is so important to know where they come from. It is a different thing to perfect when families are made through adoption.
    I made soap for the first time today!

  23. Thank-you for your inspiration!

    I am a mother of 7 and think you have some really great ideas.

    My email address is



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