There’s a men’s razor in a cup in our bathroom. It’s surrounded by the boutique toothpaste that the boys insist on using and their novelty toothbrushes and despite the fact they have morphed from babies into toddlers and maybe even now children in the blink of an eye, they’re not yet shaving. And Shane has had a beard for about five years. Not because he’s a hipster but because he was renovating our bathroom at the farm and as usual, it took longer than expected and so without a sink and probably to save a precious few minutes, he just didn’t shave for a while. But that razor is one of the most precious things in our house because it was my dads.
I don’t have very much in commons with Malcolm Turnbull, perhaps nothing and I definitely find his politics a bit brutal and inhumane; but he did say something (just the once) that really resonated with me. I’ll try and paraphrase it here. He was talking about the loss of his father and the fact that after he had passed, every little thing of his became special because you’d never get anything else. And that is so bloody true.
Lately my hollyhock (which is actually from my nan’s original hollyhock, another ‘small thing’) has been copping an absolute nibbling from some caterpillars and the boys have taken quite an interest in them. So I thought we’d read the classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and the first page brought me to tears. Not because of that little egg on a leaf in the light of the moon, but because Dad had bought it for the boys shortly after they were born and had written in it. So even though we have about 1000 children’s books and some of these are in various states of disrepair, certain books with dad’s distinctive handwriting have to be kept up high and almost handled with white gloves because there will never be any more. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.
There’s been a running joke in our family that we’d need a holiday to recover from a holiday with dad because he didn’t believe in wasting time relaxing when we could be exploring. And he never came to our place without a list of jobs he wanted to get done – gardening, sorting out the cellar, collecting wood, metal detecting etc etc and in order to make the most of his time and streamline his packing, he left his ‘work clothes’ over here in a drawer in the cottage. I found them the other day. And left them there. Just in case.
We talk about dad a lot. The boys can pick him out of a photo and sometimes even put the one of him drinking wine next to Tex the Wonderdog and tell him that ‘here’s grandad drinking wine at our house’. But then I have to swoop in and rescue that photo because there will never be another one.
Of course we have lots of ‘big things’ from dad and then there’s those sayings like ‘as long as we live, he does’ and all those other things that we tell ourselves and each other to try and make sense of our experience of life (and death I suppose). But I’ve found that it’s all the small things that bring me undone on the daily, so I’ll just keep them safe for a bit longer.