The Circle of Life

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by

Harry Chapin

A few years ago now I wrote an article that ended up being published on Mamamia.  It was the story of the first few days after my mother’s death and the discovery of a suitcase full of things she had kept of the work of her three children, letters between her and dad, and her and my grandmother.  It was a surprise as my mother did not appear to be overly sentimental.  The article also touched on the grief my mother and father never acknowledged – the birth and death of their first baby.  You can read that article here.

The article ended with the words:

I am going to take my dad on a road trip one day to that little country town – after I have found someone who can beautify Ann’s grave.  We can go and acknowledge that perfect baby  who never lived,  and my mother’s loss. 

Well it took a few years.  Dad was not keen – not that he didn’t want to visit the grave; rather he was worried about a lengthy car trip at his age.

At New Year 2015, we were in North Queensland having celebrated Christmas with family there.  We were driving south to another holiday destination (my husband loves a road trip!), and he suggested taking the inland route instead of the coastal highway and suggested we stay overnight in Springsure to find the grave.

It was very emotional finding that tiny grave. It was well looked after and most of the children’s graves in that little country town cemetery had fences around them – almost like a small play pen.  The cemetery itself is very peaceful, and with a description from the helpful shire council the small grave was found.  The inscription was small, and, as mentioned in the article above simply had the words “Infant daughter of the Rev A.G. Fellows.  Died at birth 25 July 1954”, confirming that my mother was not acknowledged. Knowing that she never visited the grave means that she probably never knew.  I can’t begin to imagine.

The photos I sent encouraged Dad, along with stories of some of the people we visited, including their best friends from that time.  He was still unsure of a long car trip. My husband mentioned the possibility of flying to Emerald, and hiring a car.  It was on like Donkey Kong!

The years faded away in the car on the road from Emerald to Springsure – each side road was recalled as a road to a property within the bounds of his parish; bridges over creeks were named; memories of floods and in one instance getting over a flooded creek with a coffin were recalled.  Stories of country weddings The large rock known as ‘Virgin Rock’ came into view on the outskirts of Springsure.

We checked in to the hotel and as I was carrying our bags in my phone rang – it was sister but I said I would call her back. Once a cup of tea had been made I returned that call.  I wish I had taken it earlier.  It was a call to announce the birth of her first grandchild, a little girl. Dad’s first great-grandchild.

We set off for the cemetery almost straight away. It didn’t take long to find Ann’s tiny grave.  I had alerted the parish priest that we would be visiting and someone had painted the little iron fence, and left flowers at the grave.  We stood there, silent momentarily, and  then 60 years of hidden grief for my father suddenly appeared and he cried, leaning in to my shoulder. He sobbed as if it had happened the day before.  But he then stood up straight,put his shoulders back and asked me to pray with him  He prayed for Ann and for my mother; that they were now united.  And he then also gave thanks to God for the safe arrival of his great-granddaughter that very day.  The circle of life. Full circle.  Grieving the loss of a child while celebrating the birth of another. My niece’s arrival into the world could not have come at a better time.

It was a wonderful few days – the local community in Springsure and Rolleston nearby came out in force for morning teas, and Dad was able to catch up with many old friends, including the couple who were his first wedding in the town.

I still cannot imagine my parents’ grief all those years ago; nor the years of grief that followed.  But I am so glad my father can now speak of it; and that he was able to see his daughter’s grave again.

Springsure

rolleston

5 thoughts on “The Circle of Life

  1. I remember so vividly your Mum visiting after Maddy was born and we talked about babies. How could it be right for her not be acknowledged? I had to stifle my sobs when I read that, just broke my heart for her. Why does another choose how we should or should not grieve? I say scream if you must if the pain is unbearable just scream!

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  2. Pingback: My Father’s Gifts | Looking After Dad

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