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The 4th of August was the anniversary of my father's passing. Too many years ago.
Yet it seems like no time at all. So much has changed since he left us and I often think that he did a wise thing by getting out when he did: before the insanity and madness that has so changed our ways of life.
He was 89 years old when he died yet he is still with us. Everyday.
My brother held his hand as he passed from this realm to the next.
When I got the phone call I cried from the very depth of my soul and heart.
It was like the light had gone out.
We held a " gathering " for him back then ( no funerals in our family.) We had an old fashioned " bring a plate " morning tea and we became a community united in the love of one man.

People came from all over the neighbourhood - some who we didn't know, but my Dad knew from his jaunts around the community on his little red scooter.
This wonderful man had friends that we never knew existed and they came to celebrate his life and mourn his passing.
Dad was a good bloke, as we say down under.
The man who strode up to the neighbours house and told them to " stop playing your music so loud : and, when the neighbours told him to piss off, went to their power box and flicked the switch.
And when the neighbours said " I can't wait until I move away from you, you old bastard! " He replied " Neither can I ".
The man that, one day, went for a walk on the beach and found a body and rang me to say " Guess what? " And I marvelled at his calm composure - still, he was a WWII veteran...
I remember the man that sang to his adoring fans as a volunteer and we still call " The Crooner. "
I remember the man that had a mobility scooter and found freedom with a set of wheels when his body let him down.
When we first suggested that he get a scooter, he was reluctant. His pride was such that it was almost like an admission of defeat that he had to resort to a mobility scooter to stay mobile. So I convinced him to try one at the local shopping centre.
We hired one for an hour.
Dad got a driving lesson and off we went.
Instead of being crippled with pain from his dodgy hip, he was able to scoot all around the shopping mall and do so at a rather fierce speed. About 2 miles an hour and it was rather exciting to watch.
Until we got into a menswear store.
He almost collected an entire rack of men's shirts and trousers. He reversed, apologising, and then managed to head to the bargain bin. The store assistants went into feverish overload - whisking rack after rack of clothing out of his way.
As we ended our hour of mayhem and chaos, he said to me " You know, this might work. "
I smiled and said " excellent! ", went home and had a nervous breakdown and a stiff drink.
Redhead ordered a flash red scooter and Dad headed off around the neighbourhood and relished his new found freedom.
It was genuinely a wonderful day.
Each morning and afternoon, he would head off to the path that led to the beach that, only a few years ago, he had wandered up with his fishing rod or to find a dead body... such was the diverse experience my Dad had with the sand, the surf and the dunes that he called home.
He sat on his little red scooter, chatted with folk passing by and he breathed in the air, the freedom and the joy of being able to participate in life again.
I have written so many articles about my father. This man that loved Redhead so much and loved life so much.
A few days before he passed, he was sitting in a wheelchair in hospital and my brother planned his escape.
All he wanted to do was feel the grass on his toes. If Dad wanted it, then that would be exactly what he would get.  Redhead, my brother and I took him out a fire escape and we headed to the lawn in the hospital grounds.
Dad put his toes onto the grass and smiled.
My brother suggested that they should make an escape to " HOME " and the wheelchair navigated southward - we all knew it would never happen but it was fun while it lasted.
Dad, sitting in the chair, laughing, and spurring my brother ever onward.
The last time I saw my Dad was as he was that day, a day before he passed: a smile the size of a planet and the joy in his face when he felt the grass on his toes.
I have often thought about that day. The look on his face, on ours, the glee, the happiness we saw and felt?
Finally, a message for Redhead and all of the others around the world who will know the importance of this heartfelt poem. 
I stood beside your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were found it hard to sleep.
I whispered to you softly as you brushed away a tear.
"It's me, I haven't left you...I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea.
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, you tend it with such care.
I want to reassure you that I am not lying there.
I walked with you toward the house, as you fumbled for your key, 
I gently reached to comfort you. I smiled and said, "It's me." You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair. I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there. It's possible for me to be so near you every day. To say to you with certainty, "I never went away." You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew... In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you. The day is over...I smile and watch you yawning And say, "Goodnight, God bless, I'll see you in the morning." And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide, I'll rush across to greet you and we will stand, side-by-side. I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see. Be patient, live your journey out...then come home to be with me.


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