Mum and dad

Saying Goodbye to Dad and 2020

carla coulson, dad on the beach

Dear Friends,

On the 30th November, just days after his 91st birthday my beautiful father left as he called it , ‘the land of the living’ to continue his journey with all his mates, ancestors and family in another land. 

I take great solace in the fact that I know he is in great company. 

You are never really prepared to say goodbye even when you know it’s coming.

On the 21st September 2020 I was one of the very lucky people who boarded a plane out of Charles De Gaule airport in Paris heading for Australia to spend time with my dying father and my family. I called him from the empty airport lounge in case something happened to both of us in between and I howled down the phone that ‘he did a great job as a father and I loved him dearly’. He reassured me that nothing would happen to him and I boarded the plane a blubbering mess, I prayed he would wait for me. Dad waited, he always did.

Hector coulson Carcoar with familyMy Dad, as my brother said in his eulogy ‘was the kind of man that there isn’t enough said about’. Dad saw it an honour to devote his life to his family from the day he married my mother and he was unwavering in his mission with my mum to give us a safe, secure, simple and joyous life.

Dad was a quiet man but he knew who he was, stood by his values and took great pride in passing them onto us. He found pleasure in the simple things, he tended his garden every day of his life no matter where we lived. Each time we would pull up sticks and move again to a new town, the first thing Dad would do was plant his new garden where we would always find sweet peas, petunias, pansies and array of veges.  

Mum and Dad Carla Coulson 

Mum and Dad were an undividable team no matter how hard we tried. It was this love and care that I had the joy of witnessing in the last months of Dad’s life. There was beauty in dying, in the love that my mother showed my father in the tiniest of daily rituals to ensure he was comfortable, the deepest loyalty in the promises to Dad  that he would end his last days at home with his beloved garden just a glance out  the window. 

In preparing to say goodbye, everything becomes precious, the sweet smell and taste of mangoes that Dad only wanted to eat for breakfast, the pristine white of the first magnolias that bloomed from the tree he planted in front of their  window, shared discussions with my sisters and brothers about what to do next. The hunt for fresh oysters when that’s all he wanted to eat or to track down a culinary throw back such as ‘curried prawns and rice’ when the rare request was made. 

For me, everything was an honour, to do the smallest of tasks, to place a knitted blanket over him to keep him warm as he dozed off to sleep, like he did for me at the other end of my life. The smallest of tokens for the love and care my sisters, brother and myself have been shown throughout our lives. 

hector coulson

There is so much talk about leaving a legacy, some families leave legacies of wealth and share portfolios. My father (and mother) left another kind of legacy, they worked every week of our lives to make our childhood an adventure, rich with barbecues late into the night on the beach when others may have packed it in for the day, picnics with our extended family that included card tables, flasks, eskies, fishing rods, cricket sets and our beloved family dog. Road trips around Australia in our Valiant with wide eyes and big hearts singing ‘que sera, sera’. What will be, will be. 

It’s a legacy of family and beauty, of appreciation for a perfect gardenia and the rush of pleasure it’s heavenly scent elicits, for the simple joy of being outdoors laughing our hearts out and being part of this big, beautiful world we live in. A legacy of family I see in the faces of my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters. Going through our photos cemented another legacy, a life well lived. Dad maxed out his life in his own gentle way and created so much love. 

 

Mum and dad

What remains? Love. Dad’s on another ‘plane’ now, but the love remains, so much love. I count myself as one of luckiest gals on the planet to have inherited a gentle legacy that feels large and wide, perfumed with the simple joy of a garden, an incredible family with so much gumption and echoes of laughter floating away on a windy beach. Over the past months I’ve spent so much time with my brothers & sisters, nieces and nephews, friends and family friends and it’s this fabulous tribe created by Dad and Mum that brings comfort and security. 

So on the Eve of the close of 2020, a year like no other, a year that gifted us the opportunity to tune into what is important to us, I thank you for being a valued part of my community and wish you loved times with your family and friends. 2020 has been kind to me, many wishes came true, so please don’t be sad for me, I’m filled with gratitude and thanks for all that I was able to experience and share. 

2020 has been a chance for all of us to ask ourselves the deeper questions about what’s really important to us and I hope that 2021 is the year we get to realise some of those dreams. 

