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22 December 2006

A Christmas message to all our friends


Dads in Distress would like to thank you all for your help and kindness throughout the year and we want you to know that we appreciate you, especially in the fact that you have made a difference to OUR lives and of OUR children's lives.

It has been a year of many changes, many ups and many downs, which we have survived with your help, our supporters, our lifesavers, our grandparents, our children and the many many women who are standing beside their men fighting for a fair go. Times are changing and although we still have a long way to go, we are already seeing movement forward.

The year ahead will be a challenge for our organisation but one in which we will face head on, after all the future of our children is at stake, we cannot fail and we won't. Our children deserve to have two parents in their day to day lives regardless of divorce or separation. Fatherlessness is the major domestic issue of our times and we need to bring this out into the mainstream and make it a civil rights issue in this country.

Please spare a thought over the Christmas and New Year celebrations for those dads who for whatever reason cannot be with their children at this time. I light a candle on Christmas eve and put in my window. I like to think of it as a light guiding those dads and their kids together if not in person, at least in spirit. I like to think that wherever my kids are on Christmas Eve there is a guiding light to show them the way home to my heart, my love and my thoughts for them. I won't have my kids for Christmas this year but I will in my heart and I will also make room for all of you who are similar circumstances at this time. My thoughts and prayers will be with you all. You may wish to put a candle in your window to help guide someone you know or even maybe someone you don't. And if you are lucky enough to have your kids around you over Christmas give them an extra hug from those of us who haven't.

We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet along the way.

We are so pleased we were fortunate enough to meet you.

Thank you for being there when we needed you, we wish you a very special Christmas and a peaceful new year........

Yours Sincerely

Tony Miller




07 December 2006

My apologies for not writing these past weeks. I came home exhausted, dropped out of circulation and tried to regroup. Shannon is home, struggling, tired, but she is home and she is alive. Hers, mine and maybe yours has changed slightly as a result. I still get messages from people, some prominent, some not so, who take the time out to ask if I'm ok or how is Shannon? I cherish that, I cherish their concern. It tells me there are good people in this world, kind, compassionate, caring people. Thank you for being there in our time of need.

Recently it was brought to my attention that some kind hearted person was posting my posts from this site to another dad friendly site, Dads On The Air. It was in their forum entitled 'Tony Millers Daughter'. If you wish to read it, type in 'Tony Millers Daughter' in Google search. As it turned out some people decided it was an opportunity to have a go at me. The question was asked, what is dids really about? Is it about dads or is it about Tony Miller? Why does he keep posting his private life out there for all to see? It had nothing to do with Dads On The Air, who by the way run an excellent service to many dads in need (new site www.dadsontheair.net). They were just running their forum as it should be, allowing men to express their thoughts, their emotions, their needs. Much the same as we do in dids.

I didn't reply as I did not want to blow any wind into anyone's sails. But as it turned out many came to my and dids defence. I am forever humbled by their defence of what we do. I thought I would reply here, as you are the ones who keep us going. I am sure it will be posted to those that need to know or who maybe are interested in hearing the truth.

I put my life out in public view not because I relish it, but because if I expect men to walk into a dids meeting and honestly open up about how they feel, where their going, what the past has been like, the good, the bad, the ugly, then I have too. I cannot expect someone to do that unless I am prepared to do the same. I don't like airing my dirty washing here or at the meetings. But if I expect others to do the same and get any benefit from what we do, then I must also do the same. It's called leading. I may not like it, but I cannot expect to ask someone else to share their life with me or with my facilitators to share theirs, unless I share mine with them.

With regards to my daughter, I make no apologies of my calling for prayers to spare her life on this site. I am a big believer in the power of prayer. Whatever your faith, that's up to you, not me. I asked the readers to pray and the Good Lord heard their prayers, that I know. My daughter is home now with her partner and with her son, as it should be. I was and still am a dad in distress who needed help and a multitude of good, caring, compassionate people came to my aid from all over the world. Many were from the readers and the good people who run Dads On The Air. I will be forever grateful.

As I have written here in the past, I lost my daughter many years ago, my choice, not hers. I was not about to loose her again. I am only human, I have made many, many mistakes in my life and I still do. I can stuff up on a daily basis, often even hourly. But the message we deliver to dids is, 'that's OK', your only human, your here, your working on it, that's all that matters. Being a dad is a tough enough call, being a weekend dad or being estranged from your kids is even tougher. You're OK, we are here to help, you have MATES now who understand how you feel. It's that simple.

The Good Lord didn't walk with the healthy. He walked with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the unhealthy. I put myself into that class and I wouldn't mind betting that most of my blokes are in the same class. We don't push any religion down anyone's throat, we simply come from the point of love and compassion to our fellow men. We are not angels and we don't expect to be treated as such. And that's the key, it doesn't matter where you have come from, be it good or bad. We simply extend a hand in friendship, mateship. That's the problem with the Fatherhood Movement, we don't need the Feminists to pull us apart, we can do it very well ourselves, thank you. In my experience working with blokes we tend to implode on each other very well, sadly, whether it be ego or whatever, I don't know, I'm not an expert, but I find it sad. If you wish to pull that apart then go ahead. Quite frankly, you can go to buggery and I will pray to the Lord that he makes it comfortable for you.

With regard to the furniture offer, I appreciate your offer, it was gracious, but to be honest I know of only a handful who have a $1000 to spare for a dining setting after a tough divorce and if they did, they could just about fit their whole house out for that. However, it was passed onto our groups if anyone was interested. I am sorry if no one took up the offer. I was busy keeping my daughter alive when you wrote and left it to one of my lieutenants to answer. I feel he did that, more then appropriately. You could of phoned me personally rather then making it a public slanging match but to be honest, I would of been more blunt (02 6652 8113).

At out conference recently one of our beautiful guys in sharing stated he asked his then wife what she wanted for her birthday. She stated she wanted a divorce! He said, "I wasn't thinking of spending that much!"

By the way I am heading off to England, Iceland, Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in February, backpacking on the cheap with my beautiful boy, one on one, getting to know each other and getting dids groups happening over there. If you wish to have a whinge about that, go ahead, I couldn't care less. It's OUR time to be together. It's also an opportunity to help our mates over there. Any readers from those areas who would like to meet up, Patrick from Ireland, if your fair dinkum about kicking a dids group off over there let me know and I will make it happen my friend. Bloody shame we couldn't be more focussed on mateship then pulling each other apart because we dont get what we WANT........

Tony Miller




26 November 2006

To my friends,

A short time ago I was sitting by the hospital bed holding my daughters swollen hand after just having a priest annoint her as we didn't think she was coming home. At the same time I was looking at the cards and messages on the wall from all of you wishing, praying, supporting, sending your energy. Shannon at the time was on life support in an air cooled bag blowing cool air over her body, she was surrounded by ice packs and had an ice bonnet strapped to her head. She was sweating profusely, her temperature running in the 40's, a tube which was inserted into her side was draining her swollen gall bladder, the stench was that of a decaying body and was at times overwhelming, her eyes were closed, I leaned over and kissed her and whispered in her ear, "darling you hang in there, you just keep fighting, you have more dads and more friends and more family then you will ever realise, all praying and wishing you to get better, I love you mate, and I'm not leaving you, I'm right here." She opened her eyes, staring straight up, unable to move them, I caught a solitary tear from the corner of her left eye, I knew she could hear me.

She was too ill to even operate on, too ill to even move from ICU to the operating theater. I sat there holding her hand, stroking her arm, her face. Day would turn into night, night into day, often the nurses would find me asleep holding her hand with my head on her bed and ask me to leave as they needed to do something or other or maybe just to get me out of there for a while. Back in my room I would only pace the floor or fall to my knees asking the Good Lord if he would help me swap places with Shannon. I am 50, she is 30, I have lived my life and not very well I admitted, she is just beginning life.

Today after 39 days of hell, Shannon is home with her partner and her little boy. Frail but alive. Kelly another young 25 year old girl a few beds away from Shannon past away last week before Shannon came home. With all her ailments she ended up contracting ARDS the same thing Shannon had. Shannon and I sat in silence when I told her. One was spared the other wasn't.

So the reason I am writing this to you all my friends, to all those thousands of people I don't even know who journeyed with us, is to humbly say THANK YOU, it was through your intersession that Shannon came home, that I have no doubt. As Shannon put it to the nurses and doctors 'words are not enough', she is right, words are not enough. You are all in my thoughts and in my prayers but most of all in my heart.

Thank you.......................please pass this on to those you know who contributed as I have no way of reaching everyone other then the website which to give you an idea reached 250,000 hits just for the first half of November, most of which were due to people reading my diary and wanting to know about Shannon. Our webmaster believes we will reach half a million hits JUST for November. That gives you an idea of just how many kind people out there who care and who helped bring my little girl home. The power of prayer is infinite.

A special thank you to Gabriele for updating the diary and for posting all the messages for Shannon and Kelly, I know it took a lot of work and I cannot thank you enough, it played such an important part in enlisting all those prayers and positive energy for my little girl.

"We cannot always return an act of kindness to the person who bestowed it, but we can pay back the debt by helping others" anon.

I will endeavour to do just that.........................

Tony Miller




22 November 2006

Day 39.

Shannon came home today, 39 days after being admitted to hospital. Much earlier then expected and much earlier then the hospital wished but once she was on the mend she was determined to get out of there asap. That's my girl. The OT said to me, "Mr Miller you have one tough girl there", I sure know that. She said, "we have sent 80 year old women home in better condition then she is". Many thought she would never come out. Kelly finished up developing 'ARDS', exactly what Shannon had. The Good Lord had a plan for both and I have asked him, if I have a spot up there to please give it to Kelly, I don't mind sleeping outside. I know he will make her comfortable.

It wasn't long before the princess was home that she was making her presence felt. I knew then that she was definately on the mend and my princess was back. I am now back in Coffs Harbour and will head off Sunday to QLD to visit our dids groups up there and to continue the work. Unfortunately it never ends or even slows down. My girl is now with her partner and I bowed out gracefully leaving them to recapture the past month in privacy. My job as dad is done there for now. I will keep ringing making sure she is ok, until she gets fed up with me anoying her on a daily basis. But hey that's what dads are for.

My son in England must of read my last post and finally contacted me to say he was ok and asking me to aim for February to come over. You see I had it all planned to visit him early this month but of course with what happened with my daughter I couldn't possibly do the trip. It was Beau's 21st Birthday and we were supposed to head to Iceland to see the aurora borrialis (the Northern lights). We had been planning it for some time. My bags were packed (months ago). Still are actually. A kind friend lent me her backpack. Anyway everything was cancelled. Now it looks like February, I intend having a holiday getting to know my boy as the two of us backpack around Europe together for a month. It's the first holiday I have had in over 6 years. But more importantly it's the first time that my boy and I can have some one on one, just getting to know each other, now as adults as mates.

One of the biggest things that has hit me over the past month is how very precious our limited time on this planet is and to make the most of what we have.

Dale Carnegie once wrote;

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off LIVING. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming just outside our windows today".

I intend to start to appreciate those roses more then I have in the past. Life's too precious to worry about what might be, rather then enjoy what is right now. Shannon and Kelly taught me that.

I have just reread the posts of the past month and with tears running down my face I humbly thank each and everyone of you who sent their prayers. messages and energy to Shannon, Kelly and myself. There were so many that didn't make it onto the site as I had to delete message after message as my phone couldn't cope with the memory. I take each and every one of you on my journey and in my heart and I humbly ask the Good Lord to bless each and every one of you. One was allowed to shine a little longer here, the other needed upstairs to shine a little light down on us. And she is, you can be sure of that. Thank you all for giving my little princess back to me. We couldn't of done it without you................

Tony Miller




21 November 2006

Day 38.

With sadness filling my heart I have to inform all our friends out there that Kelly died on Saturday 18th Nov. I guess the Boss decided it was time to light up heaven with yet another star and I am sure she is brightening up the place as I write. Kelly was just 25 years old. She leaves behind a family grieving her loss and has also touched the hearts of many who have been reading this site and who have sent messages, prayers and energy to her and her couragous mum and dad Lyn and Karl and family who have fought by her side for 4 months now.

