Friday, 5 September 2014

The Measure Of A Man - Part 1: Jim

When I was considering what to blog this week I thought immediately of Father's Day coming up this Sunday in Australia. I've been pretty lucky when it comes to dads; my late father Jim was more than everything to me I'd ever want in a father. My stepfather Stan, affectionately known as my OtherFather, has been as much a real father to me as it is possible to be, standing in my corner like he were my own flesh and blood. This will be a two-part blog so I can honour both of the fathers in my life. 

late 90's
I've blogged before about Dad, mostly about his relationship with and deep love of our mother Diana, and how we all struggled to move on after Dad died. It was a sudden and unexpected loss; Dad had a history of heart problems and health issues but you never expect or are ready for that phone call. Mum, Simon and I lost Dad in November of the year 2000 when he passed suddenly of a heart attack in our family home. I was living in Brisbane at the time and I still remember the phone ringing and ringing about five in the morning. Finally I crossly got up to answer it thinking it was my work, and then there was a mad directionless panic that followed before the chaos of the drive to get home to Mum. My brother was living in the USA and I can't begin to represent for you the helplessness he felt taking his call. I was only an hour away, he was at least a day.

Here are just a few of my most cherished memories out of the many thousands of photographs we have of Dad.

This is how I remember you Dad, in an armchair in the front room of the house still in your work shirt and socks and having a cup of tea when I get home from school.
early 80's left, early nineties right
We always had cake for birthdays. Of course Mum always took the photo!
early 70's left, mid 80's right
You took very good care of your own cars, and ours, and taught us to drive way ahead of us. My cars always got washed and serviced by you. I still remember the two-second rule Dad.
My first car left late 80's, my Mirage late 90's right
You loved fishing and often took us to local waterways to drop a line in. I think it was more about spending time together than actually catching anything. If anyone from Fisheries is reading this we threw that fish back.
mid 70's on holiday at Wooli in NSW
Always the life of the party because of your infectious laugh and quick sense of humour, you were mates to many. I have many great memories of growing up with these families.
Early 80's - Dad with mates on a family holiday and serenading a mate at home
You were a AA Grade Clay Target shooter and it remained your passion all your life. Our house is still full of the prizes you brought home every weekend. I remember spending many weekends at the Gun Club watching you shoot, hearing the sound of the shooters yell 'PULL!' before raising their guns with a BANG! and smelling gunpowder in the air.
Dad with Gun Club mates early 70's, with his mate John before a shoot late 90's

You were lucky to marry the most beautiful woman in the world, inside and out. I know she said the same about you. Thank you for loving my Mum so completely.
Thank you for the almost 35 years you spent loving each other and building a life for us. 
Surprise 30th anniversary party 1995, with a copy of wedding cake
You had a soft heart for any animal, but especially our poodles. You walked them faithfully every day. They loved you completely Dad. Every Sunday night for almost six months after you died the poodles waited on the back patio for you to come home from shooting. You passed away on a Sunday morning; your car was packed in the garage ready to go to the Gun Club so I'm guessing the dogs thought you'd gone for a shot and just never came home. Poor puppies; I don't know how they knew it was Sunday.
Dad and Zac, late 90's, shot on film with my first SLR camera
At our wedding in 2009 one of the poodles walked us into the ceremony then came up to us during the service and 'blessed'
 us. The same thing happened during Mum and Stan's wedding in 2005. I like to think it was Dad giving us both his blessing.
You modelled effectively for us what it meant to be a parent, a husband and a man, and encouraged us to give only our best. We would come home with 100 percent on a test and you would say 'you can't do much better than that!'. You would be so proud of your son to see him today.

On holiday in Canberra, early 80's
Mid 80's, out on the back patio having lunch
Simon's graduation, 1995
Off to New Zealand with Mum, late 80's
My 21st birthday, late 80's
Jim in the 60's overlaid with Simon in the 00's
You weren't perfect but at least you knew your faults and worked on them. Your striving for perfection sometimes went beyond the pale, but you were the best handyman who ever lived - I don't think you ever found something broken that you could not fix or that needed making that you could not make. Your love for us was expressed in practical ways like building fences and changing oil.
If a job needs doing right sometimes you have to do it yourself.
Someone left smelly lunch in the fridge.. early 80's
Fixing a gate on my house in Wynnum, late 90's
Working on my house at Wynnum, late 90's
You loved your shed, it was a true mancave. I spent many hours there with you watching you load gun cartridges or do mysterious things to my car. I remember when you laid the pathway in stepping stones to the shed; you measured your stride then measured the distance between each step to ensure it was exactly the same. Then you laid a path on the other side of the yard measured to Mum's stride. I did say you were a perfectionist.

late 90's, early 00's, on mine and Danny's wedding day in 2009
Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and miss you Dad, even more so now that we've lost Mum. So wherever you are, I'll be thinking of you this Father's Day.

The last photo taken of Dad, about 6 weeks before he died

No comments: