He helped to give me life…he was the first man I ever knew, the first man to cradle me in his arms.
He loved to drink his tea or coffee cold… and hated the taste of water
He was a neat person right down to his handwriting… his tools ordered and organized in the shed
He was stubborn and strong willed…. with a gentle and loving heart
He loved a glass of sherry, chocolate and Dutch licorice… rollmops and raw sausages
He was always hard working until disease struck him down and even then he fought on, until his body won the fight and he was trapped
He could read Dutch but not speak it
He had a wonderful sense of humour and loved to stir the pot
He was a handy man who could create, build and fix anything
He wept tears of grief in the days following Ash Wednesday because he didn’t save the chickens
He loved the garden and after the MS stopped him from working at Qantas he found a kindred spirit in Mr. Lissenden and spent many happy moments with him working and having fun surrounded by Mother Nature… dad said these were some of his happiest years post diagnosis
He was an intelligent man whose brain would fail him as the disease took hold…never losing that intelligence but the disease taking away his quick thinking abilities and memory at times
He taught me how to chop wood, change a flat tyre, check my oil and helped to teach me how to drive… he never treated me as if I couldn’t do anything
He loved music – Gene Pitney, Dennis Roussos, Roy Orbison, Hooked on Classics and more… but his favourites were Johann Strauss and ABBA
He discouraged me from being a flight attendant when I told him I wanted to be one in order to see the world…. He said I could do better than becoming a glorified waitress for men to pinch on the bum…. He always wanted the best for me and in those moments tried to steer me onto a different path
I share his love of music, his brown eyes, his neat & ordered ways, his strong will and stubborn nature as well as a curiosity for the world.
When I was little I adored my dad and loved hearing the sound of his car or bike coming down the lane as he returned from work. But our relationship didn’t always stay on solid ground.
I felt angry with him when he was diagnosed with MS…. My teenage perspective feeling that he could fight harder or do more to stop this disease… With the wisdom of time & deep reflection, I know what I was really feeling was loss… I saw my strong, intelligent dad struggling… slowly being knocked over by this disease… the little girl just wanted her dad to always be as he had been….
It was the end of September in 2013 when Spirit called to me through our shared love of ABBA… for a week I drove my boys mad, a compulsive need to play every ABBA album over and over, tears flowing down my face constantly. As the days passed I knew in my heart that I had to go and visit dad…the first time in 4 and a half years. I didn’t understand why but I knew I had to answer the call of my Soul.
So it was that on the 6th October 2013 I drove up to Castlemaine…. Yes, exactly 2 years to the day before he left this earth. Six months after I first visited, I returned with a weeping heart… and dad quietly listened as I shared what I needed him to hear… he listened with love and an open heart…. He apologized for the hurt he had caused and we took the first steps back towards each other. From that day we began to heal, repair and rebuild our relationship. It was never forced; Spirit guided me and called to me when I needed to be there…
Dad loved to see the boys but I treasured the moments when I sat on my own with him… the little girl, the woman, the daughter… getting to know him as a man…
His favourite subject was ART and he loved singing
He told me that at the age of 6 he drove a bulldozer… helping Opa clear trees on the King River…. That at the age of 10 or 11 he started smoking
He told me that his excessive sweating started in State School… that writing was difficult for him… that he had to hold a hanky in his hand so that the paper wasn’t spoiled… but he still managed to be Dux of his class in Grades 1, 2, 3 and 6
How at the age of 15 he just stopped learning and only got halfway through Form 4 before leaving school
He told me he couldn’t aim well with a gun… of the time when he fired 12 shots at a rabbit that was blind due to myxomatosis… and every shot missed!
How he was with a farmer out shooting… dad shot at a rabbit but the bullet ricocheted off a rock, hit the farmer’s Ram in the stomach and killed it… the farmer was okay about it but dad was deeply upset
He told me how as kids they spent hours riding around the tops of wheat silo’s that had been installed into the ground… and before the lids were put on… how one day he caught his pedal and slid down & somehow stopped without falling into the cavern below
He shared that he joined the army at 16 or 17 to start a new life and to be in new surroundings… how he trained to be a medical assistant and that when he was in Canungra in QLD for his Vietnam training he had his first ride in a plane… a Cessna… the pilot made it a memorable flight by doing barrel rolls
While doing that training in QLD his excessive sweating meant he rusted his rifle… meaning he was not cleared for service in Vietnam… having refused a desk job he was medically discharged
He told me how he used to stop in and visit Andrew’s grave regularly…. Because in his words ‘I didn’t want the little fella to think he had been forgotten’
He loved his job at Qantas ordering spare parts and wheels for planes…. And refueling the baggage vehicles… he shared how they transported a replacement engine from London…. As a 5th engine on another plane….
I remember dad going grape picking in the summertime… he told me he started going because they were on strike at Qantas…. He said the union told them they had to attend the picket line but if they did Qantas didn’t pay them… so a group of them packed up and went to Mildura and picked grapes for a large Italian family…. They ended up going every year for 5 years… dad loved it, as each day they ate together with the family… I also recall that for years afterwards we received a box of grapes from them… eagerly awaiting their arrival… sweet and juicy… no grape these days comes even close to how they were back then.
I asked him if he had ever wanted to travel… he said he always wanted to return to Holland and to visit Ireland & Canada…. my boys & I promised him that we would visit for him, take his photo with us and let his spirit know to meet us there…. James said ‘mum, Pa can fly for free!’
And finally Dad told me he wanted to be remembered for loving his wife… his children & grandchildren…
‘Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.’
Last Wednesday, my joy was sleeping. But as the days have passed, out of that well of sorrow has arisen my joy. I know dad’s soul is no longer trapped in a body or a wheelchair… where he was of the world but not really in it… I feel joy that this is so. I feel joy because I know death is just an illusion…. Dad’s soul had simply completed his mission here & had no more need for his body… I know he is happy and flying free in a place of love and light, resting and awaiting his next mission… I know it, I feel it and my soul rejoices that he lives on.
I feel joy for all those moments I got to spend with him in the last 2 years… present to the man and his soul…
I feel joy that I got to look him deep in the eyes and tell him I loved him… and thank him for all that he was and all that he did
I feel joy that nothing was left unsaid between us… that we didn’t waste a moment when we were together to repair and heal our relationship
I feel joy that he stayed around long enough to see me step into my life’s purpose… that I got to read to him from my book and moved him to tears with my words… that he saw and understood the message that I am to take out into the world… and that he encouraged me to be true to myself
I feel joy that grace visited us both over the last 2 years and together we helped each other move forward on our soul journeys
I feel joy that I was able to convey to him the message that Opa was waiting to escort him over to the light… and that dad saw Opa in his room and knew it to be true…
I feel joy that I was present to witness the flow of people coming to say goodbye in the last 2 days, people who loved him, people whose heart he had touched… the nurses whose tears threatened my composure as I felt the love and respect they had for dad and saw that love and respect conveyed to him… many times purely through the eyes… speaking directly to his soul
I feel joy that he will now be guiding me from the spirit world… with me always and everywhere I go
One of dad’s favourite ABBA songs was ‘I Have A Dream’ – a song that is a favourite of mine as well…
“I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the stream
I Have a Dream”
Last Tuesday the 6th October, dad knew the time was right…. And so today it is time to say goodbye
Always in my heart, never apart, from my soul to yours dad… I love you
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