Friday, February 4, 2011

One Year On...

The day Mum, Dad, Grandma, 'Gocky' and  my brother came to pick me up from the adoption centre in Rockhampton.
I had this grand idea for a tribute post to my Dad but time has slipped away... and the day is upon us now and it's almost at an end. 
One year on. I remember the morning well. My father had been sick for about 5 months at this stage. The nursing home had become our "home away from home".  Parkinson's disease and dementia - by the end I wasn't my fathers daughter anymore, I was someone I'd never met. 

I was with my Husband Rob and one of my closest friends Janelle heading to the care facility to visit dad, we knew he wouldn't be around for much longer - we half expected a call saying he'd passed away during the night. Dad had us well used to the 'yo yo' emotions of the touch and go kind.
Me sitting on Dad's lap - Dad, probably drunk and mucking around.
Cheers Dad! Thanks to Dad, I can drink most under the table!
Driving along. Joking about how ugly our 'team leader' was and how bad her dress sense was, Janelle and I were in stitches.

We arrived, unpacked the pram and unloaded the 500 things required for a fussy baby and made our way in, still smiling and laughing about how clever we were. I remember signing my name and chuckling, secretly dreading seeing dad as by now he looked more like a man of 90, than 70. He was in a coma, death rattles and all. The previous day I had spent beside his bedside sobbing and begging for forgiveness for being such an arse to him over the years. We were both guilty of it.

We started making our way down the corridor and one of the staff walked up to me and blurts " You know he's gone right?" I was stopped dead in my tracks. 
Me: "err No?" 
Nursing staff: " Oh, so no one rang you?"
Me: *silence*

Nursing staff: "I'm really sorry, he passed away about an hour ago"

Me: "oh" *shock*

Me: "oh shit, has anyone been able to contact my Mum? Does she know? *panic*

I guess it all dragged on for so long I never thought it would actually happen...

I went in to say my last good byes to Dad, he looked so peaceful, so different from the struggle he was having days leading up to it. He looked content, I'd never seen him look content before. Mum came in while I was there and we both cried together, holding each other close. 
Dad and I at my husbands gangsta birthday party.

Not really what I had in mind, but I feel better at least doing 'something'... 
{The Eulogy I wrote for Dad's funeral}
First of all I would like to thank you all for coming today to pay your respects to my father, John Bentley. I would especially like to thank a very good friend of ours Janelle U***** for being there for Mum and I so much in recent weeks.

Well, what can I say about my Dad?… He was a “no fuss” kind of man, always happy to make do with what he had. He was a jack-of-all-trades; able to tinker and fix practically anything he could get his hands on.

He was a very clever man, like a walking dictionary - he could spell pretty much any word we threw at him. I considered him a human calculator – on the spot he could add, subtract, divide, multiply a sum, convert from yards, inches, metres, you name it.

He was the kind of man happy to stop and chat to anyone willing to listen. Anyone who knew him well would know his sharp wit and wicked sense of humor.

Anyone heard that saying “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”? Well he certainly did that. It’s lovely to think back to when I was a child laying in bed when I was meant to be asleep, I could hear my mum laughing and giggling when they talked alone.

I know she misses him dearly – they were not just husband and wife, but more importantly really good mates. On the 1st day of November it was their 40th wedding anniversary, something to be very proud of.

Thinking back over my time with Dad there were so many times that were funny or just outright embarrassing. In fact, far too many to mention. But in one particular case I was about 10 at the time, I remember one of the many many MANY times my brother D***** was tormenting me. He was laying on my bed pretending to sleep. You could imagine the horror to a 10-year-old girl! Horrible, disgusting teenage brother germs being spread all over my bed!

I ran to Dad to dob on D***** like little sisters do – he looked at me seriously, paused, then all he said was “right.” and walked off. From his response I figured that Dad wasn’t too interested in my dilemma, so I headed back to hassle D***** some more to get off of my bed… but then there was my knight in shining armour, coming to save the day.

There Dad was outside my window, and to my amazement, from out of sight he lifted the garden hose and stuck it through the window, and let loose on D***** while he laid there. It was so funny and Dad was my hero, because I had never seen D***** jump up & move that fast before.

Dad’s practical jokes didn’t stop with adults, he got great joy out of tricking D***** and I. As a little girl I’d always wanted a pony from the time I could walk, and one day Dad came in with this massive smile on his face announcing that he had bought me a pony, and it was waiting out the front for me. I jumped up so quick and sprinted for the front door, but there sitting on the veranda was a tiny bloody dishwasher called a Lemiar “Pony”. Dad was in stitches laughing, he thought it was absolutely hilarious.

He also dressed up in Mum’s clothes and came to the door talking in a high pitched voice, asking if our mother was home; or asking my far too trusting friends the age old ‘pull my finger’ trick. Lets just say, sometimes dad could be a bugger. Over the last few days I’ve been really praying that the last few months have just been an elaborate scheme of dads latest prank, and he’ll just walk back though the door.

My Dad did a lot of things differently to other Dads. Because he worked early hours, it meant that I came home to my Dad in the afternoons after school, and every day he would have one can of fizzy drink and a small chocolate bar sitting in the fridge waiting for me.

My Dad went on school excursions with me as a parent helper, braving lots of snotty little children for the day. I’d have to admit I was more than a little bit of a tomboy – I would always follow my Dad around asking “what are you doing?” and “what is that thing you’re using?”. I even helped Dad (and I use that term loosely) make the guinea pig’s cage. Thanks to Dad, even my blokey neighbour comes to ask me how to use a nail gun.

Dad taught me how to mow the lawn when I was 7. I thought the other day as I mowed my lawn “Gee I really enjoy mowing my lawn. I bet Dad used to like mowing his lawn too. But he’d always let me do it – probably the shonkiest job ever, but he still let me”. – I cried.

There are just too many moments for me to mention.

We never talked a great deal about the big things in life, but we could always talk about renovations, and when I visited he would show me all the work he had been doing on the house, and I would do that same when he came to visit me. We would talk about the weather, gardens and lawns - it was never anything serious but that’s just the way I liked it.

As time went on his grandkids came along – they all were the apple of his eye. He would always get a twinkle in his eye when he saw them, which I think was a combination of love and more than likely him plotting his next torment.  All the grandkids loved him in return, and I know they will miss him more then he could ever imagine. Our newest arrival, T****** will be 9 months old this month, so the kids have their work cut out for them telling her their grand stories about Poppy.

I hope this rambling of mine has helped you all get to know my dad through my eyes. I’ve really enjoyed remembering the good times – somehow it makes it just that little bit easier. I will miss my Dad very much but I know he is happy where he is hanging out with old mates, family & all those poor old decommissioned steam trains– probably being the life of the party.

Once again thank you all for being here for my Dad…

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