Friday was a big one.
I zoomed into Sydney CBD Friday morning for the Bisolvon ‘I Hate People Coughing On My Kids’ lunch, complete with real live very silent mime. Then I cruised very briefly back to TinyTrainTown, packed my car and headed off with my internet–date–turned–very–good–mate Mr Enigma to Canberra for the Tony “Toz” Dwyer Shield.
Given a week of arse kicking anxiety attacks, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to handle this one, and, if I am totally honest– which I am here, if nowhere else– I approached the border to the ACT with trepidation and a knot in the upper muscles of my stomach.
It was probably a blessing that Mr Enigma and I had just half an hour to check into our hotel and navigate the five minutes to Duntroon RMC sporting fields. (Five minutes which took twenty minutes. I do recall saying I didn’t mind Canberra because it was easy to get around… evidently, I was hallucinating, and please strike that remark from the record. The whole place is just two giant freaking roundabouts with streets poking off everywhere that you can’t turn onto. Good thing Mr Enigma was driving… he’s all zen, where as I consider driving a veritable blood sport.)
I had no idea what to expect… in fact, I was cynically expecting to be one of five people on the sidelines.
I should have known better.
Despite the freezing Canberra air, there were people here. Forty, maybe fifty. OzHelp‘s Tradies Tune–Up van was in attendance, running a barbecue with all profits going to the charities being supported this year– OzHelp and Suicide Prevention Australia. The College was running a bar, and there were cupcakes and brownies being sold too. Raffle tickets were sold, and prizes drawn.
And two teams of big, tough blokes took the field, knowing what they were playing for…. it was so awesome. There were rucks and pulled hamstrings and black eyes and blood. The legendary Mr Darrell M., who organized this whole thing, was playing for the Barton Barbarians … who, I’m pleased to say, kicked some ADF butt.
Though, all things considered, they may not have. It looked as if, very close to the end of the game, their score was going to be upped…
Until the sprinklers came shooting on at one end of the field- and the whole thing was cut a few minutes short, lest the players freeze absolutely solid mid-game.
I sat on the sideline on a picnic blanket, watching the game and snapping occasional photos. (And why, yes, I did mean to video blog the whole thing. But… erm… I’ll give you one guess what happens when you expose the microphone of a flip cam to one hundred kilometer an hour winds of the side of a moving motorbike. Those of you you said “It blows the speakers…. Duh.” are correct. And win nothing at all. However, if one of my awesome supporters like Samsung happen to be reading this post and would like to supply with me a new one (please?)… you know where I am).
I feel vulnerable and small and conspicuous. I meet Darrell and his wife Jo, and they are so warm and welcoming and lovely (and Jo so beautiful, a tiny blonde pixie), and they seem to understand just how I feel and leave me to do my thing, only asking me to present the shield at the end of the game.
The Shield… it’s when I see it, in it’s wooden reality, that tears sting my eyes and I want to hug Darrell all over again, I’m so grateful for what he’s done, what he’s given me. Two men who will never ever meet, and yet they are connected through this amazing thing Darrell has started.
The Shield has years worth of plaques on it, waiting to be filled. It will be passed on from team to team… and my husbands name with it.
Isn’t that what everyone wants, a little bit of immortality, something solid, something real, something that ties them to the world, leaves their footprint on the earth?
And for an all-Aussie bloke like my Tony, I don’t think it gets much better than a rugby game- all that sweat and testosterone and blood and man stuff and mateship. It suits my Man just as much as anything could.
And I guess that’s why I see him so clearly, in such detail, why I can place him so naturally in the scene of the after party drinks at the Canberra Rugby Club- it’s the kind of place he would have been in his element, in his groove, enjoying himself thoroughly.
So many people have asked me if there is somewhere they can donate to the Shield Appeal online– I can’t thank you enough. Just under $1000 was raised on the night All donations through my PayPal account for the next two weeks go directly to the Tony “Toz” Dwyer Shield Appeal– you can donate right here.
And thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s not often I’m at a loss for words… but when it comes to describing my gratitude to Darell and Jo and everyone who has supported this, I don’t have the vocab to do it.
Please know that every thank you comes from the very bottom of my soul.. the place that’s finally starting to heal.