If it was my Mum who introduced me to Jane Austen and the classics of English literature, together with a love of language (and thus Scrabble and cryptic crosswords), it was my Dad who introduced me to Australiana, starting in my youth with the verse (as the poet himself called it) of Banjo Paterson. The grandson of a Presbyterian minister, my father never swore, but he’d read with great gusto the lines ‘”Murder! Bloody murder!” cried the man from Ironbark’. And we kids loved it. As Dad’s eyes deteriorated in his last years, he gave up reading books, but the book he kept by his chair-side, and the book he was last seen dipping into, was a book of Paterson’s verse.
Born in 1920, and living through the heyday of Australia’s development in the twentieth century, Dad loved stories about Australian pioneers of all sorts, from the exploits of Charles Kingsford-Smith to those of cattle kings like the Duracks. Mary Durack’s Kings in grass castles was one of his favourites, at least from the time when I was old enough to be aware of his reading. In later years, he became more aware of the politics of Australia’s colonial settlement and appreciated our need to revise our understanding of frontier life, but I don’t think that ever completely removed his love of these ventures. Dad, of course, also lived through the Depression and Second World War, with the latter inspiring another major reading interest, the history of the War. (He didn’t read a lot of fiction, being of that generation of men who felt fiction wasn’t quite as worthwhile as non-fiction).
My other main memory of Dad and books comes from the days when, as a very little girl, I would go to my parents bedroom in the morning – much to my mum’s chagrin as she loved a sleep-in – with my “twenty-eight books”. It wasn’t 28 of course, but for some reason, that was the number I would say. One of those books featured Jiminy Cricket, and Dad would feign great fear as I shoved this terrifying creature under his nose! This became a lasting in-joke between us for the rest of his life.
Now, though, Dad has gone – peacefully, at the excellent age of 100 years and 8 months – and I am left with these memories, along with the enduring knowledge of a man who loved me very much, who never failed to support me and compliment me, and who set an example of integrity, honesty, acceptance, stoicism, and love of and responsibility for family. He, like all of us, had his moments, but his, like Mum’s, was a life well-lived, one that will continue through our memories and through the lives of all those who loved him.
Vale, Dad. Go well, and thanks.
96 thoughts on “Vale my dear old Dad (1920-2021)”
That’s a lovely tribute, Sue. It sounds as if the man your father was for you and the life he lived is something of a consolation to you. Or it will be, in the time to come. Very sorry for your loss.
Thanks very much Glen. Yes, you’re right, it will be.
What a beautiful tribute Sue. He sounds like a wonderful man and it will be a loss keenly felt by you and your family and by all those touched by his presence during the past century. Thank you for sharing something of him with us. My thoughts are with you.
Thanks Karen lee.
Oh Sue, I am so sorry to hear this. Sending you much love XXX
Dear Sue, you have my deepest sympathy and empathy at having lost both parents in close succession. But what fortunate women we are to have known ourselves loved by those parents. That you can say “I am left with these memories, along with the enduring knowledge of a man who loved me very much, who never failed to support me and compliment me…” speaks volumes about your father and the quality of your relationship. May that love hold you in good stead through this sad time. Warmest wishes, Angela
Thanks Angela. Of course I’ve been thinking of you as I’ve been going through this journey. It’s tough losing two so close together isn’t it?
What a touching and loving tribute to your father – Banjo and the 28 books and Jiminy Cricket. It’s funny how these things go – just yesterday I was writing to someone of my name and added in a reference to Jiminy. Like you and the thrill of that line from “The Man from Ironbark” Mr Shanahan in my 5th class at West Tamworth PS evoked the same delighted shock from us all – swearing as we thought – yet somehow not?! That you have had your father until just recently is something both wonderful and rare. Mine I had till just weeks beyond my 2nd birthday. In the nicest way and with condolences to you at this time – I envy you WG.
Thanks Jim. Love you Mr Shanahan story. I always feel very sad when I hear of parents of young children dying. Not everyone is blessed with loving parents but most of us are, I think, and losing their love, interest and guidance when you are very young is so sad.
This is a beautiful tribute, Sue, and I’ve learned for the first time that our dear old dads shared a love of poetry.
What a wonderful generation they were!
Oh thanks for sharing that Lisa. And yes, they were. They lived through a lot didn’t they?
Indeed they did. But they always remained gentlemen, through and through.
They certainly did.
That’s all one can ask of parents, to be loved. Though to be given a love of literature must be up there too. Hope you are holding up ok.
Thanks Bill. Being loved is the absolute critical thing isn’t it? And yes, I’m holding up. Sad to have lost him and I’ll miss his love, but, also knowing that his life was holding fewer and fewer pleasures, makes it easier.
