My mum, my brother David and his wife Jean, and my nephew Isaac, stayed with us from last Monday, 22 May. They arrived early arvo, thanks to Jonathan French, my cousin-in-law who live in Woodend with Ruth my cousin, and Micah, their son. The Malaysians had arrived at their home on Saturday night (from Canberra) and stayed with them a couple of nights.
We went to a yum-cha lunch at a Chinese restaurant nearby, then met up with Nicole my niece, and Esther her aunt, at the Brighton Beach bath boxes, a tourist attraction. After the obligatory photos of those colourful beach bath boxes, we came home and I did a barbeque dinner for them. Jonathan, Nicole’s +1, came long. The 9 of us enjoyed a home cooked meal, which I cooked and Isaac – a budding super talented cook – masterly took over the more sensitive parts of the meal, like pan frying beautiful Hokkaido scallops which Tress had picked up earlier.
The next day, Tress went to work and Jean did a few loads of laundry, before we took mum shopping. They’ve taken a liking to shopping at op shops, so we took them to a local salvos while Jean had her laundry dried in a laundromat nearby. Tress took the arvo off and joined us for lunch at Talami (a local Vietnamese in Mount Waverley) for some Pho and Bun. After lunch, we went to a local nut shop (on Eley Street) for David to buy stuff home for our Malaysian uncles, aunties and cousins. Later that night, we went to dinner at Mazaj, the beautiful Lebanese place in Forest Hill Chase.
Wednesday was the big day – Nicole was to attend the graduation ceremony at Monash Clayton. I picked them (Nicole, Jonathan and Esther) up from the Burvale, where they stayed and took them to Monash Clayton. Nicole had wanted to be there around 8.30am so I was at the Burvale at 8am. Later that morning, David, Jean and mum joined them in Clayton, and we parked ourselves in a cafe to watch the livestream of the ceremony (which started at 11am), before joining Nicole for pictures on campus grounds. It was a very happy occasion and I was very proud of what Nicole has achieved. I wondered if Sim was watching from somewhere. Many might say she is watching from “up there” in heaven, but having heard NT Wright in recent years about heaven not necessarily being “up there”, there’s a chance Sim was watching the whole thing from other than “up there”, albeit certainly from heaven, and with joy. Daniel had planned to also be here for the occasion but had been injured in a motor vehicle accident. He fractured his ankle and could not travel but I am sure he was beaming with pride and joy from Penang, where he would have certainly followed proceedings via the livestream.
We only got home close to 4pm, and everyone rested in our home before we went to dinner in a French restaurant on Blackburn Road. It was a lovely meal and the conversation and atmosphere was something I’d cherish for the rest of my days. It was a celebration amongst family, and it was filled with joy and hope as we bantered about all things family, including – especially – about Nicole and her future with her beau Jonathan. I suspect they might have been grateful for the dimmed lighting in the French joint, which would have played a large role in hiding blushes that might have appeared as we teased and prompted them about their future together (read: coming wedding). Nicole had messaged me a day earlier about Daniel her dad wanting to pick up the tab for that dinner, so we were all very grateful for that really lovely evening meal.
That night, as Tress started to drive the Burvale guests home, she said the Lexus had a flat so she came back and took the Mazda instead, and drove them to Burvale in that smaller car. I then worked out in my mind what I needed to do the next day to get the flat fixed, so that we could still make the Yarra Valley plan work. I had wanted to take David, Jean, Mum and Isaac there. There has been an alert sign on the dash about tyre pressure that had lighted up for sometime anyway, but (first thing) the next morning, as David helped me with removing the offending tyre, we noticed a screw lodged on one of the tracks. We waited until the workshop (the “MyCar” place in Forest Hill) was opened and sent the car in. I asked if they could expedite the repair, which thankfully they did. They went so far as to waive all charges, as I had bought the tyres from them. So we managed to get to Yarra Valley without too much of a delay.
It was a grey and wet day in any case, so we only went to one winery (Yering Station) where we had an extended wine tasting session with a very knowledgeable host (who was from Beijing), before heading off to lunch at the local pub in Yarra Valley. We then went to the chocolate place and then headed home. That night, we went for Peking Duck at Simon’s, where everyone enjoyed very good Peking Duck and my brother picked up the tab.
On Friday, I picked up Isaac and Esther from Burvale (after they checked out at 9am) to leave them in our home, then took David, Jean and Mum to the airport at Tullamarine for their flight back to Malaysia. I then brought Isaac and Esther to lunch at The Glen, enjoying warm large bowls of noodle at “Master Lanzhou”. Later that arvo at around 4pm, I went back to Tullamarine, this time dropping Isaac and Esther for their flight to Singapore, from where Isaac returned to HK while Esther went to Penang.
On Friday night, the house became quiet again. Tress and I spent the weekend restoring our home so that it now again has 2 work from home offices, along with other aspects of our familiar elements. We vacuumed, cleaned the sheets, put the mattresses back and generally got ourselves ready to return to our quiet, dare I say boring, lives again. We were at St Alf’s for Pentecost Sunday, assuming communion duty and receiving special anointing with oil obtained (by Peter MacPherson) from Israel. It was a special way to end a week that has been warm and memorable.