John Marsden Writing Topic #592

Write a series of letters between you and someone who’s died**

For this writing topic, I have chosen to write a series of letters to Judith Ann Loveday (Nan). She was my paternal grandmother and she died twelve years ago from cancer. I felt the need to complete and publish this writing topic today, as today marks what would have been her 80th birthday. My interpretation of this writing topic was for me to write letters to her but not to hear back from her, I thought that would be more poignant and have a higher emotional effect.

 

Letters to Nan

August 2nd 2005

Dear Nan,

How has your first year in Heaven been? How are your parents? How’s Aunty Trish? I bet you couldn’t wait to see her. I can’t imagine what it must be like to bury your own kid.  What’s Heaven like?

You have missed out on SO much this year. My Nanna (Mum’s Mum) died five months after you, although I suspect you would already know that, have you seen her up there? The biggest thing you missed is Mum leaving Dad for a couple of months. She’s only just come back, they were fighting every night to the point that I would hate going home.

I remember one night when I started to do the dishes and they got into the regular fights again and I went outside because I’d had enough, Nath came out a few moments later in tears, Mum and Dad kept fighting as if we weren’t there. Mum came out probably about a half hour later and basically asked us “how can you expect me to put up with it?” or something like that. I finally fought back and asked her “how can you expect us to put up with something like this?” She told us to come inside as she was worried the neighbours heard us, which made me angrier at her than I had ever been. I said to her “we’re standing out here in the cold crying and you’re worried about what the neighbours might think!”

When I was told she was coming back, I honestly didn’t know whether to believe her or whether I should be happy about it. She threw our lives upside down and I didn’t want to be happy or get my hopes up. Please give me a sign that she will stay.

Just before Mum left, we all went up to Brisbane and saw Aunty Cath, Uncle Mark and Scott. We had so much fun, it’s the longest holiday we’ve ever taken and I actually went on a plane for the first time! It was awesome! It was great to see them all and Brisbane is hot but great.

 

I’ll leave it here for now, I don’t have anything else to say.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

September 19th 2006

Happy 70th Birthday Nan!

I wish you were here and I could celebrate with you. How did you feel about just missing your 68th birthday, let alone your 70th? What are birthdays like in Heaven?

Anyway, I hope you’re having an awesome day up there!

Lots of Love.

Rach.

***

August 2nd 2007

Dear Nan,

Is Heaven still good to you? Three years up there, you should be settled by now.

I got my L’s earlier this year, can you believe it, me on the road! Mum gave me my very first lesson out near Aunty Carol’s. To tell you the truth I was quite reluctant to get in the car and start driving, I don’t why but I was so scared. Dad gave me a lesson out at Estella and he hasn’t given me one since, he made me cry because I couldn’t get it right straight away and he started yelling at me. How unfair is that!? He’s had his licence over twenty years, I’ve had mine for practically twenty minutes! What was he like when he was learning how to drive?

School’s fine, I’m in year 11 now, a senior! Only another year and I’m done with school forever. High school has gone by so quickly, but I’ll be glad when it’s over. I’m a Peer Mediator, which means I talk to kids who fill out bullying forms and try to reach a resolution. I was so shocked when I was picked but I’ve been enjoying trying to help out, hopefully I’m actually helping.

I’ve finally got braces, they were put on last month. I’ve had an expansion device in there for a little while but it should be going soon. Mum tells me that my expansion device is to expand my jaw, my braces will obviously make my teeth straight. Brushing my teeth is really hard, Dr Saggers keeps yelling at me at every appointment. I’d like to see him try to brush his teeth with braces on! Hopefully next year I’ll be able to tell you what my straight teeth will actually look like.

Pop Loveday has become part of our lives now, I don’t know why, out of the blue Dad told us that he had been talking to him and then started to bring him around. I’m glad you’re not around to see him, although I don’t think he’d want to be around when you are anyway. Knowing some things about him, especially how he treated you, I can’t love him, I won’t. I’m nice to him for Dad’s sake.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2008

Dear Nan,

Another year—another year of me in braces (still, although I’m told I haven’t got long to go), another year of me in school (not long to go there either) and another year of you in Heaven.

