Robbie was a truck driver, a drover, a shearer, and an all round, Authentic Australian bloke. He rode a big motorbike. He could whisper dogs, handle horses, and crack a bullwhip better than anyone I ever saw.
Robbie came to live with us when I was about 9 or 10. I don't recall ever once questioning the fact that he loved my mother. Blind Freddy could see that he did. He loved her enough to take on her three daughters as his own. He bought us bicyles, and took us camping, and looked after us when Mum was sick. And for a while there, it was all looking pretty solid.
But he was a blokey bloke. And blokey blokes, where I come from, were under extraordinary pressure to validate their manhood most evenings by proving how much beer they could drink before before closing at the local pub, how much shit they could talk with Their Mates, how loudly they could brag that they didn't give a fuck about what their wives thought, how many wild swings they could throw before randomly landing a punch, and how miraculously they could drunkenly negotiate the winding, narrow roads home, to a congealed dinner, and an increasingly disenchanted Dear One.
The Ending, when it came, left blood on the walls, kids hiding in the wardrobe, and a home knee-deep in broken glass. New scars, to compliment the relief sculpture that Mum had carved into the lounge room door with an axe, when Dad left.
Robbie lived alone, ever after, in the hope that she'd come back to him. But she never did.
When Mum died, 15 years later, he was still there, waiting to be my friend again. He made sure that I had a car to drive, and changed the washers in my taps when they broke. He gave me flannelette shirts, and woolly socks, and his favourite leather bike jacket, so I'd be warm. When I got too thin, he'd take me up to the pub for a counter meal, or cook me rissoles, piled high with broccoli and brussel sprouts. His rissoles, in my humble opinion, are still the best on the planet. We never talked about anything much.
But that's okay. With blokes like Robbie, it's what isn't said, that actually counts.