The Cowlings.

It’s been seven weeks since my brother and I took my Dad to the emergency room. Seven weeks since he said he woke up and couldn’t move his legs. Seven weeks since the doctor told us that he would be in hospital for awhile. Today I went to visit him in the ICU for the countless time. Every time I see him I ask how he’s feeling out of 10. Today he was a 6. Today was a ‘good’ day. I think the lowest he’s gotten is a 2.

Our life is very different now, the life for the Cowling family. Our time together is spent by the side of my father in the ICU, or at home discussing how Dad is going, organising who is going to see Dad, and when.

I always thought our family were quite strong. I had assumed that if and when anything like this had ever happened that we would be prepared. That we were brave and strong enough to deal with whatever God had in stall for us. There have been many battles that our family have had to fight through the years, sometimes together and sometimes individually. And this has, by far, been the most difficult.

It’s a strange thing when all of a sudden your father is no longer a part of your life the way he was. I can’t call him and talk to him on the phone like I used to. I can’t ask him if he will help us move house, or mow our lawns for us, or have a look at a problem I have with my car. When I go to family dinner I don’t see Dad there, and even though I keep thinking I see him driving in his van, he isn’t, he can’t. It’s almost as if he has died and I’m mourning his absence from my life. And yet he hasn’t died, he is very much alive, laying in a hospital bed day after day.

I have always known that my Mum and Dad have had a very special relationship. When I see my Mum, for the hundredth time, pack up her things in the morning to spend the day in the hospital I am reminded of that. I am reminded of how blessed we are to have them as parents. How blessed us children are that they can mirror to us what real love looks like.

I have hope that even though the progress of Dad’s recovery is painfully slow, and exhausting for all of us, that this will continue to bring our family closer together, and that after this is all over and my Dad walks out of that hospital, that we will rejoice and thank our incredible God for our very special family that is stronger than we had ever expected.

Olga May Cowling

Dear Nanna,

I started writing this letter to you about two weeks ago. I expected that I would have had a chance to send it to you and that you may have read it before you passed away. I never finished the letter, and you never had the chance to read it. But I decided to finish it anyway.

I wanted to write you a letter to say thank you. In reality, the exceptionally long list of things to thank you for would probably be too much for one letter, but I’ll see how I go.

Nanna, I want to thank you for all the little things that you have added to my life and to the lives of your family, these small snippets of your expression of your love for us. The countless birthday cards sent every year without fail, the coco-pops you kept in your cupboard just for us, the phone-calls, the letters, the games of trouble and of course, the gift of toothpaste at Christmas.

I want to thank you for your humour, your laughter and the way you loved people. Thank you for teaching me to value relationships and that worldly success or having lots of money are not the most valuable things in life. Thank you for rejoicing with us in the small things, a new job, or when we got our driver’s licence.

Thank you for your example of Godly faithfulness. My partners often told me that you had a difficult life. They told me that times were tough and you had lived through may hard and painful experiences. But through these many years, you endured and you taught us that God is the sustainer of life, and that He is big enough to carry us through anything. I loved your quiet confidence in Him.

Most of all Nanna, I want to thank you for showing us who Jesus is. My father (your son) is a great man of God, and I attribute much of that to you, I attribute that to the way you have mirrored to all of your children faithfulness and strength.

I feel sad that my future husband and children will never meet you but I would like to think that the example you have given to my family and I will, in at lease a small way, give them a glimpse of who you were.

I know that this letter doesn’t do justice to the remarkable woman that you were and doesn’t express my gratitude to any measure that would be adequate. But at least know that you were so very loved by all your children and their families. The hole that you left in our family, can be filled by no-one.

I am grateful that God has taken you now. I am glad that you have been re-united with Pa, the man that you loved and lived without for 19 years. And I can imagine you dancing with Jesus with an indescribable joy and just being glad that it’s all over.

Much love, always,

From Lisa, your youngest grandchild