I’m in year 12 now and the final exams are not far away. I’m lucky that Mum and Dad only want me to try my best and aren’t the type of parents who make me feel like a failure for getting a B or a Band 4. I haven’t seen or heard of anyone elses’ parents who are like that, but I’m sure they would be out there somewhere. I’m not bothering with studying for the final exams, if I haven’t absorbed the material by now, I’m never going to.

I’m 18, I’m officially an adult now! Can you believe it! I had a big dinner at the William Farrer and wore this black halter dress. I didn’t wear a bra because it would have ruined the strapped look of the dress, which did worry me. Mum, Nath, Mum’s workmate, Jarrod, and I went out to a few pubs. Apparently a few guys asked Mum about me, supposedly to hit on me and she deemed them too old, which pissed me off because I still don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t know why Mum keeps drinking and going out to pubs, she’s no party animal, but it’s a little bit sad, she’s too old.

A few months from now I’ll be out of school and in the ‘real world’. I’m starting to believe it’s not as scary as some adults have lead me to believe. I’m not going to uni straight away, after 12/13 years in a classroom, I need a break. I got a job at Woolies last October, I want to try working full-time and earning some real money.

Wish me luck for my final exams!

 

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2009

Dear Nan,

I can’t believe it’s been five years, half a decade that I’ve lived without you. I’m wearing the necklace and ring you left for me today. I wanted to lay some flowers on your grave so Dad took me, I tried to ask him how he felt living without you, he never gave me a real answer.

I’ve had some health problems this year, I had a little fainting spell at work a couple of months ago. I ended up going to the hospital for a few hours and taking a week off work. I also had my heart and kidneys tested, the doctor’s trying to figure out why my blood pressure’s high at 19. She’s wasting her time, it’s genetic, thanks for that by the way. I’ve been told I get it from Dad, who in turn got the crappy gene from you.

I actually did some writing in my week off, which lead me to make the decision to go to uni and studying creative writing, journalism or possibly both. I’m currently putting my admissions stuff together now.

After taking my sweet time—over two years and 10 driving lessons, I finally got my red P’s. My driving instructor told me she thought I failed as soon as the test finished, I wanted to say “ha ha!” when the tester told me I had passed. I love my licence photo and being able to drive on my own, Mum and Dad’s car is getting a good work out!

My gap year is working full-time, how boring! Is this what being an adult is actually like?

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2010

Dear Nan,

Well my life has completely changed since last year. I’m in Wollongong now, I got an offer to do a double degree in BOTH creative writing and journalism! I’m loving my life, I’m living in my own dorm room, I’ve got great friends, I love my classes, I’m so much happier than I was a year ago!

Living in student accommodation took some getting used to, I’m currently living with three guys and another girl. They’re really nice and considerate, they don’t party too much. The partying throughout the accommodation is something that’s really hard to live with, especially since I’m not into partying or the shitty bass music that everyone feels the need to play.

I’ve finally found some kindred souls in my creative writing classmates, back at home, even in school, I could never find someone who loved writing as much as I do. I really couldn’t be happier.

I’m not sure how I feel about my journalism degree as I’m only doing one subject per semester, give me a few years and I’ll have more of an idea. I’m not loving youth allowance, but at least I don’t have to juggle uni and jobs.

Monique and Fuat got married a few months back! The wedding day was long but fun, Monique looked so beautiful, you would have been so proud!

Mum’s lost a lot of weight over the last year, she’s getting sick of getting passive-aggressive, back handed compliments.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now, talk soon.

 

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2011

Dear Nan,

Well Pop Loveday died a few months back, I’m wondering if he did end up going to Heaven or in the ‘other direction.’ I didn’t hate him and I thought it was sad that he died so suddenly and unexpectedly, but I didn’t feel sad, is that wrong? I couldn’t love him because of the way he treated you, but I don’t want him to go to Hell. If he did get into Heaven, I wonder what he’s up to?

Boy, our side of the family really surprised me, especially the way in which they treated Dad when it all happened. I won’t name any names, but I’ll tell you this, they certainly won’t be a part of our lives again. I couldn’t believe they would act like that, one of my ‘beloved aunts’ actually bitched about me behind my back on Facebook, so much for love. I wonder how differently everything would have turned out if you had been here? Would you have made them all (including Dad) sit down together and work things out/reconcile? I would have loved to have known your thoughts on the matter.

