Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Sad Goodbye

On the 14th April 2010 at 5:05AM my Dad lost his battle with cancer.

Although it was almost exactly 2 years to the day since he was diagnosed with bowl and liver cancer, it was a sudden down hill drop in his health that shocked us all.  Yes, he was a sick man and had been in pain and having copious amounts of treatment and pain killers, but none of us knew just how sick he really was.  He always put on a brave face, and had us all fooled into believing he would be up and playing golf in no time at all.

I don't want to go into detail about his death, but I do want to say how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to say my goodbyes.  I spent Dad's last few hours by his side, held his hand told him how much I loved him and how proud I was to say he was my Dad.  This was an indescribable feeling that I will never forget.

I'd also like to tell you a little bit about the type of person my Dad was.  He was very young when he died, only 56 years of age, but a man who had seen a lot of our country and had his own personal battles. He married my Mum at the ripe old age of 21 and became a father at 23.  He worked for the family business as a construction worker, then running the family horse stud, then starting his own carpentry business and finally working for commercial construction companies building bridges and a roadways.  He earned respect from his peers through hard work and determination. He was a straight shooter, no bullshit kinda guy. You always knew where you stood with Dad.

My memories of him as a Dad are varied. I remember being very young and riding his shoulders at the Zoo, and on family holidays. I remember his jokes and his laughter. I remember him taking us camping and showing us how to survive in the bush, how to run the farm and how to ride a bike.

But I also remember him as a stern father, who wasn't at our school sports days, rarely came to our ballet concerts, didn't show support of my brothers chosen sports, and wasn't there when I took up rowing and won a few medals.  He wanted his kids to achieve academically, but didn't help us with our homework.  He wanted us to be great at sport, but never came to our matches or games. He was criticising of mine and my sisters weight. I don't pretend that these things never happened, because the simple fact is that they did.  But at the same time I still loved him with everything I had,  because he was my Dad and he helped shape me into the person I am today.

When I moved out of home and saw my parents only every few months, this was when my relationship with my Dad changed. We became mates.  He had a knew respect for me because I had proven to him that I was a hard worker and wanted to go places in life.  But of course this was always going to be the case, because that's what he had instilled in me from a very young age.  We talked about my work and his work, we talked about the footy, we drank beer together, he taught me how to drink wine and appreciate it.  He learned to relax around his daughter and be the Dad I always knew he was. As I matured as a person, so did my Dad.  He learnt as much from me and I did from him.  It ended up being a relationship I'm finding hard to live without.  My mate has gone. My Dad has gone. This makes me sad beyond words, but it also makes me happy to realise how lucky I was to have him.

I will miss his laugh, his smile, his stories, his look of proudness when talking about his children.  But most of all, I'll just miss my Dad.

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