Category: Memory Books

A Christmas Story (to be read aloud)

By , November 30, 2011 10:29 pm

T ‘was the night before Christmas

And in Little Bethlehem

Mary’s labour had commenced

“Thank God” she said, “Amen”.

 

T ‘was the night before Christmas

And Mary’s labour had begun

“I’m glad I’m off that donkey now,

My bottom is quite numb!”

 

There was no room inside the Inn

Nor motel in sight,

“Looks like it’s to the stables then,”

And she pushed with all her might.

 

“Though I’d rather have a Boothville Birth,

I’ve heard they’re really neat,

And after babe’s Leboyer birth

We’d stay in the family suite.”

 

“I’d rather have a Boothville Birth

And Joe can cut the cord.

I’d rather have a Boothville Birth,

After all, it IS the Lord!”

 

“Next time I’ll have a Boothville Birth

(My last midwife was a cow!)

I’ll join the Auxiliary

And tell my doctor to book me in,

Right now!”

 

“I’ll subscribe to the newsletter

And tour friends on Open Day

Oh thank God for Boothville babies,

Hip Hip my Lord- HURRAY!

 

(Written by Patty Beecham with tongue firmly in cheek November 1990)

The Spirit of Boothville

By , November 30, 2011 10:14 pm

Many of you already know me. You call me atmosphere. What you feel is the patina of a thousand families, the shared tradition of birth, the dignity, the feelings that are right, the choices you have made.

Recently I have felt your fears, when it was thought my spirit might die, but your commitment has made me stronger. I have seen the coming of many generations and now I will see your children’s children.

Mothers, I have heard your birth song, a gathering of unknown forces and Pure Creation. Whilst you sleep within my walls I share the dreams of your sons and daughters.

I have felt your precious newborn shake with the fresh delight of life, of first drawn breath, of newness.

I know their thoughts, I cherish their first memories.

They are safe.

Parents, I have grown stronger watching your struggles. Your relationship has now changed forever – a new life, a child, your family.

I wish you all continued strength, understanding and peace within.

Rejoice!

 

(Written by Patty Beecham May 1990)

Patty Beecham Productions – Showreel

By , July 11, 2011 11:34 am

Helping you celebrate your life and milestones!

Love is in the air! :)

By , June 23, 2011 10:04 pm

I have been working on a large Wedding Montage for Monique and Michael, and I’d like to share (with their permission) their Engagement photos.
Having watched both of them ‘grow up’ under on my computer, I can see they are so well matched and delighted in each other’s company. Enjoy, let’s celebrate their love and happiness.

A mourning of winter sun.

By , June 22, 2011 7:59 am

It’s been two years today since I found him, lying with his face to the sun.

A father's note to his son

He was still warm, probably from the streaming yellow winter sunshine filling his bedroom with a golden light. He wore grey trousers and a Singlet with an unbuttoned shirt over it. On his feet were tattered slip-ons, and he had a happy, relaxed attitude; his left arm placed loosely across his chest in a comfortable position. One imagines he simply lay on his bed to wait and rest. And so he did.

I had been making a surprise video compilation for a friend of ours, to celebrate his impending 50th birthday. Driving around Brisbane over a few weeks to video record various family members and friends, I had spoken to his elderly father only the day before, to ask permission to call around and video his birthday message for his son. He was excited, and insisted he also buy a birthday card for his youngest boy. “I must write him a message!” he laughed, “Come tomorrow, I’ll even unlock the outside gate for you”.

“But you sound so good” I bargained, “why don’t I call around now, it will only take 5 minutes?”

“Tomorrow,” he insisted, “tomorrow I’ll unlock the front gate” he chirped. Having an elderly mother I know how important it is to grab them whilst they are fresh and vibrant, but it was no good, his insistence that I arrive at 9am tomorrow stood firm.

So there I was standing at my friend’s father’s old home, only one block from my own house, knocking on his front door. Sure enough, the front gate had been unlocked and opened. Grinning to myself, I called out. “Hello? Yoo-hoo?” but there was no response, no cheery reply.

Bored, I take photos of his gate, the letterbox, and some flowers.

I wait. A small black bird flies around. Not a crow, not a magpie or peewee, just a small black bird. I take more images.

More knocking. How odd. Perhaps he went to the bathroom? Perhaps he is out the back? I wandered around; knocking on outside walls (is he deaf?) banging on the back kitchen door, peering through windows to an old house, noting the plastic flowers in vases, a statue of Jesus standing in blue and white robes in the far corner of the lounge room, and pictures of family and grandchildren, but no sign of the old man.