Pop Loveday’s death isn’t the only one I’ve experienced this year, a friend of mine, George Matchett died suddenly and unexpectedly too. He was really nice, one of the first friends I made when I moved to Wollongong. I couldn’t believe it at first, it didn’t feel real. When Campus East texted me about a ‘critical incident’ his death was the last thing that I would have guessed. One of my friends told me and the Campus East RA confirmed it, apparently one of my friends, Lisha, and my roommate from last year were looking for me…that was so sweet. I’ve never experienced anyone my age dying. His funeral was the biggest one I’ve ever been to and I can’t believe I forgot to bring tissues! I know George will be in Heaven, if you see him, can you let him know that I think about him all the time and I miss him?

I turned 21 last month, I had a nice but tame celebration with my other relatives in Wagga.

I’ll be so happy when this year ends, not just because it’s been a shitty one, but I’m really not loving living with all girls, especially these ones, they’re slobby!

 

Talk soon.

 

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2012

Dear Nan,

How’s Heaven going? I’ve got another edition to Heaven for you, Pop (Mum’s Mum) died a couple of months ago. Have you seen him? Can you say hello for me? Are there cliques in Heaven?

I really hope that he’s with Nanna, I think he might be, Mum told me she had a dream where Nanna came to see her and told her not to worry because he’s with her. I like that thought, someone there waiting for you. Will you wait for me when my time comes?

After my experience with the slobby girls last year, I’m living at a new uni accommodation, Marketview. It’s the converted IBIS motel, so I have my own room (no roommates), a queen bed and my own bathroom—it’s awesome! Dad took one look at it and said it was worth the extra money per year.

I’ve had my first operation this year, well procedure is the more accurate team. A Colonoscopy of all things! I wouldn’t wish those on my worst enemy! I had to reduce my eating, eat no solids at all, then eat nothing and drink bloody awful laxatives filled with citric acid! To tell you the truth, I was a little scared because I didn’t know what to expect with anaesthetic and losing consciousness. Luckily everything went well and the haemorrhoid banding felt like I had grapes in my bottom (I’m sorry for the mental image). Were you ever scared when you had operations?

This year I’ll be finishing my creative writing degree and next year, I’ll be focusing on my journalism degree in full, that should be interesting.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2013

Dear Nan,

You’ll never believe this, but this year has been the best year of my life!

I’ve had a few pieces of writing published for the first time in two years and I’m working as a writer now! I had an interview for an internship with a marketing company in Sydney and didn’t hear anything for ages, I emailed them to ask if my application was successful and they offered me a freelance writing job! I write summaries of news articles focusing on key words for them and get paid $7 a piece! I love it! I actually have a business now, my business name is Loveday Writing! Do you love it?

I’m also doing really well at uni, I got great marks last session. I actually did first, second and third year journalism subjects last session. It was so funny seeing the first years pale as a ghost on the first day, I cruelly came up to them with a smile on my face and asked them if they were pumped. I told them to take a breath, the first day is all about intros and they will be fine. I felt like a senior in high school in that moment.

But by far, a major part of my happiness this year has come from my boyfriend. We met online in December and we started dating in March. I never thought I’d have a real boyfriend who actually wanted a real relationship with me, let alone that I could be so happy. I only see him once a week because he has to work long hours, which sucks, but we do have good times together. That being said, things haven’t been the same lately, something seems to have changed in him and I don’t know why. I’m hoping it’s just a rough patch or the honeymoon period has worn off. We haven’t said ‘I love you’ to each other, I’d rather he say it first, maybe it’s silly, but I’d like it if a man said it to me first. He met Mum, Dad and Nath at my birthday dinner, which went well. I think you would have liked him.

I had my first operation, for real, in February. I’ve had heaps of trouble with my right ankle, it would constantly swell up to the size of a tennis ball for no reason and I had to wear a compression bandage for most of last year. I found out that I have an extra bone that is causing trouble, including swelling and loss of mobility. I had the bone taken out and an arthroscope. I have two little ‘x’ scars on the top of my foot and a long scar below my ankle. I was in a cast for two weeks and it was hard getting around on crutches and trying to walk normally again. I don’t know how people who break or lose their legs do it.

