Today marks one year since our darling Pa left us.
He was never one to be overly sentimental about things, so to sit and mourn the day away – as much as I’m missing him today – simply wouldn’t fit what he would have wanted from us.
When he was alive, he was very clear about one thing: we weren’t to waste our days in grieving for him.
“Cry a little bit” he told me, in one of our final conversations. “But not too much”.
And oh, I’ve cried – probably too much.
Because this year without him has been one of the hardest I have ever faced. And as I’ve struggled with the exceptionally non-linear experience that is grief (are we there YET??), complete with its backs and forths and upside-downs, I’m realising that it’s time to really celebrate him and the gifts he gave to us.
You see, my Pa wasn’t a materialistic man. He had simple tastes, and made the best of what he had. The value of money and possessions for him were in how they could be shared with those he loved.
But he was rich in love, memories and tremendous experiences, which is something I probably failed to appreciate fully until after he was gone.
The three things he loved more than anything, in order of importance, shaped his entire life:
His beautiful wife,
His family (and it’s glorious network of unofficial members)
And the wide, open roads of this incredible country.
Money and “stuff” simply weren’t on his radar.
So long as there was enough for everyone to eat, and fuel in the car, he was a happy man.
The happiest times in his life were when he was driving across this incredible country, with Nan by his side and the caravan hooked up to the panel-van, driving wherever the road took them, stopping frequently to call on far-flung family and friends across the country side.
He bloody loved his life and made the most of every single day he was given.
In honouring him today, I won’t cry (too much). Because as I write this from a beach in Western Australia, in the midst of my very own road-trip adventure with my husband and kids, I’ve decided that the best tribute I can offer up in his memory is my promise to live this life of mine to it’s absolute fullest.
To explore this country.
To love my family, every single day.
To emulate the generosity and open-heartedness that he demonstrated, to friends, and strangers alike.
To live with no regrets.
And to take the emphasis off materialistic stuff.
Because as I sit here surrounded by the natural beauty of the environment around me, with my most precious humans nearby, it occurs to me, that I too, am rich beyond compare.
And I don’t know if I ever would have recognised that in it’s entirety, without experiencing the crushing absence of such a wonderful man.
Pa, I love you. Thanks for everything.
Although I’m full of memories, and my heart is a bit achey, there’ll be no tears from me today. Because I’m out here creating more memories, and forging something special out of this day – just like you’d want me to.
One year without you is one year too long, but it is what it is, so we are going to make the best of it, and carry your memory into all that we do, today and every day.
Eternally loved, treasured and missed.
11/9/1929 – 10/9/2017