My hero, my friend, my father.
On the 4th June 2008 this wonderful man left our lives but not our hearts or our memories. I only got to share 45 years with him but we both made the most of them.
Dad was a generous, kind, gentle, happy and loving person. He never had a bad word to say against anyone and was a friend to everyone.
He loved all animals, big and small. He saved numerous birds from near death and bought them up to be his friends. They loved him and he them.
We had several dogs as we were growing up and each of them came with their own personalities. Duke, was our red setter and he and dad battled it out to overcome Duke’s stubbornness and stupidity. I remember dad referring to him as the “stupid bloody dog” many times. He would eat the washing, dad’s golf balls, mum’s plant bulbs and then there was the ten kilo bag of dry dog food. Dad had placed this particular bag in the garage and closed the door. Well, stupid or not, this dog somehow got into that garage and upon dad’s return he was found with his legs wrapped around the bag and not much food left in the bag. The dog couldn’t even get off the ground. He didn’t need to be fed for a while. Duke decided he wanted to be lead dog of the yard and attacked our other dog, King and my Aunty. He was locked up but had become too aggressive so it was then poor old dad who had to take him to the vet. Upon Dad’s return that afternoon he threw Duke’s collar on the ground and muttered “stupid dog”, with tears in his eyes and then went off to the garage. Softie.
Dad loved to tell a story or two and kids we would always try to stay up just that little bit later,so we would encourage dad to tell us stories of his childhood. They were fascinating. He was a bit of a devil along with his six brothers. I never bored of his tales. Along came the grandkids and the storytelling continued. He would have them fascinated for hours. He was their best mate. I remember standing in the bedroom door one evening when the boys were supposed to be asleep. Dad was sitting on the edge of the bed passing his memories onto these two little fellows who were in total awe of this man they called Pa and so was I, as usual. Those stories are embedded in my memory and in my boys’. What a wonderful life he had. At the time dad passed away our boys decided it was a good time to retell some of those stories in the hospital waiting room and bought laughter and smiles to a group who had lost someone who had left a lasting impression on our hearts.
Dad loved to stir mum up and always had a good laugh at her expense. He would always get into trouble but she loved him and would end up laughing too. He loved April Fools day and would always play jokes on us all before we were even out of bed then head off to work still laughing at our gullibility.
I remember when I was about sixteen and had a slumber party with a few girlfriends. We had a seance and had scared ourselves silly so dad thought he would carry it a bit further. We were settling down to sleep when there was a bang in the hallway, when we opened the door in came this black figure with no head, groaning and breathing heavy. Well, you can imagine the screaming that occurred. We all ran down the hallway and dived into bed with mum who then turned on the light to reveal dad in his old overcoat, head tucked in under the collar, laughing fit to kill himself. Boy was he in trouble. He loved to stir us up. My friends loved dad they always referred to him as Uncle Frank. He was our taxi no matter where we wanted to go.
Dad bought a little mini bike one year and was teaching us how to ride it. He was explaining how to take corners. Next thing we knew he missed the corner and ended up through the back fence. He wasn’t hurt, he was just lying there legs in the air laughing his head off. He stood up, brushed himself off and said, “And that’s how you go through a fence, don’t try it!” He walks off still laughing. Funny man.
Dad was a quiet man, he was never afraid of anything when we were young but that changed when he went to hospital for his bowel cancer surgery six years ago. His bowel repair burst and his poor body was filling up with toxins. As they rolled him down the hallway for more surgery I could see a terrified look in his eyes, I kissed him and told him he’d be fine. That was the last conversation we had. He had several surgeries over the next two days but the prognosis wasn’t good. As I stood there holding his hand, with machines keeping him alive, I told him I loved him and I would look after mum, and as I said goodbye and his life slipped through my fingers my heart broke.
It was a privilege to have known and to have loved this wonderful man whom I had the honour of calling “Dad”. He was my best friend. I miss him everyday, he took a piece of me with him the day he departed this earth. I will always remember his beautiful smile that melted my heart and the love he had for us all. He may be gone but will never be forgotten. His memories live on in us all.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Dad’s passing, I will think of him, probably shed a tear, as I have while writing this, and I will remember the good times we had together and the magic of his love and friendship.
Thanks for the memories, Frankie. I love you. Xo