READER REPORT:

Loved ones remembered: I was daddy's girl

HEIDI DAVIES
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012
Heidi Davies' dad
GREAT LOSS: Heidi Davies says losing her dad, Gerard Hoogenboom, has been the saddest thing she has ever experienced.

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Sixty years ago my dad prepared himself for the eight-week sailing from Rotterdam, the Netherlands to Wellington, New Zealand. He was 20 years old, leaving the only home he had known and the love and support of his family and friends.

He said goodbye, not knowing when he would see them again, and embarked on a journey to a country on the other side of the world.

He arrived in New Zealand with $3 in his pocket, a wooden chest his dad had made him and the clothes on his back.

Five weeks ago, on November 9, my dad died.

My mum and I stayed in the room with him on his final night, talking and caring for him. He still managed to talk only two hours before he passed and I held his hands when he took his last breaths.

Losing my dad has been the saddest thing I've ever experienced. I was daddy's girl. We were so similar and so close. I'm the youngest of four siblings and I inherited a lot of his traits, which I'm so thankful for, as he was a wonderful person.

My mum and dad gave us a fantastic childhood - one that I thought every child experienced. I was surrounded by love, kindness and support. We grew up in a small beach town with not much money, not that I ever felt we did without.

My dad would read me stories, take us fishing, swimming and tramping. He gave us so many experiences, filled us with knowledge and gave us strong foundations to build our own lives with. He was always there for me with advice, although it was not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but he gave it with honesty and love.

My dad's passing has left me with a huge emptiness. Grief is an incredibly powerful emotion that I'm still working through. This will be the first Christmas without my dad. It's all those firsts that are the hardest. I miss not hearing my dad's voice, feeling his strong arms around me and seeing him.

I don't know how this emptiness will ever be filled; I can't imagine what could warrant that space. People say you don't forget, but life gets easier.

This has been life changing for me. It's changed me as a person. I hold my kids that little bit closer, appreciate my husband that little bit more, and I love my mum and my siblings more than ever.

I miss you Dad. Merry Christmas.

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