Eventually, I ring the other son, the one I had recorded the day before. “I think you’d better come, he’s obviously been up, but now there is no sign of him anywhere, perhaps he’s fallen over?”

Thirty minutes later the eldest son arrives, flustered. He goes into the front room first, stops, and turns to me. Gesturing for me to approach the bedroom, he stands there with his face slumped and his arms hanging down.

He died with his face to the sun. On the chair beside the single, high iron bed, there’s a note.

“When the days make you frown
because they are all the same,
and it’s pouring with rain,
I hope you look back, smile at your thoughts, and be glad remembering
just what a good birthday you had.”
it reads, a shaky hand determined to show his youngest how much he meant to the old man.

Asking permission to take some images, I photograph the note, and a couple of quick pics of the room, in case there is an inquiry. I wait with the son until the Police arrive, answer some questions, and then I drive home. Such a beautiful day for death.

In a way it was a privilege to be there to find him quickly; with the winters sun on his face.

Rest now, in peace.

Here is the final video: Colin is a fine karaoke singer, so I thought it only natural we should sing to him! It took a lot of phone calls to Cairns, Hobart, and driving all over Brisbane, but I was happy with the results, enjoy.

Today arrives. Funeral day.

By , April 21, 2011 9:23 am

They touch her head when they hug her, rubbing her short cropped hair with their stubby men’s fingers.

They hug with such intimacy and emotion that I feel like an intruder, watching. Eventually they release their hold, pull apart and look each other straight in the eye, and repeat the embrace. It’s like they want to climb into her skin, with grief and love.

Talk about a transfer of energy! So powerful to witness.

With each friend and mateship embrace, I can see Ann’s back grow straighter, as if they are feeding her with their own strength.

It’s working, Ann’s face is red-eyed and tearful, but her smile is straight and genuine, her stance strong and hopeful, her body, ready for the next assault of emotions, whatever they may be.
~~~
I know her as Ann Marie. A couple of weeks ago she called me Pat. No, I corrected her, it’s Patty, now. I like to be called just Ann, she replied. So just Ann it was.

At the funeral, meeting her friends, they call her Annie, not Ann. It’s a friendly affectionate name, borne over three decades of card-playing, late night talks on the dark verandas, line-dancing evenings, and many, shared holidays.

Annie.

She smiles and grins with delight in their company. Old friendships are like our favourite jeans, we can slip them on and immediately feel at home where we belong. She belongs in these arms of company that surround her today. Thanks for being my friend Ann’s friend, your friend Annie’s mate.
~~~
Driving to the Nambour funeral, I pass country I haven’t driven through for years, not since the kids were little, and only then, some. Bli Bli castle, sitting proudly on the hill, boasting ‘Opera in the Castle” coming soon. It’s up for sale, looking for not only a buyer, but some loving. Low lying cane fields sit in puddles of rainwater; the country had had torrential downpours here overnight, and the cane looks tired and fed up.

Mentally I run my hand over the tops of the grass as I drive past, windows up, singing.
~~~
After introducing myself to Dean, the Funeral Director, we both enter the Chapel. Ann has requested I photograph Colin, and so I shall. There is to be a viewing before the Service but I want to film him now, quietly, by myself.

Dean removes the casket lid and places it upright, standing to one side.

Hello Colin, I say softly, and wait for Dean to leave us.

He lays there, a smile on his large ruddy face. He’s holding a photograph of a card with a smiling woman on it. I wonder if this is his Irish friend. I raise my camera, and begin.

Really, he could be sleeping. I could almost shake him awake, with a cheery you-hoo!

Click.

His hands. Click.

His face. Click.

His beautiful Funeral corsage of orange flowers: happy geraniums, thoughtful, elegant white lilies, sweet, dear little orange roses, sophisticated white orchids, and simple white daisies. Click.

An orange and black Go Tigers! Flag is placed on the casket, it’s his wish.

I place my white ceramic box of his favourite yellow roses near his casket. The card reads: To my dear friend Ann’s gentle man, Rest in Peace now. Be still, my Soul, Patty.
~~~
When I arrive at Ann’s home, I am greeted by the familiar faces of her good friends from the Hunter Valley. They have been staying with her for the past few days, I am so grateful to them, and very pleased for her.

