The last time I visited the UK with John, I was very sad to see the deterioration in dad’s health, but so happy that we made the trip and we were able to spend time with him. It was particularly nice to see John chatting to his grandad as an adult, drinking beer and talking about sport. I knew as we said goodbye and returned to Australia, that it was probably the last time I would hug him and tell him I loved him, in person.
After we came to see him in the UK when John was 17 my dad wrote to me and said this about watching my husband and son together, "when I watched the father / son interplay and family banter with its private humour that exists between him and his dad, I cannot help feeling how much I have missed with the death of Steven at six years of age"
It breaks my heart how that probably happened with every single father / son he saw. A lifetime of hurt and regret. A broken heart. That's my biggest joy, my heart is so happy, fit to burst, when I imagine what that reunion would have been like for them both as Jesus took him home.
He was a published author and had written several books….on dogs! On reflecting back, I really wish he’d written about his life. It would have been hilarious and fun but also a thought provoking and compelling read. He started young and accomplished a lot in his 88 years and there is still so much I don’t know about dad. A few years ago, he sent me a copy of his biography written for one of the dog magazines and it is a very interesting read. I wish I’d asked him more questions.
He was also a soldier and there are terrible things that he went through that I never heard him voice and all of that also made him who he was. He received 5 medals and I believe he would have shown true bravery and excellent leadership when he was out with his war dogs in the jungles.
He was a people person and easily made friends with strangers and they were drawn to his infectious ways and hilarious stories. If I have a trait in me that I see is from him, it’s the ease with which I make friends and the ability to make others laugh and feel included.
Dad had a wonderful singing voice and I have memories of him singing around a piano in the Sergeant’s Mess. We also had little routines that he taught us kids and we were rewarded with packets of crisps and fizzy drinks for entertaining his friends!
After losing his only son and the next child being another much loved daughter, he set about trying to be the best dad he could be and worrying that he might let us down.
He wrote to me about that time "When you lose one child from a family of five, it is the child that is lost, but the love you feel for that child stays with you for life"
On being a parent of five daughters he wrote "All you can do is to plant the seed and carry out the early training and lessons in the best way you can and then watch them grow. There comes a time when you have to let them go......when this happens you simply have to watch them, trust them and love them unconditionally until they turn into complete adults that you are proud to call your own"
He was very proud of his girls.....and of course I was his favourite second daughter.
November, a beautiful month to celebrate our son, my dad and my little brother.