Dear Wade

I’d heard a lot about you before we met. You were Katrina’s ex and everyone had talked you up as serious eye candy. I’d been told I would be impressed, but I was determined not to be. Instead, I’d hooked my thumb in your direction, curled my nose up and sighed, “So this is Wade huh? Gotta say he doesn’t live up to the hype.” Katrina laughed and later told me she’d never seen you stuck for words before.

Despite this, somehow we ended up the best of friends. It started with a game of pool at the pub, then in the blink of an eye we were out on the town at least once a week, often more – it didn’t matter if it was a night out at The Charles, multiple games of pool, or even as your plus one at family events, so long as we were there together. We were drinking partners, you and I  – you did the drinking, while I took care of the driving.

My old gunmetal grey Escort became your snooze mobile. Whether you’d had one beer or many, you’d always fall asleep on the way home, leaving me to pour you into bed. If you were staying at your Dad’s it was my job to try and keep you quiet so you didn’t wake the household. I’m not sure I always succeeded — you were a chatterbox and naturally loud even when I gave you my best librarian shhhhhhhh!

The task was harder if you were staying at your mum’s, I had to navigate the stairs.  With me being 5ft nothing, a fireman’s lift was out of the question and on more than one occasion I dragged you by the armpits up those stairs.  Even on the nights when you climbed the stairs yourself, you’d want to sit and chat every few steps making a simple staircase journey last an hour or more. But no matter where you were staying I always got you to bed, took your boots off and gave you a kiss on the cheek before leaving and locking the door behind me.

Our relationship confused many people, we were so close that those who saw us together assumed we were dating, but we never had a physical relationship. Perhaps our friendship was too important, perhaps the timing was never right. But whatever our relationship was, we brought out the best in one another. I managed to talk you out of many crazy schemes, while you taught me to be fearless.


After I moved, our lives travelled in different directions. When you called and asked me to visit you in remand, I had no hesitations. You, however,  attached a condition to my visits, if I was asked to be subjected to a strip search I was to refuse. You weren’t that important. My reply that of course I would go through with a strip search, if only to hold it over your head for the rest of your life, was met with raucous laughter. All my visits went smoothly, and I never did get those bragging rights, instead, I shared my writing dreams with you, and your challenges sent my writing in unexpected directions.

We’d been out of touch for a few years when Jarryn’s karate lessons moved to a club. Instead of watching him, I had my nose in a book when I felt eyes upon me. I looked up to see you grinning broadly at me. At the time you were working behind the bar, so from then on, instead of reading a book while Jarryn did his high kicks, I’d nurse a coke and we’d chat between customers. You were a father now and each week you’d proudly show me photos.

I never saw you again after Jarryn gave up karate, but I often thought of you through the years – I’ve never been able to listen to “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” without thinking of the night we belted out our screeching rendition at karaoke. I was sad when it was mentioned recently in passing that you had died a few years ago, and my heart broke when I learnt the circumstances surrounding your death.

Perhaps, for me, it was for best that I hadn’t paid attention to the news because I get to remember you as my friend and not as a headline. I get to remember your hair blowing in the breeze as you held your head out of my Escort window, your cheeky grin when you’d been up to something mischievous (handcuff keys delivered a week too late springs to mind!!), the many times you held my hand as we danced (or head banged in-sync) at The Charles, and so much laughter.

I’ll always think of you as my ‘drinking’ partner.


Love always,


2017 Christmas Tree Additions

Anyone familiar with my Christmas Tree Rules will recall that I usually purchase my Hallmark decorations early, with the 2016 purchase occurring in August. This year I set a new record and made my first purchases for the 2017 tree in January.

In my defence I needed the two Garfileds to complete a set I had started years ago (okay, so it wasn’t really a set just a single Garfield — but NOW it’s a set.)

See how happy my original ‘tree’ Garfield is to be reunited with his alter egos?

In August I checked out the Hallmark decorations in Target but didn’t fancy any — well none that complied with the rules anyway.

So with a little help from Grant and my credit card I completed the 2017 additions online.

2017 online additions

Grant gifted me Eeyore and the Grouch (because I’m grouchy) while the forces-of-gravity worked their magic on my credit card to ensure the Stormtrooper and Papa Smurf also arrived in my mail box.

2017 Christmas Tree

I’m offering up a whole tree pic as proof of life for the odd-looking Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower and the rule breaching skiing moose — but given they are hidden right at the very back in their usual place, I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it!

The original Christmas Tree post explaining the “rules”
2016 Christmas Tree Additions

Thank You Day 2017

This fortnight, I was fortunate to attend three special events – all of which are close to my heart.

Last week I spoke about WAYRBA (West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award) at a Library and Information Focused Training PD day for library staff on why I believe children’s choice awards are so important to encourage young people to read. In addition, for authors, a shortlisting on a children’s choice award is confirmation that their words have spoken to their target audience.

On Tuesday I attended the ‘Writing For Life 2017 Prize-giving Ceremony’ held by DonateLife WA and sponsored by DonorMate. I was one of three judges for the competition, alongside fellow SCBWI member Nadia L King and Brigid Lowry. It was a competition that I judged with both my writing hat, and as a transplant recipient.
For me, three entries stood out above the crowd. Not all of them won their categories, but all of them caused an emotional reaction – and that sometimes is more important than having a technically well written piece.
One of these, written from the perspective of a transplant recipient, contained a paragraph that perfectly summed up my own feelings. The other two were written from the perspective of a donor family member and both made me cry.

On Friday as a volunteer Role Model for Books In Homes, I spoke to the students at Majella Catholic Primary School during their Book Giving assembly about my lifelong love of books, and how I have made a career out of my love of reading, despite being told by high school guidance councillor that it simply wasn’t feasible. Thanks to the sponsor Mainfreight Australia, the students were each given three books to take home and treasure. It was an honour to be part of such a worthwhile program.

Seven years ago, the thought of having enough energy to simply attend these events, let alone speak would have been impossible. Seven years ago I was in Stage 1 Respiratory Failure and about to be listed on the transplant waitlist. Seven years ago, I could barely breathe let alone have enough spare breath to say a word or two without gasping.

At the 2016 DonateLife WA Honour Ceremony when asked what I would say to my donor family if I had the opportunity, I had this to say,
“The gift that results in a transplant is between strangers, but it is also a deeply personal gift, which makes the words thank you seem a little inadequate. It’s more than a physical gift – it also carries the opportunity to have a future, a second chance.
I will never meet or know the person who gave me this second chance, but I think about them every day.
So, to their family I would say, you made an important decision, one that made a great difference to my life and the best way I can show my gratitude is to take the best care of these wonderful lungs that you entrusted me with, to live life well and to the full.”

This past fortnight, I’ve shared my passion for both writing and reading and I hope that in some way I contributed to making a difference in someone’s life. Because making a difference fits my definition of living my life well and it’s the best way I can say Thank You.

Sunday 19th November 2017 is the national Thank You Day for Donor Families.