This time last year my father had just died. I was about to receive the phone call that I had been waiting for. The one confirming his death. My younger brother and I drove to the hospital where we met with my mother. I had always prided myself on being the ‘brave one’ and so I chose to view dad’s body, while my brother did not.
He looked so very peaceful; the kind of peace one expects to see on an individual that has worked hard, put in some good time, and is now experiencing a well deserved rest. He looked so completely relaxed that I found that a gentle smile came unbidden to my lips at the sight of what was now my dad’s corpse. I bent down and kissed his rapidly cooling body and told him that I loved him.
They don’t make men like my father any more. He was such a machine of a man. He worked hard, he lived hard, he played hard, he loved hard, and he laughed hard. He began work at the age of fourteen, never graduating from high school. He was a leading hand fitter and turner. In his entire working career (which spanned five decades) he took one sick day; two at best.
He was so physically strong that he was still capable of unloading entire trailers full of furniture single-handedly when he hit his mid sixties. I know this, because he helped my (now ex) husband and I move to the country for a while. Before we had so much as unpacked the car my dad had finished unloading that trailer!
He was also renowned for the funny stories he would tell; often about himself and his childhood adventures. He was never afraid to make fun of himself. He was never afraid to make fun of others, either 😉 But he gave as good as he got and never meant any malicious harm when he was having a joke. He would only ever make fun of you if he actually liked you. You see, he would pull no verbal punches either. If he thought you were a ‘bloody idiot’ he would tell you so, straight up. There really was nothing fake about my dad. He was real. No one ever wondered where they stood with him. We all knew. It was one of the many amazing things about him.
My dad taught me how to love as easily as he taught me how to use tools. He could see no reason why his daughter should not know what they were, how to use them, and what they were called. In the process of educating me, I guess one could say that he taught me how to love tools, too!
He taught me how to fish, how to forecast the weather more accurately than the satellite images do, how to build, how to climb, how to surf, drive a boat, fix a car, have a laugh, pitch a tent, light a fire, and never give up when I set myself a goal worth achieving.
My dad was a fighter. He loved life. He fought to live it until he took his last breath.
It is not my purpose here to go into intimate detail about this amazing man. The casual reader would be bored and I am not one to display deep candour about such a personal matter.
But it is my purpose to honour my dad every day of my life.
It is so hard to comprehend that he has already been gone from our lives this long. A huge ‘Maxie the Magnificent’ sized hole remains where he once dwelt. It is far greater in size than his physical presence was.
I love you, Dad.