GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #093



After 42 years living with the love of my life I am now alone.

Photo taken on our honeymoon in Paris, 42 years ago.

For those that don't "do" Youtube here's a short video I posted about this.

Vale Christine Gray.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Wed 27 Apr 2022

Chris has been in a bad way lately, in fact she can barely make it down to the kitchen without running out of breath, so I've been doing the cooking.

It's getting to the point where I've been looking at ads for those mobility scooters, but the ground here is too rough. However I have been thinking of making a wide track to meet up with my existing walking track thinking that at least she would be able to go out and enjoy the view and the outdoors.

Thu 28 Apr 2022

At about 1:30AM Chris gets up to go to the loo, shortly after an almighty thump wakens me. I confess I did nothing for a minute or so, I was still half asleep and maybe it was a possum on the roof, that happens a lot.

But then I get a feeling of dread and I get up to investigate.

Oh God, she's on the floor, eyes and mouth wide open and as far as I can see not breathing.

I dial 000 and they tell me to lay her on her back and start chest compressions until the ambulance arrives.

I do this for 40 minutes until relieved by the ambos.

But it's too late, after many attempts to revive her they call it.

My wife of 42 years is dead.

After about 5 hours of dealing with ambulance people and police people and watching the mortician take Chris away I just needed to sit quietly and try to process the morning's events.

And what better place to do that than in my new Zen garden. The sun was rising to signify the start of a new chapter in my life and who knows, maybe in Chris' as well if you are to believe certain teachings. One day I guess I'll find out.


But for now I have to look after her favourite plants, the spider plants. All those ones on the wall are pups from the one hanging in the basket, and it is already producing a dozen more. She wanted them hanging all along the Zen garden roof so when they grow big enough that's what I'll do.

Thanks to all those that have offered help, it's much appreciated but there's nothing anyone can do right now, I can hardly even talk about it on the phone without breaking down although as the day got longer so did the conversations, so I guess some healing is already happening.

Sat 30 Apr 2002

I managed to sleep well last night, I though it might be a problem sleeping in the room where Chris died but I was just beat, not physically exhausted as such, although I had been up since 1:30 yesterday morning, just mentally drained I think.

I just needed to shut down for a few hours.

Today has been hard, one thing I've been doing is collating an abridged collection of comments about Chris copied from various Facebook groups she belonged to and also my own FB page. She has been very active in the eBook world for years and has many friends there that I was not aware of. No reason I would be of course but to read their comments about how they enjoyed her friendship and will miss her is quite enlightening.

But I can only copy two or three at a time before breaking down. At one point I have just copied this comment,

"Look up to the sky and she'll be there."

When I start sobbing and just have to get out. I walk outside for a break, on a whim I look up, well you never know eh?

A single white cockatoo flies directly over my head. Now I don't think I've ever seen a white cocky here before, and in my experience they are always in groups.

I'm not a believer in reincarnation, I'm not a disbeliever either, I simply don't know. But I'm fairly certain this bird wasn't Chris because it didn't crap on me.

Here are some of the comments.

What?!!?!? No!!!!! Omg! I am so sorry!!!!! I am absolutely heartbroken to hear of this! I live in the US but Tina & I have had many many conversations! I am so sorry! My condolences to you & your family!

...that's the place she'd be happiest. I'm in Australia and rural. We had lost of chats about our big red land and I've seen photos of your trips and your vehicle. I can't stop thinking about her.

Oh Rob, I'm so sad. I loved to chat with her, her wit, her acerbic sense of humour...Gutted.

Oh gutted! Such sad news, great memories of so many on line chats. I'll miss her cheeky forthrightness , (yep I know , Tina would probably correct me on that word)

So very sorry to hear that news Rob. ??
She was a moderator on the camping group I’m involved with.
RIP Tina Pelz

Oh No’ I loved my book Angel.. she will be missed.. she was fun & honest….loving.. I am so sorry.

so so sad..she touched people all over the world ??thank you ..

Oh no!! Oh I’m am so so very sorry to hear that. We often had a laugh online together.

R.I.P high

so so sad..she touched people all over the world ??

Oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear this. She will be missed.