My sincere condolences to you. This is a beautiful and moving tribute. A life well lived. Rest in peace.
Thanks Amanda. Lovely to hear from you.
Such poignant memories of your father—-I hope you can recall and share many more in the months to come. Take care….
Thanks so much Carolyn. I reckon I, and we, can and will.
Beautiful post, Sue and I’m sorry for your loss.
Sending lots of virtual hugs from France.
Thanks very much Emma.
What a beautiful and touching tribute, Sue, he sounded like an amazing and much loved man. I read this with a tear in my eye. I am sorry for your loss. Sending you a virtual hug xx
Thanks kimbofo – that’s lovely.
Thinking of you in this sad time, Sue. Thank you for sharing with us the joy of having such a wonderful father.
Thanks very much Charlotte.
This is so very, very beautiful and moving.
Thanks Carmel. I’m glad it has come across that way.
ST .. the past months have not been kind to you ..
No, they haven’t M-R. It’s been really really tough, but I’ve also been well supported by family and friends – personal and cyber!
You’re a good woman, as well as a very intelligent one. Feel I must add “well-read” .. 😀
Your parents were obviously excellent.
You are way too kind, M-R, but thanks!
So sorry to hear this Sue, what a beautiful tribute xx
Thanks Cathy. I’m glad it reads that way.
A beautiful obituary that does your Dad great honour, expressed with a daughter’s love. Your Dad and mine were of the same generation. Mine died in 2016 but would have been 96 this year. Your Dad certainly lived a long life and a good one. My condolences to you and yours. Losing a parent is hard.
Thanks Denise. Clearly you know!
That is a lovely tribute, you’re going to miss him so much, but how lucky you were to have him in your life for such a long time.
Thanks Katrina. I know I was, and have many many good memories to treasure.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful words. Wishing you strength and comfort from your loving memories.
Thanks very much Anna.
A life well-lived indeed! Thanks for sharing about your dad. he sounds like a wonderful father and a good person all around. Condolences to you and your family as well as love and hugs.
Thanks Stefanie. Yes, he was a good person.
What a wonderful tribute to a man who was so clearly cherished. It must be heartbreaking to have lost him so soon after your mum. Sending you very big hugs.
Thanks Karen. It is tough losing two so close together.
You must be reeling
I am a bit, really, Karen, even though with Dad’s age I had to expect it.
Dear Sue, such a lovely tribute to your father. How wonderful that he made you feel loved all your life and also gave you a love of Australian literature. Thinking of you.
Thanks Brona. There’s nothing quite like a parent’s love I think. If you have that you are set for life in away, I think.
Dear Sue, What a wonderful memories you will have of your father. He sounds like a true gentleman, and you were lucky to have such wonderful parents. This must be so hard for you. Take care.
Thanks Meg. Yes ”true gentleman” would be a good description of him, and many of his generator I think. It is hard, but it’s helped by knowing he had a good long life, with few regrets.
I’m with your Dad in loving Kings in Grass Castles! A lovely tribute to your Dad Sue, and sincere condolences from one Cheltenham girl to a Hornsby girl! The last year has been a tough one in so many ways for so many people. Warmest regards.
Thanks Sue, it sure has been … and I love that you love Kings in Grass Castles. Great title isn’t it,
From the photo, I’d say he also passed on your love of fine dining. Condolences. You know parents can’t last, but it’s hard when they go. But there are benefits. They are no longer around to correct your accurate recollection of a family incident 🙂
You are too astute Neil! Dining was one of our big pleasures as my parents got older. What’s not to enjoy about sitting around a table with people you love, sharing good food and wine?
You are right about knowing they can’t last – so, I love your silver lining, and will take comfort from that as the years wear on!
A great innings, WG, but that doesn’t diminish the loss. What a great father. My condolences and wishes for keeping the memories ever close to your heart.
Thanks Sara … I am hoping that my memories do sustain me through the rest of my life. I’m sure they will.
Sorry to hear this Sue. Losing your Dad is almost as hard as losing your Mum, and not really much less sad if he had a long happy life. He must have missed your Mother in the end too.
Thanks Sue. And yes, he did very much. He was very stoical about it, and didn’t impose his grief on anyone else, but it was very clear that a light did go out of his life.
What a beautiful and moving tribute, for a man who was clearly very special. Thank you for sharing your memories of him. My sympathies and warmest wishes to you, and your family.
Thanks very much Michelle.
I am so sorry to hear this.
Your post is a wonderful tribute and you have such wonderful memories of your dad.
Thanks very much Brian. I have some great memories to take with me into the future.
