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Lost loved ones: They never leave us

JO CAMERON
Last updated 09:23 03/01/2013

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Life stories: Loved ones remembered

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Just read a Stuff assignment about someone who lost their dad recently. I want to say to that person - if he's that special, you never lose him.

My Dad shuffled off his mortal coil 23 years ago. We were a family of girls. Dad, and what he described (in the innocence of those days) as his harem. You could never use such a term today - the outcry! But it was true - he had a bevy of girls who adored him.

The wife, the six daughters, and at that count, the two grand-daughters. He had grown up with girls too. His father died young, his only brother went to fight in World War II when he was just a boy, and he was effectively raised by his sisters, in a time that was tough, economically, for all.

He was ahead of his time in a lot of ways. Women, he knew from his childhood, could be mentally tough. He married our mother, a very intelligent person, and bred us. Of all his children, it was only the boy (who died just prior to his 16th birthday) who was less academically challenged, reinforcing his belief that women were intellectually tough as well.

It used to amaze me when my school mates would say things like, "oh my Dad doesn't want me to do science or maths". Dad looked at me with wonder when I suggested that to him. "Uh, yeah of course you can!" he'd say. Chauvinism, except in its most basic form (opening doors, jars or changing the oil) never occurred to him.

Dad cared for his family but in his shy way, he tried not to show it. Kissing was pretty much out of the question - if we wanted a kiss from him we had to offer it first. He had a charming habit of offering a brief hug on departure, which always involved him slipping a hand into your pocket and leaving a $20 note behind.

But, he was there when it mattered. When our brother died, I remember Dad asking if I wanted to go and see him. I was sitting with my back to him, trying not to cry. He knew this, and came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders, and whispered "or would you rather remember him as he was". That was enough for me.

He died way too young, and before he got to see the majority of his grand-kids. We at least have our special memories of him, but we can only relay these to our children.


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