Rob, I am so so very sorry to hear this. Chris was such a lovely person.

Oh Tina. Too soon. Rest peacefully in your beloved red dirt. We miss you though we never met you except online.

Thank you Tina, Rest In Peace. Xxx

RIP Gorgeous Lady condolences to her Husband an Family

R.i.p much love and condolences to all family and friends xox ??
Sleeping peacefully safely in the arms of the Angels

So sorry to hear this. Have read so many posts by Tina that I feel I know her

Look up to the sky and she'll be there.

May it help that others care. God bless.

Sadly one of our groups moderators, Tina Pelz, passed away last night. Tina did a lot of work over many years moderating the group and on behalf of our group we would like to thank her. Deepest Sympathy to her husband Rob ?? RIP Tina

I still cannot believe Tina is gone

Dear Tina Pelz, we'll miss you so much. I wish I'd made the effort to meet you when I drove through Bundaberg. You were a great friend. Rest easy in the peace of your bush.
I'll do my best to find books for others but it won't be the same world without your kindness, your humour, your wit. Too soon, dear one, way too soon. ??

Chris will be missed as she was always such a gentle soul to us.

She was well loved.

Sun 01 May 2022

I'm finding that (so far) there has been three phases

Day 1: Total numbness
Day 2: Inconsolable grief
Day 3: Extreme sadness

Now of course numbness didn't change to grief at 11:59 pm on day 1, but that's roughly been the process so far.

And speaking of sadness, I'm not in the habit of posting photos of my meals but this is the saddest photo I have ever taken. Why? Because for years I've been making breakfast and there has always been two slices of toast. Today there is only one.


For those that never met Chris in the flesh this will have to do now.

Many years ago I did a pilot for a TV series, Chris is very camera shy but they managed to grab a few seconds of her when she thought the filming had stopped.

I left the "Don't dream it, be it" outro in because that's the mantra we've always followed and it seemed apropos.

Tue 03 May 2022

I've been getting a lot of phone calls, some from people I haven't talked with for years. Bad news travels fast eh? But that's OK, I can pretty much hold a conversation now and it's been good to talk it over with friends.

While on a particularly long call I get a text from Andy, an old school mate. "Are you home?" I reply that I am but I'm on a call and will ring back when done.

The call lasted for ages, to the point that the battery died on my phone so I go into the office to plug it in. As soon as I do it rings, it's Andy.

"Where are you?" I ask.

"Look outside" he replies.

Ha ha, he just downed tools, bought food and whiskey and drove here from his place about 60k to the south. The gate is locked (as always) so he walked up the drive.

We retrieve his vehicle from the street and pour a drink or three.

Andy takes over the kitchen and I deal with the Scotch.

We went to boarding school together and 40 years later realised that quite by chance we where living in neighbouring towns.

Three days of chewing the fat about what we've done and what we plan to do has helped a lot. He's in the process of fitting out a Landcruiser (pic) as well, that's a project of mine that was put on the back burner but it's time to resurrect it with a view to doing a few trips.

 Andy's Cruiser.

Thanks Andy, and thank you to every one else that's offered support, as far as is practical I'll get to see everyone over the next few months, from friends I've known for decades to those I've yet to meet in person.

Wed 04 May 2022

If nothing else I've learned two things over the last few days...well learnt one thing and had another reinforced.

1. Don't put things off any more than you have to. Chris was 69 and at that age most people would be just heading off on the big trip after recently retiring. We "headed off" 22 years ago, so by the time Chris died she had spent about 15 years off the treadmill traveling around Oz and experiencing much of what this country has to offer, and many years living a good relaxing life in the bush doing exactly what she wanted to do, which was largely helping others by sourcing eBooks for them and volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

2. My smart phone refused let me to go to hands-free mode after I rang 000. That was potentially a huge imposition as I was trying to follow instructions while having to hold the bloody phone to my ear. I don't know if that's the same with all smart phones or just mine, and it's pretty hard to test I suppose. Luckily the instructions in my case were pretty simple so I could put the phone down and get on with it, but bad luck if you need to listen and use both hands as well.

Oh and...

