My dad was tall, and blonde, with blue eyes and a tattoo of a kangaroo and the Northern Territory on his upper arm. The forearm of which he would often shave with one of his good knives once he had sharpened it on his steel, testing its edge. A butcher by trade, he did this a lot. I don’t recall a scar, but I know he once accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with a boning knife in a Katherine abattoir.
He loved camping, the bush, campfires, country music, and being alone with all of the above. He loved animals and would bring home injured or abandoned wild life, doted on our inside dogs and fed every magpie, butcher bird and lorikeet in town. He smoked craven A’s and rolled champion ruby in tally ho’s, or mum would roll them for him, especially when we were driving. He was pretty tech wise for his time, and we grew up with a computer, and he must have had some nerd in him, as we always had cool games, would play lots of trivia pursuit, and he bought us a telescope.
He loved horror movies, and we cut our teeth, or rather, chewed our nails, with movies like Night of the Living Dead, the Exorcist and Razorback, we had multiple episodes of Creep Show on video, and Bloodbath and the House of Death was a comic favourite. He loved Toyotas and driving. He wore an akubra or cap, work shirt and stubbies or ruggers. He drank fourex heavies, and the occasional glass of asti with mum, out of the good crystal, while celebrating.
He loved babies, and won over every one we knew. He kept a beautiful lawn, I’m telling you now, it was gorgeous. He liked to play the pokies on holidays, and loved the beach. He loved it when they went on strike. There’d be an extra spring in his step as he dumped his crib port on the ground, and I would go through it, retrieving all the coffee, tea and sugar sachets that he’d acquired from Mitre 11. He loved BBQ samboys, Vegemite on toast, and Vegemite soup when he was sick, smooshed up egg and bread in a cup, and bubble and squeak.
He loved mum. He loved us.
He loved fishing, and would usually do a big trip every year. Mum would cook for weeks, freezing curry and stews in ice cream containers, and he’d return with tales of giant crocs and massive gropers and Barra, and freezers full of fish. Before leaving we would pick a star, that way we could look at each other through the heavens while he was away. This was probably my dramatic idea, and has a very “An American Tail” feel about it. But it always made me feel better.
Tonight the moon is the closest it’s been in decades, and I think it’s quite appropriate. My Dad has been gone 21 years today, and I think I need to feel close to him. So tonight I choose the moon as my means to see him.
Peek through Dad, and see your 6 granddaughters and grandson. Your 2 sons in law, 3 great nephews and great niece, 2 families in law, and see how much your wife has strived and achieved, how much more beautiful she has gotten with age, see your eldest daughter conquering fears and smashing glass ceilings, your middle daughter raising 4 gorgeous kids (yes 4!), and me, keeping on, and keeping up, with this crazy old world!
Oh, the things you’ve missed. Oh, the people who miss you.
Time fades the bad and the sad, and maturity changes perspective.
But broken hearts stay broken hearts.