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Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014, 07:08 pm
Remembering my father

This is the eulogy I gave my father at his funeral, with a few additional personal observations.

AulisWe moved to Australia in 1975 when I was three. (It's my understanding that he wanted to be part of Gough Whitlam's vision for a new Australia, but he got thrown out of office later that year.) My dad was in his early 40s then but he started a new life for him and his family and then set to work with the vigour of a man half his age. After working all day as a carpenter he would build our home brick by brick, with his own two hands.

My dad loved to make things. I remember building a birdhouse with him, and my mother joked that it must have been a very expensive birdhouse for the number of hours we both put into it, but it was a labour of love. I never did pick up his knack for making things with my hands.

One thing I did pick up from him was his love of animals. Even in his twilight years he loved feeding the birds and the possums around the house. He tamed some of the possums enough that he could tentatively pet them. I know you shouldn’t do that, but I wasn’t going to deny him the pleasure he got from hand feeding them. In my moments of whimsy, I like to imagine the possums around the house got together and gave him a marsupial memorial. Between the food and the possum houses he built for them (which are still in use today) they owe it to him.

He also taught me to respect rats. He made a humane live rat trap, and I saw a rat escape from it once, by squeezing through a hole the size of its head. It gave me the willies at the time, but it showed me how determined rats are to live. He also told me a story (which I strongly suspect to be apocryphal) of how rats steal chicken eggs: One lies on its back and holds the egg with all four legs while the other drags his friend by the tail.

I always loved going to the flea market with him on Sundays. We were looking for different things when we got there so we always went our separate ways and then would meet up in the middle and compare loot, but I stopped going when he didn’t want to go anymore. It just wasn’t the same without him.

When he retired as a carpenter, he would sell firewood and pine cones as kindling. Not for the money, but because he loved cutting and bundling the wood. He built a stand with a locked box for the money that he carried on a wheelbarrow and I helped him write the signs for it. He collected the money in a jar and loved collating his takings on a scraps of paper.

He always found time for me. He built a flying fox for me in the back yard and would pull me up it. He was always happy to give me lifts before I got my driver's license. Even when the alzheimer’s took all that away from him, he still wanted to spend time with me around the house. He was never cold with me, but he was emotionally distant, never wanting to share his feelings. It was his way, and I learnt to be that way too. He was my father and I loved him. I’m glad I got to tell him that in the hospital before he passed away, but I wish I’d told him that more often when I still had the chance.

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 09:47 am (UTC)
colifox

I genuinely had to shed a tear reading this. It is a beautiful eulogy of a man I am sure was incredibly proud to have you as his son. I am sure that even now, he is watching over you and is happy to see you enjoying your life and living it the way it makes you happy, and that clearly he had influence on with your passion for animals, and in particular your love for rats.

Where we loose one loved one, we always gain another, and you know that you'll always be like family to me ratty. *hugs tightly*

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 10:35 am (UTC)
schnee

He sounds like a good man, and a loving and caring father.

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
porsupah

Quite the full life, ne? It takes quite an adventurous spirit to be willing to move to another country, leaving all you've grown up with, in the hope of a better life. Which, by the sound of it, he well and truly accomplished, and shared with you.

*hug*

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 03:40 pm (UTC)
harvardheinous

Well done, Marko.

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
bunny_plush

That was very nice.

Sat, Feb. 8th, 2014 06:43 pm (UTC)
lupine52

Its wonderful to read here that he made a life as a carpenter, It is the sorta living I have great respect for since it is a trade that contributes to society. I am sure that part of his passion for carpentry was that he loved the smell of freshly cut wood too and considering the way you speak of how he made rat traps that were humane to the animals also a bit of a naturalist as well.

I am glad you have these happy memories of your father and send my condolences for your loss.
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Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
nicodemusrat

Wonderfully written for a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing it. I wish you strength in this time of sorrow.