All it takes is a smiling Shrek

The sun is shining, no clouds in sight, a gentle breeze brushes past our masked faces, and the Albert Park streets are deserted.

Marshall asks, “Why do I have to wear this mask?”  I explain for the umpteenth time. A few minutes later, “I don’t understand why I have to wear this mask, I want to take it off”. “No, Marsh, please just put up with it until we get home”. “Whatever you say,” is his reply, content to believe and trust me.

As we cross Kerferd Road, heading towards the sea, his slight agitation about his mask comes to the surface again. “My face is hot and it’s harder to breathe with this thing on. Can I take it off?” Same reply from me.

I decide to take a different route, up a side street that we haven’t explored before. The sight of a row of chimneys, looking rather splendid against the clear blue sky, takes Marshall’s fancy. “Hey, look at those chimneys,” he says, “that would make a lovely photo”. I agreed. We keep strolling. A few minutes later he remarks, “What a beautiful tree, see those markings,” as he points to the majestic gum.

All the while I’m thinking, how wonderful, maybe people with dementia gain an extra insight or sense into their visual surroundings, to compensate for their memory loss? After all, our sight is immediate, it is real and it is tangible. And Marshall often comments on his on–the–spot surroundings – far more so than in the past.

We walk along Beaconsfield Parade. The beach is empty, and the odd person swims. I walk to the water’s edge, to get as near to the sea as possible, while Marshall takes a rest on the nearest bench.

As we continue, crisscrossing the picturesque streets of this beautiful suburb, and commenting on the local architecture and the stunning leadlights adorning the windows of the terraces and single–fronted timber houses, I am taken aback by a wonderful sight. I just have to take a photo.



Who says the teddy bear campaign, recently brought back to life to bring joy to youngsters who can’t hug friends or play with their mates, is just for kids?!

I notice them everywhere, and comment each time.

But Shrek is somehow different. He is so large. So smiley. So green. So welcoming. Almost dream–like. I am instantly drawn to him.

There he is, just sitting all alone, on the front verandah, looking extremely happy and content, with not a care in the world.

Somehow, he is reminding me of how grateful I am to be the position I am in, right now, despite being classified as one of most vulnerable in these troubling times. Compared to those who have lost their jobs and businesses. Compared to those who are ill. Compared to families who have lost loved ones. Compared to people living on the streets. Compared to those incarcerated in prisons. Compared to the elderly in nursing homes, with few or no visitors, and compared to the millions, living in countries where medical and financial support is inadequate.

In fact, I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

With smiles on our faces, we leave Shrek, and continue our walk. Not far from home, another delightful sight welcomes us, and the footpath comes to life.

This beautiful drawing speaks a thousand words.


Tomorrow I will visit Shrek again, and remind myself, that yes, brighter days will definitely come!


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE


About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. A beautiful reflection, Jan. Love the photos! There is so much beauty in the simple things – it’s such a pity we usually miss a lot of it in the rush of our ‘normal’, non-corona lives. So much to be thankful for in so many ways. We can only hope that in life AC (after corona) we just might slow down a bit and take the time to smell the flowers. Best wishes to you and Marshall.

  2. Jan, what a delightful and happy tale. I took the journey with you and was excited and keen to see what came next. Keep on writing and keep on telling us positive stories.
    I feel so uplifted.
    Thank you xx

  3. Many thanks Ian and Jude. Sometimes we just need to express ourselves, no matter in what artistic form, and today was one of those days for me!
    That image of Shrek sitting on that verandah is still with me!!
    Take care

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant photo of Darren Lehmann on a verandah!!!

    As always, really enjoy your glass half full take on things Jan. All the best to you and Marshall.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    Thank you for this beautiful observation. I share your sense that those of us in a certain demographic are blessed, even if we have some testing aspects of our lives. It’s always the kind of uplifting perspective evident here but also so characteristic a feature of your writing which reminds us for how much we should be grateful – and how much worse the struggle is for so many others. I also appreciate the comments by Ian and Luke. Jude’s contribution adds further proof that you chose your family wisely.

  6. Amiel Courtin Wilson says

    This is a beautiful piece of writing and a moment in time Jan- thank you for your words and thank you for your reminder to let gratitude emerge of its own accord when we slow down … lots of love from your nephew Amiel

  7. Rulebook says

    Superb Jan reflections and perspective ! All the best to a fantastic couple xxxxx

  8. Marie Teague says

    Beautiful piece of writing Jan. You sum it all up so well. Let’s hope the calm and caring continue when life settles again. X

  9. That’s funny, Luke! Thanks for commenting!

    And thank you Peter, Amiel, Rulebook and Marie for your very kind words. Much appreciated

  10. Beautiful Jan,

    You write so well and bring joy to many I imagine.

  11. Earl O'Neill says

    Beautiful piece, Jan. Reminds me a bit of Dad, post-stroke.
    Dare I say, Marshall’s observations remind me of summer 90/91, when I did a lot of LSD. I would walk for hours, gazing in rapt wonder at chimneys, trees, harbour, yachts.
    Having talked w Dad, and w Mum about Dad, I might have a quarter clue about what you’re going thru, losing someone day by day that you have given your life to. That you are finding joy in this troubling time speaks of your nous and strength.
    Listen to Marshall, he has something to offer.
    I wish you all the best.

  12. Wonderful Jan. Thinking of you and Marshall. An example to all of us.

  13. Many thanks for your kind words Earl and John. Much appreciated. Take care

  14. Sharryne Daley says

    Such a beautiful piece of writing Jan that reflects how wonderful the most simple things in these times, can bring us back us back to being grateful and so in touch with what really is important and your reflection about your walk Jan highlights that perfectly. Thank you once again lovely lady for sharing your thoughts so beautifully and touching us in such a positive way. You have made me warmly smile, as I too am reminded of how very grateful I am for what I have in my life in these unprecedented and uncertain times xx

  15. Sharryne, thank you ever so much for the above. What more can I say!

Leave a Comment