Oh Sue, what a lovely tribute. That is a grand age!
My condolences on this loss, he sounds like a man who left a lasting impression upon many.
Thanks Theresa. I think he did.
What lovely memories you have, and how fortunate to have your parents for so many years
Thanks Carrie – and yes, I did and do realise how very fortunate I was.
What a lovely tribute, Sue. My father’s collection of Romantic poetry that sat on the book case outside my bedroom were my first introduction to poetry. My condolences on your loss.
Thanks so much Joe … now I know how you came to be poetic yourself.
I felt so sad reading this glorious tribute but what an amazing life he had. My father was born in 1919 and I always marveled at all the changes they observed in their lifetime. How lovely he was a reader and passed that on to you. Thinking of you at this time. All the very best. 🐧🌹🌹🌹
Thanks Pam. Oh yes, what immense changes they experienced, and how well they adapted. (My father didn’t touch a computer, but at the age of 90 got an iPad, and used it right to the end. We were amazed.)
Dear Sue, I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ve written a lovely tribute to your father. The description of him never swearing unless he was reading aloud from a Banjo Paterson poem made me smile. He sounded lovely. Thinking of you, Rose
Thanks very much Rose. Dad, though reserved in many ways, had a good sense of fun.
Thank you George.
So very sorry to hear this news, Sue – but what a lovely tribute to your dad. Big hugs xx
Oh thanks Paula – I accept the hugs with pleasure!
This is beautiful, Mum. Thank you. I love him so much and miss him already. xoxo
Thanks Hannah. I’m really glad you like it.
More and more folks are reaching 100 and living these full, inspiring lives. I’ve been keeping a close watch on the gentleman in England, Captain Tom Moore, who raised 40 million in COVID relief for walking around his garden. Your dad sounded lovely, Sue.
Thanks Melanie – and, oh yes, what a lovely story that is. Quite amazing, really.
You’re lucky to have had him for such a good long time. I’m sure your memories of him will be a blessing to you, and all who knew him.
Thanks Davida , and yes, true to all that.
This has nothing to do with me and I apologise for that. But one of your blogees is dear to me, Anna Blay from Hybrid Publishing who are my publishers. Further you were very kind to review my book “The Last Wild West.” I’ve always been a Gummie since then but my emotional issues stopped me from daring to post. But your Dads passing and your so touching memories called, so thought I’d try to quill a little something for you. I feel sometimes the smallest memories take up the most room in your heart. Never weep because the memories are over; smile because they happened. Memories and life are similar; not how long life is, but how good the memories are after those who gifted them end is what matters. You were blessed to have a Dad like him. Likewise he was blessed to have a daughter like you who made him proud. You can hold memories in your heart until you hold each other again in a better place. To me, the best thing about your good memories of him was your Dad making them. I hope you don’t mind if I posted this? Blessings, Neil Atkinson
Of course, I don’t, Neil. It’s lovely of you to take the time to express these kind and caring thoughts. I will remember them, as I remember you too and your book.
My commiserations, Sue. It seems your parents were a double blessing. What a gift your father gave you in his devotion and decency.
Thanks very much Diana — devotion and decency are great words to describe him.
I’m sorry I come to this post late. My condolences for your lost, WG. Your loving tribute is moving and I can sense what a loss it is for you to say goodbye to such a wonderful man your Dad was. Well, his legacy lives on in you and for that we’re all benefactors.
Thank Arti – never too late to express kind thoughts like these!
Your Dad had lived a long life. My Dad was 97 when he passed a few years ago, and my Mom at 99 a couple year ago. Always amazed at how long people live and doubt if this generation of ours can beat their record.
They’re great ages. My mum was 3 weeks off 91, which wasn’t bad but I wanted a few more! It will be interesting to see what our generation does.
What a lovely tribute, and what wonderful memories you have. I am thinking of you.
Thanks very much Jennifer. Its very sad, and yet I know his time had come so I can’t be churlish about it! Just sad about the end of a very long relationship with my Dad (and my Mum until last year.)
I would be sad as well. What a blessing to have had such wonderful parents, and for so long. It is never easy to say goodbye, regardless.
I was blessed on both counts Jennifer. There will be some adjustment after all this time.
Aww, WG. I’m truly sorry to see this news here (although in such a fine form, as others have already said). Even though I know it was not unexpected, that doesn’t really matter in the end, does it. In another sense, it’s expected from the beginning…and that awareness doesn’t make it any easier to manage the personal sense of loss (although your observation of his loss of some joys in recent times is pertinent of course). May you find small comforts in these hard times and in the days to come.
No, it doesn’t Buried. It’s always a shock I think, even when expected. Thanks for your lovely thoughts.