Happy Father’s Day . A repost of something I wrote earlier for my dad is below . God bless
I’d been travelling the 1800k trip home to visit my sick dad on a regular basis. Like many men from his era he had been stuck down with dreaded cancer a few years ago and after some intial positive interventions, he was now losing the fight.
Dad not known for shying away from a fight had battled hard, the boxer in him was evident early as he took all then dreaded results ‘on the chin’, shaped up and stepped up for more.
Edward or ‘Ted’ as I’d only ever heard him called was at his best around other people. My dad had spent his younger years in country Victoria where he did what ever was available at the time to keep himself employed. I know he did everything from driving the local school bus to assisting at the local mortuary in the basement of the local hospital. He was such a great story teller and practical joker. I remember so many ‘yarns’ from dad, my brothers and I rarely knew what was fact or fiction as I’m sure was the same for many others. The story of him hiding under a sheet at the local morgue and sitting ‘bolt upright’ as a few of his mates and girlfriends called in to see him is one of my favourites. I’d heard it so many times over the years but I loved it, I almost felt like I was there when it happened.
Dad like many boys from that era worked from a very young age and had just kept on working. He had missed the call up for the War but he hadn’t missed out the post war lack of money, jobs and very difficult times. Dads CV would include working in shearing sheds, a cook, school bus driver (even without a licence), barmen at numerous country pubs and a boxer. Boxing was a real love of my dad. We always had a crude boxing ring at home and my brothers and I had all learnt to dance the ‘duck and weave’ as he called it.
My dad had boxed and won many formal fights but he was at his best in the informal ‘tent’ boxing troops that set up on the outskirts of many country towns. I think he loved the smokey, noisy, beer swilling atmosphere and the cash of course, he regularly got a good fist full of crumpled damp notes to bring home.
On this visit home I’d really noticed how much dad had wasted away. It was the first time he hadn’t walked out the front door to meet me as I walked down the path. On this trip I had my two very cute daughters with me. Distance had meant dad hadn’t seen his granddaughters any where near enough these last few years, I loved seeing my ‘tough old dad’ melt at the site of these two giggling little cherubs.
Time to leave came around as it always did, I was conscious of his energy / fatigue levels and with a long drive a head of us the girls had said there sweet goodbyes to ‘grandpa Ted’ and were all strapped in the car. As I walked back towards the front door I could feel the emotion, the gravity of the situation. I sat next to my dad on his bed and we held hands. I didn’t know what to say this time. He didn’t take up much room in his big old bed any more, he was frail and he hated that. “I’ll see you next trip”, wasn’t going to cut it this time.
“Son’ he said. “there are times when I haven’t been the greatest dad to you and your brothers……… and I’m sorry’. A heavy silence hung over us, I fought back tears thinking of how hard he had initially fought this debilitating disease. I squeezed his hand a little tighter and told him that there were times when I could’ve been a better son and ‘I’m so very sorry dad’.
“I love you son”, “promise me you’ll wear your uniform at my funeral” he said with a stern, pride filled look in his eye.
I hugged my wonderful dad and remember saying ‘dad we will probably not see each other again’… we were crying together for perhaps the first time.
With tears rolling down my face, feeling like nothing more than a ‘passenger’ unable to do or offer something, I left. I opened the car door and heard my girls high pitched squeal of ‘grandpa Ted, grandpa Ted. Though teary eyes and with a heavy heart I looked back at dads front door one more time and there he was- proud as can be. Dad had found a way to get himself from his bed to the front door to wave us off as he had done for every visitor, for as long as I can remember.
My wonderful dad had a wonderful send off only two weeks later.
Sitting in the front row with my brother the small church felt very full behind me. I stood, straightened my tie, checked the Gold buttons on my Air Force uniform, took the two steps to the lecturn and turned to see not an empty seat in the place. So many people…..”If my dad had known this many of you were going to turn up, he would’ve charged admission”, we all laughed…….
The girls and I miss you dad, your great stories live on in me.
My girls are now often out, my job feels largely now done
Young women, beautiful, independent, living life….. making their own fun.
My buddies are all loved up, where does a single not so young guy begin?
I’ve had a crack at going on-line,
Man- its funny, tragic, a little sad and clealry a place for the plain bad.
