Over the last few weeks, I've experienced many such moments. I've attended numerous funerals, which always bring such sadness. The most recent taking place on Friday in Wingham, a small country town on the mid-North coast of New South Wales. This is where my family lived when they first migrated to Australia from Lebanon many years ago. My paternal grandparents are buried in Wingham Cemetery, along with my two uncles and an aunt. And now one of my first cousins is also buried there.
A "family entourage" travelled from Sydney to pay our respects and I noticed that the sadness we experienced throughout the day was often mixed with nuances of happiness. Old memories shared by my 80 year old Mum (one of the few survivors of her generation), funny stories told to describe the cousin who had just passed, and many a warm embrace and chat with family and friends of old.
|The grave of my dear grandparents: my Jidi (grandfather) died in 1955 and my Sitti (grandmother) in 1951|
- I never had the chance to meet them,
but I love them through the wonderful stories I've heard about them!
Although sad, funerals are a necessary and beautiful tribute to life. Thankfully they are usually few and far between, and we have many other ways to celebrate life, while we're still living it. Marriages, anniversaries, birthdays - celebrations to treasure; an example of which was enjoyed last Wednesday, when we cut a cake and gave gifts for my son's 13th birthday. A second celebration also took place on Saturday night with a few more family and friends, just to prolong the festivities a bit...
|These cupcakes are not my own creations :( - they're bought ones.|
|Singing "Happy Birthday" with family & friends!|
My experience of "girlfriends" didn't seem as profound as the others at first, but I reminded myself that we all have a story to share and our own pearls of wisdom to give out, which another girlfriend may treasure unbeknownst to us. So here is an excerpt of my questions and responses, just in case they might be a pearl to someone:
Getting to know you - Jennifer, many of us won’t know you, but we may have heard your voice before! Why is that?
I started writing a blog called “Life’s like a Cupcake!” about a year ago, which is about my life, family and other things I love (like FOOD!) :) Through my blogging I came into contact with Katrina Roe, the mornings announcer on Sydney’s Hope 103.2FM Radio, and was actually asked to be the Blog Reviewer for her Best of the Blogs segment every Wednesday at 11.40am. I review a variety of blogs in the segment, which is a lot of fun, and I absolutely love it.
Think of one of your most cherished girlfriends - tell us about a special moment you've shared with her:
About 2 years ago, I got a call from an old best friend. We’d been like sisters for years; all through high school, we were inseparable. But as sometimes happens, we lost contact and she moved interstate. Anyway, she tracked down my number when she moved back to Sydney and we made a date for her to come to my place.
I was so excited and still remember the very moment she walked in and we embraced - all the years just fell away, and we talked and talked for hours as if we’d never been apart. It was a very special time. We’ve promised that we’re going to grow old together and never lose contact again!
Tell us about how friends have made an impact on your life…
I’ve been very blessed with a Mum, daughter, four sisters, 6 sisters-in-law and lots of nieces and cousins who I’m very close to. I consider these women in my life to be my girlfriends, so whenever I need a "girlfriend fix" I don’t have to look very far. However, I’ve also been blessed with a handful of precious girlfriends outside of my family. To me, a girlfriend is:
- someone who loves spending quality time with me…whether it’s going for a walk or a cuppa, or even giving me a quick call to have a chat if we can’t get together
- someone who puts off their house cleaning or some other priority to make me a priority sometimes
- someone who doesn’t keep score of who phoned last or who remembered whose birthday last, and that sort of thing
- someone who is interested in the little things in my life as well as the big things. There’s not always something exciting happening in my life, but a true friend is one who doesn’t need entertaining and is still interested in silly things like what I made for dinner, or whatever
- someone who focuses on the positive and the good things about me and overlooks my weaknesses or kindly corrects me, but loves me anyway
- someone who is there for the good and the bad in my life. This is the one true sign of friendship that I’ve realised is one of the most important signs to me…
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and the last few years have been filled with some of the most difficult times in my life. But there have also been some of the best times in my life mixed in, because I’ve been able to discover what true friendship is all about…I experienced friends who loved me even when I was too sick to be good company; friends who dropped by to pray for me or just hold my hand; friends who treated me like the old "me", not just like the "sick" person; and friends who never gave up on me and patiently waited for me to get better. These are friends I will treasure forever!
The High Tea was decorated beautifully, with beautiful baked treats galore, aptly reflecting the "beauty" of girlfriends...
|I met lots of new "girlfriends", but it's always nice to meet up with familiar faces too - a gorgeous old Uni buddy!|
|And yes...they tasted as good as they look!|
One of my dearest girlfriends, who also happens to be an amazing baker, shared her recipe from one of the many treats she baked for the High Tea, and gave me permission to share it with all of you. They're naughty, but delightful...
Mini Chocolate Tarts
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
395g tin condensed milk
125g butter, melted
24 chocolate round melts
Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Mix all ingredients together, except for chocolate melts. Place spoonfuls of mixture into well-greased mini muffin baking tray.
- Gently press chocolate round melts into tops of each tart.
- Place in oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
- Remove from tray and place tarts on cooling rack.
- To serve, dust with icing sugar once cooled.
|The Mini Chocolate Tarts are in very good company on this gorgeous tiered plate, as you can see!|
Thank you to all my new (and old) girlfriends at Camden Uniting Church!