Death of a Dream –For Abbey
How does one find closure for an absence that was always there?
This is the question I grappled with for as long as I have known.
Mum and Dad separated when I was in primary school and the pain of saying good bye stung with every hello. An overclouding shadow that would not part my side, and still remains .
Growing up, those who knew my dad well would say that he was a great, a fierce-less, unpalpable and a resilient man.
Yet to me he was the first man to be the love of my life as assuredly in my current tumultuous momentum.. the last.
For as long as I can remember he loved motorbikes, a daredevil who approached life like a roll of the dice. As I grew older I realised it was his own adversity that had perhaps shaped this outlook. Something that I myself had always lacked.
I was shit scared of motorbikes.
Frankly, I was scared of almost everything, and after losing his role in my life at a young age I was forced to approach fear on without my strong loving protector.
He would always offer to pick me up from school on his noisy roaring Harley Davidson. Yet I preferred to walk.
The very sound would send a cold shiver through me…
Just like the time he sent me to school with a 3 piece feed of chicken and potato and gravy and it spilled all through my lunch box, and school bag and I dubbed him the most awkwardly embarrassing Dad ever. I later found out he had informally proposed to my mother over lunch, or dinner at ‘Kentucky Fried Duck’ whilst serving in the Armed Forces.
A romantic man and much after my own heart, yet I still to this day prefer cheeseburgers, Gotta love a good preservative in your Aussie Beef!
I remember the first time I was game enough to ride on the back of the bike. I was 9. I clung to him like a helpless kitten after a cold bath. Terrified of the speed, which I am sure was faster than he had later recalled. Yet knowing if I let go I was a goner.
I wonder if he was just as scared that I would fall?
However it was, I was always reassured by the fact that he would not ever let me falter as I had gripped his vest for dear life.
Another Christmas he took me on a ride from Bonnie Doon to God knows where, with the only assuredness being that he knew those corners and would always nurture my heart.
The last time I rode with my Dad was the day I visited him, on my vehicle Learners permit. I can’t even remember if I drove with company…or he picked me up to rescue me from the fair announcement I had to make.
I had the awesome news I had fallen pregnant after an ended 9 year relationship to a ‘dickhead’ that ended with a one night stand on half a bottle of Gin and another half bottle of Vodka to a man that was our flat mate and on his way to rehab.
My Dad drove off patiently in my step mum’s little buzz box and then once he arrived back at the property told me to grab a helmet. I think he was shocked, dismayed and more fearful than I was. Yet it was the first time riding that I could have gone on that road to nowhere and continue to keep on going.
My dad was always a believer in the impossible notion I could be whatever I wanted to be, showing me the consolations of the endless galaxy the night before I started school, encouraging me from a young age to follow my dreams, as big and as ludicrous as they were.
…This included the years I came home crying to reassurance that I was allowed to be Raphael the ninja turtle when I was told by my peers I had to be April because I was a girl.
Dad shaped my values to always see people for who they are. Once in Melbourne he was running a delivery to a shop in Grey street, St. Kilda.
I will never forget his disappointment or that of my own when I wound down the window to yell out a derogatory name to a street working woman. Clearly to me at the age of 14 this woman was a ‘slut’ yet he reminded me never to judge as everyone has their own story to tell. I remember I questioned this woman’s journey on the way home in the delivery van and Dad’s raised voice had further heightened the shame of my actions. It was the beginning of the ingraining of a greater perspective and outlook into another person’s background. But also their potential. My mother was much the same yet sheltered me from the darkness a lot more. Dad raised me to always be aware and on guard.
Two very important yet separate approaches to parenting with the same outcome of appreciation.
Many would say my dad was a man of few words, yet I could and still do, talk non-stop. From a young age he sowed pearls of wisdom into my heart as an amazing listener, so when he spoke he had already gained my respect. If he remained silent he was intently listening or simply believed you were a actually a ‘dickhead.’
I later believe this was one of his greatest assets as he listened intently before deciding if someone was worth the hearing of him speak or not.
In recent years he became more and more of an active speaker in our conversations, I don’t know if it was because I was learning to listen, or he had an urgency to be heard. Perhaps both and he knew his time was short.
He taught me through his own trial and error that when starting a project to maintain the long term focus and the bigger vision as it made the little steps forward easier knowing the perceived opportunity in the outcome. Similar to when I lost my training wheels before buying me a brand new BMX, standing in my rear vision encouraging me whenever I felt incapable.
There are many stories I have of my dad, as I am sure we all have our own ideologies of a perfect father. He encouraged me to appreciate animals as a source of meat when I became a vegetarian for 9 years, and as I got my shooters license taught me how to feed a baby kangaroo. How to grow a perfect vegie garden in soil and that SPC and Ardmona baked beans were fit for the feast of kings.
That a lullaby could be any song by The Beatles or ‘Cat’ Stevens… Sounding even sweeter when sung by him, in which my daughter Abbey now appreciates in turn by her own mother.
The greatest thing I ever had imparted by my father was that he always made me feel loved and reminded of his presence no matter distance or time. With the sound of every Harley that drove by, with every song on a tape deck in his car that I listened to throughout my childhood, and every part of nature that he appreciated and trained as a wildlife rescue and releaser.
My greatest fear of the 3 wedge tailed eagles slowly precipitated with a head on approach, including an attack by a kookaburra, a magpie and a peacock in the same week of 2016.
….The morning he died I awoke knowing I would be ok because of the simple reassuring sound of a cockatoo squawking my name, just as Abbey had been greeted by every visit to the property.
I later learned that one of the rescue cockatoo’s had also been carried off by an eagle that morning. Perhaps the helicopter had frightened them. Or perhaps on every ride he knew how to find home. I will never know for certain. However I believe that there is an opportunity to seize every day and every moment and despite distance some bonds can never be broken.
It is hard to grasp but f___k I will miss the legend that rocked the flannelette shirt and vest like he was born to ride the wind on a perfect day.
…And I question now, how do I raise a daughter without the same loss?
I only hope that at the age of 30 she too understands the pain of trying your hardest.
- Of trying a million ways to fail until one works.
- Of appreciation for what is, not what is lost.
- Of seizing the broken pieces until the picture regains composure and a heart lost in brokenness is not too late to mend.
- Of knowing I tried my hardest and never gave up.