I felt a tinge of guilt when we found out Shannon could leave the ICU and Kellys mum came over and gave me a hug and was so happy for Shannon and I, even though things were looking glim for her own daughter. I felt a little of the same today when told Shannon will possibly be going home this week. I am just so happy that Shannon is coming home but I wish that the same news could of been that Kelly was too. I guess in a way she is home. There is now no need for tubes and hoses, needles and drips, ventilators, doctors, nurses. Now she is home where the Good Fella is now taking care of her.

I wheeled Shannon in her wheelchair and we visited the ICU today just to say thanks and goodbye, Shannon and I wrote a private message to all the nurses and doctors there. Shannon asked, "how can I thank you for saving my life? I can't. Words are not enough." They told us the visit was enough thanks and to see her well again was also. But they also told her never to come back. Unless for a healthy visit. They really are the unsung hero's in all this.

Shannon shed a tear today, "I was spared, she was taken", she said, we sat in silence..........

It's just turning from dusk to night sky and the first star is out over Penrith and you know what, it just seems a little brighter tonight then usual and I just know it's Kelly up there saying hello and letting us know that she is ok. Go outside after you read this and look up into the night sky and say gooday to Kelly, She is easy to see just look for the brightest star, it doesn't matter what part of the world you come from, she will see ya, and while your at it, let her have a look at you, all her friends who have been praying for her and sending her their energy. I'm sure she would like to meet you and I am sure you will like to meet her. Send Kelly's guestbook a message when you catch her, and tell us what that was like. If you can't see a star in your part of the world she may be a breeze, a snowflake or a raindrop but she's there and so is HE.

Kelly Brown's Funeral is at Pinegrove Nth Chapel, Minchenbury Fri 24th 10am.

Tony Miller


PS
To my son Beau somewhere in England or Iceland, I don't know where, Happy 21st for last Saturday mate, sorry I couldn't be there with you, I know you understand, but once Shannon is settled I will be heading your way, you can bet on it. If your reading this read your emails mate and press reply occaisionally........Worried dad XXX.



             One who has left,
             has left memories to live by.

             Let us cherish them!                     







14 November 2006

Day 31.

SHANNON IS OFF LIFE SUPPORT.

The trackie was taken out today, the ventilator switched off, the feeding tube removed and also the catheter. For the first time in 31 days Shannon was able to speak. We celebrated with me going up the shop and bringing back chicken and chips and a bottle of coke. Well the nurses did say she could eat whatever she wanted. She didn't eat much but she enjoyed it and that's what she wanted. Nurse after nurse has stopped in as they have walked past her bed surprised to see her without the trackie and to say "is that what your voice sounds like?" I guess to that they are happy with themselves for another life saved and so they should be. And I guess they see a big smile on my face as well.

The first thing she said was "dad, I will be home for Christmas, you just watch". I know she will. She said she had bought Rhys (her son) a Christmas tree and she is determined to be home to set it up for him. And I reckon she will too.

You know, kids grow up so fast, before we know it they are adults with a family of their own. I missed so much of my little girl's life that I am so grateful of the time I now have with her. It's made me realise how precious life is and how easy it can be taken away. How every moment counts and how I need to eliminate the word 'LATER' when asked by my children to spend time with them. It's made me realise that if you don't act on life, life has a habit of acting on you. The greatest gift you can give your kids is the gift of your time and in doing that you also receive a gift back, their love and there is no greater gift than your children's love.

I saw Kelly's parents running back and forth to the ward today. I didn't interrupt them, I didn't want to impose on them. Our thoughts, prayers and energy is enough to keep them and Kelly going. I see there are lots of messages from all over the world coming in. Few things energise the human spirit more than the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Keep it coming and we may just see Kelly home for Christmas, wouldn't that be nice.........

Tony Miller

PS. I know I promised to write about the conference but I will take a rain check as today has been a pretty big day...


Dear Tony

I will be praying too. Try to stay off the cigarettes it took me a while to beat them but I am forever grateful that I could give them up for the sake of one of my sons.

Kind regards

Alan
ALAN CADMAN MP





13 November 2006

Day 30.

Kelly is still hanging in there. I spoke with her parents just a short time ago and they are not giving up. They show real courage in spite of what they are up against. Your prayers and positive energy can really help them, I know that from what has happened to my little girl. If Kelly is anything like her mum and dad, and I am sure she is, then she will win over this. So please keep them coming.

And I have got to tell you the nurses and doctors here at Napean Hospital are something else. I don't think I have ever met a more dedicated team of caring individuals in my life. These people do an awesome job with little thanks. I mean I call my men lifesavers and they are but gee these guys are as well. In the 30 days I have been here it has certainly opened my eyes.

Shannon is doing great, certainly giving the nurses a run for their money. I wouldn't mind betting they will wish she was still sedated after a while. But that means she is on the mend and that's more then we expected a week or so ago. Still weak but gaining strength by the day. They are talking about taking the feeding tube out tomorrow if she continues to eat and take in fluids. WOW, huge step. That's my girl.


Flight to Canberra and back today to attend a meeting re the new child support reforms and just to let you know everything seems on track. We will be posting new material and releases as they come to hand on this site.

Also shot an interview for Southern Cross Ten, State Focus with Tara Daley which will air this coming Sunday 8.30am, Northern areas NSW at this stage but we are hoping for coverage in other areas as well in the near future.


Thank you all again for the beautiful messages that keep coming in but I will ask you again to please divert your energy to Kelly and her family, you performed a miracle for me and my little girl and I know you can do the same for Kelly.


Tomorrow I will fill you in on the highlights of our suicide training conference, bye for now.

Tony Miller




12 November 2006

Day 29.

Today Shannon spent over 3 hours off ventilation, a major breakthrough. She even had some fresh air by wheeling her bed out onto the balcony for a short time. She has been a bit teary today, well, she wants to get home. I don't think it has hit her yet just how sick she has been. She is a very determined girl and just wants to be home for Christmas and I am sure she will be.

We both had a bit of laugh though, as I caught her poking her tongue out at a nurse who had just roused on her for not eating her lunch and had just turned around. The only food she can eat is pureed, so she isn't liking it much. Mind you it's not very appetising.

Kelly is still battling and in need of your prayers and positive energy. So to her parents. Good people.


Tomorrow I am flying to Canberra for the day for a meeting re the Child Support Reforms and legislative changes. I am also doing an interview for an upcoming television program to air shortly. I will let you know more in coming days.


You know I can't help thinking how blessed we are and just how far we have come in such a short time. Even the nurses who haven't been around for a week are absolutely shocked at how well Shannon is doing now compared to a week ago. Just amazing. Well we know why don't we.

Thanks
Tony Miller




11 November 2006

Day 28.

URGENT URGENT URGENT!!!

Please divert your beautiful prayers and energy to Kelly who is also in ICU Nepean Hospital (I have written about her earlier in the diary). She is in desperate need of our attention tonight. Her family also Lyn, Karl & Shane Brown, please help them as you have no doubt helped my little girl. Shannon is on the mend, Kelly is in her early 20's and is really struggling to hang on tonight. These people have taught me strength and compassion. Kelly's mum has often gone up to the chapel and said a prayer for Shannon even though her own little girl is worse off then mine. Please if you can find it in your heart to send a card or message of hope to her parents via this site or to the hospital please do. You have helped my little girl by a miracle now we can do the same for Kelly.


After getting over my illness, officiating at the dids conference I returned to see my daughter and was shocked. The nurses had her sitting back in a special chair and she had this beautiful big smile from ear to ear. but I honestly had to do a double take, I didn't recognise her at first. She had shed so much weight. She looked almost skeletal to me from the way I am use to seeing her.

She is able to move her hands and legs and today they had her standing (with a nurse on either side) just for a minute. But what a major breakthrough. Today they even had her off ventilation for an hour or two. Everyone's amazed at her recovery. It's just a complete turnaround from last week when we didn't think she would make it.

She keeps mouthing the words 'I want to go home'. Today I fed her aeroplane style to get her to open up and swallow. She hates the food but I am sure she enjoyed me treating her like a big baby. I massaged moisturiser into her hands and her feet as her skin is just so dry and cracking. She just seems so frail but she is a million miles ahead of where she was just last week.

I know why, it's because of all of you out there. You just wouldn't believe the amount of messages, emails, phone calls I have received about Shannon. Thank you all so much, I have no doubt the Good Lord just had to listen with SOOO many of you asking him for help. Please find it in your hearts to ask him just one more time to give Kelly back to her parents and family.

I don't know them that well Lord but I just know they are good people and you have enough stars in heaven tonight, what will it matter to you to leave just one shining some light here on earth. You left my beautiful girl here, please dear Lord leave Kelly here for Lyn and Karl.

Tony Miller



Get Well Prayer


Warm thoughts Are Like

Flowers of the Heart

This comes to show my thoughts

Are there with you today


Sending Get Well wishes

And to let you know

I'm praying for you

Each and every day






05 November 2006

Day 23.

SHE MOVED HER LEG AND LIFTED HER HAND OFF THE BED.

Shannon is getting better by the day. Considering what has happened it is a miricle she has got through. Although far from out of the woods yet, she is slowly regaining her strength. The doctors have found clots in her legs but with medication and movement all should be well.

I believe a lot to do with everyones prayers and energy. I cannot possibly thank you all enough. There are lots more stories of things that have happened but at present I am crook myself so it will have to wait. I have come back to Coffs Harbour for a couple of days for a break, it's also my weekend with the little bloke and to open our Annual Suicide Intervention Training Conference. I seem to have picked up the flu or something so I may not even attend that. At present I just want to go to bed. And my little bloke's the nurse.

Take care, I carry you all in my heart..........

Tony Miller




01 November 2006

Day 19.

Shannon was wide awake today. They have lowered the sedation to bring her out and to see just what she can comprehend. I could see that she was really frightened and was mouthing "What happened!" I told her she was in hospital and all that has happened and told her how strong she was and that she has to tell her body to fight the infection so she can come home. I told her how proud I was of her and how strong she was. She cannot move her fingers or toes but she can slightly nod, blink her eyes and even managed a smile.

Her hubby came up tonight and I could see the love in her eyes for him and her wanting to ask him so many questions. I stayed in the background just watching her intereact with him and I heard him say "you can't come home yet darling, you need to get well first and so on". Obviously he was connecting and that's what the doctors wanted to see, that she was still with us, fighting. I backed away and left them together to share their privacy together.

A package arrived while I was there today so I took it out to the waiting room and opened it. As I pulled out the contents, 12 little posters covered in glitter that spilled all over the waiting room table. As I started to read them I began to cry. Get well Shannon, God loves you Shannon, we are praying for you Shannon and so on. They were all signed individually, with beautiful rainbows and drawings from:

Eden 7yrs, Nicci 5yrs, Olivia, Aidan, Tiasharn 4yrs, Jared 2yrs, Ethan 4yrs & Jarred 9yrs, Gabrielle, Nicci 6yrs, Brady 7yrs, Gabi 7yrs, Bethany 9yrs.

There was also a card addressed to Shannon and myself saying that Tony, you don't know us but a friend told us of Shannon's plight and in it were a lot of unfamiliar signitures of people who were praying for Shannon to get well.

I don't have to tell you I looked pretty silly in that waiting room today with tears running down my face and covered in glitter. The letter was signed by The Church of Christ Coffs Harbour. I don't know these people but I will never forget their act of kindness and charity towards us.

The posters are now covering Shannons wall and today she was looking at them and reading them. She can only see the wall when they face her on that side but I caught her reading them today with a strange look on her face as if to say "who are these people?" I explained what had happened and caught a tear coming out of the corner of her eye.

To top it off a huge bunch of balloons were delivered this afternoon with a card signed from David, Penrith. I don't know who David from Penrith is, but I can't thank you enough. All these things arrived just at the right time, just as she was waking up after 18 days.

I know she has a long way to go yet and is 'far from being out of the woods' as her doctor put it. But I can't help feeling hope, especially with so much energy, love, prayers and healing flowing her way. And you know, I can't help thinking Shannon's plight is somehow helping others continue on their journey, maybe with a different outlook then before.

Thank you so much to everybody, your support has been invaluable both to Shannon and her Family.

Tony Miller


PS... to the kids from Church of Christ Coffs........I luv u tony m.




31 October 2006

Day 18.