3. If you have a locked gate make sure it's a combination lock that doesn't need a key. The ambos will not muck around with bolt cutters or whatever, they said they will just drive through the gate if needs be, and then after it's all over you have yet another job, IE fixing said gate and the fence posts it's attached to. We have a combo lock so I just told them the combination.

Oh oh and...

4. If you have some cash in a safe put aside for emergencies make sure you both know where the key to the safe is. Guess which one of us knew the key's location.

Thu 05 May 2022

Andy and I take the old batteries into the scrappy. I was going to make a second system to use as a backup but I have so much redundancy built into the main system there's not much point.

I also take the safe into a locksmith, I expected them to work their magic with a couple of paper clips or something but he comes back out from the workshop to ask if I know the combination. I tell him what I think it is and two minutes later he is back with the opened safe.

It seems that there's a trick to power up the lock if the batteries are flat or not installed. The latter is my case because we've been using the key for years and not bothered with the combination.

There are two new holes in the plastic overlay of the combination lock (near the 1 and 4 buttons).


I'll have to check but I'm sure they weren't there before. Anyway if you apply a 9V battery to the contacts behind those holes the lock powers up. Now that's handy to know, it's not a safe-cracking thing, you still need to know the code, but that knowledge would have saved me $55.

So either the holes were there all the time and I never noticed or had forgotten, or locksmiths know exactly where to cut. I would like to find that out.

Sat 07 May 2022

A friend of mine told me to "Get your arse out here" the other day so today my arse is driving out to Russell's farm near Eidsvold.

Most of his family live on or near the property and I know them quite well. They are all there as well as another friend from nearby so with the constant banter I don't have any time to think about "things", which is good.

Russell's daughter asked if I was staying the night. "If they'll have me" I said. She replied that Russell thinks of me as family, that I didn't know and it's quite humbling.

Sun 08 May 2022

I leave Russell's and drive to Gavin's just outside Mt Perry, another evening of chewing the fat with Gavin and Leslie, his new partner. They met on Eharmony and it's a successful partnership. Should I give that a go? Maybe, but it's way too soon for that yet.

Mon 09 May 2022

I took Chris' clothes to Lifeline today. Sorting them was not as traumatic as I thought it would be. I've kept the jackets and tracky dacks, they should fit me, but last I looked a tank top did not really suite me so those sort of clothes may as well go to someone that needs them.

Tue 10 May 2022

I found the safe key in an old sock inside an empty Ventalin box.

Wed 11 May 2022

A friend sent me this quote the other day and it resonated with me...

Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence. When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss.

You will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news. They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound.

It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. The people you lose remain a part of you. Remember them and always cherish the good moments spent with them.

~ Christopher Walken

No matter what happens we have to keep on dancing eh?

I've always liked Christopher Walken as an actor and it reminded me of this video which I always gives me a laugh.

Tue 10 May 2022

While sorting through Chris' stuff I came upon some postcards she had sent home from Kenya. Most people probably don't know that we actually met in Africa in 1979, we both answered an ad placed by Nick Prosser in London's Time Out magazine for traveling companions to Kenya to photograph the wildlife.

I was looking for an interesting way to get home and Chris had so much leave owing at work that she just needed to go anywhere for a few weeks.

Apparently when Chris first rang Nick she asked if anyone else had responded, "Some mad Australian going home" was the answer.

The three of us met in a pub somewhere (in Colchester I think) first, probably so Chris could assess just how mad the Aussie was before committing to the trip. So technically I guess we met in the UK, but "We met in Africa" sounds a lot more romantic and that is where we got to know each other.

Most of the messages on the post cards are the usual travelogue stuff for her Mum and Dad, but a couple of paragraphs brought both a tear and a smile to my dial.

"...Arrived safely, we are just waiting for the Australian to get here. His flight was delayed in Frankfurt for 12 hours..."

That's true, my plane had engine problems and was lucky to put down in Frankfurt.

When I finally got to Nairobi I had no idea where the two were staying so just started phoning hotels until I got a hit.

Then a few weeks later,

"...The australian chap has invited me to his home in 6-8 months time. He has a job in Somalia after we leave..."

