My father has done the job of being ‘unsung hero’ at least twice in his life. Firstly, with my mother who died of breast cancer back in 1982, and then myself nine years ago.
With his army boarding school upbringing in the colonies, he was not emotionally equipped for an experience requiring emotional stamina. However, that did not stop him from finding previously unknown personal resources. He dug deep and unstintingly offered the willingness and tenacity to stick out the hard yards and give support when it was needed.
My mother feared dying alone in the hospital and my dad knew the words she needed to hear, ‘But you will have stamped on your forehead “Belongs to Jim”.’ Those words gave her the much-needed courage to face her mortality, knowing he was by her side.
When it was my turn, he sat in on the doctor’s appointment as I got my diagnosis. After the doctor left the room, he held my hand and said, ‘I haven’t done this since you were a little girl’. He then happily paid for and joined me in having a very expensive double scotch at the nearest motel at 11.00 am.
My dad continued to be a source of support. He would drive from Phillip Island, where he resides, to see his second wife, who had had a back operation in Melbourne, then to take me to surgery in Traralgon from my place in Foster.
He was also prepared to jump over the desk and grab the surgeon by the throat for taking so long to give the final results of the surgery. He continued his support through my radiation treatment over in Traralgon.
All this was done without complaint, by a man who was 82 at the time. My dad, my now sung hero!