Beginnings and Endings

Eloise’s Foundation class notched up 100 Days at School recently. It was a big deal. Miss Emma organised games and activities and put on a spread. They made posters and badges with 100 emblazoned proudly and were paraded before a full-school assembly. An extrovert and show-off, it was the least Eloise felt she deserved.


The principal reckons Eloise could run the place. She knows everyone by name and what they do at the school. She greets every visitor to the classroom, asks them what they want, offers to help.


On her school report, Miss Emma wrote ‘Eloise is extremely social’ and loves telling her class mates about her holiday to Sydney and her cat, Simba. Read between the lines on tht one.


Eloise is fully immersed in the school community. She has dance lessons at lunch time and everyday I have to drag her away from after school care. Last week, she ate hot dogs and bounced away on the jumping castle during celebrations for the anniversary of the saint after who the school is named.


This week is Book Week and after a fair amount of debate, and at least one sleepless night, she’s decided to dress up as Sleeping Beauty.


Linda and I tag-team the constant run of weekend birthday parties.


I can’t express in words the gratitude and relief I feel to see Eloise so happy and loved at school.


But life knocks you sideways sometimes.


This morning, as Eloise and I were loading up for a shopping trip, and the cheers and groans of a junior footy grand final floated across Edwarde’s Lake, my sister Anne phoned. She had just spoken to mum. Bruce, family friend in Warrnambool, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


Mary, Bruce and the three boys are practically family; mum and dad are token grandparents.


My stomach fell through the floor. I sat in the driveway, watching the rain explode on the windscreen, as my mind struggled to process the news.


‘Let’s go Daddy’, Eloise said, bringing me back to the present.


Later, Mum called and said Mary, Bruce’s wife, visited before Mass to break the news. Bruce has more tests to come but it doesn’t look good. The cancer has already started to spread. Mum sounded shaken. She will turn to prayer to make sense of this.


I’m no philosopher, and if I were, this is not the platform for lengthy dialogue about life and death.


But the longer I live and the more I see, I’ve come to accept the fragility of life. Becoming a parent has played a role in this as well.


Life’s about beginnings and endings.


We’re just travellers here, passing through. And most of us don’t know for how long, or how it’s going to end.


And that’s a good thing, in a way, isn’t it? It reminds us life isn’t always about us and we aren’t in control.


Life, fate, God, luck, whoever, whatever, is running the show.


We just need to do our bit when we’re here, and bottle the beautiful moments along the way.






  1. steve todorovic says

    Hi Andrew.
    A beautiful piece, well written. You’ll already have loads of those bottles of beautiful moments of times spent with Bruce and make sure you get to spend some time with him again soon, to load up on a few more bottles whilst you both can.

  2. Sorry to hear this, Starkers. My heart goes out to your friend Bruce.

    My sons are 23, 22 and 20. When I see dads with their young kids, I ponder whether or not I took the time to really totally appreciate being a dad when they were little, and enjoy that time – because it goes so fast. I’m not so sure that I did.
    Enjoy every moment with Eloise, for she won’t be a child forever.

  3. This is a beautiful piece promoting some many good ideas like mindfulness. Like Smokie I reckon most of us imagine that we’ve not fully appreciated all the moments, but you try to!

    I do love all the little milestones along the way. Well done to Eloise on hers too.

    I’m also sorry to hear of the bad news about your friend Bruce. Go well.

    Thanks Andrew.

  4. Bloody brilliant piece.

    From another young dad who’s trying to bottle as much as he can, thanks for the read mate.


  5. Lovely piece of writing Andrew, although I had to go back and read the first sentence again to place Eloise and her foundation class into context. I still think of it as prep.

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Thanks for this, Andrew. A friend of ours died of pancreatic cancer just over a year ago. At 42! It’s a tumbling disease. Fierce. Whenever I see his wife and kids, I think of those little things – all the little things you describe so simply and beautifully that are sieved between loved ones – and wish that he and his fam could just have kept going with it all.
    Sounds like you’re doing quite a job of it. And I’m glad Sleeping Beauty would have at least caught up on that missed night’s sleep.

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