Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Blooms of Yellow

It is so beautiful to see Pippa’s Pots bursting into yellow blooms!  The boys and I love receiving all the photos that everyone is sending us.  All the same but all so different with   many reminding us of Pippa’s long legs.  Some are indoors, some outside.  Some bloomed early and some are still waiting.  Some pots even bloomed on special significant days.  It truly is beautiful.  And for us it is comforting that these pots are bringing smiles to everyone – smiles for Pippa.

The bulbs in front of our house that Pippa planted in 2012 have been blooming continuously – each single bulb is now a large clump of many bulbs.  They have been able to provide us with vases of yellow jonquils inside the house and beside Pippa’s bed every week since they started to bloom.  The bulbs in the Pippa Pots will multiply meaning that each autumn they can be dug up and moved to a garden bed whilst still leaving one in the pot.

 

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The bulbs Pippa planted in 2012 – each clump starting from one bulb

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So many beautiful blooms

The most incredible story that is happening for us though is Nibbles.  Nibbles likes to bolt lightening fast into the house the minute the door is open and he then casually hops up to Pippa’s bedroom where he sniffs around and just hangs out until he’s ready to hop back out to the garden.  I even had to unzip a bag of her clothes that was under her bed because he would just sit there and paw at them.  Anyone who witnesses him doing this is pretty much left speechless.

However, as far as the jonquils are concerned Nibbles’ actions are just as spine chilling. When we first got Nibbles it was very apparent we could not grow anything – herbs, veggies, flower pots, even our chilli plant were all (“Nibbled”) eaten.  Flowers we have been sent all go to the back yard for Nibbles to enjoy between the house and the green bin. He’s not fussy, he eats them all leaving just the stalks.  In fact, Nibbles has even received his own delivery of flowers to happily nibble on!

When we were doing the pots up James wanted to plant some bulbs in a patch of dirt that Nibbles liked to roll around in…..none of us were too hopeful that they would get past the sprouting stage.  One day I saw Nibbles in the dirt with the green shoots certain he was eating them.  On closer investigation James reported that no, Nibbles was only scratching his neck on them.  Pippa used to pat him on his face and under his neck and he would go to sleep while she did it.

Incredibly Nibbles has left these flowers to bloom tall doing nothing more than sitting next to them.  Patrick once asked that perhaps if we became buddhist would Pippa be able to be reincarnated as Nibbles when she died?  We didn’t need to convert, but we all feel that Pippa is very much in Nibbles.

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How I Dealt with a 12 Month Anniversary

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.

 

 

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12 Months since that precious last breath

There are no words at the moment. 

We are having a family day and in true Pippa style and the way we lived the last 2 years of her life we have organised a fun activity in her memory. We love her every minute of every day and we will have her smile and laughter with us always. 

Today is no different. 

   
   

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A Birthday with no Birthday Girl

That’s precisely what it was.  Saturday 13th February.  The day when Pippa should have been jumping on my bed waking me up excited to open her 12th birthday presents.

Instead we woke silently and with no excitement.   We had what Pippa would have ordered for her birthday breakfast – pancakes complete with nutella and strawberries of course.  Thanks to a thoughtful friend of Pippa’s we even had a present to open.

The boys and I had a list to work through to get ourselves ready for the day.  I most importantly had to make Pippa’s favourite chocolate mousse for her birthday dinner dessert.  We needed to pack the car with things to take to the beach.  A picnic had to be made and a cool bag organised to keep the drinks and food cold seeing as we were going to be there all afternoon.  A birthday sign to make it a party of course was required.  Flowers for the birthday girl.  Chocolate Brownie.  The motions were rolling.

My phone was busy with texts and calls like on any other birthday. The rule in our house on your birthday is that the birthday person has to answer every phone call.  There was no birthday girl to do that.