Yes I did have a job lined up in Somalia, never found out exactly what the job entailed, just that it was "In security", well at 25 years old I was full of piss and vinegar and up for anything so didn't much care because the money was fantastic and paid tax free into any nominated account in the world.

But when I reported to start the job, the office where I was interviewed had been cleared out. Very odd, and about as odd as the way I got the contact in the first place (another story).

By then however I had spent all my money on the assumption that I was about to be employed so I was stranded in Kenya with no money and a ticket to Oz on a flight via Madagascar that did not exist (yet another story). But Chris came to the rescue and loaned me some money so I could re-route my flight through India.

She did eventually come out and here's a short excerpt from another post card.

"...I'm definitely coming back here to live..."

As to how come she had the post cards when they had been mailed home, the stamps had been removed, so I guess she asked for the cards back when she returned to the UK and a family member was into stamp collecting.

Postscript :: a couple of weeks later

Well the election result is in and Labor have won, that means of course that Liberal are out and Scott Morrison (Scomo) is no longer the prime sinister. I'm not particularly partisan but Chris was, she hated Scomo and while watching the results on TV last night I found myself thinking how much she would have enjoyed this. "She lived to get rid of Scomo" I thought to myself, but she didn't bloody live did she? She didn't bloody live.

Good bye my love, maybe we'll meet again...



Date  ::   23 May 2022
Name  ::   Rod
Location  ::   Perth
Comment  ::   Memories live on.
Do justice to those memories.
Live well.
Date  ::   23 May 2022
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   I will.
Date  ::   23 May 2022
Name  ::   robert
Location  ::   sydney
Comment  ::   Hi Rob,
I like Rod's comment (above) "Live Well"..
and continue your 'many' every day adventures..
I have enjoyed all your blogs..
Date  ::   31 May 2022
Name  ::   Daina
Location  ::   Wollongong
Comment  ::   Christopher Walken quote... Wisdom. Thank you for linking those vids here and comments from Chris' many friends. It speaks volumes.
Date  ::   01 Jun 2022
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Daina,

I know it's only a web site and not exactly carved in stone, but I wanted some of this to be on record somewhere. Even I will forget many of the details over time and I'll be able to read this to help keep her memory alive.
Date  ::   11 Jun 2022
Name  ::   Daina
Location  ::   Wollongong
Comment  ::   The pain fades but a lifetime of moments prevail. She will always be part of what makes you who you are now Rob. In years to come you might be in a whole new chapter but you still catch yourself quietly smiling inside when you least expect.
Date  ::   16 Jun 2022
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Like it or not I've just started a new chapter, here's hoping it's a long and interesting one eh? I'll always have the memories, but it's time to make some new ones now.
Date  ::   25 Jun 2022
Name  ::   Jerry
Location  ::   N. Ireland
Comment  ::   Ah Rob, my heart goes out to you. Those wonderful memories the two of you made together are something nobody can take from you. Hold onto them mate. It's taken me a couple of weeks to write this, I was so upset when I first read about Chris passing away. All the best mate, you have enthralled me with your wonderful photos, words and adventures over the last twenty years or so.
Date  ::   26 Jun 2022
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Thanks Jerry. That's all I have left now eh? Memories. But I'm not the first to go through this and won't be the last so I just have to carry on as best I can. It's already a bit easier to deal with, I was inconsolable for ages but I'm down to about one breakdown a day now, then it will be one every few days, then weeks and months, and eventually probably just anniversaries etc.

Holy crap nobody told me it would be this hard, but then I guess I never asked anyone

I will never forget her, not possible of course as we were together for 2/3rds of our lives and we ain't young. As they say, don't regret getting old, it's a privilege denied to many. At least she spent most of her life doing exactly what she wanted to do.
Date  ::   02 Jul 2022
Name  ::   Sheridan Gillham
Location  ::   Wandiligong
Comment  ::   I'm so sorry to hear the news. I check in every few months to see what interesting stuff you are getting up to. I didn't expect to read this terribly sad news. Can't deny that you have both lived active and enriched lives, all the best mate.
Date  ::   04 Jul 2022
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Sheridan, Terrible news eh? Nothing to be done of course except just try to carry on. I'll get day.

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