My father died 12 years ago this week. He was only 51.
He was a writer, a columnist for the Sunday Herald Sun, and proud of it. He was known as The Working Class Man. His column drove me crazy, and we disagreed on almost everything he ever wrote.
Ah, family. I don't know about you guys, but almost everyone I know has difficult, precarious relationships with their parents. I was no exception. My father and I were estranged for many years, and there seemed no way to bridge the divide.
Then he became ill. And we became friends. It was astonishing. And quite wonderful. He opened up, like a lotus; all I had to do was let it happen. We parted on excellent terms, and I talk to him now more than I ever did when he was alive.
And I came, in time, to understand that people you love, and who love you, move on, leaving behind the very best of themselves for you to remember and draw on. The rest has a knack for just falling away.
You just have to let yourself miss them enough.
11 Things about my Dad
He sang beautifully.
He loved lyrebirds.
He told me not to follow leaders and to watch the parking meters (which dates him quite precisely)
He moved like a cat, and would cross his legs like a yogi on a chair, just like I do.
He would put in writing what he couldn't bear to say in person (which was almost anything personal).
He believed in putting the milo in (without stirring) after the milk was heated.
You always knew he was 10 sheets to the wind when the Clancy Brothers went on the turntable.
He always stayed up too late (something I inherited), and raged against the dying of the light.
He would have happydanced over the emergence of the Weblog. 'What, you mean everyone gets a column? Oh, YEAH!'
He truly believed in following your heart, regardless of what people might think of you.
He died bravely, smoking to the very last.