The day was beautiful, the sun warm and the sky and the water at Port Fairy’s East beach were both crystal clear and breathtakingly spectacular.  The only thing missing was the birthday girl turning cartwheels on the sand and calling out to me from the water, “Come on mum, why don’t you come in for a swim the water’s beautiful!” when I know too well it’s a touch on the refreshingly icy side of chilly.   But that’s what she would have said with a cheeky grin on her face.

So many people came and went across the afternoon and I am incredibly grateful to everyone.  It really was a strategy to help James, Patrick and me cope with what was always going to be a difficult day.  Pippa described her 11th birthday as her best ever despite not being able to talk, eat or walk.   I think Saturday was the best we could manage for her 12th birthday.  It was in fact perfect, but…there was no birthday girl.  I felt numb and empty.

People were sprawled all over the sand, on the grass bank, in and out of the water.  Flowers were placed at the base of her memorial seat.  Pippa’s friends swam, surfed, played cricket, built sand castles, used her kayak.  At first everyone tentatively looked and marvelled at the seat but eventually the ice somehow broke and photos started to be taken of her friends sitting, standing and playing on it.

At one point I overheard some of the young boys standing around Pippa’s seat having a chat.  They were talking about death and what it feels like to die.  The result of this gorgeous conversation was that it doesn’t hurt to die and that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to die because when someone starts to die you go to the place where your dreams and memories are and that’s where you stay.  You feel only good things and you don’t know time.  And then they ran off back to the beach.  It was utterly beautiful and I don’t know if these boys came up with this on their own or whether one of them had previously discussed it with some wonderful parents.    Regardless, what I do know is that they certainly wouldn’t have been standing around a headstone in a cemetery or a plaque at crematorium having this conversation.  This simple, casual chat makes the memorial seat even more special invoking such raw and innocent discussions in children that will help them all deal with such a difficult topic.

Toward the end of the day darling little 4 year old Lottie came up to me and said, “Ginya, I’ve been looking all day but I can’t see Pippa!  I’m cross with her that she’s not here!”  I said, “Oh Lottie, when I went in for a swim before I’m sure I saw her.”  Together we looked up to the sky.  It was no longer clear as some whispy clouds were floating around.  We strained to see and eventually there she was – the faint crescent of the moon appeared in between the clouds.  Lottie was absolutely thrilled to see that Pippa hadn’t missed her birthday.  To Lottie, Pippa lives in the moon and she loves seeing her during the day time.  They are always special days for Lottie.

We came home after a long day in the sun a little tired and with presents and cards to open and read.  The day was not unlike any beach birthday party.  It was simply missing three very integral parts:

  • there was no happy birthday song
  • there was no birthday cake
  • there was no birthday girl

Saturday 13th February was Pippa’s 12th birthday but she will never be twelve.  Instead, she will always and forever be “Legs Eleven”.

Our thanks to everyone who made our day bearable.  I love this very special photo

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In memory of our beautiful Pippa Rea

13/02/2004 – 28/03/2015

A Nipper at Port fairy SLSC, Pippa loved this beach

Please enjoy the beautiful views 

sitting or playing on her surfboard seat.  

“Happy Memories”

Designed and kindly donated by Bamstone

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Pippa Rea Friendship Day

Last year the Grade 5s at St Joseph’s had to give a speech to be considered to be part of the leadership team.  One of Pippa’s friends gave his speech on establishing an annual Pippa Rea Friendship Day to be held at the start of the year near her birthday.  This day would encourage and remind students how to be a good friend to each other – something that so evidently came naturally to Pippa and was recognised by everyone.

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In the lead up to the day the teacher who was assisting Flynn commented how refreshing it was to start the year using “Friendship” as the focus instead of anti-bullying.

The children all wore yellow – those who had Team Pippa shirts wore them.

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The grade 5 and 6 students visited the junior and middle school classrooms in the morning talking about friendship and running a “Friendship Workshop”.  They all learnt the “Friendship Pledge that Flynn had come up with in memory of Pippa.    James, Patrick and I popped into the Botanic Gardens over the road from the school to say hi to the senior students when they were enjoying a shared picnic in the glorious sunshine.