Shannon is once again struggling, I guess this is just part of the ups and downs that go with 'ARDS'. It's devestating to watch. She seems to be wasting away but I'm not giving up hope. Her gall bladder became swollen over the weekend but she is too ill to undergo an operation so they have drained it. Tomorrow they will try and see what is going on inside her tummy. Our hope is they will find whatever it is that is making her sick and fix it. Tonight she had her eyes open although sedated I could see the terrified look on her face. She was waking up wondering where she was. I was talking to her, stroking her hair and tears were flowing from the corner of her eye, her face was grimmacing as if in pain, I spoke to her nurse and she gave her more sedation. I dont think I have felt more helpless then tonight. It's like watching your child screaming in pain with your hands tied behind you, unable to lift a finger to help. I had to leave her because I didn't want her to see that I was as frightened as she was.

Some people may wonder why I am writing about all this in public. Well for one it helps me, it gets it out rather then bottling it in. A bit like what we do in dids. The other reason is that when Shannon does come home, she will have a diary of what happened. The nurses tell me the drugs they are giving her will erase her memory of what has happened. In a lot of ways that's a good thing but knowing Shannon she will want to know one day. Thirdly and most importantly I believe by putting this out in cyberspace, the more people that read it, the more prayers and energy she will receive. So tell your friends. I am a big believer in the power of prayer. I dont care of what denomination you may come from or what you believe, thats up to you. I just believe that the more people that read this and send their energy, prayers, healing, the better.

And while you at it there is a young girl called Kelly also in the ICU here at Penrith that is also in need of your energy, prayers and healing. Kelly also has a lung problem although more complicated then Shannons. She has been in here for over 3 months. Her parents need your support as well.

You know often at meetings I ask my guys to do something during the week before the next meeting. And that is to just take the focus off their own problems just for 5 mins or an hour or a day and perform an act of kindness for someone in their group. It may just be a phone call, a card, an offer of a cup a coffee somewhere, anything, just an act of kindness.

Tonight I am asking if you could refocus your attention just for a minute or five or whatever you can give and perform an act of kindness for Kelly and her family by sending them your energy, prayers and healing because they need it too just as much as my baby does.

Kindness and compassion as you have heard me say many times, is the rent we must pay, for the space we inhabit on this earth. I reckon I'm still behind with the rent but I'm tryin to catch up. What about you?

Tony Miller




30 October 2006

A word of encouragement

Hi Tony,

First of all I just want to say I'm joining with you and others in prayer for Shannon... I hope everything goes well for her.

You are an inspiration to me. You're hanging in there for those who feel they can't do it themselves. I can sense your pain in your words and I want to thank you for being real. If ever you get stuck and you want someone to talk to, please feel free to call me.

I am a single Dad of three handsome boys aged 24, 20, and 14. The youngest spends the week with me and the weekends with his mum. I consider myself very blessed to have this time with him. I'm so proud of his character and big heart. He taught me how to hug and he is very gracious and patient with me in my grumpier moments. I used to think life was about promotions, money and the admiration of others... I'm slowly coming to see that my primary role is to be a DAD! And I'm loving it!!

Anyway, enough about me... Bless you heaps Tony.

Tom Muir


Dear Tony - you and your daughter and family are in our thoughts and prayers during this awful time.

Love from the Kellett family.
XXX


Shalom Tony,

I have just read Warwick's message of last Sunday.

Praise Yahshua our risen Lord. Praying in His name I believe that as we speak the Scriptures in faith we have what we ask. I have asked for total healing for Shannon. I have also prayed for peace and comfort and strength for yourself.

In His Strength,
Trevor D'Enyar


Hi Tony my heart goes out to you at this time mate. I pray for your daughter and the power of our loving God bring her through this ordeal. I also pray for you and your family. I have a daughter too, they are such a treasure. What you must be going through.

Blessings in Christ
Neal Flatley.





30 October 2006

Day 17.

Shannon is still struggling for her life. She is good one minute, not so good the next. Yesterday they reduced the sedation to see how she handled it. She struggled with her breathing, blood pressure etc but got through the day. She is sedated now. We brought her little boy Rhys in to see her after the nurse suggested it may just bring her around. She responded to my voice and that of her family, I believe also to her little boys touch and voice. He wanted to go to mummy but of course could not... She cannot speak, move her toes or fingers. We are trying to communicate by her blinking once for yes twice for no. She struggles even with this. But I am sure she is still with us. I can see it in her eyes, struggling to get back to us. Her husband said last night that she puckered up her lips when asked for a kiss, I didn't see it, but I hope so.

Among all the sadness I was able to speak to her mum over the weekend and apologise for my behavior as a young bloke when I was with her. I just wanted to tell her I was sorry for the part I played which I have to admit I am not proud of. We were both in our late teens when Shannon was born, a couple of kids with a couple of kids. No excuse though for my behavior and I felt better in telling her that. Sad it takes 30 years to apologise to someone isn't it.

I was standing out the front of the hospital last night, having a smoke, yes, I'm back on, when an old lady came out in her dressing gown and seeing me visably upset asked how I was going. I explained the circumstances and as I was telling her she bit me for a smoke as she had run out. Talking to the old dear who looked in her 80's she said she would say a prayer for my daughter. I finished up giving her my newly purchased packet bar a couple for ron. I thought it a good trade a packet of smokes for a prayer. As she shuffeled back into the hospital I sung out "what r u in here for?" "Emphaseamia" (not sure if that's how it's spelt but u get the meaning), she smiled with a glint in her eye, I smiled back and shook my head. Beautiful. The people u meet.

Nigel drove all the way down from our Port Macquarie group to spend a couple of hours with my beautiful girl. Dave from dids Nowra sent some beautiful flowers up via his mums garden I suspect, who lives here in Penrith. Actually that is where I am sending this from as they have been so kind to allow me the use of their computer. Thanks Jenny & Mick, you are lovely people. And just after I purchased a set of ear plugs too. Graeme from Penrith dids also offered the use of his computer. I am going to try and get the cottage connected today.

Thanks for all your beautiful messages, I apologise I just cannot get back to you individually, but you are all in my heart and you give us great strength with the energy you are sending both Shannon and I.

There are too many stars in heaven for the moment I ask that this one lights up the earth a little longer.......

Thanks
Tony Miller


(Emphysema also pulmonary emphysema = a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness.)




27 October 2006

I've decided buy some f.......ear muffs. Here I am sitting in a library paying $10 an hour and it's noisier here then in the looney toons cafe at $3.50. People taking mobile calls, girls gossiping, laughing out loud, the guy next to me dumping his girlfriend, the girl two computers up discussing her debts. I mean I am F..... amazed!!!!! I thought libraries were that nice quiet place for reading, research, reflection. Or is it just this F....... town. People have just lost all respect. I will buy some ear plugs. F......em.

Sorry if I sound angry, I am.

My little princess, sorry, our little princess is still very ill. Temp between 39-40 all day, heart rate 145s and up. Doctors say expect this for weeks. I am have been stroking her hair, talking to her. Took up some moisturiser and massaged it into her hands and feet. Nurse said she would love that. Purchased a CD player and asked her friends to bring in CDs that she liked. Her mum says she liked Red Hot Chilli Peppers, doubt that they will allow her to play that in ICU, but stranger things have happened.

The nurses and doctors in the ICU here at Nepean Hospital are excellent, Amy, Matt, Neil, Rebecca and all the others, I cannot remember everyones name but they are being so helpful and kind. I sneak in after hours and I'm allowed to stay with her to the early hours.

I argued with GOD today saying he has enough stars in heaven at the moment surely he wouldn't miss one for a while, just let my little girl shine on earth a little longer. Don't know if he heard me but I think he did.

The ICU waiting room would have to be the most unhappiest place there is. People waiting, devastated, in tears, bewildered, sleeping, walking back and forth awaiting news about their loved ones, some get good news and there out of there others well, we just wait.

I am trying to brighten Shannon's room with some photos or cards positive messages, so if u find the time and can send something:

Shannon Miller
C/o ICU NAPEAN HOSPITAL
PENRITH NSW 2750

would be appreciated.

Now I'm off to find some ear muffs, I can't handle it anymore.

Tony Miller





Our prayers are with you and your family Tony.
xxx

Robyn and Peter Jenkins





26 October 2006

Day 13.

Not much to write. A night of ups and downs, blood pressure low, heart rate high, Temp high. Doctors say expect same for the next few weeks. I guess at least they are talking the next few weeks.

Thanks for your kind messages, I am struggling to answer you at present. I feel very humbled, very undeserving, I just dont have it in me to write tonight.

Tony Miller


Dear Tony,

You, Shannon and your family are in our thoughts and I hope you don't mind that I was thinking about you today and wrote this.

She's our daughter too, or so it would seem
How could this happen, is it just a bad dream

All of us are with you, you are not alone
Not giving up, until you come home

Next thing we all need is our girl and our mate
Out with the family, and we just can't wait.

Never forget, you are surrounded by love.

Hang in there mate, I wish there was more we could do. If there is anything don't hesitate.

Take care
Chris, Elizabeth and family.





25 October 2006

Re: A dad in distress needs your help urgently.

My beautiful daughter needs your help, please send some positive energy her way.

Tony Miller


Tony... you came to our city to give, we sat silently in admiration hearing the gift you and your team so freely hand to those who are so much in need. We ate with you and shared stories, you listened... we felt better. You left.. we wanted to kidnap you...we look at your gift...it echos hope. We send it back to you wrapped in prayers...sent by the Spirit...sealed by the Throne of Grace.

Christine.


PLEASE PASS ON OUR PRAYERS TO TONY AND FAMILY, MY NAME IS BEVERLEY AND I AM A COUSIN OF TONYS (RAYS DAUGHTER). HAVE BEEN GETTING NEWS VIA THE MILLERS. TONY HAS HELPED SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE IN DISTRESS LET US HOPE IT IS HIS TURN TO GET SOME GOOD KARMA BACK.





25 October 2006

Here I am sitting in this f..... internet cafe surrounded by people who seem to want to speak out loud instead of keeping their f...... voices to themselves. I have had it, getting a bit testy as u can no doubt read. Fair dinkum I must have every nutter in Penrith sitting here within earshot. It is taking all my strength not to just shove an elbow in the guys face sitting next to me just to shut him up but it would be of no use because the minute he is quiet another starts up.

Shannon I was shocked yesterday to see my little princess in such a state. Where had they put my little girl? Where was my daughter? The person laying there was someone else, that wasn't my little girl, my little girl was full of life, she had a beautiful smile, she was alive with life. What had they done with her?

Yet it was my little girl unable even to move a finger, unable to squeeze my hand, struggling to breath. I wanted to bring in a photo I had of my little princess back in my room. I wanted to show the nurses that this was my little girl, this is what she looked like. I wanted to put it above her bed. After speaking with Bronte her nurse for the night she thought it was a good idea so I rushed off and retrieved it and it now stuck proudly next to her bed. Now all the nurses can see who they are really working on.

James sent me a message this morning: How's our Princess? I liked that, you see it's now OUR princess, Thats what our guys in dids are like. I dont know what I would do if it wasn't for all those guys support.

Spoke to the doc this morning it seems the pneumonia has cleared but what she has is 'ARDS' - Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, She also has another infection and they are awaiting results to detect what it is.

I spoke to a lady who's daughter has been in there for 3 months on the same machines with a lung disorder, three months! And she comes over to me and says I will pray for your daughter. Do you believe that. Here is this women in total anquish over her little girl and she takes the time to tell me she will send up a prayer for mine. So I guess we will both be praying for each others kids.

I have stopped smoking since being here with Shannon and I guess thats why I am testy but I have got to say I think I have landed in the looney tunes internet cafe here. I guess you have gotta laugh, theres been too much crying........

Tony Miller


Information about ARDS




24 October 2006

Re: A dad in distress needs your help urgently.


My beautiful daughter needs your help, please send some positive energy her way.

Tony Miller


A prayer from everyone in CRC (Children's Rights Council) for Shannon Miller's full recovery. May she be totally well again.

David


Hi Tony;

Just to let you know that our prayers are with you daughter in hopes that she will recover soon:)

God Bless!!

Doug Guelph, Canada


Dear Tony,

I concur with John Abbotts kind words below and are thinking of you and your daughter. I know how proud you were at the birth of your grandchild and feel deeply for you at this time. You certainly don't deserve this challenge.

Yours Faithfully,
Mark Bourne.
Chairman Richard Hillman Foundation.


Dear Tony,

my sincere regards to you in this most trying time. It is said that God is just, so I look forward to hearing of your daughters recovery. Until then know that you and Shannon are in the thoughts of many of us,

John Abbott -Richard Hillman Foundation.


