Tomorrow will mark 10 years since the passing of my beloved Dad. 10 years since melanoma ravaged his body and took him from our lives forever. Quite simply, we were devastated then… and I know I still miss him every. single. day.
This is a brief celebration of my Dad – John P. Smith, aka Smithy or J.P.
My brother and I were so very fortunate to have had a Dad who was a kind and loving man with a big heart. He overcame a difficult childhood and the challenges of his youth to become a fantastic role model and a great Dad. I really want to express my gratitude for having this special man in my life.
When I was a child, I saw my Dad as a larger-than-life character. From my little person’s perspective, he was a giant—both in stature and heart.
He was a bit of a larrikin as a young bloke and was always cracking jokes when we were kids – he loved to make my friends and I giggle.
When I was in my early teens, he spent many a late night waiting outside the Blue Light disco, then I’d bring out 5-6 friends and ask him to drive them all home. We’d all pile into the back seat, sitting on each other’s laps. We didn’t worry too much about seatbelts! Everyone wanted to be the last one dropped home. We’d spend the next hour and a half driving my friends home! I’m sure he just wanted to be home in bed himself. He never complained about it though.
Generous to a fault
He was always very generous, whether it was with his time, support, love or money. If he knew someone was doing it tough, he’d fix their car for free. He gifted electrical appliances to his staff members when they got married or had a new baby. Some took advantage of his generosity. He loaned people money and never saw it again. The funny thing was, he didn’t seem to mind – he just though they must have needed it more than he did.
As a teen, whenever I needed to buy anything, I’d ask Dad for some money. He’d say, ‘How much do you need?’, then always give me a few extra dollars and tell me to bring back the change. At first, I used to keep the change, just waiting until he asked for it. Then, after a while, I realised that I could get away with spending it! It became our little joke. I think he even jokingly asked me for the change once—just to see my reaction…. then burst out laughing. He’d do anything for a laugh! In his later years, I gave him a birthday card containing a pretend cheque for $12,345.67 – the change I owed him! He thought it was hilarious.
He did well for a mere “grease monkey”
I remember him coming home from work with his white overalls covered in grease. You could always smell the oil on him. His business went from strength to strength, thanks to his hard work and dedication. There was a Businessman’s Club in the town where we lived. Once he’d become quite successful, he applied to join, but was turned away by white-collar businessmen who referred to him as “just a grease monkey”. That hurt him, a lot.
When he wasn’t fixing cars, he was fine-tuning his latest speed boat. Wherever he was, revving engines were sure to follow. He would often get home late, when we were ready for bed or sometimes, after we’d gone to bed. In hindsight, I realise he was actually a workaholic – he really loved his work, just as much as he loved us.
On the nights he was home before I went to bed, he would come in and listen to me read a book. He often made the mistake of laying down on the bed as I sat next to him and I would have to dig him in the ribs to wake him up… I wanted to be sure he’d hear the end of the story! 🙂
One thing we were sure of with Dad – he never gave up until he achieved what he had set out to do. I am so very proud of his wonderful achievements. He was a successful businessman of more than 40 years, he was dual Australian Champion for powerboat racing in 1975 and won Champion Garden in the Jacaranda Garden Competition in 1989 – and he had over 2 acres of garden!
When he was racing powerboats, we travelled extensively throughout Queensland, New South Wales and parts of Victoria. We attended every power boat regatta known to man!
Some adventures were more for us. The family visited the U.S.A. in 1974, which was a really big deal at the time. Even the 1974 floods couldn’t keep us from getting to Sydney to catch the flight to Los Angeles! I celebrated my 9th birthday at the Grand Canyon – I’ll never forget that. We also visited Disneyland, where the size of Mickey Mouse scared me, then went on to San Francisco and Hawaii. We also travelled to New Zealand in 1977, Tasmania in 1980, and Europe in 1984. Dad loved to travel and instilled that wanderlust in the rest of us.
The adventure ends …
Dad was only 68 years old when he left us. Until a few months before he passed away, he was still working in his own business. He fought the good fight until the very end, but there are some battles that even the toughest of soldiers just can’t win.
I know I was lucky to have such an awesome Dad. 10 years after losing him, I still miss him so much. The saddest part is that he isn’t here to be part of our children’s lives, to watch them grow, to share his wisdom with them and to celebrate their achievements, small and large.
Our son James was only 4 years old when Dad passed away, yet he and his beloved Pa had already formed a very close bond. I’m sure Pa is looking down on James, as proud as punch of the wonderful young man he is becoming. My Uncle recently remarked how much James is like Dad in personality, with his entrepreneurial spirit and positive outlook on life, despite the ups and downs he’s already encountered. My Uncle said, “J.P. (his nickname for Dad) isn’t gone, he lives on in that boy!” What a wonderful compliment to James.
While Dad’s 10 year anniversary is a sombre occasion, I’d like to thank you for reading this celebration of my Dad. I celebrate him, his life and the wonderful influence he had on our family. He helped me learn how to love life and to always look on the bright side!
R.I.P. Dad. We love you now and always xox
P.S. Melanoma is a horrible disease that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Are you wearing sunscreen and a hat today – or staying out of the sun?
Following is a poem which I dedicate to Dad…
As We Look Back – By an Unknown Author
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering …..
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us …..
And celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgment,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We’re thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.
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