It took 9 months. That’s all we had. From the time Dad was diagnosed with melanoma to the day he left this life. During that time, we watched him deteriorate and bounce back, then deteriorate again. It was agony to watch.
One thing I am grateful for though, is that 9 months gave me the chance to pay tribute to him in the best way I can – I wrote and compiled his story. The book was chock-a-block full of adventures and a recount of his many stories, some of which may have been slightly exaggerated, just for effect of course. From his run-ins with the nuns during the early days at Yamba Boarding School, to being pinched for “borrowing” watermelons, to his days as a beekeeper, to winning dual Australian Championships – he had so many stories, most of them with some amusing twist. He loved to make people laugh, even though his own life had been tinged with sadness and suffering.
After he passed away, I sat down to reflect on the things Dad taught me. Following are just a few of those things …
He never said no to those he cared about, or even to people he didn’t know. He was generous to a fault. He helped out many friends, relatives and employees who were doing it tough over the years.
Even though he could be cranky on occasions, he was really a big softie at heart. He was actually a very compassionate and kind person who would do anything for you if you asked him. I knew he could never say no to me 🙂
He taught me to keep practicing until you get it right and always put in your best effort, no matter what you are doing. ‘Think about it twice and do it once’, he used to tell us.
My brother and I were so fortunate to have a Dad, who was driven to achieve so many things in his lifetime. A very hard worker, he never gave up until he achieved what he had set out to do. We are so very proud of his wonderful achievements, just some of which are that he was a successful businessman of 35 years, he was dual Australian champion for powerboat racing in 1975 and won Champion Garden in the Jacaranda Garden Competition twice for his large, beautiful garden, which featured in several magazines. As a young lad, he’d always wanted to own a Jaguar. At one time, he had two Jaguars.
Love of travel
Travelling was something that we second nature to Dad. We travelled all round Australia during his powerboat racing days. Almost every weekend involved a trip to a race meet somewhere. He took us to the United States —it was a really big deal to go anywhere overseas at the time. This was such an exciting trip—even the 1974 floods couldn’t keep us from getting to Sydney to catch the plane! We also went to New Zealand and Europe.
As an impatient 16 year old, I had to learn how to change a tyre and how to check the car’s oil and water before I was allowed to get my driver’s licence. As you can imagine, I wasn’t impressed at the time, but these skills have come in handy on more than one occasion.
A sense of humour
Dad was a larrikin, who loved a joke (the cornier the better) and he also loved telling stories about his youth -and the shenanigans he and his friends got up to! I’m sure every single one of our friends and relatives has heard at least one, if not many, of his stories (over and over and over again!!!).
To make the most of every day
Dad was always planning or doing something. He fit so much into his life and made us so proud of him. I only hope I can leave a fraction of the legacy he’s left for our family. I don’t mean money, I’m referring to his example of being productive, achieving goals, helping others and being a person others look up to.
I recently mentioned to a friend that I thought it was really sad that Dad had worked so hard all these years, and now he won’t have the chance to sit back and enjoy his retirement. The friend said, ‘But for some people, it’s all about the journey.’
I think, for Dad, it has been all about the journey – and what a fantastic journey!
One more thing – yes, we ARE sitting on a septic tank in the photo above. It just sums up Dad’s no-fuss, let’s-just-sit-here-to-enjoy-the-view way so well. It probably wouldn’t be my first choice of somewhere to sit now, but I happily sat with him.
So, that’s some of the things Dad taught me. What did your father teach you? Feel free to share in the comment box below 🙂