Not a rant this time but a reflection. And I promise - no profanity this time whatsoever. Oh wait - better get it out of my system. Buggershitbum. Right. Done.
I arrived home this afternoon to Canberra after a month down in Victoria, staying with Mum.
Dad passed away back in October and this was the first trip back down since the funeral.
The house seemed strangely empty. The past couple of years, Dad occupied the same seat in the living room, or on a fine day would sit on an old park bench at the rear of the house, enjoying the sun. Those seats seemed strangely vacant without him. Several times I found myself about to say something to him, except of course he wasn't there.
That park bench had been a bugbear of mine the last couple of years. Mum bought it for dad years ago and time had taken its toll. The wood had deteriorated, some screws had come adrift and the whole thing wobbled badly. I wanted to replace the worst of the wood but initially Dad wanted something else done to it instead, then didn't want that done either. Well, it's not wobbling now. The worst of the wood has been replaced, painted up, screws replaced, more inserted that had never been put in when the original kit was assembled, other bits tightened and tweaked. After it was hauled back outside, I sat down and for a moment, it felt like Dad was there with me.
Dad's funeral was in October. He was cremated but his ashes were not returned to Mum until after I had had to get to Canberra and work. On Boxing Day, I saw his memorial plaque in the rose garden at the cemetery where his ashes were scattered beneath a rose bush. I was there with some of the family. When the others moved on, I stayed back for a moment, crouched down and told Dad that I missed him. Then for the first time since Mum had called me with the news of Dad's passing, the tears came.
While I was home, in conversation with Mum, I learned things about both Mum and Dad that I hadn't known before. It left me wanting to ask more questions, even though I already knew a fair bit about Dad's life. I was also left with an even greater appreciation of just how much family had meant to him. At one point, I admitted to Mum that I would have loved to have learned to box in my teens but knew there was no hope of ever getting Mum to agree so never brought it up. Her initial reaction on hearing that was 'would have been over my dead body.' After a moment's thought, Mum said that if Dad had gone along with it then I would have boxed. He as well as Mum supported pretty much everything we kids wanted to do. Within reason. But until talking about this with Mum, I hadn't realised just how much Dad supported us behind the scenes even though it was Mum who took the kids to sporting events etc.
In all this, it got me to thinking just how much my parents put into their family over their years. I like to think that I am going to put it to good use. Somehow.
I have plenty of regrets for things I have said or done over the years, particularly when I was still drinking. Yet probably my biggest regret is that I have not had children. The great love of my life was sadly unable to have children and she passed away before we could do something like adopt or foster. At my age (47), I believe I am now too old to be starting a family. So I am not going to be able to do the same things for my family that Mum and Dad did for we four kids and there is only so much that one can do in living that experience vicariously through nieces and nephews.
Right now I am feeling closer to my parents than ever.