I’ve met a few for drinks , had some fun dates, but my preference is to go slow, avoid potential mistakes
Apparently not the same for many of my potetnial mates.
So if you’re looking for a partner, someone to cosy up with again one day,
‘Go live’, get offline, connections, friendships are more likely
I have no doubt.
Be old school social, make eye contact, create reasons to smile,
The digital dating game, you will see,
Is largely not worth the trial.
We meet, we like
We laugh….. share a drink
That lingering look, was it almost a stare?
she likes me ……..I think
“let’s do this again”
(no clicks required)
While I’ve been recovering from surgery on both my legs- not much to luv about that, she has been very busy making the most out of another birthday. Her sister made a fancy orange and chocolate cake, we spoilt her with very thoughtful personal gifts, she cried with happiness- luv that.
Her best friends and work mates spoilt her and made her feel really special with flowers, cards and a night out of laughing and dance- she loved that.
Her little green car did its best to spoil the carnival with a $900 dollar bill for repairs, but as luck and a great sense of fun would have it, she ends up ‘on air’ in a radio contest……. her sister and I are amazed to hear her guess the song and win $3000, she was so very funny- everybody luved that!!
As the week and the ‘carnival’ slowly moved to close, the numerous birthday cards, flowers and wrapping paper reminded me that we had all done a lot to ensure the birthday girl felt very special…………. tears, laughter, friends, family, lucky winnings, birthday mission complete I can confidently say.
My daughter and her ‘bestie’ were last seen – close to panic as they pealed off their stick on eyelashes to see their actual eyelashes also coming off……… OMG, it sounded serious…… ‘look at me now’, I heard……. ‘look at me, all my lashes are gone…. help- dad- don’t laugh, I look like a foetus’!! Got to luv that 😤
The days are now a bit longer, you can feel the warmth of the sun a little earlier each day, yes its August in South Australia, winter is thinning out.
An occasional frost now quickly disappears, the birds are more noisy and if you’re keen you can open up the house, if only for a little while.
August also brings my daughters birthday, an occasion she ensures completely energises us all. 19 this year, quite the young lady and often still just a beautiful girl.
As the sun aluminates my lush winter garden and our dog dozes in the warmth beaming in the window I smile and think about how after several years of hardship and turmoil, I have so very much to be thankful for. Here’s to my eldest girls 22nd birthday in January, another reason to be unashamedly happy. God Bless!
Work travels had me in central Australia (Alice Springs NT) last week. Escaping a southern winter for a few days is always a good and working with like-minded teachers/ business leaders, whose efforts to support and prepare the regions younger people for work is always rewarding.
It was of course the week heavy with the disgraceful loss of life that is the Malaysian Airlines tragedy. It was a week where I felt the need to ‘disconnect’ from the news………. The Middle East, Israel/ Hmaas, male baby sitter raping children, government child care ‘guardians’ who turn out to be predators, Gerard Baden-Clay – geez!! And just as I was losing the fight to ‘look up’ and see all the good stuff going on, a young man at my speaking gig says ……..
“You old guys are lucky you know. All the mess you’ve made, all the fighting and conflict- the ‘my dick is bigger than you’re dick’ wars………. But don’t worry he says, “women will eventually be in charge and we will all find all the work we need linked to fixing your mess”. A bit harsh I first thought….. then I found myself smiling at him, “well put, thanks. When can I hand over the reins”. “Any time Chris, we are mostly ready”, he said. applause all round………
At day’s end I headed to a local lookout to take in the view and let another very busy day seep from me. I sipped an icy cold beer, Lana Del Rey was flowing through my head as the sun buried itself in the chilly desert. Good luck young man I thought, if the next generation of ‘doers and leaders’ thinks like you I’ve nothing to worry about.
kind of ironic that the lookout was also a war memorial……..
A week of travel has seen me in Australia’s very South- Tasmania. Along with a colleague I was presenting to many varied groups on the topic of Mentoring and how as adults there are some very simple/ practical things we can do to encourage, engage and enhanced confidence in the next generation of those transitioning from school to work. I always learn so much from the insights and experience of others, thanks ‘Tassie’ for the company and the optimism top up!
Mt Wellington, you dished out the pain in the most beautiful way !