Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

How I Dealt with a 12 Month Anniversary

on April 22, 2016

I was cautioned that sometimes the lead up to anniversaries and other significant times may actually end up being worse than the day itself.  Thus, in the best way I know how to deal with things, I launched myself into a project complete with a colour coded, formulated and cross referenced spreadsheet.  What I thought was going to be a distraction in the lead up has ended up being a therapeutic and sharing experience that has involved many and has been graciously received in exactly the way it was intended.  A month later I have nearly finished it.

Let me start with the full story that inspired the project……

Last year in May I went away for a few weeks and returned in June to the garden bed outside our front door full of beautiful yellow jonquil flowers.  These flowers I picked through most of the winter and put in a vase beside Pippa’s bed.  The fact that the jonquils were growing there was not a surprise at all yet last year their existence meant so much more than it had previous years.

In 2012 I had my first year as Co-ordinator of the St Josephs Primary school fair.  A role that I did for 4 years and enjoyed every minute of it.  That first year a friend of mine came to me at the end of the day and said, “Virginia we didn’t sell all the bulbs, why don’t you take some home to your garden?”

“Me plant something and keep it alive?  Hell no, don’t give them to me!”

Jane instead turned to Pippa and proceeded to tell her how to help mum,  “Just throw them onto the garden bed and then poke them into the ground”.  Needless to say we came home late at night with Pippa eagerly carrying bulbs along with everything else she had collected from the day.

Pippa of course insisted we plant the bulbs together.  I can vividly see her standing there trowing them and then us helping each other poke them in.  Of course she adjusted a few landings so that they were positioned how she wanted them but she laughed and giggled and had so much fun.  These bulbs flowered from the very first winter.  Unfortunately, Jane tragically lost her brother  since then and perhaps that is why the memory of Jane and Pippa and the bulbs is so vivid.  Jane literally planted this seed in our lives and now those little bulbs that started as a few mean so much more to me.

At some point when I was picking them last year I thought about how nice it would be to have bulbs everywhere in memory of Pippa.  Thus, Project “Pippa’s Pot” was born.  Pots were sourced and the knowledge on the ability to actually grow a bulb in a pot was sought.  James has drilled holes in every single pot, Patrick has planted the majority of the bulbs, friends have helped me and most importantly, help from Armelle and Ana was imperative in the writing and bow-tying areas.  Even Chloe turned up on a day we were elbows deep in ribbon which was just perfect timing.  The help from those three girls meant so much to me for Pippa.  The project transcended tears and sadness and instead (through Pippa) brought laughter, joy and togetherness at a time when it was always going to be difficult.

To date we have made and delivered 150 pots.  They have been left locally, in Melbourne, to the Royal Childrens Day Oncology Garden and in the special entrance “Pippa Garden” at Peter Mac.  I have to clock up a few more miles to deliver the last that are still waiting for me to take them to their homes – two are heading to Adelaide, a couple in Ballarat, a few more in Melbourne, one or two locally and one that needs to go for a ride on the ferry which means poor me has to have lunch in Sorrento one day soon.  Unfortunately I can’t get them to QLD or WA but I suspect bulbs may not go so well in FNQ.  No doubt I will  have missed someone and I am sorry, but please if you or, in particular,  your child, need one forgive me and just shoot me a message – I will happily make another.  I had to stop at some point.  Of course I keep thinking of more that I could have done (and perhaps will still do) – that is Pippa though, so many people who love her.  To my many cousins, for your children, you will find a Pippa Pot with your parents’ homes for your families to enjoy the blooms.  It’s been lovely to hear everyone talking about whether or not their “Pippa Pot” has started to sprout and just as lovely to receive pictures of them sprouting.

It truly has been a beautiful, therapeutic project.  One that brings a smile to everyone’s face when they see their green tip sprouting.  Once the flowers have bloomed this year they will naturally die off, multiply and bloom again with more next year and so on.  In essence it is a project about the cycle of life and death.  Pippa is no doubt blooming again herself at the top of the Faraway Tree, dancing forever amongst the moon and the stars.

Many people have asked me about caring for their “Pippa Pot” so with a huge thanks to my lovely and expert gardening legend friend, here are some very detailed instructions.  Remember though, if I can grow a garden bed full……..

 

LOOKING AFTER YOUR “PIPPA POT”

POSITION

Best outside in a sunny location (at least 6 hours of direct sun per day) if possible but a very sunny windowsill will likely be OK.  Flowering pots can be brought inside for short periods to enjoy but avoid heated environments.

WHEN TO WATER

It is really important not to overwater your pot! Many people water ‘just in case’ it needs water and end up damaging the root system and ultimately the plant.