Hi Tony,

so sorry to hear about Shannon. If you need some time out from visiting at Nepean and want me to pick you up and take you for dinner / go for a drink / whatever, you can reach me on my mobile.

wishing you strength

Micheal Woods
Senior Lecturer
University of Western Sydney


Hi Uncle Tony

Just a note to let you know our thoughts and prayers are with both you and Shannon. We are praying that Shannon has a full recovery. I'm sorry I really don't know what else to say, just that we love and are praying all we can for Shannon.

All our love
Trish and Andrew


Tony, I'm sending her strength, and to you too

Geoff Price


Tony

I trust that all the love that has been expressed to you will hold you firm. You and your beloved daughter are in my thoughts. You have and always will have my support.

Love the campaigning granny
Di


Hi Tony

I am thinking and praying for you and Shannon during this testing time. God is with you and so are my prayers and thoughts.

God bless you as you see God's hand move.

"Be still and know that I am God" Ps 46:10

Llewellyn Lazaro





24 October 2006

Day 11.

My daughter is undergoing a tracheostomy while I write this. Doctors believe it will allow her to breathe easier and they can remove all the tubes that presently are causing her much discomfort and after this length of time come with their own complications.

I have just read the messages for Shannon on the site and have tears rolling down my face while I sit here helpless in this damn internet cafe. She looked the worst I have seen today but I am a big believer in prayer and I know God willing she will be ok.

I cannot thank everyone enough for the messages of support often from people I have never met personally. Thank you so much. I tell Shannon continually of your messages and am sure she hears me.

Warrick Marsh from the Fatherhood Foundation came up to the hospital today and prayed for Shannon. Calls have just flooded the phone, thank you so much.

While holding her hand today it just felt so lifeless, she looked the worst I have seen so far but I just keep brushing through her hair with my fingers or stroking her arm or just holding her hand telling her it will all be ok. Just relax and let the doctors and nurses help you. Dads here and I am not going anywhere.They probably think I am nuts up there but I believe she hears me somehow.

Anyway I have got to get back there, I wish I had some inspiration on what to say but I haven't, just a thank you humbly for all your love and concern, you have restored my faith in humankind, thank you............

Tony Miller




23 October 2006

Re: A dad in distress needs your help urgently.


My beautiful daughter needs your help, please send some positive energy her way.

Tony Miller


Hi Tony,

I'm so sorry that you are going through this situation. I am thinking of you and knowing you i feel your daughter is going to make it. I get up every morning saying "Bigger, Better, Stronger" I am now saying it for Shannon and would like to pass on my thoughts and support to shannon and your self. Mate.... Family love is the strongest kind......... See you soon and take care.

Kind Regards,
Rob. (Rob Cass & The Cosmic Cowboy)


Dear Tony

We are sorry to hear of your daughter's fight for her life. Our prayers and thoughts are with you. God is willing to listen and help so we all need to make sure that this happens. Tony spends his life helping others, it is now our time to help Tony by our prayers.

May god bless Tony and his family and bring his daughter back to him. Only those who have had to fight for the right to have contact with their children can fully understand the anguish that this family must be going through. Let's all abnd together and pray for a miarcle for this wonderful human being Tony Miller, and that he may have a long life ahead of him with his precious daughter.

Matthew Allison & Lesley Wakeling
Port Macquarie


Hi Guys,

My son and I do Special Prayers every night over the Phone we will do one for you tonight..

I had my Mum in Hospital and she almost did not make it so I made a pledge to give One Year of My life to her, someone was listening as Mum is now Home and doing a lot better..

Its worth a try

Ray Hull


My prayers will definitely be added to yours. Great to hear there are people in DiDs with faith. We were never meant to function without the Almighty.

Rob Koch


Hi Tony,

I will have you all in my thoughts and prayers. Please remember to take good care of yourself as well as your girl. She will need you when she wakes.

Barb M


Tony, we are praying that your daughter gets well soon.

Kate


Dear Tony,

We, the team at DADS ON THE AIR, are all with you at this emotional time of need. You are very much in our thoughts, as you and your family care for your much loved daughter Shannon.

We pray for a speedy recovery for Shannon and ask that the many, many brownie points you have earned, by helping so many others in their time of need, will be favourably considered.

As Shannon has indeed inherited a strong fighting spirit in her Miller genes, she will not give up easy and her fight will be gallant. Be strong, we are with you.

Our Kind Regards
DADS ON THE AIR


Hi Tony,

thinking of you mate & of Shannon, & sending my thoughts and intentions, along with a touch of Healing. My scattered but happy family unite in this Sending.

Amber says 'Gidday' (she'd never forgive me if I forgot to add that in).

I'll drop in to see Nigel & we'll share a prayer.

Luv Ya mate,
John




22 October 2006

Re: A dad in distress needs your help urgently.


My beautiful daughter needs your help, please send some positive energy her way.

Tony Miller


My deepest wishes for recovery and thoughts are with you Tony from one Dad to another may Shannon find the strenght to make a full recovery.

Stuart


Prayers and thoughts still with you shannon and tony...

dave (Nowra)


Dear Tony!

We are thinking of you and your daughter and are hoping for a miracle. If there is anything we can do, please let us know.

Best whishes to you and your family, stay strong

from
Norbert, Gudrun, Alexander, Andreas and boy's


Dear Tony,

Just heard the news about your daughter being unwell and in intensive care - was very upset to hear this happen to such a decent, dedicated and devoted person such as yourself. I wish you all the very best for your daughter Shannon and will pray that her condition starts to improve back to a full recovery. All the very best and take care.

Regards,
Brian Morris


Dear Tony & precious daughter,

Please know that at this time, we (Bruce & Alison and our four teenage/adult children) are praying for you.

Whilst we know not what the future holds, we know who holds the future. As thy days, so shall thy strength be... The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut. 33:25b, 27a)

Bruce & Alison Finlayson


Am in deep prayer for you, brother. God bless you and your beloved. I trust and hope that all will be well.

Dave (Rev. David B. Smith)


Dear Shannon and family,

My hopes for your health and happiness go out to you. Try to find happiness in your day, in some special way find a smile, tell a happy story, be the best for each other.

Shannon you have a wonderful life, so many people love you. Be strong, be happy for every moment of living your life. Happiness will save those it can. Sadness will eat away at whatever chances we may have. Try to be happy about the love you share with your family. I am happy for you that you have so many people in your life that love you so much.

While writing this letter is making me shed a tear it also makes me happy that I can share in the love that is your life.

Best wishes and a smile to you, I am going to have a happy day for you Shannon,

Dan and family.


Shannon, We are all praying for you and we are very sad that you are so ill. You are now in our thoughts and prayers.

Our love and warm wishes to all the members of her family.

Cheryl King & Liam Magill- Melbourne


My thoughts are with you in your struggle and I pray for a good outcome. Hang in there.

Love
Charly


Tony and Shannon

My heart and thoughts have been with you since learning that you Shannon have been ill.

My arms have been stretched out to hug you both and your loved ones.

I hope that you can feel the love and good will around you wanting to keep you safe Shannon, safe enough that your Dad can read you the messages sent and safe enough that you can smile as you hear the good will of your Fathers 21st Century tribe.

Keep Faith and Hope
D4E


Tony - I was so saddened to read today of the illness of your daughter - it is horrific, and one can only imagine what you are going through right now. You have done such a lot to alleviate the distress of other Dads, and do not deserve to suffer so. How I wish I could wave a magic wand and make things better, but of course I can't, and can only send my care and support.

Hang in there Tony - we are all "barracking" for you and Shannon.

Kindest regards,
Kay Muddiman



"I'm sure that I can safely say that the vast majority of Australians wish to convey their heartfelt wishes to Shannon for a speedy recovery from her illness and that you and Tony are in our prayers.

You will find strength and guidance within

Dave


Tony and Shannon,

All of my prayers are with you, i hope and pray that Shannon makes a full recovery, and that you too are coping well.

Prayers and Best wishes
Gary


Message for Tony.

Am putting Shannon's name on our parish telephone prayer list. Will also have her on the prayer lists for the various parish prayer and study groups who meet on different days of the week, as well as the prayers at our midweek and Sunday services. Will hold Shannon up in our own personal prayers.

We will ask for a miracle.

Prayers & blessings,
Kevin & Judy Lewis
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Kawana Waters.


To Shannon,

Keep fitting my family's prayers thought and best wishes are with you. Stay a little while longer. I am praying for you recovering.

John, Monica and Sam Drewe


Shannon

Stay cool
Rest your head knowing that your husband, your baby, your dad and thousands of others care about what is happening now. Feel the spirit of the crazy, happy people around you. We have all been through dark times.

God Bless you Shannon - I hope you can see the beauty of life, as I can at last. And I wish that your nurses are vigilant.

Your dad is a tireless trooper. You must have the same blood.

Take Care
Keiran





22 October 2006

Firstly thank you to everyone for beautiful messages that are being sent to Shannon and myself. I asked our webmaster to start to put them on the site as I believe while other people are reading them their essence and purpose is repeated. In my little girls state of sedation I know all these positive vibes and prayers will surround her.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Day 9.

My beautiful girl is sleeping. She has been heavily sedated to give her body a rest and some time to heal. While I was by her side I wiped a tear from her eye, a sign to me that she is still with us and that she knows I am there. I keep telling her I love her and to hold on.

One of my guys, James drove down from Newcastle after work the other night just to spend a few hours with me. I was grateful for the company. All the guys from dids have been so supportive; I guess we all understand the loss of our little ones more then most.

I wanted to put on some more of the hundreds of messages for Shannon today but I need to get back down to her. Perhaps I will do it tomorrow. To be honest I'm exhausted.

I shot home this weekend to gather some clothes, my car etc and head back down there. I think I cried all the way from Penrith to Coffs Harbour. I wanted to spend some time cuddling my little bloke as it is normally our weekend together as he is concerned for Shannon as well. Thank you to Cassidy's mum, that was made possible. We even seem to be speaking civilly to each other, amazing what anguish brings.

Tony Miller


Dear Shannon,

Don't you give up girl, you just keep fighting. We made a deal you and me. We said we had missed too many years already darling, we said that we would make up for that. So don't you give up now girl. I am sorry for spending so much time fighting others fights and maybe not spending as much time with you as I should. I promise that when you come home I will ring you everyday just to say I love you. Your little boy is missing you as is your brothers and family.

Cassidy's class at school say a prayer everyday for you as do thousands of good people all over the world believe it. We just want you home darling. I know you are in pain and if I could swap places with you I would in an instance. You're my little girl Shannon, you always will be. Heaven isn't ready for you yet. There are enough stars in the sky. You're a fighter mate, just keep fighting and allow the good doctors and nurses around you to help. Cassidy and I lit a candle by your picture on Friday its still burning as is the love in our hearts,come home soon Shannon.

Love you dad X X X X X X



A few of the messages

Matt Miller CSA sends his thoughts and prayers


Ken Ticehurst MP sends his thoughts and prayers


Barry Williams Lone Fathers has rung every day offering support


Warwick & Alison Marsh Fatherhood Foundation have sent their prayers & that of their family


Thinking of u both. I can come & sit in your place if u need a rest Wendy F


Hi brother, just left tonights meeting. All our prayers r with u, Your not alone Laurence Vic dids


Prayers & wishes r with u mate, GOD is there, HE wants a victory. First to give up loses. No quitting, Keep the fight alive, praying for protection Dave Coffs


As much as GODS grace as can possibly be begged 4 tony with love Rhonda R


Mum & Julie both here, both concerned, mum will pray 4 shannon too Leona


We hear u mate, will be down on our knees for her Dean Vic


Tony prayers & well wishes to you & your daughter, get some rest, take care, prayers from MT Isa


I heard what was happening, you r in my thoughts, sincere best wishes Toni Brown CSA


Have been sending up prayers mate as have friends Dave


Love u tony, thinking of u & family anon


Hey tony, prayers r with u and your beautiful girl, strong u both r lots of love Rebecca


Our thoughts and prayers r with u & shannon best wishes from all at the mud huts John B


Praying, is there anything u need that i can do, know the love of Jesus, u & yours r special Nige & Kath


I will pray 4 her Alan V


Am by your side while she needs prayers and me the chief of sinners, GOD listens to us, Keep with her Col


Only trying to repay some of what u have done for me & thousands of others James


All the best 4 ur daughter tony, be strong, thinking of u paul g Bris


My thoughts r with u & shannon Lindsay J


Tony how r u holding up mate, u r in my thoughts & prayers also my friend and family will be praying for Shannon tonight Ed WA


Hi Tony hope ur daughter is ok, I will pray 4 her Glen Gold Coast


Tony shannon i am still with u, u r still in my every thought & prayer Col S


Thinking of u both, if theres anything i can do let me know Chris Anna Bay


our prayers r with u,stay strong in the faith, keep your eyes on him Terry Allen


We r all here with u mate. dont let go of hope, its the glue that keeps us together, u & shannon r always in our thoughts Tony L


Just got the horrible news, we all pray & hope 4 quick recovery dids nowra




15 - 21 October 2006

Prayers and Greetings for Tony's daughter, Shannon Miller

Guys,
Shannon is not well as read below. Pls send up your prayers.
David


Tony

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter.

