Month 1 – Bravery, courage – call it what you will and hackneyed words they may be, but the world, in the past few days, saw it in spades with the brave female teachers in a little Connecticut school who ran towards a crazed gunman, instead of away from, to protect the lives of those in their care. War, of course, epitomises valour, whether it be ‘going over the top’ into a bee swarm of machine gun bullets, or slogging your way up a New Guinea track, wondering if the next soggy step will be your last, and, after all this time, we’re still at it, killing fellow humans. Sport sees ‘heroism’ overused to buggery, but that is what it takes to run back with the flight of the Sherrin, knowingly, into the thump of an oncoming pack. Is it courage or madness to kit up again and face the music after your jaw has been shattered by a Bob Willis bouncer in pre-helmet days? It takes guts to have a baby after the horrendous injuries of an Indonesian air craft crash, just as it does to confront a misogynist thug beating up on his girlfriend, even if once upon a time you were a footy legend. This year we have seen quieter kinds of courage. There was Bryce Courtney toiling against the ultimate deadline to produce another opus, and veteran actress Helen Hunt prepared to bare all so starkly, unflinchingly because she believed a film project mattered. And I saw quiet bravery in my world in 2012. Battling a pregnancy that simply would not conform to normal, what should have been a time of joy and expectation became a test of will and determination for my beautiful daughter. For reasons she could not control, she daily batted away incredible discomfort, which all too often morphed into pain, to give the tiny person growing in her womb the best possible chance for a safe entry into the world. She had to contend with the mental anguish of the possibility that at any time her fortitude would result in despair, but on she went, day after day of labour, in the real sense. Assisted by professionals who gave and kept on giving, and a loving man who wanted to but could not absorb some of it for her, she made it through, and as a result we have Tessa Tiger, in her own way as courageous and brave as her mother. Over the ensuing months this little mite has progressed from humidicrib to a vibrant, healthy six-month old, passing through those amazing wonder weeks and having her daily antics recorded for the world in the blog of her devoted, delighted mother. Thank you Kate for the wonder that is Tessa.
Month 2 – And then came Little Ford Man, the Boy of the Wonder Weeks, who peers out of our computer screen at me each morning with those eyes that sparkle with the joy of it all; eyes that bear tidings of the impishness to come. He will be raised in a bucolic world amongst the teachings of nature, surrounded by ferrets, goats, shed cats and ‘look at me’ dogs. He’ll receive devoted love from a mum and dad building a mini paradise for him under the flanks of Mount Roland. He will have a vivacious and ever generous grandmother to adore, who will in turn adore him, as is her nature. Thank you Ilsa for the wonder that is Brynner.
Month 3 – I have now, finally, all I could wish for, sharing a house, complete with sunny nook and blue room, with that most caring and loving grandmother, and perfect life partner to boot.
Month 4 – My son has a heart that is as generous as the Himalayas are high and 2012 saw him with a new partner. I am sensing quietude about him these days, an even deeper loveliness of character. As we oldsters know from experience, as men approach thirty there comes a realisation that life is for living and not attacking apace, as is the case of more tender years when limits are to be tested. I hope Richard will always attack a challenge for he is not the type who will sit still ‘and smell the roses’ like his dad, and with this lovely, striking young woman by his side the best is yet to come. He has made my own heart zing so often.
Month 5 – In all years mothers loom large. My own, at something past eighty, keeps on keeping on, tending to her ever increasing brood, refusing to allow the years to diminish in any way what she is prepared to do for those she has immense pride in. Mothers make incredible sacrifices for their broods, and there is one temporarily in Melbourne giving all for her two vibrant boys who have both needed new hearts. Jenni also has that immense courage I wrote of earlier – she is beautiful, amazing and my friend.
Month 6 – I am blessed with other friends, both long standing and newish, some on my island, some over the water. These cherished people enhance my life in so many ways through wit, humour, manly deeds, encouragement and the sharing of good tucker as well as drinks that fizz.
Month 7 – A black man was re-elected in the world’s most powerful country. Will he give us hope that little children will never have to live in fear of being slaughtered in their places of schooling? He is a good man – I know he’ll do his best.
Month 8 – And still they came this year – gorgeous books, films and music CDs to continue to light up my life.
Month 9 – That the Rolling Stones have creaked out once more gives hope for all of us of a certain age.
Month 10 – In 2012 we gave thanks that Jimmy Little lived amongst us for so long, and that Archie Roach still does.
Month 11 – This year my football team almost made it, but they will surge again in 2013. Go Hawks!
Month 12 – I am still here after all these years, still loved despite my faults, failings and foibles. And I am still blissfully relishing a wonderful life on a little, exquisitely beautiful island in the southern seas.