..what we really have is only the people around us that love us.
I am sitting at my brothers place writing this, piggy backing off their internet connection. I haven’t written much on the blog in the last couple of weeks because it has been a very, very sad time.
My flatmate while I am in Sydney and someone I been best friends with since I was fourteen, lost her father to leukaemia a few weeks ago. Coming so closely after the suicide of one of our good friends and immediately before I discovered another dear friends girlfriend was trapped in the Canterbury Television building in Christchurch in New Zealand and has not yet been found, my thoughts have, understandably turned to what is really important in life.
And that is, as Annie Lebowitz has said, is to try and pay more attention to getting the life balance right.
The photograph featured on this post ran in The Australian on the day after I attended my friends father’s funeral and three days after the Christchurch earthquake struck. The photo is of a group of elderly men who are playing lawn bowls, a perfectly surburban pursuit that is as inoffensive as it is uncontroversial.
Balanced as it is between that moment where the day meets the night, it seems like a relaxed scene and almost pastoral in its composition. Behind the image though there lies a very different story.
Neville Meller, (who is the gentleman in the shorts) and I had a chat over a beer after I took the photograph and he told me that he blessed every day that he was alive. Naturally that seemed like a given at his grand age of eighty one. But as I chatted with him further he told me that the reason he had so much to be thankful for is that after being washed off the rocks near Botany Bay his then eleven year old daughter Dawn had saved his life.
Neville had initially dived in to save her, but after forty minutes in freezing temperatures in the bay it was he that lost consciousness leaving Dawn to prevent him from drowning by holding him up until they were rescued. In a Daily Mirror newspaper article published later Dawn’s statement, ‘I Had To Save My Daddy’ made the front page header.
Now my own father was definitely my hero so I marvelled at and completely understood Dawn’s tenacity to hang on to prevent her father from drowning. If I could have done that to save my own father, who passed away from cancer nearly twenty one years ago I would have.
Though it is the epilogue to this story which encourages me to think that we must take more care of one another and to make more of an effort to cherish those that are dear to us while we still have time.
My father was the News Editor on the Daily Mirror at the time that Dawn saved her Dad. He probably was the one that had sent the reporter out to get the story, he might have even written the headline. He certainly would have made it the front page story for that day. Somehow it felt like Dad had some hand in my story too and he was somehow trying to say ‘don’t forget me’…
Though I would never forget my Dad, at the end of the day…