Lou Pacella


Thank you for the message, and have been praying tonight and will contiue for Shannon and Tony.

Thank you
Colin Spratt


David,

Please pass on my prayers and best wishes to Tony for Shannon's speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with him and we feel the pain. How much more indescribable pain then is Tony feeling right now. Let Tony know that we are praying for Shannon and his whole family. And let him know that we love him.

I have asked my daughter Zosia to pray as well.

And my best wishes to all the guys at Dids in Coffs. May God bless you all and give you strength to be fathers, to live each day, to celebrate life and family, to love unconditionally, to hold the hand of your children and carry them in your heart through adversity and separation. May God protect your children and I pray that we all have faith in His grand design for families and the love of fathers for their children. That we should know that our individual vocations in life are His concern, that we are infinitely loved and important to God.

Edward Dabrowski


Dear Zosia,

Would you please say a prayer today for someone who is very sick. Her name is Shannon and she is the daughter of my friend Tony Miller. Shannon is so ill that she is on a life support machine in hospital in Sydney. Prayers are very powerful and God listens.

So would you say a prayer for Shannon to get well again and for her Dad who is so upset and worried When many people pray silently and as a group, God listens. Their prayers are an outpouring of love and like a chorus of music that fills heaven, God is very pleased.

I love you with all my heart,
Dad.


Please pass this to Tony.
Thoughts and prayers are with you Tony & Shannon

Chris H
Bundy


thoughts and prayers for shannon and you tony

David


Tony

We are thinking of you these trying days, and hoping your daughter will soon be well again.

Best wishes
Michael Green


Hello Guys,

Would you please pass on to Tony Miller that the prayers and best wishes are with Tony and his family during this crisis with his daughter.
Our prayers are with you Tony & family.

Regards,
Ross Parks
Communications Officer
Queensland Local Government Super Board


Tony

You, your daughter, and your family are in my prayers. God bless you all, I will pray for the almighty's power of healing and also for the doctors and hospital staff looking after her.

In his name
Colin


Tony,

Thanks mate... Prayers coming in... 3 new guys at mtg in Coffs 2nite. Great mtg.

David


Hello Tony. Very sorry to hear about your daughter's illness. I send both her and you my best wishes and positive energy.

Lee


To Tony,

all the members of the Dee Why Sydney branch of dids send you their best wishes, prayers and thoughts. As fathers we can only imagine what you are going through. The ways of the universe are mysterious and not based on fairness or justice. Hopefully, love and strength will pull Shannon through.

Greg Stock


Please pass on to Tony my sincere wish for the recovery of Shannon.

I was informed about this crisis that Tony has had to face by a call from Ed Dabrowsky last night. We all over here in W.A. are behind yah mate and even though we may not be over religious, are definitely praying to the creator for consolation for you Tony, and strength and the will to fight it for Shannon.

My personal kindest regards Tony.
Paul Harrod, Anthony and Neptune


Hi Tony,

I am so sorry to hear about Shannan. I do hope she will be alright. My prayers are with you.

Trudy


Hi Tony

I heard that your daughter is unwell in hospital. We are thinking of you both and hope that all goes well.

Regards
Coral Slattery
Honorary Secretary,
FAMILY LAW REFORM Assn of NSW Inc.


Dave,

I'm sincerely sorry to hear about Tony's daughter.

Our prayers are with him.

Regards,
Ross


Paul, Anthony and Neptune went down on our knees tonight and asked the creator to give Shannon the strength to fight for her recovery and the support for Tony in his time of immense need of a miracle. Our God must recognise what help Tony has given to so many others to save their lives, surely he will intervene and help him to save this precious life.

Kindest Regards,
The Harrod Family, Mandurah.


Dear Tony,

I have been away for a couple of weeks and have just heard about your daughter. I pray that she soon recovers and that the faith of you and your family somehow increases in your trials and time of suffering.

This is the enigma of the suffering Messiah, that cannot be explained in any earthly understanding, but gives us hope that no matter how bad things get there is always that hope of a bright new day.

May you be blessed in your work,
Bev Pattenden, G.I.D.S.


Hi David,

My prayers and thoughts are with Tony and his family and hope that that miracle can come their way. I will ask my friends to pray as well.

God bless,
Maggie





19 October 2006

Today I called a priest to anoint my daughter. I figure she needs all the help she can get. She went well there for a while but has played up this afternoon. She is just not ready to be woken up yet, so they have sedated her more to settle her back down. She was crying today, I caught the tears running down her face, other then that she hasn't the strength to move a finger. They need to move her around, physic and she doesn't react to it well. I told the nurse she will probably be glad she is sadated because she has a will of her own and can be a bit of a handful. I love her just the same. I was getting a bit toey this afternoon myself so decided it best to get out of there to settle down, collect my thoughts and write, as it seems to settle me down.

I have started collating all the messages and sms's everyone has sent to give her when she awakens. And she will awake. I am a big believer in the power of prayer and I know thanks to you that she is getting plenty of prayers.

I feel pretty helpless at present, just sitting by her bedside. I missed so much of her life and now just sitting there watching her struggle to breath well I just don't know how to explain how I am feeling.

Randall rang from the office today and told me we were broken into again last night, the second time in as many weeks. This time they trashed the place, stole a laptop, projector among other things. Apparently my office is a mess, maybe they just don't realise it's always like that. Randall apoligised for telling me but needed some info for police etc. I said it's ok as it got my mind away from what is happening here.

Where I am staying is called the "Hope Cottage" and it is a bunch of units funded by Rotary to enable people like me from out of town to stay close to their loved ones in hospital. It is basically in the car park. They have two computers but are not connected to the internet. I have told them that dids will sponsor $1000 to connect them as lots of people would benefit from being able to email family and friends and even search the net for information regarding their loved ones illness. I dont know where we will get the money but we will from somewhere. So many people have been so kind to us I am sure they wont mind us sharing that kindness around. What goes around, comes around. Please keep up your prayers and positive energy for Shannon and feel free to add in here your messages to her.

Thanks for listening
Tony Miller




18 October 2006

Day 5 and my beautiful daughter is still asleep although they are trying to bring her around slowly tonight. I have been sitting by her side day and night stroking her hair, holding her hand and just telling her I love her, telling her to keep fighting, telling her of all the good times ahead and apologising for the not so good times in the past.

Her partner is with her now so I have gone for a walk to the internet cafe to send this. She looks better today than yesterday but very puffed up with all the fluids they are giving her. Her hands are so swollen. It's strange sitting there looking at your daughter struggling to breathe and noticing a mole here, a scratch there, things you haven't noticed before like her long nails she has so carefully sculptured, even the tiny purple painted toenails she has. I found it sad when looking at her and thought isn't it amazing how women do little things like take the time to paint their toenails etc. to look attractive to us males and I bet most of us don't even notice.

I prayed to GOD to swap places with her today if he really needs to fill a space right now, she still has so much life to live. Her family and mine have rallied around but the amazing thing is the messages and sms's from people far and wide who don't even know her, yet have been so kind to offer their love and support. I am blown away and feel very humble and when we get through this I will publish some of these beautiful messages for Shannon to see...

For tonight at least, it seems heaven is booked out, so thankfully she remains with us..........I love you mate.
Keep fighting...love dad xxx


My deepest thanks to those that are keeping my beautiful girl alive Kim, Darren, Lorraine, Robyn, Anne, Pheabe and everyone else in intensive care Napean Hospital you are my heroes.

Tony Miller




16 October 2006

Sitting in an internet cafe down from the hospital my daughter is in. Received many calls and sms from concerned friends. My daughter doesn't know it but she has thousands of dads out there and I have thousands of mates.

She is on life support after being found unconscious at home a couple of days ago. It's hard watching my beautiful girl lying there with all the apparatus attached that is keeping her alive and not being able to do anything but touch her, reassure her you are there by her side, ask her to be strong and pray that she somehow hears you and that the Good Lord isn't ready for her yet.

I am humbled by the sms and phone calls offering prayers and support for her. They often say you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about that watching my little girl in hospital. The people here at Nepean Hospital have been wonderful and I cannot say enough about their care and compassion. The flight attendants at VirginBlue were also fantastic especially in dealing with a dad who absolutely lost it over the news of what had happened.

So I apologise to everyone that I am out of action for a while. I am staying here on the hospital grounds to be by my girls side. I love her so much, it's a shame we don't say that enough as you never know if the opportunity will be taken from you.

It was only a little over 12 months ago I shared here, that I was in this same hospital, celebrating the birth of my grandson with Shannon the proud mum.

I will try and keep you all up to date on what's happening, this seems the easist way as I cannot possibly reply to all the calls.

My girls name is Shannon Miller, please if you are a prayer, keep her in your prayers.
Thank you honestly, humbly.......

Tony Miller




11 October 2006

A reminder to us all..........

Dear Tony,

Please find enclosed a cheque, in memory of our beloved Kent Restell, who committed suicide on 10.8.06.
Monies were donated in lieu of flowers at Kents funeral on 17.8.06
Please use this donation to help prevent other families from having to endure the pain and torment that has become our lives.

Yours Sincerely Michelle


Yes Michelle we will do exactly as you request. I receive lots of these letters, unfortunately more and more as the days go on. As much as the donations help us in our work I would of course rather of not received them. I would rather have had the opportunity to talk with Kent. I would rather be with him right now maybe having a beer with him. Maybe just showing him that I care. I would like that his family and friends had not to grieve his loss. But it happens sadly and those that are left behind suffer and struggle to come to terms with it. My concern now is for them, that they are ok, that they are receiving support. And we offer that support to them, a hand of friendship and we honour his memory for them...............Doesn't sound enough does it, well it's not. We also won't stop pressing whatever buttons we have to, until someone sits up and takes notice of the unnecessary loss to this country of its males..........

SAVE OUR MALES NOT JUST OUR WHALES !

OUT OF THE 7 SUICIDES A DAY IN AUSTRALIA 5 MALES SUICIDE EVERY DAY IN THIS COUNTRY ALONE

It's time to stop brushing it under the carpet and its time we did something about it.

Tony Miller




10 October 2006

Just arrived back from Wollongong. I was there catching up with my group leaders there and speaking at an engagement of the Fatherhood Foundation who were running a group for fathers and also having some quality time with my boy over the holidays. Warwick Marsh is doing a fantastic job helping dads find their strengths.

The week previously I was in Mount Isa opening a new group there thanks to the help of Christine from Family Support Services and the Neighbourhood Centre and Shane who has picked the rock up there. While I was in the Isa I couldn't help but have the utmost admiration for the work the people do in the people services there. What a tough job they have. Centacare as well are doing awesome work there. These people need medals as far as I am concerned. It takes a lot of dedication and guts to do what these people do and I honour them for their work. While I was there I did a couple of interviews on radio and spoke to the people at imparja television who were practically pleading with me to come to the Alice. "The suicide rate up there is double the national average'. I was told. We will be there soon. I promise.

Mining towns are renown for broken marriages. Shift work, long hours, nothing to do recreationally, unrelenting heat, broken dreams etc are all contributing factors. And of course the old John Wayne Theory of' I'm tough I can handle it', is rampant in The Isa.

But what struck me also was the devastation amongst our indigenous youth. What a tough life they live. I was introduced to the world of 'Chromers', (those that sniff spray pack paint) and the total devastation that practice brings upon them. Apparently at epidemic levels there and not just amongst the indigenous population. As a dad who has experienced the effects of drug abuse on family, I know only too well the heartbreak and destruction drug abuse wreaks not only on the user but the loved ones surrounding him or her. Different drug but in reality just a cheaper version with similar dire results.

