Saying Goodbye

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

– Kahlil Gibran

It was Dad’s funeral today. It was the chance to say goodbye.


I’d already said goodbye. I’d sat by him for hours the day he died. Felt him go cold. Knew he’d gone.

I’d gathered my memories and shared my stories of him. Been touched by the responses of so many.

Today was about letting others say goodbye and to share more of who he was. To put together the jigsaw of experiences, of his contact with others into a coherent and impressive narrative. Even those who thought they knew all he’d done, learned something new today.

It’s been unseasonably fine and mild this week. Until today. Today it turned bitterly cold, the wind blew in gales and the rain came down in buckets. Weather gods love a cliché.

I am an introvert and a shy person by nature. I’ve learned, with age, to hide it. But social gatherings are still stressful at the best of times. Today loomed like the Cliffs of Moher.

But I did my best. I listened compassionately to others’ memories of him, accepted gratefully the sympathy and love. It was meaningful.

And now it is done. In my immediate future is some time to myself and, hopefully, sleep. And tomorrow I will have to get on with learning to live without my Dad.

“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.”

– George Eliot




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My Dad Died Today


My Dad died today. He was 83. He had lived a long and productive life. A good life.


He was my Dad. Dads are immortal, invincible and always there when you need them (and even when you don’t). Dads don’t get sick or leave and they certainly don’t die. As my friend Sylvia said, “Your Dad going is what happens to other people, not to you.”

At least, that’s what the little girl in my heart tells me. The adult in my brain unfortunately knows otherwise. She knows people age, get sick, leave us. She knows she is growing older and thus the people in the generation above grow even older.

It doesn’t make it any easier.

My Dad was a healthy man up until a bit less than a year ago when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. At that time, he bragged he’d only been in hospital twice – for appendicitis and for a severed tendon on his left hand. (He ended up with a permanently bent little finger. He always joked about being a nine-and-a-half-fingered pianist.) In the end it wasn’t the mesothelioma that took him but something unrelated that couldn’t be operated on because of the mesothelioma and thus claimed his life. Perhaps it was better this way, not to see him gasping for his every breath at the end.

It doesn’t make it any easier.

Dad was forced to leave school early to help in the family business. He completed his high school qualifications at night school, put himself through university and finished up with a PhD in Accounting from the University of Cincinnati. Education was important. We were given the best, even if it meant he was still paying school fees off two years after the youngest child finished school. He retired as Associate Dean of Management at Deakin University. He could have had glory. He was offered full professorships at universities in the USA. But he turned them down, not wanting to unsettle his children, wanting them to continue their schooling where they were. I have a first class education and a university degree and I had a steady upbringing because of the sacrifices he made.

It doesn’t make it any easier.


Dad couldn’t swim but always took us to the beach every summer. He would sit on his towel on the sand and watch us for hours, occasionally venturing to the water to paddle no deeper than his knees. The beach holds no fears for me because he overcame his own.

It doesn’t make it any easier.

Dad was a teetotaller until the day, in his 40s, someone introduced him to wine. It became one of his great passions. And so my memories of family holidays are coloured by the wineries we visited. Brown Brothers, where I learned to love olives (they used to offer cheese and olives with their tastings – too young to drink, I just ate the cheese and olives); Delatite, where they had the best piece of playground equipment ever (it was four connected seats with a handle and footrest that you pushed/pulled and it made the seats spin) that I have never seen anywhere since (sometimes I think I must have dreamed it); Taminick Cellars, with their Trebbiano wine I loved (ahem, when I was old enough to drink, of course, ahem) and we visited so often that when I was 13, the owner Cliffy Booth gave me a bottle of port and wrote on the label it was to be saved for my 21st birthday which it duly was and enjoyed; Tahbilk, which when I first knew it was ‘Chateau Tahbilk’ until the French got snooty about people using the word ‘chateau’ and they became simply Tahbilk Winery. As I write, I have a glass of the best wine I own in my hand. I have an appreciation for good wine because of his passion.

It doesn’t make it any easier.


Dad took his young family of a wife and four small children to the USA for a year in the late ’60s and for as much of the time as possible travelled with the whole brood (including a less-than-one-year-old me) across the States in a time when travelling with small children was not the done thing. We certainly drew a lot of attention. He went on to travel extensively, returning to the USA to complete his PhD, presenting academic papers to conferences around the world, and just travelling to see what was there. I, too, (and more recently with my husband and children), have travelled the world to see what is there because he taught me the big, wide world is there to be explored and nothing should stop you from seeing all you can see.

It doesn’t make it any easier.

Dad was a master of the segue. I think it always bewildered him that he had produced a family of geeks and nerds. At our monthly family dinners, as the conversation inevitably steered towards sci-fi, IT or superheroes (when we weren’t passionately arguing our political views), he was at a loss to contribute. As a man who liked to hold court at the head of the table, this was not acceptable. And so he would listen carefully and at the opportune moment latch onto a word or phrase and execute a breathtaking segue into a topic on which he had much to say. It became a bit of a shared family joke and we would give him a score out of ten for the segue dependant on how tenuous it was. But, at the end of the day, I have a passionate interest in many, many things because of his fierce intellect and insatiable thirst for knowledge. Really, I am a Jack of All Trades because he showed me there is so much to learn.

It doesn’t make it any easier.


Dad was a giver. He gave of his time and expertise to so many organisations, councils, committees that I wonder, come the funeral, how we will fit in all the people who knew him. While in no way in the same league as my father, I hope I am also a giver of my time and expertise to the things that interest me, that need me. I hope that I make a difference because he made such a difference to so many.

It doesn’t make it any easier.

My Dad died today. It was time. He was ready to go. He is now free of pain and at peace.

But it doesn’t make it any easier.



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