It’s tough to put a light-hearted spin on this post, because writing this has been really hard. There have been some tears on the keyboard I’ll tell you that much.
I really would like to thank everyone for reading my previous posts, and for reading this one. For the likes and for the comments and for the friends who have sent me feedback and love.
Starting this blog, I had the intention of solely writing about one event and my process of healing from it, but when i started my first post I remembered how much I loved to write.
This event also needed some kind of context, and I didn’t want to sell this short.
I also realised how important to me it was to tell as many people as possible about my dad. You never know how you will react to grief and this has simply been my process for it.
But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I would like to introduce you to Colin, my father.
My dad was a bricklayer for all of my childhood. We used to drive around Brisbane and he would point out all of the buildings that he had built.
I remember he would tell me the stories of how he used to work on the Telstra towers, and he would be hundreds and hundreds of metres in the air and he used to tap into wires and listen to the stats on the horse racing and he would bet accordingly.
I thought his job was boring, and very unromantic, so I never appreciated it or paid much attention.
He was also hilarious, and a bit of a dick.
He played pranks on everyone constantly. One day he tied one end of a rope to the toilet door while my mum was in there, and the other end he tied to my brother’s door across the hallway and then he called out to both of them. Every time one of them tried to open the door it would close the others.
He used to swim with me and pull me under by the feet. Every time I was on the computer he would walk past me, and he’d poke me in the ribs. When I moved to Melbourne and I would call him and my mum, I would hear him in the background singing ‘Hannah’s a bitch, Hannah’s a bitch’.
He was also my biggest fan, honestly. I’ve never felt pride like his for me. He was a big bellied grumpy man but he cried at my graduation. He used to brush my hair into a pony tail for school.
He picked me up the day after my aforementioned ‘deflowering’ and I sat on his lap and cried while he promised me I’d find someone who wasn’t a dick one day.
We butted heads like no bodies business. I thought he was stubborn, he knew I was just as stubborn as him, but we had an incredibly deep bond.
Every tiny step I took, he would cheer.
I was his baby girl, and he was my hero.
Then he got sick when I was 22. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of his medical history but he had 1 very major, very complicated surgery in 2015. It knocked him pretty hard and he didn’t deal well with his body failing him. This man had a Nokia 3315 until it fell apart, he didn’t like change and I swear, he was stubborn. So when his recovery didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped, that was really tough on him mentally.
Just before this big surgery, they also found an aneurysm in his aorta. It was expanding at a rate that they couldn’t leave it, but he had to have this first surgery before they could do anything about his heart.
It felt like everything was going wrong, and I remember going back up to Brisbane after he had been released from hospital and seeing him and it being so confronting.
Ignorantly I was also angry at him, and that’s incredibly hard for me to admit now. I didn’t want him to be sick, I didn’t want him to be in hospital, I wanted him to be better and to be happy.
He got through it. He always got through it because he was truly the toughest man I knew.
His medical history became his identity, he had a really terrible recovery from his first surgery and he was in hospital for over a month. Hospital was all he could talk about and he didn’t want the second surgery, even though there wasn’t really another option.
My mum and I assured him it would be fine, and after the surgery it was all smooth sailing. Back to life as normal!
I originally had booked my life-changing- new-me-creating trip to Vietnam in March, however right smack bang in the middle of that trip was when he ended up getting booked in for his heart surgery.
I talked to him about it and he was very reluctant to have me change the dates of my trip: ‘There is nothing you can do if you’re here Hannah, I’m going to go through it either way’.
I, stubbornly, went against his word and I changed my flights to May anyway, giving a good month and a half for him to recover.
The day came and my goodness his surgery was long, so fucking long. I was down in Melbourne. He went in at 6am and I sat by my phone anxiously all day waiting for my mum to call me. I stress walked around my block 18 times, 2pm came, then 5pm came. Still no call. I refused to think the worst though. This couldn’t be it, he was going to be okay.
7pm and my phone finally rang, he was out, he was good. He still hadn’t woken up but it was a success.
I remember crouching down on the kitchen floor at my house and bursting into tears and then promptly going out with my housemate and getting fucking hammered.
This recovery, again, was so tough. I flew up to Brisbane for weeks at a time to go and visit him in hospital. Some days he would refuse to get out of bed, and I’d sit beside him and stroke his arm.
I always called him before I’d get to the hospital and ask if he wanted anything, and he would always demand a packet of Allens Marella Jubes. Oh boy he fucking loved Marella jubes, and I hated buying them for him. He just had heart surgery and he was demanding these lollies. I would always cave and I would always bring them to him and we’d sit and he would eat them and he’d tell me stories and he’d complain about how he wanted a cigarette, and I’d get mad at him for wanting a cigarette.
The last day I went to visit him I walked into the hospital dining room and he was already sitting around the table with a group of other men, all wounded in some way, all listening intently to my dad. He was telling all of the stories he would always tell me: How he would horse ride with his dad around to pubs in North Queensland and sell everyone fresh fish. How he was a light weight boxer in his 20s. How he built houses and climbed towers and was a master of darts and pool. I watched him tell his stories to this group of men and my heart literally swelled with pride.
I realised I got so much from him. I got his stubbornness, I got his blue eyes, I got his thick Scottish mountain climbing legs (thanks dad) and I also got his ability to tell a story.
He completely ignored me the entire time I was in that dining room because he was telling these stories. So after about half an hour I decided to leave. With my heart all full and warm I kissed him on the forehead and gave him a cuddle and I left the hospital.
Looking back I realise how beautiful this moment is to me. It turns out that kiss is the last one I would get to give him.
He got out of hospital on the 1st of May this year.
The exact same day that I boarded my plane to Vietnam, scared shitless, ready to have my life changed, find my purpose, meet the love of my life and achieve enlightenment. No biggy. Life was good.
But life is also funny, and unpredictable.
Sometimes when you’re getting all nice and comfortable, it throws a big fat punch your way and rips that rug right out.
Till next time.