The sadness to me is the loss of our youth, our future leaders. I saw signs everywhere, 'no sniffing here'! They get up the back in the tunnels and sniff there, just below the tourist lookout, while tourists snap happy shots of the mine oblivious to the destruction going on right under their noses. I was told by Christine who obviously feels the sadness and the helplessness for these kids and who is going the extra mile for these kids. When asked about how they get the paint I was told young girls and I mean young girls, offer favours to older males in return for them purchasing the paint. Petrol sniffing is also rampant. At $1.36 a litre I guess its much cheaper then the drugs of choice in the cities but none the less just as devastating. It fries the brain. I am sure this happens in the cities but seems all the more rampant amongst our rural youth.

We have got to wake up and we have to wake up quick. For far too long we have turned a blind eye on our rural youth. It's not in our backyard so it seems easier to dismiss. We don't have to look at it. So who cares. Well I do, I am a dad and I don't want to see our kids self destruct and I don't care if they are indigenous or white, they are OUR kids. We are supposed to be their leaders. Where are we leading them, not very far, as it seems we are turning our back on them. Who cares, well I do and I am sure any fairdinkum dad reading this does.

What's the answer? Well number one is stop turning our back on a problem that isn't going away. Own up to our mistakes of the past and offer some leadership to our youth. And support those such as Christine and her workers who are working at the coalface with little resources but with much heart.

Tony Miller




09 October 2006

I have been away these past few weeks and will follow up with another entry shortly but I thought this email I received on my return was very pertinent considering it has been said to me from a few of our female politicians that our website is too morbid and would encourage men to suicide not help them.

Talking about our problems openly and honestly is what our website is all about. Understanding you are not alone in your pain and that there are others who wish to extend a hand in friendship, love and compassion is often all it takes to turn a life around. There is nothing wrong with crying as a male, in fact the goal we seek is to get it out, get rid of the pain and move forward when and only when you are ready. Its time we stopped brushing the issue under the carpet and started opening exploring the possibilities that maybe just maybe dids is onto something.

Tony Miller


Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 11:43 PM
Subject: thank you

I have felt like I've been wandering aimlessly for 8 years trying to cope with the fact that I'm not a full time dad, as a parade of new "dads" move in and out of the house that my daughter lives in, spending child support money on xbox games and beer. I see my daughter every second weekend, but I have to drive 220 km each way and she never stays overnight. I've tried to find out how to fix this and what my rights are and every government department sends me on to someone else.

I just listened to "A call comes in - my wife took the kids and left... " on the web site and I've been in tears ever since. and still am. That poor guy, I feel his loss and confusion and helplessness with every breath. That phone call brought all of the pain to the surface and yet for the first time I felt like there were people who understood, and who have been through this process and could help shine a light in what is a terrible black place for so many people.

I've set the DIDS web page to be my home page.

Thank you.
Andrew


Download - A call comes in - my wife took the kids and left... (Audio file mp3 2,6MB)




30 August 2006

Lest we Forget
From the daughter of a Soldier.


Last week I was in Melbourneattending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen.

Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their uniforms, as they began heading to their gate everyone (well almost everyone)was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering.

When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red blooded Australian who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.

Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work, and enjoy our home without fear or reprisal.

Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He knelt down and said "hi,"the little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her.

The young soldier didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.

The mother of the little girl, who said her daughters name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Corporal and had been in Afghanistanfor 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter, Courtney, missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mum was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military looking walkie-talkie.

They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it.

After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, "I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you."

He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying "Your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon."

The mum at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet he saluted Courtney and her mum.

I was standing no more than 6 feet away as this entire event unfolded. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of moment turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.

We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices.

At the end of the day, it's good to be an Australian.


RED FRIDAYS

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday.
The reason? Australian's who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions.

Many Australian's, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Australia supports our troops.

Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every Australian who supports our men and women afar will wear something red.

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make Australia on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football team.

If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before Australia is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is..."We need your support and your prayers".

Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear something red every Friday.

THEIR BLOOD RUNS RED---- SO WEAR RED! --- Lest we Forget, Lest we Forget.

HAVE A GREAT DAY!
Anon





14 August 2006

I came home from Cairns to a message left by my 11 year old son on the answering machine. "Dad, remember Ken Wilson the guy you told me about who died in that car accident on the highway. Well it's the anniversary of the accident on Thursday. You told me to remind you, say a prayer for him dad, I will, love ya dad.........."

I didn't expect the message and have to admit I was a little surprised that he remembered. It was a quite a few years ago that I was driving down to the Central Coast from Coffs Harbour to see Ken Ticehurst MP for Dobell. I had an appointment with him to explain what our group was about and to discuss the issue of 5 males suiciding every day in this country. I wanted to enlist his help in combating the tragedy on the Central Coast. I hadn't met Ken before so didn't know quite what to expect.

On my way there I was travelling down the highway thinking of the impending meeting when out of nowhere from my left came a car that looked as though it was doing 150ks an hour and ploughs straight into the side of a car travelling directly in front of me. The impact pushed both cars into a rollover and straight down a slight embankment in the middle of the highway. Pieces of metal and plastic went flying everywhere. I was a few seconds behind the car that was hit. I pulled over and rushed down to the car that was hit, grabbing my mobile. I got to the first car and the two occupants a male and female were climbing out already. 'Bloody and bruised at least they were on their feet,' I thought. "What the hell happened?" they mumbled walking in circles in a daze. "Are you ok, are you ok?" I frantically asked. "Yes, Yes, I think so," the male said. "Did you see that?" he said. "Yes I saw everything, you are lucky to be alive." I quickly raced over to the car that came tearing out from the side street. There was no movement from the two occupants. The car was a mess, there was smoke billowing from the engine. The driver, a big man I guess in his 60s, was unconscious, so was the female occupant who I surmised was probably his wife sitting next to him. I couldn't get the door open it was so badly smashed in. I reached into the drivers window and fumbled looking for the ignition switch, which was pushed down near the floor. I found it and turned the engine off, I was scared it would catch fire and I wouldn't be able to get them out.

I got on my mobile and called 000. I stayed next to the car just patting the driver on the shoulder telling him to "hang in there mate, help is on the way." What seemed like forever, but was probably not, the police arrived. "Ambulance and rescue are on the way," he told me. "Just keep doing what your doing mate, your doing a good job." "Should we try and get them out?" I asked. "No mate, the ambos and rescue will look after that," he said.

So nervously I stayed there, just reassuring this guy and the lady sitting unconscious next to him that they will be ok. The policeman was walking back and forth making sure the other couple were ok and then coming back to me. "Your doing a good job mate, just stay with them if you can," he said. I didn't know what to do other then talk to them and utter a few faint prayers to the good Lord asking that he look after them. I felt pretty useless. I kept telling them they would be ok. I was drawn to keep squeezing the old guys arm assuring him. He seemed to be in worse condition then the woman. I doubted whether they could hear me but something just kept drawing me to repeat myself.

Finally the rescue crowd arrived and I was relieved to be ushered back to my car while they took over. The policeman came over and spoke to me while I was rolling a smoke leaning against my car watching the rescue crowd do their work. "Are you ok?" he asked. "Yeah sure," I said, not really believing myself. As he was getting the details of what had unfolded I saw them throw a blanket over the drivers body. "Shit, he was breathing a minute ago," I exclaimed to the cop, "I thought he would make it," I said sadly. "See it all the time mate, tragic isn't it," he replied. "Are you ok?" he asked again. "Yeah, I'm ok," I said.

After taking my details and description of what happened, I left the cop a dids business card and continued on my journey. I got thinking about the poor old guy and I guessed that he was a dad. I started to wonder how his kids were going to take the news. It wasn't long before I had tears rolling down my face and pulled over. I immediately rang my dad, told him what had happened and more importantly told him I loved him. With the thought of it could of been my dad I continued on my journey.

A few weeks later I received a call from the guys son who tearfully tried to thank me for offering assistance to his mum and dad. "Mum is still in hospital but she will be ok. Dad apparently had a heart attack at the wheel before flying out onto the highway. He was a good man, loved by many, thank you," he said between the tears.

The accident happened where the Bullocky Way meets the highway near Taree. I travel the highway often and ever since the accident I always stop there to have a smoke and have a talk to Ken. They put up a white cross on the corner opposite where the accident happened. It has a plaque with his name on it. Often I roll a smoke for him, I don't know if he was a smoker but I leave one stuck in a cable tie that is attached to the cross, just in case. It was on one of these journeys that I had my little boy with me and when he enquired what I was doing I related the above story to him. I was unaware that he noted the date on the cross and hence the phone message.... I guess Ken's death touched him too............ I'm proud of my little boy, he has found heart.............

I often ask the good Lord that if there is a space designated for me up there, well do ya reckon you could fit Ken into mine. I seem to ask the Lord that a lot especially with the tragic cases I see day in day out. I figure the amount of time I have asked him to squeeze someone in, that by the time I get there and if I do, I will be sleeping outside. Well let's just hope he has got a big place................


Death can show us the way, for when we know and understand completely that our time on this earth is limited, and that we have no way of knowing when it will be over, then we must live each day as if it were the only one we had.......Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 1926


Footnote; I eventually got to my appointment late that same day with Ken Ticehurst MP who took my concerns to Allan Cadman MP and who both raised the issue in Parliament. Ken tells me it was that meeting that got the ball rolling witch eventually led to 'Every Picture Tells A Story' the report on the inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation.

Tony Miller




28 July 2006

Well here I am in sunny Cairns QLD forcing a pale ale down my throat, sweat running off my brow from the heat, I mean all the work I am doing.

It's been an unusual trip to say the least. A lot of memories around every corner. You see I used to live here many years ago. So the memories have been of happily married times. Or maybe I just choose to remember them as happy.

I am emailing this from a bar and Internet Cafe called the "In Box Cafe". If you are ever in Cairns make sure you visit them. Dom, Justin, and the mad chef Trevor, all bound to force a few ales down your throat. Not only that but they are just bloody good blokes, all with their own very interesting stories. They opened their doors and their hearts to dads in distress, so support them if you ever up this way.

I was in Cairns for Peace Week, and addressed a conference about Peace for our children in their homes. I was also here to hopefully to get a couple of dids groups going. Thankfully I achieved that as some big-hearted men came forward and picked the rock up. Neil in the Atherton Tablelands came forward and got the ball rolling up there. Richie and Tony from 'Men Again' stepped up to the plate and will make things happen in Cairns that I am sure.

You know as usual I feel absolutely humbled to be in the presence of these guys and many more I met while I was here. They are already doing the work, they have been battling along saving lives without a lot of support. These are men with huge hearts and passion simply to help someone less fortunate. Many of the men have formed a group of dads and their kids who get together weekly and share their limited contact together. Beautiful to see and I am pleased to be able to offer our support to the men in far north Qld.

Channel Nine phoned me this morning and want to interview me next week over an article in the Daily Telegraph today. Apparently I have upset a few of the boffins with the full-page advert of SAVE THE MALES. They are offended and see it as dangerous. I look forward to the interview.

I am pleased that maybe our advert has hit a few nerves. I am pleased it has upset people. Because it's about bloody time they were upset.
5 MALES SUICIDE EVERY BLOODY DAY IN THIS COUNTRY.
That upsets me.
That upsets our group.
That upsets our men.

If we took out a full-page advert about breast cancer for women or maybe even prostrate cancer for men no one would batter an eye. But because we are raising the issue of MALE SUICIDE and we are sticking it very blatantly in people's faces, they don't like it. We have got to stop hiding when it comes to suicide. We have got to realise that fencing bridges is not the answer to stopping suicide in this country. Getting it out in the open, talking about it honestly and openly and offering support is the answer.

A few of us, myself included talked some guys down last week. They wouldn't be here today if we hadn't or the many valuable poorly funded organisations who do this work because they have passion.
Because they want to save lives.
Because they care.

If I have upset the applecart and got people talking about the issue, well I'm bloody happy about that. Right now Dom, Justin and Trevor are about to debrief me over a couple of ales. And you know what, I don't apologise for that either. I have got a team of Lifesavers on the job right now. It's time for Tony to debrief. I'm not sure about this XXXX, can't get used to that stuff.

Tony Miller







11 July 2006

I received the email below from one of my lifesavers this week. It shows the frustration we all feel at the coalface. The mate he speaks of was going through a relationship breakdown. He wasn't a dad in distress. He didn't feel the need to attend our meetings. He would of been welcome. He was a man of the 'John Wayne Theory'. I'm tough, I can handle it. Sadly he couldn't.

