The last few weeks have been very stressful for our family. My kids have had such a tough time. First they lost their childhood nanny. She was with them since Lily was a baby. She came into their lives at a point when they needed her and she spent the majority of their lives looking after them until she retired recently. The kids were devoted to her and rang her every Sunday.
My step dad Tom has been fighting cancer now for several years. He had so many times where we thought he could not recover, and each time he managed to rally round and keep on going. He fought such a hard battle and I think he only gave up after the scan where they broke it to him that the cancer had spread to his bones, brain and liver. Until then he had kept fighting as he thought he had a chance to beat it. Once he realised that despite all of his optimism, the many hours of chemo and treatment that he was losing the fight, I think he just ran out of energy to keep up the battle.
The girls and Josh had intended to stay in George after Jean’s funeral and have a holiday as well as attend their Dad’s 60th birthday. But when we got the call that Tom had passed we started to check for flights. I have no annual leave, sick leave or compassionate leave left from work. I took 3 weeks holiday in December so that was my annual leave. I took over 2 months of sick leave when I had my hip replacement and I took my compassionate leave after our armed break in as I was unable to function, must less work. So I knew I would not be able to go to the USA myself. Luckily the universe was watching out for us again as the girls have a few weeks off of University. I could only afford to send one of them over and as Caitlin had lived with Tom when she was in High School she was the obvious choice. Right up to the night he died Tom remembered Caitlin. He did not remember his own family but he did remember Caitlin. He really loved her like she was his own daughter. When ever she would challenge him, his response would be ‘Not on my watch!’. Which always made me laugh.
So even though we are all so full of sadness, I also have to be grateful. I am grateful that my children had so many people to love them. So many children have no one who loves them, no one to parent them or teach them right from wrong. My children were blessed with a Mother and a Father, a wonderful Step father, Jean who was at times their mother, their grandmother and sometimes just a friend, and all of their biological grandparents and Tom, who despite having no biological children turned out to be a brilliant father and grandfather.
I am picturing Tom and his mate Bob and maybe even my Dad kicking back having a beer together, out of pain, looking down on all of us, protecting us and still watching our backs.