It was my Dad’s 73rd birthday on Monday the 15th. I walked through the day in a haze, with the grief of losing my Dad fresh in my mind. I think when you lose someone you love, there will never be a day where you think “yes, I’m okay with this”. Never.
What I want to do is talk about my Dad. To ANYONE. I feel like if I talk about him, he’ll be preserved in my memory and if I get the chance enough times to talk about Dad, it will be easier to remember him, and the loss won’t feel as raw or as painful. I believe that if Dad’s stories keep getting told and his memory honoured, it will be as if Dad will live on for generations to come.
But no one wants to ask me and when I try to broach the subject, no one wants to hear about him. It’s not been said, but I definitely get the feeling that my friends think “Oh man, that was (almost) 2 years ago – get over it” and don’t want to hear about how much I miss my Dad or the stories I want to tell about him that bring so much joy and comfort to my heart.
Dad loved to dance. He was very cheeky. Dad was very noisy. Even in his sleep, he snored loudly or made little “boop” noises with his mouth. Dad had a deep, gruff voice and a grumbly, infectious laugh. Dad was very “tongue in cheek” and loved any opportunity to be facetious. Dad enjoyed reading spy novels, talking about anything and everything and making a new friend. He loved having a pint of beer with his mates and if there was no one around who was familiar, Dad would make a new friend; pulling up a bar stool by them with a friendly grin and his hand out in greeting “G’day, I’m Gerry! How are ya?”
Dad was the middle child of 3 boys, so I think he was overlooked a lot when he was growing up. His older brother Trevor had schizophrenia (but I don’t know if there was any/enough knowledge about it back in the 60’s and 70’s – I think he was just labelled “a loony” and constantly shifted about between horrid psych hospitals (can you imagine how awful and scary they’d be back in the day?) and home again. Dad’s younger brother Andrew is A LOT like my younger brother Jay. Entitled pricks. (sorry Jesus).
Dad loved swimming, watching UK comedies, quoting random lines from Spike Milligan or some great philosopher…and dogs. Dad loved dogs. I think Dad is one of the very few people that got adopted by a wild Dingo and not the other way around. A dingo kept showing up in Dad’s garden so Dad would talk to it and feed it scraps. The dingo’s stays got longer and longer – as did “their conversations”, until one day the Dingo – who Dad named “Ringo” (hahahha) just never left. He moved in and Dad had a bowl put aside for him as well as the front passenger seat reserved for Ringo’s keen observation of the world. Dad’s normal pet dog – “Black butt” (really “black ass” but Dad decided that was too rude and would tell people his dog’s name was “black butt” when asked) had a “brother” in Ringo and the 3 of them became quite the family unit.
A few of Dad’s favourite things to quote:
“Patience is a virtue – desired by many, given only to a few”
“You’re never too old and it’s never too late”
“There are holes in the sky where the rain comes in…the holes are very small, that’s why rain is thin”
“I went to the beautiful seaside. The wonderful sea and sky. I left my shoes and socks there – I wonder if they’re dry?” (no matter how many times Dad said this, he’d laugh heartily at the ‘shoes and socks’ part every, single, time).
Dad’s ultimate quote “Get things from here (He’d point to his chest) to here (point to his mouth) and out here (Dad would gesture to the room around him).” This was because Dad greatly advocated for talking about problems with someone who could help. He loved the quote “a problem shared is a problem halved” and although he didn’t say that one often, it was the foundation for many a “lecture” (Dad’s word) on “not stewing on things, Darl” (Dad would say this to me often, I like to hold things in) and on instead getting them out by talking openly about problems/worries.
Dad loved talking at length about healthy eating and exercise but was probably the most prolific supporter of McDonalds in the world. He loved it and thought no one else knew – but we all knew. Dad wasn’t that great at keeping the wrappers or receipts secret, bless him.
Dad was open and curious about everything. Anything you wanted to talk to Dad about, he’d listen with genuine interest. Dad loved ‘signs and wonders’ and would find magic in the ordinary. A billboard with a certain word on it, a piece of torn paper in his workbag with a number on it, a cartoon drawing (Dad loved the ‘Lunig’ cartoons very much) of something that inspired or made Dad laugh – or something no one else would think to look at would catch Dad’s attention and he’d burst into a story about something it reminded him of or how a word or number had been “just the encouragement I needed, Chook”.
I miss him, guys. So much. I walked around on Dad’s birthday with a knife through my heart and constant tears in my eyes. I so wanted someone to say “Tell me about him” so I could talk about Dad and hear his laugh in the hollow beneath my chest.
No matter how much time passes, grief doesn’t get any easier. Talking about our loved ones helps ease the pain so that it’s more manageable, somehow. If someone you know has lost someone they love – maybe ask them to tell you about them. You just might make their day.
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