The reality is we still lose 5 males a day to suicide in this country regardless of the reason, it's just too many. Laurence talks about education and he is right. That is certainly what is needed and it wouldn't hurt Government to spend a few extra cents per head of male population to fund groups like us who are at the coalface to expand our vital service and provide that education.

Laurence like our other lifesavers is a man with a big heart who is passionate and cares about his mates, his fellow dids. Now he is left to grieve with family and friends. Part of the process of grief is getting it out as he did in his email. A big part of how dids works is the same, allowing those men who seek our support to grieve, to get it out, to live.

Tony Miller


On a very deep and personal note.

As you all know I have been involved with a local pool league for the last 2 or 3 years which has been a great source of support for me as well as a social outlet in darker times. One of my mates who would regularly kick my butt on the pool table and his partner (also a pool shark) who have been together for many years (and loved by all) recently announced their amicable separation to the group. If there ever was a couple to be voted most likely to make it, it was them. He was a typical Aussie wag who would do anything to help a mate, but he thought all this stuff about blokes sitting around talking through there problems was something of a weakness that he didn't have. After all he is a mans man, surrounded by good mates and family who understand what's going on.

I told him that one of my brightest moments in pool was beating him for the first time because he was one of the boys, the gang most feared on the table, beating him was like a ticket on to the team for me. He laughed and called me dick because now he worried about having to play me.

Talking with a bunch of his closest mates last night, I was shocked to here that on Thursday night, someone caught him throwing a rope over a beam in his garage, they called in the troops, but he made them promise not to tell anyone, it was a weak moment that's all. They did exactly what good mates do, they rallied around him, checked in on him regularly, made him promise that he wouldn't do something stupid again. They reminded him about his family and the suffering it would cause everyone. We love ya mate! They did everything that they knew to do.

On Sunday morning his best mate found him on the end of a rope in his garage and I'm totally devastated. Here I am running around trying to save the world and a mate I see every week tops himself right under my nose.

How do we get these guys to realise that its ok to ask for help. Its ok to admit that I don't have all the answers or that I'm not coping.

I'm so fucking frustrated right now. I know this guy would still be kickin my ass if someone had just known what to do, there's almost always a flare going up, a sign. There's no point talking about this now, there's at least a hundred friends and family that like me will live with that little bid of " If I had only" guilt no matter what we say or do now. All of them will have to live with what happened and the last thing anyone needs is some smart prick tellin them it was all avoidable. I must bore the crap out of people going on and on about what to do when its clear that's someone's not coping. The message just isn't getting through and its not their fault. We have to add effective suicide prevention education to our public awareness strategy mantra and find a way coz its not with us that the buck stops, its with them.

My final thought before I head off to play the game he loved with the woman and freinds he loved.

The ripples of my tears on the pond of life fan out in all directions and no greater cause and effect can be seen than when they carry the soul of a mate that should still be with us.

Laurence


Sorry to hear that mate, I know it is no consolation at this time but you just cannot save everyone. It's often those closest to you that don't put out a hand seeking help. It's happened to me on a few occaisions and I know how deeply it affects you. His destiny was decided long before you became involved. You have to accept that, as tough as that is.

Sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don't. The 'if only' scenario doesn't come into it. He knew what you do. He knew he had mates who loved and cared for him. He made a choice. And there isn't much you can do to stop that choice. Sometimes you have just got to let go mate, I know how tough that can be.

It's kinda like the Government fencing bridges to stop people suiciding off them. We all know once a guy has made up his mind there is not much you can do other then offer support. Your mates did that to the best of their ability and showed true mateship. Other then strapping him to the bed, what more could they have done? Yes, there were alternatives but they didn't know and no-one told you. Your trained, they were not. You all did your best.

He is in a different place now and found his peace. My concern now is for you. Take the time to grieve but also take the time to understand your successes. I have no doubt Laurence you have saved many lives down there. I even have some testimonials to back that up. Your a good man with a big heart.

Allow the time for your heart to heal and when you are ready, come back, use the anger and frustration of your mates death to forward the fight to end the epidemic of male suicide in this country. Education as you say, is the way to start. But understand we will never completely stamp it out. I am of the belief that some are not meant to be of this world.

I spent more then half my life trying to end it. No-one could stop me other then me. Now I feel I am blessed to be fighting the very thing that almost took my own life. And I am also blessed to have surrounded myself with big hearted men such as yourself. Take some time out mate, smell the roses, talk it over with your mate and whatever you believe to be your higher power. And when you are ready sing out. Take time, take care, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your mates and his family.

Sincerely
Tony Miller




08 July 2006

Well it was time to take my boy back today after spending the first half of the school holidays together. We were fortunate this time as I was able to save some money for an upcoming trip but ended up blowing it on the little fella over the holidays.

One of my dads in distress had his three little girls for the first half of the holidays as well and called in on his way up to Surfers Paradise. They were going to do all the theme parks and we were invited to join them for a couple of days. I thought it would be great for my young bloke as he would have someone to go on the rides with as I always seem to have all the symptoms they display on their warning notices for those that should not ride. Anyhow, I ended up flaunting a few and joined my young bloke and the girls on some of the rides. I have to say they scared the pants off me, but it was worth seeing and hearing my young bloke and the girls having the time of their lives. I was indebted to my mate for letting me share part of his time with his kids. I hadn't witnessed my young bloke laugh and smile so much in a long time.

Theme Park

The girls had a ball as well and were very, very brave. There seemed to be no ride that scared them, all but the littlest. They started to call me pop until they saw my disgruntled look ( I don't feel that old, although I am already a pop) and after I ventured on a couple of rides it was uncle and smiles all around. We shared lollies, ice cream, donuts, maccas, all the stuff we as adults are not suppose to eat anymore, but what the heck. It was good to be there. I had taken my family there many years ago, way before my young fella could remember. I remembered though. Once there was five of us now there was two.

One of the rides was a roller coaster in darkness. When I got off and the kids went back for 2nd's, 3rd's, 4th's, I sat there thinking that the ride pretty well summed up the roller coaster I and that of the many dads in distress I know have been riding over the past 6 years. Sharp twists and turns, up one minute down the next, going forward one minute, backwards the next, never knowing where the next turn will take you or what surprise is around the corner, all in utter darkness, not knowing what's coming next and then eventually emerging back out into the light. I was pleased to be out in the light.

No more time for thought, I was quickly snapped back into reality, what's next, Dad, Pop, Uncle........the Wild West ride let's go and we did.......two single dads, four kids, in a sea of families and we did good.......

Now it's back to the empty time but maybe not so empty as before. I can still hear their laughs......... I hope you are emerging into the light.

Tony Miller




27 June 2006

In the last diary entry I included an email from a young girl called Emma about her feelings towards her dad. It touched a lot of hearts and gave hope to those who thought there was none. The effects of divorce or separation hit hard on everyone concerned, especially our children.

In this entry I have included her most recent email and that of another called Mary. Emma's and Mary's story are two ends of the scale. One tells of hope and reconnecting with a father and his little girl, the other of grief and loss of the man she loved and of two little boys who will no longer have dad in their lives. One shows the positive of putting our children first and allowing them to share their precious time with both parents and the other the results of not allowing that to happen.

'If only we could get on', for our children's sake. 'If only we could get on'

Tony Miller


Hey tony,

Yes, i received ur package a few days ago and was about to thank you for it. I watched the two dvd's included, and found they were both very special, and i passed the brochures, buisness cards and other papers onto my teacher today. She was pleased and sais "theyd come in handy for next year" so thank u very much.My teacher was proud of the initiative i took in approaching you. Actually the other day i was sitting in maths class wen i got a note askin me to see the deputy principle. I was a little apprehensive, but when i walked into his office i knew i wasnt in trouble. Hed been sent an email from a man you work with! His reply was very touching and i didnt know that my email to u would have an effect like tht on the amount of people it did, including my CAFS teacher and my deputy principle. Its made me feel great knowing tht jus by telling you of how i felt, would give so many men hope.

Thanks again for all the info u sent to me, it all came in very helpful...and ill let u know how i went with my assignment.

Emma

And then.

Hi,

I have just found your website - I want to say please continue your efforts to help men and prevent what my partner and I have gone through.

Briefly:

My partner Bill has two beautiful boys (5 years & 2 years). After being thrown out of his home and giving everything (house, car, furniture, entire superannuation etc.) to his ex-wife, he divorced her. We met after his divorce and eventually starting living together. Access to the boys was at the ex-wifes whim - usually one day a fortnight. We eventually got to take the boys on a 4 day holiday after Christmas - however on return the ex decided that Bill had inflicted a bruise on his 2 year old (NOT TRUE!). Without police investigation, Bill was charged with assault. His lawyer quoted $7000 in fees - he tried to get a loan but discovered his ex had kept the phone on in his name, ran up a $1200 bill and he then has a default on his credit rating for the next 10 years.

After $2000 spent, Bill decided to represent himself. By the time of the case he hadnt seen the boys in 5 months. The case was dismissed after police didnt turn up, the ex wouldnt testify if she was going to be cross- examined etc. - it was an absolute farce.

After many more wrangles with the ex, we finally got to see the boys - who told Bill that mummy said he didnt love them or want to see them. Drop off time - she is nowhere to be seen!. Next day more texts saying Bill has poisoned the boys and more vitriole from her.

Bill realised this was never going to end - he committed suicide by hanging himself just over two weeks ago.

As you can imagine I am devastated - the man I love is gone. The ex even wanted to fight about having his ashes the day before his funeral.

Please convey to your members that no matter how hard it is - please never give up. I have lost the love of my life and the world now holds nothing for me. A good man was driven to this by a bitter ex wife and also a one-sided legal system. Please dont let his death be in vain!!!

Mary


Names have been changed for privacy reasons.




16 June 2006
Thank you for showing me my dads worth


I shed more then a few tears when I received this email this week. Why? Simply because it reflected why our work is so valuable and importantly that it is working. This young girl has shown us by her beautiful words that dad is still very much an important part of her life. It's not just a message to her dad, but to all our mums and dads out there. It's not about us, it's about our kids. There is a lesson in her email for all of us.

Tony Miller


Dear Tony,

I dont know if u will get to read this because i know that you are a very busy man, however, jus incase, by chance u happen to come across this email some time, id just like to tell you how deeply your site and work has touched me.

My name is emma, and i attend XXXXXXX high school. Currently im in year 12 and for community and Family studies (one of my subjects) weve been issued a research project on a service within our community. I came across ur site because i knew it was founded locally and it was something that appealed to me beacause my life has been turned upside down on more than one occasion by the seperation of my parents.

Reading the emails and letters from other people across the country made me relise that what ive experienced is nothing compared to the hurt families and children have felt before me, and no matter how bad things get, theres always less fortunate people out there. Maybe it was selfish of me to feel the way i have, because im fortunate to have my dad still in my life. My parents get on ok and can still act civially in the presence of one and other, more for the sake of my sister and i sometimes.

I love my dad so much and couldnt imagine not having him around. Hes taught me so much, and after reading the statistics on your sight im very thankful for all the time i get to spend with him.

Thank you, u have made me relise just how important my dad is, and why i lˇłove him so much, and maybe now, ill remind him a little more often.

I admire how u pick fathers up and help them in their time of need, and if half of Coffs cares as much as you do, im sure it would be a better place.

Thanks again for what you have shown me,

Sincerely
emma


Name and details have been changed for privacy reasons.




01 June 2006

Well here I am again, just returned from another busy week away visiting groups and attending the opening of the new joint CSA and Medicare Offices in Sydney by Minister Joe Hockey, Matt Miller General Manager CSA and Cathy Argall who is now in the hot seat heading Medicare.

Barry Williams the president of the Lone Fathers Association also attended as did many others.

I couldn't help but think as I looked around the new Sydney Offices in Parramatta of the money it must of cost. I mean don't get me wrong. I believe its about time we had a more suitable environment to seek help and clarification on CSA issues rather then having to line up in Centrelink queues when its the CSA we need to talk to rather then Centrelink.

I was also pleased to be shown some private interview rooms when I asked if there was a facility for our men who are distressed and needing possibly a more private setting. I don't know about you, but I personally have found it extremely confronting and a little embarrassing sitting in Centrelink explaining your circumstances, often in a distressed state and within earshot and eyeview of everyone and their dog. A little respect and understanding of what is an extremely emotional life event goes a long way.

