This year is the fifth anniversary of my Father dying, unfortunately it also coincided with Mothers Day. When I ‘phoned Mum to wish her Happy Mothers Day, she asked me if I knew what else it was and I replied yes. Dad died three months short of their fiftieth wedding anniversary and he was so ill for such a short time it was hard getting our heads used to it.
He hadn’t been feeling well for a few months before he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, he was immediately airlifted up to Perth to have further tests and start treatment; three and a half weeks later he succumbed to kidney and liver failure brought on by the chemotherapy.
I wish I had hugged him more.
We were a family that wasn’t very “huggy”, so it isn’t surprising that just because Dad was ill we didn’t change much, we kept on with what we knew and he kept on being stoic. He made jokes when his hair started falling out and he was given an atrocious synthetic beanie by the cancer support person in hospital. Mum stayed strong, performing some of Dad’s intimate care as he was a very private man and she was a nurse. She stayed strong until she went into the city to find a radio for him, as the hospital radio reception wasn’t up to much and Dad wasn’t an avid television watcher. After traipsing around Perth for an eternity, she took a rest in a shoe shop and promptly burst into tears. The staff in the shop were lovely to her and I wrote them a thankyou letter after Mum told me what had happened.
They met on board a ship outside of Naples. Mum was on her way back home to Wales to look after her own father whose health was failing, Dad was going back to The Netherlands to be best man at his brother’s wedding. She was beautiful and he was undeniably handsome , they fell in love and got married six weeks later. Dad brought his lovely bride to Australia and they settled in a small Pilbara town called Wittenoom. Dad was the paymaster for the company and Mum had two children within two and a bit years .
A couple of years later, they moved down to the south-west and added another child to the mix. We lived in the hills outside of Perth, a wonderful place to grow up and Mum loved it, but Dad was always restless, looking for something better and eventually they moved again, this time down to the plain.
Time moved on and eventually, it was just the two of them living together in a southern coastal town, a lovely place. We all visited them for holidays (and continue to visit and spend time with Mum).
My Dad worked hard to give us all a comfortable life, he wanted the best for us and made sure we got it; my brothers and I were very privileged (which I didn’t understand until I became an adult). As I said before, he wasn’t an easy man, but he was my Dad and I loved him, “warts and all”. I daresay, Mum would confess that he wasn’t the easiest husband either, but he was her soulmate and she misses him.
We all do…
I wish I had hugged my dear Dad more.