You can tell if your plant needs water by these types of observation…

  1. Pushing a finger gently into the top of the soil and if your finger comes out pretty dry and clean, the plant needs a drink. If potting mix sticks to your skin, its damp – don’t water.
  2. The potting mix will look very light brown if dry and almost black if its damp
  3. Lifting your pot – dry pots are lighter than wet/damp ones. You can get a feel over time for this.

AMOUNT

2-4 cups of water should be ample to saturate the soil. Apply it slowly to allow it to soak in.  After you water, your pot will feel a bit heavier if the watering has soaked in well.  A deep soaking with a few days to dry out in between is much better for the plant than a half cup of water every day. At watering, you want to see water freely running out the holes at the base. DO NOT be tempted to put a dish or saucer under the pot to catch the water. Free drainage is important. If you wish to put a tray underneath for aesthetics or protection of a surface, make sure there is never any water left in the tray.

FREQUENCY

There is no hard and fast rule on whether to water every few days, weekly etc…. it is far better to ASSESS whether the plant needs water every couple of days by the above methods and just water accordingly, as I said, overwatering can cause damage so regular attention is the key, NOT necessarily regular watering.

FERTILISER

A fortnightly liquid feed that replaces one of your regular waterings is highly recommended but this is help the flowering for the following season, the energy required for flowering this winter/spring is already stored in the bulb. If you can’t be bothered, some slow release feed as per packet directions is very easy and only needed once or twice a year.

ONGOING CARE

As the flowers finish, resist the temptation to cut off the dying and untidy foliage. The plants must die down naturally as the bulb is drawing back the nutrients from the leaves to store up energy for next years flowering.

Keep the bulb in the pot or lift the bulb and store in a cool, dark place. If left in the pot, keep it on the DRY side over summer while it is dormant and increase watering in autumn again when the plant goes back into active growth.

As far as what we did on the actual day, the 28th March?  Well, I got up early and with a very dear friend visited Pippa’s Surfboard Seat at Port Fairy’s East Beach.  Our local extended family then joined us at our home surrounded by Pippas things, photos and of course, Nibbles who spent most of the morning sniffing his way around Pippa’s bedroom.  We lit candles, did a meditation and had a brunch before all getting on a charted bus and heading to the MCG where we met up with some other special family and friends to watch Geelong v Hawthorn.  A match that I think James, Patrick and I will now go to every Easter Monday.  Pippa absolutely loved going to the footy to watch Geelong play.  Yes, the day was long, but there is no other way Pippa would have wanted us to do it.  A little bit of reverence but a whole lot of fun.  I just wish she was right there with us.

For James and Patrick I made a large framed collage filled with individual memories of photos close to their own hearts.  The one photo they shared the same was that beautiful one from Paris when Pippa flung the doors open the doors of the hotel the minute we arrived, walked out on to the balcony, turned around and declared, “Mum, I love Paris and I want to live here forever!”  In their frame  they also share a poem that I adapted especially for them (original author unknown).  I can’t read it without crying but every word is true….

Pippa,

You’re in the sun, the sea, the wind, the rain,

You’re in the air I breathe with every breath I take.

You sing a song of hope and cheer, always and forever near.

I see you in the sky above, hear you whisper words of love.

With your eyes so blue, your hair so long, you’re always with me, never gone.

Your cheeky laugh helps me be alright, even though I miss you day and night.

I smile because you are my Pippa, now and for always my little sister.

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I need her to be remembered forever. She is the most beautiful girl inside and out.

I miss my little darling, my little girl, my daughter and my best friend so much.  That will never ever change no matter how many anniversaries go by.

 

 


3 responses to “How I Dealt with a 12 Month Anniversary

  1. Anna Wilson says:

    My pot is becoming so big! The sprouts are huge and it looks so amazing in the light. It is full of life just like Pippa. I miss my shooting star and best friend. I miss her so much. Everything I do is for her. She will be forever in my heart.

    -Much love, Anna xo

  2. boothkids says:

    What a beautiful, inspiring idea ….. if any of Pippa’s pots head west, we would love to have one in our garden! Sending all our love, Nic, Ian, Tom, Maddy and Rosie xxxxx

  3. Mandy Mandie says:

    Virginia. I am so glad that we bumped this afternoon and I’m so sorry that I did not know that you lost your gorgeous Pippa, Pippa Penguin.
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your Pippa Pots and your yellow blooms and your new project you are working on.
    You are inspirational and I admire that you are involving yourself in Paediatric cancer, though we didn’t get to talk about how. Looking forward to wring yiu tomorrow. Sleep tight special person. X

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