But still I couldn't help but think if Men's Health was funded at just a smidgen of what these offices would of cost, how many lives could we have saved?

I was also able to bend Matt Millers ear a little and he told me of his plan to get CSA ranks out to the coalface. Get some dirt on their shoes as he put it. They need to see and experience what is happening out there, right at the coalface rather then from an office. I was pleased to hear it. It's about time that those on the other side of the desk experienced the reality of what is happening at the coalface and I believe he is moving in the right direction. I believe he is a genuine man who is trying to effect real positive change into an organisation that has becomeˇ? unfeeling of the personal tragedy its clients are experiencing. I hope he can do it. Getting his troops out to the people will go a long way in dissipating the angst. He is a brave man, I wouldn't want the job for quids.

I have also just returned from Canberra after attending a meeting with the Child Support Agency Registra's Advisory Panel and an information night held by Dads in Distress at Panthers Leagues Club in Newcastle which went a long way in dispelling the myth of what dids is all about. There will be many more coming.

While I was in Canberra I had the opportunity to ask a representative of the Attorney Generals Department at the (RAP) meeting if the new FRC's (Family Relationship Centres) were going to provide access for community based peer support groups for men and women within the new centres. I mean there is an awful lot of money being spent in setting these centres up and also a lot of community based peer support groups out there doing the work with little or no support saving the Government Millions of $. Surely it would make sense to allow these groups to offer their support to those that may need it. At the very least offering a free venue for these groups to utilise after hours when the meetings are held would offer some assistance. I mean let's be real, 3 hours of free counselling isn't going to cut it. Why not make use of what's already available. And while your there how about funding them appropriately. I think it fell on deaf ears, who knows?

I received a text message from one of our facilitators the other night, it simply read;

Hi Tony, we saved a life here 2 am Friday morning, thanks to our training and our close relationship and understanding with local police a young man is recovering in hospital. the family asked that I pass on their warmest thanks to you and the rest of dids....... Laurence

says it all doesn't it............................is anyone listening?

Tony Miller




11 May 2006

Well I haven't written for a while as I've been flat out like a lizard drinking as usual. I have been in Western Australia opening dads in distress groups and met some absolutely incredible men. Men with heart and compassion, willing to step up to the plate and offer a hand up to those less fortunate then themselves. I have to say I came away feeling humbled by their generosity and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and get in and help. An incredibly compassionate man, Ed Debrowski from the Shared Parenting Council is spearheading our push into WA and we couldn't do it without him. I was lucky enough to meet some real lifesavers while I was there, Paul, Allan, Eric Just, David. These men have joined the ranks of the Lifesavers and I honour them. It's about mates, its about extending a hand in friendship and these men showed me that mate ship is still alive and well in this country.

Ed and I attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Perth, a truly emotional, humbling & sad experience. I thanked God for these men who gave their lives so we could live in peace in this great country.

At one info night we had Dan Sullivan Local State Member for Leischenault attended and I am sure he felt the emotion in the room as I caught a tear in his eye as he listened to the pain. I was also very fortunate enough to meet two little boys Neptune and Anthony who were with their dad in a shared care arrangement and I have to say I have seldom met two more well adjusted little boys then these two. A prime example that shared care works. They love dad, they love mum and they are able to share their time equally between the two, and that's how it should be. At one stage we passed the rock we use in our meetings around the room and these boys shared beautifully about how they feel. It was extremely emotional to everyone in the room. It was an absolute honour to hear these little boys speak. 10 and 8 years old. These two little blokes taught me to listen more to our children, they often have more of the answers then we do.

One of my men rang me the other day and told me this story. His little 7 year old daughter was asking him about the rock we use in the meetings. She had found it in his bag and asked what it was for. So he explained that we give it to dads when its their time to share or talk about how they are feeling and that while they hold the rock no-one interrupts them. She must of thought about this for a while and starting collecting rocks around their property. Then one night while she was talking to dad, she said hold on dad and handed him a rock and said, now its your turn dad. Beautiful. Maybe we should hand out a rock with marriage certificates and we may just listen to one another more then we do.

After returning from WA I travelled to Sydney to the National Forum on Men & Suicide. It was an interesting event with a lot of academics and a lot of coal face workers. The press releases that came out of the forum were stating We intend to stamp out male suicide by the year 2030. How they intend doing that I am not quite sure. I arrived back in Coffs Harbour saddened to hear of three male suicides in our town in as many weeks. One a 19 year old man hung himself in a tree in a park. Families were picnicking under his hanging body unaware he was there. My office girl kept her son from school for a day or so after his mate 13 years old hung himself. Another young man set fire to himself in the grounds of the local hospital. And that is just in this town. Its happening everywhere. We are in the middle of an epidemic of male suicide, our Budget has just been released and I still find that little or nothing is being allocated to the suicide issue. Where is a Men's Health Policy? Does any party have one? Not that I can see. Well it's about bloody time. If we are serious about stopping suicide in this country we need to start talking about it now and stop brushing it under the carpet. I cannot wait until 2030.

I have just come off speaking on a National radio show Nelly at Night about suicide. Nelly told me the switch board has gone berserk and so it should. Most of the public just do not realise the situation we are in and are shocked when they find out. They need to know. If you know of someone who you feel is in danger, please talk to them, don't hide from it. Give them our number or direct them to our forum on this site. Help is out there and it is ok to get it. Often its just a phone call from a friend that can save a life. You wont catch anything, you will just be a friend, a mate and for lots that's all they are looking for.

Kindness and compassion is the rent we must pay for the space we inherit on this earth...........Keep your rent up to date..........

Tony Miller




28 March 2006

As I am writing this our senators are debating the "Shared Parental Responsibility Bill 2005" in Parliament. Barry Williams President of the Lone Fathers Association has asked them to change it to the "Equal Parenting Time Bill 2006". Personally I don't give a bugger what you call it. I and the thousands of other dads and kids I talk to every week either by phone, email or letter, just want a fair go. We just simply want to see more of each other. It's that simple. We want to be dads and our kids want to see dad. It's not rocket science, it's just natural.

I received an email from a grandmother this week. She contacted me 3 years ago and I wrote about her on this site. You see her son suicided from a relationship breakdown. To top it off she was refused contact with her grandkids. So here is this poor woman in grief over losing her son to suicide and is also in grief over not being permitted to see his children, her grandkids. Three years down the track here she is asking me to say a prayer for her while she battles in court to see those same grandkids. I mean what do you say to these people? We are doing our best. We are trying to change the system for the better. Hang in there, it will work out.

Barry and a myriad of good men, dads and women, mums, have been fighting the system for years. Not to get an upper hand but simply to get a fairness, an equality that just isn't there at present. Let's hope and pray that our Government will finally wake up and act upon it. We have all had enough. As Ash Patil from Fathers 4 Equality said, 'If there was a referendum tomorrow, we would win hands down'. We'll there's not and it's up to our senators tonight to decide the fate of our children.

My little bloke just rang me, it's his birthday soon and I am having a party for him this weekend at the local bowling alley. He is excited and can't wait until Saturday. He has organised his mates and a couple are going to sleep over. He will be eleven. Make sure you get some lolly bags dad. And have you got something for lunch for us? And I'm smart dad, I organised the kids mums to pick them up after so you don't have to drive them home, clever aren't I dad. Yes you are mate I said.

About a month ago I gave him a packet of blank white business cards we had laying around the office that were of no use to us. Just something he could play around with I thought. Well he informed me a few weeks later that he got in trouble at school. Not too much trouble. He had scribbled on the cards like my own dids cards. Offering his own name and phone number and class saying 'if you need someone to talk to, if you need help, ring me' I have to say he made me very proud of him and I had a tear in my eye as he told me. And I couldn't understand why he would get in trouble for such a compassionate act.

You know, kindness and compassion is the rent we must pay for the space we inhabit on this earth. He was just paying his rent.

Do you see, that's what this is all about. He has grafted something from me, his father, just as he has his mother. I have contributed to his make up, just as his mother has. He needs that. He needs both of us. Not one, but both of us, to become the man he is to be. Our kids need both mum and dad in their day to day lives. They also need the love of their grandparents and other family members in order to understand what family is. I see many guys who never knew their dads and now they are dads themselves and they are lost. Who taught them how to be a father? Where do they get their inspiration from? Who do they fall back on in understanding a father's role. Is that one of the reasons why we have so many marriages ending in disaster?

I am proud of all my kids and I have not been there as much as I should of been for a lot of their lives, something I'm not proud of, I 'm not the perfect dad and that's ok, I'm still dad. And I'm there now and I'm not going away. Barry Williams recently told me not to get so caught up in the fight for Fatherhood that I neglect to take time out with my own kids. He was right. This weekend I will be wearing a party hat and playing ten-pin bowls with my little bloke and his mates, it's his time and I'm blessed to have the little time I have. All you dads who are reading this I will take to the party with me in my heart and share my time with my son with you. I understand your grief, I just hope our Government does also.

Tony Miller




24 January 2006

'Until you spread your wings you'll have no idea how far you can fly.'

That's what I have displayed on the wall of my office. I am writing it here for all of you but especially my son Beau. He is in England at the moment spreading his wings and gee I miss him.

"I am going to conquer the world dad", he said as he was leaving. And all my hopes and dreams for him went with him. You no doubt will, mate, you no doubt will.

I have just spent Christmas with my little boy Cass. It was our first Christmas together in six years, so it was very special for both of us. We had a wonderful time together, most of it spent in the pool. He talked a lot about missing his big brother.

His little world has changed dramatically over the last few years. His mother and I divorcing. Him dividing his time between both. His brother going overseas. New people coming in and out of his life.

He became a little sullen towards the end of our time together and when I quizzed him he said he was just sad that our time together was coming to an end.

"How old do I have to be before I can make my own mind up on where I want to live?" he asked so seriously one day only as a ten year old can.

"Where do you want to live mate?" I asked.

"I want to live one week with you and the other with mum", he said.

"Well how about you think about that over the next 6 months mate and see if you still feel the same way", I told him.

Not that I don't want him 50/50, it's just that I want HIM to be sure of what HE wants. Not what I want.

You see it's about our children, not us and sometimes that's hard to take. However you have to take it. They're our kids, they look up to us, we have to set the lead. He is just spreading his wings and until you spread your wings you'll have no idea how far you can fly.

I see many guys on my journey who have given up on the game of life often before the game has really begun. They become sullen and depressed because they feel life has turned on them. Life has dealt a cruel blow. Once they were married had a family and now they haven't.

What do I do? Where do I go? Sometimes they become embroiled in a tug of war over their children without ever asking the children what THEY want. Unfortunately often the children are used by warring parents as pawns, bargaining chips and are often denied contact with the non custodial parent to the children's detriment. Often in this cloud of war the children themselves are forgotten in the battle. They stand there watching like they would a tennis match. Silent, watching and learning.

My almost 17 year old son doesn't spend a lot of time with me, nor does he with his mother. He is too busy doing what almost 17 year olds do. It's not cool to be seen at Maccas with either mum or dad. It's not cool to go the movies with either mum or dad. He wants to hang with his mates, he wants to do HIS stuff. And that's ok, he is just spreading his wings and until you spread your wings you'll have no idea how far you can fly.

Recently I received a letter in the mail. It was from Lisa Curry Kenny MBE OAM Chair of the National Australia Day Council. The letter (abrev) began

Dear Mr Tony Miller,

you may not be aware but you were nominated for the Australian of the Year Awards 2006 and I am writing to congratulate you on your nomination.

The Australian of the Year Awards are our nations pre-eminent awards recognising excellence and service by Australians in all fields of endeavour. The Awards acknowledge individuals who are inspirational and outstanding Australians.

Being nominated for the awards is a great honour, and I hope you feel proud of the impact you are having in your community and the nation.

Unfortunately your nomination was not successful this year however your contributions are significant and we are delighted to enclose a certificate to acknowledge your nomination.

Thank you for making Australia a better place to live.

I sat there for some time after reading the letter absolutely stunned until emotion took over and tears were streaming down my face. I felt amazed, I felt proud, I felt unworthy, I felt humbled.

You see, it wasn't that long ago where I was that guy who had given up on the game of life, before the game had really begun.

Until you spread your wings you'll have no idea how far you can fly.

Tony Miller




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