My dad passed away 2 weeks ago, exactly 3 months after his 75th birthday. He hasn’t been well since fighting off a brain tumour last year in November. They operated and removed it but soon found more cancer in his lungs. He had chemo which seemed to help but then things started going downhill again. He had radiation treatment which really hit him hard. In the end he was very confused and sitting in a wheelchair because he had no strength left. I’m sure that he’s better off now but that still leaves a massive hole in all our lives.
He was an amazing father, grandfather, gentleman and human being. He had the gentlest soul of anyone that I have ever known. He gave so much in his life and never expected anything in return.
Growing up, we didn’t see much of him because he started his own business and had to spend so much time working but later on when things were going well, he was always there for a chat.
Some memories that stick with me:
- Sunday mornings listening to classical music and opera. His love for this DID NOT transfer to the rest of us.
- Sunday night supper of baked beans on toast.
- He loved the Grand Prix. In my teens, we would sit down on a Sunday afternoon to watch the European races. We’d watch the start together, then he’d doze off and I’d wake him up to watch the last few laps.
- He loved his rugby too. He came to visit me when I was living in London and we traveled over to Paris to watch South Africa play France. We lost and after the game we headed to a local cafe for a beer. Dad wanted a coffee but nearly had a heart attack when the coffee was served – it was an espresso with a small jug of warm milk. And it cost him a fortune! The look on his face was priceless! And the Afrikaans swear words even more so!
- During the same visit, we also went to Dublin to visit my cousin. We did a lot of walking exploring the city despite his bad hip. We ate Irish stew in a pub and then, to finish off the day, we did a tour of the Guinness Brewery. He absolutely loved sipping a pint of the black gold in the bar high above the brewery floor!
- I remember the many trips that he made to Oudtshoorn and PE to watch me compete in athletics. And the early Saturday mornings when he would come and watch us play rugby on the frost covered grass as U14s. He was proud of me but I was also very proud of him – he was quiet, but everyone knew him because he was that kind of human being.
- I remember the last time that we were all together as a family – it was our wedding reception back in 2009. We ate so much braai and drank so much red wine during that visit to George, that most of that holiday was a blur!
- The last time my folks came to visit in Australia, we went to a local English style pub. That was the last time I had a pint of Guinness with my dad.
- The last time I spoke to Dad was on the Tuesday night before he passed away. Of course we had to discuss the rugby since his Stormers finally won some silverware over the previous weekend when they won the URC against the Bulle. He was pretty happy that they had finally won something.
Although we didn’t talk on the phone more than once or twice a month, we were always in contact via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. The banter was fun – memes, jokes, rugby banter. It always felt like we were together even though we were thousands of kilometres apart.
I miss him so much already. But he will always be in my heart. Love you Dad!