In the afternoon all the school “friends” moved into the hall.  590 children stood in a circle, joined hands and, led by Flynn, recited the Friendship Pledge.

 

In memory of Pippa, I promise to be a caring, thoughtful and fun friend.

IT’S COOL TO BE KIND!

 

Flynn and I then spoke to the school about friendship and Pippa.

Flynn has been working tirelessly on this project. Last night when he visited us I was so impressed with his speech that I asked his permission to share it on the blog.  He says that Pippa is his inspiration but what an inspiration Flynn is.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every school could take his model, adapt it to their environment and also hold a

Pippa Rea Friendship Day

creating  schools where kind, caring and thoughtful actions were on every student’s mind and where in Flynn’s words it is:

“COOL TO BE KIND”

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Hi my name is Flynn.

I am here to explain the Pippa Rea Friendship Day.

I came up with the idea and then spoke with Virginia, James and Patrick so we could all never forget, and always remember, what Pippa taught us.

Pippa Rea was a student here at St. Joes from Prep to grade 5 and is part of our grade 6 year level.

She is our friend.

I think I am the LUCKIEST boy in the world to call Pippa my friend. She was an amazing friend not just to me but to ALL  of us.

Pippa was SUPER kind,        SUPER generous      and       SUPER caring.

I am only 11 years old and she has taught me things that lots of adults don’t even know.

Friendship day is a good day to go over these.
FRIENDS.

Pippa is a girl and I am a boy. This did not matter. It taught me that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

I think you all should try and branch out and  YOU TOO might find someone just as amazing…give it a go!

 

IT’S COOL TO BE KIND.

Pippa taught me this!

I LOVED spending time with Pippa.

Pippa was the kindest girl.

Her actions and words were always kind and generous.

She was always thinking of others.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

and GIVING IS BETTER THAN RECIEVING.

This was the hardest lesson at first. It was REALLY  hard seeing Pippa not being able to talk so well.

I soon learnt you don’t need words to be a friend.  PIPPA’s actions spoke for her.

Pippa always had a smile to give, her hands to hold, a wink or a thumbs up to give.

This taught me that a simple smile    or     thumbs up can change someone’s whole day or even life!

I know when I got one of Pippa’s smiles I felt so Happy.

I MISS Pippa’s smile the most.

Remember to share yours.

 

100% EFFORT and ATTITUDE

Pippa was STRONG  BRAVE DETERMINED and COURAGEOUS

Pippa made the most of everyday and opportunity.

Pippa was a happy positive person.

Pippa showed us all this at sports day last year…she is a GUN at sports!

We should all try and give 100% effort and try our best every day and never give up.

Pippa has made me try SO much harder especially at maths.

Man she was SMART!

I loved when I was her buddy in maths. It was the only time I went well because she had all the answers!!

Pippa loved St Joes and her friends.

We are all lucky because when we go to St. Joes, we are all one friendship group. We should all look out for one another and help each other.

At St Joes there is NO room for unkind words OR actions.

It is NEVER ok to be unkind.

I would like everyone to think how you could be a better friend.

I hope we all have a happy year of friendship in 2016.

 

ONE FRIEND CAN CHANGE YOUR WHOLE LIFE!

Let’s all now wish Pippa a happy 12th birthday with 12 big claps.

Thank you for your time.

 

Flynn, Pippa would have loved today. She would have relished teaching the younger students about friendship and sharing the day with you and all her friends.  I know that she is watching over you and is so proud of what you achieved today in her honour.

What a truly great friend you are!

 

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A Beach Afternoon for Pippa

The permanent bronze plaque will be put in place on Pippa’s memorial seat in time for her birthday.

We would like to invite everyone to have a beach day on the afternoon of Saturday 13th February to enjoy Pippa’s 12th birthday.  Swim, surf, play cricket, fly kites, build sand castles – bring whatever you want to enjoy the beach and come and visit Pippa’s seat.

We hope to see as many people as possible.  Pippa would like that.

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