By the way, I got my full licence in December! It only took me four goes, I kept failing the hazard perception part of the test, which didn’t surprise Mum (ha ha!). I was disappointed to learn that I can’t smile in licence photos anymore, especially since I was so happy I nearly hugged the guy sitting next to me, while I was waiting for my licence to be printed. Now I’m stuck with a murderface as part of my ID for five years.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2014

Dear Nan,

I can’t believe this, but it’s been ten years that you’ve been gone. Over the years, I’ve constantly wondered how differently my life would be if you had been here when Nanna died, when Mum left Dad, when I finished high school, when I first learnt how to drive, when I got the news I was accepted into uni…..everything! I also wonder what your life might have been like if you ended up going into remission again and if you lived to become a great-grandmother.

I was so devastated when you died, your loss was the first one I had ever experienced, knowing that it was coming didn’t make it any easier. I’ll never forget your last words to me, they weren’t profound, they were devastating and showed how far you had deteriorated, but I’ll always love you no matter what.

This year is my last year of uni, I can’t believe how fast the last five years have gone by, let alone how much uni has changed my life for the better. That being said, I’m kind of feeling over it, especially living on accommodation. I’m looking forward to the next chapter. If you had the chance, would you have gone to uni?

I hope Heaven exists and we get to see each other again, but I hope that day is far, far away. I also hope that I became the woman that you wanted me to be.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

August 2nd 2015

Dear Nan,

So this year I officially became a grown up. I got a full-time job last September, I got my own place (a real unit) a month after that, I pay my own rent, bills, health insurance—I’m officially financially independent. I think the first major lesson I’ve learnt as a grown up is that being one is not all it’s cracked up to be.

My job is a combination of administration and website & social media work. So I get to incorporate some of the skills I picked up at uni, as well as gain some more. It’s in Sydney, which you know I hate, but at least I can easily commute on the trains.

I love my unit, it’s two bedrooms, I have my own laundry, it’s in the same street as the train station and the most important parts…I have plenty of space and it’s in a quiet neighbourhood.

I didn’t tell you in my last letter, but the relationship with the man I told you about a couple of years ago didn’t work out. It took me a while to move on from it, but I met someone earlier this year…only for that not to work out either, we tried being friends and I thought he was a real friend, only to learn a couple of weeks ago that he really wasn’t. I’m still upset about it. I don’t know why men say they’re happy with certain things, only to bail out at the earliest convenience or when someone else comes into the picture and apparently they’re more important. I question why I bother sometimes.

I’ve got an expo to attend for work in a couple of weeks, I’m really nervous about it, but it will be interesting. I can’t believe I’ve been in my job for almost a year.

I’ve got nothing else to say at the moment, another lesson I’ve learnt as a grown up is that I’ve become really boring like everyone else.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

***

September 19th 2016

Dear Nan,

Happy 80th Birthday! I wish you were here, I wonder what you would have been like and how you would have celebrated the big 8-0?

I’m moving into a new unit in a few weeks….only a few doors down from where I am now! I honestly didn’t think I would be approved because there were a lot of people, especially couples, at the open inspection. Moving will be a lot easier, Dad and Nath are coming up to help me move, Mum’s not because she just had an operation. Hopefully it will all go well and we won’t want to kill each other. I’ve realised that I don’t want to rent and go through this process forever, so once I get my bond back (hopefully all of it), I’ll be putting it in a term deposit to save for a house.

I’ve become more financially independent over the last year or so—I’ve signed up to phone and internet plans (best financial decision ever), I’ve never missed rent or electricity bill payments and I’ve been making small payments off my HECS debt.

In all honesty, as much as I’m proud of myself for being able to stay in my job for two years and having no real financial problems, I don’t feel like a young woman. Working full-time without many days off, most of my money going towards all my bills and commuting 15 hours a week on top of 40 hours of work, makes me feel 20 years older than I actually am.

I do wonder sometimes whether being totally responsible was the right path to go down and whether I should relax and travel more like some of my friends. In all honesty, I’m jealous of some of my friends, every time I log into Facebook someone’s either bragging about their travels or getting engaged. I honestly thought I would have been married and lived more of a life by now. Maybe that’s something I can work on, once I’ve settled in my new unit.

I’m officially closer to 30 than 20, now I’m actually starting to feel like I’m getting older. Hopefully I don’t reach 80 too quickly.

 

Talk soon.

Love Rach.

 

 

**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.

 

 

nathan-nanny-loveday-rachel-on-nannys-birthday-september-1997-x-1Nath, Nan and I on Nan’s birthday (1997).

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