I first published this piece about 5 years ago – time to re-post it.
On September 14 this year it will be the 10th anniversary of his death.
“I miss my Dad!” There, I have said it. Not a day passes without me wishing I could pick up the phone or sit quietly opposite him and talk.
There are so many things I would share with him, knowing he would hold my declarations in an impermeable confidence. There is something subtle about the inextricable bond between a daughter and her father. Not every father-daughter relationship has it or holds it in such a sacred place. That, I accept.
My father was taken in his 74th year, a victim of prostate cancer.
Every year, around 18,700 Australian men are diagnosed and more than 3,000 die of the disease, making prostate cancer the second largest cause of male cancer deaths, after lung cancer. Almost one man in eleven will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime.
While thoughtfully reminiscing about Dad, I decided to set out writing these words to offer respectful advice to men, all men.
If you are a father, brother, uncle, nephew, grandfather or someone’s best mate and are aged over 50 or; are over 40 with a family history of Prostate Disease, you should make the time for a full health check-up with your GP. I am not sure that I can add much more to that. Suffice to say that we should all take responsibility for our own physical, mental an emotional health.
So many questions unanswered…
So I now set course on another tangent. In today’s contemplations of Dad, I got to thinking about the wisdom and values of previous generations, Dad’s in particular. What values will we impart on future generations? Every generation will have its challenges. What can we learn from our forebears? What can our off-spring learn from us?
There are many lessons Dad taught me. Most of which are only now, as I am in my 4th decade (as at 1/9/19 my 5th), resonating with me. Dad had some unique ways to offer advice. For example when I was very young and professed to be scared of the dark and of ghosts, he would tell me bluntly “You need not worry, it’s the ones which are alive you have to watch out for!” Touché!
During troubled times and relationship woes he would always remind my sister and I that no matter what, the door would always be open and that we could come ‘home.’ We did.
Dad didn’t attend school past the age of 13. He left to help support his family. But his wisdom, knowledge and insight into life and society were equal to any learned scholar. He worked hard and provided for us well.
With a degree of doggedness he learned to love reading. He took a keen interest in politics, the economy and environment. Not in the sense that you might think but more of a healthy respect for each and an acceptance that his views may not be yours. He believed in and practised integrity. In his work he was firm but fair and for this disposition he earned respect. He could be swayed in his opinions if he were to receive sound evidence which suggested his understanding of an issue was incomplete or flawed in some way.
I can’t help but wonder what he would make of the current state of affairs, both locally and globally. What would his commentary be? How would he discern the complexities of the many challenges we face? If he were to read today’s papers and tune into the news services, what would his thoughts be?
He would lament at what the future holds for his grandchildren, indeed all future generations. He would despair at the inhumanity and poverty experienced on our shores and those beyond. He would, however instil a sense of purpose in those around him by encouraging conversation and activism about things which matter.
Thank you Dad, your advice, actions and opinions have allowed me to actively pursue change and I believe, to make a positive difference for my children. They however, like me, possibly won’t accept or understand the advice I give them today or tomorrow for that matter. My only wish is that they do come to understand that my guidance and importantly my actions to nurture, guide and curb when necessary, was in their best interest.
At a conference in February last year I sat in a room with other likeminded rural women and we were all asked the same question. The question was “What did your mother’s mother do?” Like most of the other women in the room, I struggled to succinctly answer that question, other than to state her name and country of birth. For me that was yet another defining moment. At that point, I knew I wanted my great grandchildren to know categorically, what it was “I did” and how I contributed.
So, I continue ‘to do’. It has not been smooth sailing as I take small but calculated steps. I, like many mothers’ today struggle with juggling work and life. I am sometimes conflicted in making sound personal choices, mostly because I put myself at the bottom rung of the ladder. My struggle though, diminishes into insignificance compared to the challenges of so many others.
Wouldn’t it be a fine thing, that our actions were to make a positive difference on our lives and the lives of others…just like Dad’s did?