Cups of tea, buttered hot cross buns, chat and phone calls. Eventually Ann comes out of the bedroom, after speaking to his only brother, about certain funeral arrangements. Her face is red and blotchy, and she throws her arms around me and sobs: I never would have thought I’d be asking you to do this for me Patty.

We both shed tears, but quickly compose ourselves. It’s all good. We are adults now, and we can do this, one step, one tissue, one song at a time.

To be continued…

When tomorrow comes…

By , April 19, 2011 12:35 pm

Tomorrow I am going to help my old school friend bury her husband.

After decades of pain and depression, he finally ended it all with a brand new white rope.

She found him.

She has asked me to bring my video camera to record the Service, as she explains: “Patty, I always remember you saying, that you might not want to view the images now, or even next week, but one day you will come to a place in your life where it might be good to view the funeral, and the DVD will be there, quietly waiting for you.”

So, tomorrow, I will help my old school friend bury her husband, who loved her, but depression and constant chronic pain won out.

Rest in Peace.

~~~

Today I am going to help my old school friend bury her husband. I’ll be the oldest friendship there to support her, and although her nursing friends and old bridesmaids will be there, although her small family consisting of her only brother and his wife and kids will be there, I will be the one with the oldest memories of her; memories of a single girl, a carefree, happy redheaded blue-eyed school girl, in the school hallway bent over laughing at my jokes.

We both travelled to Cooktown together in our senior year, keeping a watchful eye on the young boys as we were plunged into a series of small train tunnels, pitch black and groping hands, to emerge in the blinking daylight, slightly dishevelled with smug teenagers sitting opposite us, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. It was a game and we played along, much fun.

Over the years we kept in loose touch. If I was staying in the Hunter Valley helping my old wine-maker friend Jim Roberts pick his grapes, I would stay with her and her husband.

Her husband was a soft, gentle man, a large man, a lumbering giant heaving an unworkable broken body around the best he could. In those days he drove a taxi, and could get around a little bit, but the passing years were unkind to him, and gradually depression began to taint his world and the shutters closed in.
~~~
Today my husband was showering early, and I heard him yelp from where I was in the kitchen. I called out: Are you alright? Darl? Are you ok? And with his silence my footsteps quickened to reach him.
He stood there, water droplets from the shower covering the paddocks of his back and shoulders. On Sunday he had spent most of the day changing over 45 fluorescent light tubes at his work, and one of the tubes had cut his finger deeply. It was this sore finger that had banged against the towel rail, and it had silenced him with sudden pain.

I gently took the white towel and slowly, tenderly, wiped his back, his legs, his chest. “There you go, the rest is up to you” I said, and left him to finish the job.

Some days marriage is like that, you have to be there and step forward.
~~~
“When you first told me what you did, I couldn’t understand it, I thought ‘A funeral photographer? What the hell?’ but now I totally get it.” We speak softly, the phone nuzzles into my neck, and I close my eyes and imagine we are once again sitting in the spa we shared only weeks ago. “I want you to photograph him, and film the funeral, in fact I want to take the DVD over to Ireland and share it with his old friend. She can’t make it over for the funeral. I’ll take it to her.”

Already in her mind, she is moving forward, seeing a fresh day, a new start, a different tomorrow.

A fortnight ago we stayed at O’Reilly’s in the Gold Coast hinterland, the four of us women coming together in solidarity of having some time to ourselves. I spoke to her about everything but her husband. She needed the break, and I made it clear that the topic was always there if she needed to, wanted to speak about him; I was all ears and arms; to wrap around her. We watched an opera DVD, Cecilia Botoli. Eventually, she leaps to her feet, and begins to move to the music.

This is the first time I ever lined-danced to opera she says. I try to keep up with her steps, but it’s not for me, the set routine and boredom of repeating movements. I lash out and wobble my bits in joy, dancing for a moment in the rainforest. We laugh and giggle, like the old schoolgirls we still are.

Neither of us then imagined that we would be arranging his funeral. My friend is my old schoolgirl mate, childless, now widowed. She’ll rise above this, and move forward, and I’ll be there to help if I am needed.

Here’s to the crazy ones! The misfits. The rebels.

By , April 7, 2011 12:41 pm

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.

And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?

Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?

Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

From Apple campaign, created by TBWA Chiat Day/Los Angeles
Copywriter – Craig Tanimoto

The Flood of 2011

By , March 10, 2011 4:12 pm

The Brisbane Flood of 2011

By , January 20, 2011 12:36 pm

The Brisbane Flood of 2012

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