Que, sera, sera (what will be, will be)

Carla x

 

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Natasha
Natasha
2 months ago

Oh Carla, I am so very sorry for your loss. I read your post in tears; what wonderful words, what a beautiful life and legacy. Your father sounds like an amazing man and I am so happy that you were able to spend time with him before he passed. Sending you lots of love and comfort. xx

Deborah
2 months ago

Such a loving, tender, heartfelt memorial to your father and one I can identify with, too. My loving, funny, hard working father has been gone eleven years and we treasure the memories of a good man. My mother gave me a Father’s Love rose bush and I have picked two blooms today to put in front of his photo.
Thankyou for sharing this lovely eulogy to your father, another good man.
Deborah

Arabella
2 months ago

What a loving & beautiful tribute💞

Kara
Kara
2 months ago

Carla, I loved reading this. Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is totally precious xxx

Stacia Wright
Stacia Wright
2 months ago

Dear Carla
91 amazing years , and what a wonderful legacy and beautiful memories your dear dad has left with you.
I can empathise with you about living overseas and getting the call to come home if you want to see dad.. The flight seems to take so long and the not knowing if you will make it is so hard,
But you did, and the precious time and love that you were able to share with your dad and the family was all that mattered.. Your dear dad waited as mine did.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of your dad.
May the memories you hold close in your heart bring your comfort in the days ahead.
Much love Stacia xx

Steph
Steph
2 months ago

Carla what a wonderful tribute to an amazing Dad. It must have been so hard and yet so easy to write and you’ve done your Dad proud. I’m so glad for you that you were able to fly back to spend such a special time with him and your family, allowing more deposits into your memory bank. He’ll travel with you into 2021. xxx

Nikki
Nikki
2 months ago

I loved every bit of that tribute ! To leave this earth and have your daughter write such a beautiful piece – isn’t that what it’s all about? I couldn’t think of anything I’d want more than my children to have the sort of memories your Dad left you with. Just beautiful

Belinda
Belinda
2 months ago

Feel honoured to share just a tiny tiny piece of your life with your father. He looks and sounds like a wonderful man who cocreated a beautiful family. Blessings to him wherever he now is, and to you Carla and your mum, who must be feeling an unspeakable loss, her life partner, and to your extended family. Xx

Melanie Gibson
Melanie Gibson
2 months ago

Beautiful words dear Carla. I’m crying as I read and my sweet dog, Scarlet has just put her paw on my arm. She’s used to this as my mum died as we went into lockdown.. your words as always give me comfort, joy, wisdom and hope. I too believe my parents are happy and well on the other plane. My mum is with her mum who died of TB when she was 1 and dad is travelling the world. Thank you for being you. Xx
Ps I managed to get your 3 books this year, some took a very long time to travel of course. So much pleasure 🤍🕊

Shanon Quinn
Shanon Quinn
2 months ago

Beautiful Carla, what an incredible legacy indeed. 💓 The joy & gratitude & appreciation of all your Dad has brought to the world, is so evident in your heartfelt words and surely lives on through you all. In often the simplest of ways. My Dad is the same ‘vintage’ as your Dad and facing his own challenges at present, such a gift in your Dad’s grace and in his joy in what really matters. Love to you and your family. Xx

Rachel
2 months ago

Carla sorry for your loss you just wrote a beautiful love letter to your dad, Thank you for sharing it with us.

Marian
Marian
2 months ago

Carla, Thank you for sharing your father’s legacy in words and pictures. I wish you sweet peas, petunias, and pansies in your garden of memories. May his memory be a blessing.

Paula Robinson
2 months ago

Carla, what a beautiful tribute to your beloved Dad… Just reading your words and seeing the pictures gave me a mini glimpse into a beautiful family – the way family really should be. The love is palpable and very moving and inspiring.
You said earlier in the year that lockdown made it clear that your next home must have a garden. I can picture you planting one and continuing your father’s legacy. As Audrey Hepburn famously said: “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
So sorry for your loss on this plane, but he’ll never be far…
A big hug and every good wish for 2021!
Paula x

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
2 months ago

A moving reflection and tribute to your Father. Your parents have given your family gifts that money can’t buy. xxx

Carole
Carole
2 months ago

So beautifully written. Such a heart-felt, touching message, reminding us of all the little things we do with our loved ones. The memories that stay with us throughout life.’
Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts, and little things like your childhood adventures, and how much your father loved gardening, and that your parents were almost inseparable.
No matter where we are in the world, knowing our family is there (somewhere) is comforting. Coming home to them is even better. It so good that you were able to do that when there’s so much unease and uncertainty in the world.
It also was living overseas when my father took ill. I made it home with less than 2 days to spare. He waited.

Lissa Foley-Hughes
2 months ago
Reply to  Carole

Dearest Carla I love you from my whole heart. Thank you for sharing your Family’s memories with us. Such beauty, love & joy pouring from your words 💕

Lissa Foley-Hughes
2 months ago

Dearest Carla I love you from my whole heart. Thank you for sharing your Family’s memories with us. Such beauty, love & joy pouring from your words 💕

Tracey Mann
2 months ago

a beautiful tribute Carla. Sending love.

Margaret
1 month ago

Reading this through tears. It stirred up, in the best of ways, all the feelings I had for my own dad who I lost 11 years ago. They were both gentlemen’s gentlemen by the sound of it Carla. So glad you made it home and had time together. Hugs to you. Thankyou for sharing. Be kind to yourself this year. xx