Monday, 14 February 2011


Our Dad died on the 14th February last year. The last few weeks have been shadowed, day by day by day, by what they were a year ago. Today was the day when, and yesterday was the day when, and that was the day he mistook the whistle of his oxygen mask for Lutheran choristers. Aching and blessed days.

Here is some of who I miss:

1. crinkly grizzly bear eyes,
2. the bald expanse from his ear to his other ear, which he referred to as his "wide part",
3. and when he saw another bald man, he would say "There's a man who goes to my barber",
4. and when he saw an unambiguously pregnant person, would say, "I know her little secret" (which was funny, even if it doesn't sound it right here)
5. and when he saw a grown man of impressive girth (which he was, mostly, himself), would say, "He'll be a big chap when he grows up",
6. and when he saw a terrier or a poodle the size of his shoe, would say, "That's a ferocious looking beastie",
7. and on long drives he'd sing the 23rd Psalm to the tune of "Advance Australia Fair"
8. and "A poor bird, take thy flight, far above the so-o-rrows of this sad night", jauntily,
9. and he used to refer to the "Te Deum" as the "Tedium"
10. and he seemed to become increasingly involved in our birthday presents as he got older
11. and took us as often as he could to the sea, crammed his shirt pocket with the flotsam I found on the beach, let the week leach out of him in the salt warm surf, bought irresponsible quantities of ice-cream for his children,
12. and watched consecutive news broadcasts on three different television channels
13. and was weak in the presence of cream,
14. staaaaaaaaaaaarrrving beagles,
15. plant nurseries,
16. and gradually grew out of reading the real estate pages out loud over breakfast (phonetically, i.e., "three bdrm, two bthrm, one-eighty-thou ono")
17. and invented toast with vegemite and marmalade
18. and was enthusiastic, at various times, about such things as yurts, no-dig vegetable gardening, potato sexing, curry making, liquid manure in fibreglass vats, torulosa pine windbreaks, MG convertibles, pineapple plantations, refugee activism, mud bricks, punning,
19. and he gave me, he and Mum, this feeling of completely belonging,
20. even though I was their "little mistake afterthought".

Death can seem so blunt and stupid.


Tim said...

Beautiful post. I have tears. Your dad sounds neat.

genevieve said...

Alexis, this is as beautiful as the last one. Potato sexing!!! what a guy.
Thank you for telling us more about him.

The Elephant's Child said...

My heart hurts with you and for you. It is now over twenty years since my dad died and sometimes it still sneaks up an bites me. Thank you a zillion for reminding me of the good things.

Ann O'Dyne said...

I would have loved him too.
I would love to have a Father I could honour.
Envy and sympathy to you in equal buckets.

(the word 'lexicon' has never passed my father's lips or mind in 87 years)

livebird said...

Sounds like you had a corker of a dad. Thanks for sharing him with us, sketching him out with his own words and actions. I love the idea of the week leeching into the sea. Vale.

Ampersand Duck said...

You are everything he'd ever wanted, along with your nice siblings.

It's a bonza list.

Mitzi G Burger said...

...and twenty more blessings for each of those memories counted. Team Bloginboots wishes you and your fam long and healthy lives. It is so wonderful to read about your father. Seeing his garden way back at your place in The Horner provided early sparks to my nascent green-thumbery.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, Tim. I'm really touched that you'd be touched. He had a lot of fun being alive.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

And thanks, G. The potato sexing was always a little scientifically dubious. He'd dangle an iron nail by a string above each potato: if the nail orbited around the potato, the potato was "female", i.e., good for planting, and if the nail swung back and forth, the potato was "male" and should be eaten. The ones we ate certainly tasted edible and the ones he planted sprouted, so maybe there was something to it.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Oh, Elephant's Child, twenty years is a long time not to see someone you love. I hope there are lots of good things for you to be reminded of.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Ann O'D: that's hard. I've had (and still have, in my generous, loving, sensible, funny Mum) beautiful parents, and whatever flourishing I've done, it's been with their encouragement and example and protection. Life would have been a lot more complicated if I'd grown up without them, or with the knowledge that that's what parents are meant to be but that mine fell bitterly short. I hope there's a peace to be found between you and your father, and that you can see how you've flourished despite him being not good enough. (And I hope you don't mind me saying such personal things when we know each other only bloggily.)

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, Livebird. "Corker" - ! He'd be chuffed to hear it.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Oh, Duck, that's a very kind thing to say. He also wanted a Morgan and a holiday house in Buderim, but I think he did feel filled up by his family.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, Mitzi. What a good garden that was. So rambunctious. I realised recently, while planting rhubarb crowns, that my family never ate any of the fantastically prolific rhubarb we grew there. Dad called it bloodshot celery, which might have spoilt people's appetite a little.

Helen said...

You've done such a great sketch of him, he lives on in you! What a great Dad.

Cistern Harlot said...

Oh lexicon love, I've just seen this beautiful post and the tears are spilling down my cheeks. I saw a tallie during the week and was jolted by myself thinking "he'll be a tall fellow when he grows up". xx

Rachy said...

I swear I can almost feel his presence after reading this, as though I now have a crystal clear image of him in my head. And to think I never had the privilege of meeting the old chap. I feel for you and your family, I really do, after reading this it is obvious that your sorrow would be impossible to measure.

Katrina Z said...

Alexis, I'm so sorry for your loss. I feel privileged to know even this much about your wonderful dad.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, you good people. You're so, so kind.

Katrina - hullo! Thanks for popping by. (And how nice to see you the other week. I hope the imminent migration is looking rosy.)

Sister, I do that all the time. Love you.