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.