11.00 am ANZAC day 2003

Anzac Day
My brother Jonny and I sat on two wooden chairs opposite the bed hunched over our knees. Numb. The chairs had never got so much use as they did that morning nor would they get any kind of practical use again except as features in Mum’s new bedroom. Dad’s eyelids started to rise slowly and it appeared he was looking at us. We shivered and Jonny said, “That’s a bit eerie huh?”

It was in his face too, you could tell. It wasn’t him anymore. Then we realised ‘it’ is gone altogether. It wasn’t ‘him’ gone so much, but ‘it’; the heartbeat, the rhythm, the core, the point around which the wheel of our family span. All incomprehensibly gone. The ‘something’ who always put us in front of himself as if he was of no consequence.  Other days may have passed by barely noticed, but this day, this hour, this minute would stick in our minds for the rest of our days.

I didn’t know then what I know now that my ground of history gave way. It was a changed world. Well it would be years later when I realised how changed it was.
I remember Mum walking in, grabbing his hand, and shaking it, yelling “Come Back Colin, Come Back!”. Finally I curled up on the couch, wanting to sleep. Dad still laid in the bedroom for hours. The ringing in my ears of Mum’s plea wouldn’t go away. The replay was relentless. I would also learn that tragedy is repetitive. Offering neither the fulfillment of detachment or release from change, it would merely always be there, always terrible.

*****

Neglect was a solution I took after Dad died. I lived in a culture which turned its back on its annoying traditions. I turned my back on the family.  Family seemed a vehicle of oppression. Family was like a tapestry of characters who I belonged to but didn’t quite gel. At middle age I still felt I can’t turn back. I had learnt this in my own traditions and rituals. You are probably more self conscious, a bit more vain, a bit more brittle in your youth which scars you later.
But there is a lot in the culture which is nurturing.  Only now in a sense I felt I betrayed Mum. I kind of turned my back on her. I didn’t give her her due. My method of problem solving is avoidance. But what I know and struggle to embrace is there is so much culture in the family. I will revisit the same place because it’s me, it’s who conceived me into this world and out of that learn to recuperate from the self obsessed world I built since then.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Reflections
11 comments on “11.00 am ANZAC day 2003
  1. In each moment, we do the best we can with what we have. It’s apparent that you had a very strong musical bond with your dad. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to lose him. It’s a powerful experience to watch you reflect on and grow from such a painful experience. Keep writing!

    • Hey Sonia. Thanks for commenting. This is another one of those passages I wrote soon after my slide into the abyss, but I hadn’t read it in years. It still feels as poignant and relevant to me today. As it states: ‘it would merely always be there, always terrible’.
      Nearly everyone will at some stage have the world fall out from under them. As you mentioned we do the best with we have. ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around’. Sometimes we have to revisit the abyss to remind ourselves which way is OUT!

  2. Very moving indeed – and takes me back to my own father’s death – different of course, but the same…

  3. Badfinger (Max) says:

    Moving post Matt. I thought of my father while reading…

    • Thanks Max. What did you think about your father?
      It’s easily the hardest piece I have ever written, but it came from a time many years ago when I was in big trouble.

      My father seemed like a colossal when I was growing up. He could and would talk to anyone. Everyone liked him. He coached our soccer team and managed the Little Athletics club. He played around messing with us kids: wrestling us on the ground etc, which I never saw any other father do. Now frowned upon of course… Kids loved him.

      Then when I grew up and driving my car for one of my first times he told me about his problems like I was a close friend. That blew me away.. That transition in relationship.
      Mum later told me of how things really were with my Dad. He did it tough and I had no idea as a youngen.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I loved my dad….he was open with everyone but… he started to have kidney stones in the early 70s…he had 70 in total throughout his life. Well back then they gave you the good stuff. He changed…mom went to see him in the hospital and caught him with a nurse and that kept on and on.

        They got divorced and he lived the seventies guy life. Pills to get up, go to bed etc…not street drugs but…think Elvis. Mom wouldn’t let me see him for a while but finally I got to… but to his credit he got off of everything around 1980 and was fine after that.

        So there was some resentment that I kept back but I couldn’t help but love him. I could always go to him…we started to be more friends after I got older and I liked that. I learned from him…some from what he did…some from what he didn’t do…and it’s made me who I am my relationship with Bailey has benefited from that knowledge so I have to thank him.

        My dad could talk to everyone…he never knew a stranger. I was always kind of backward….I was 21 going through a dry stretch with women…here he was in his 50s…and an 18 year old was asking him out lol. He could talk the talk.

        So our relationship wasn’t normal lol…but he was my dad.

      • Wow, thanks for opening up about your Dad. I’m glad you got to know him after his 70’s ride lol and that you learned from him how to address your relationships with others like Bailey. I see what you mean about a anormal connection and it still working.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Thanks for asking Matt…he functioned with a job and everything…it’s amazing.

      • Good on him. It’s indeed amazing what we humans can do lol
        Currently listening to Douglas Murray on Unherd podcast. Awesome.

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