Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Dad died this morning!  My brother rang at 8:00 to let me know.  Sadly, I am not upset.  I haven't had a close relationship with Dad for many years.  I don't think I've spoken to him since my birthday last year when he rang to wish me happy birthday - on the Sunday in case I was at work on my birthday.  Dad was slipping into dementia and had obviously forgotten I hadn't worked for over three years at that stage.
Even as a child I didn't feel close to Dad, although I did love him I guess.  When he and Mum split up John and I stayed with Dad at first.  There was the opportunity to get close to Dad.  However, he soon decided he was going to bring Olive into our home - and there the trouble started.  It still hurts after all these years.  Mum had left for another man - and initially I told her I didn't want to meet him, he'd broken up our home.  But once I got to know him I began to love him, and now have a wonderful relationship with him.  Olive was another matter.  I knew about her, because she'd been to visit once or twice.  Then Dad told me one day that Olive was coming that day.  I presumed for dinner.  Wrong!  Without any discussion or anything she was moving in.  I asked Dad for a little more time to get used to the idea before she came into our home and took my mother's place.  But no, that didn't suit madam - she had to leave her current husband there and then, but proceeded to go to work with him every day for the next twelve months or so!  And there was no easing into the role of step-mother - she took over from the moment she walked in.  With one of her previous husbands she had lived in Malaya for a time, and had an Ahmah.  Well, she thought I was going to become her Ahmah.  Then she convinced Dad to move to Melbourne, uprooting the whole family.  I didn't go with them, instead moving to live with Mum and Jim.
Dad and Olive's Wedding

Strange, I can't remember if I managed to keep in touch with Dad after the move to Melbourne.  I know there was a period of about two years when I didn't have any contact.  Of course, I was away at college too, and I can't remember what contact I had with Dad during that time.  I know I went to Dad and Olive's wedding.
Joan, Bob and John SULLIVAN
Then I got engaged.  I remember making contact with Dad at that time because his sister, my aunt Joan, had come out from England and I was going to my Uncle Bob's place for the day.  Dad was going to be there.  From that point on I had a fairly normal relationship.  My first husband and I would go for Sunday lunch once a fortnight, and the alternate fortnight they would come to us.
When I got married it was a bit awkward.  Dad wanted to give me away, but I wanted Jim to do it, because he was paying for the wedding (Dad wouldn't contribute because it might be spent on alcohol!)  I thought I had solved the problem by not actually having anyone give me away, although Jim did drive to the Church with me.  Reg met me at the back of the Church and we walked down the aisle together.  But Mum didn't want Dad at the reception because it was to be held at her house in the garden - I thought that was a bit unreasonable, but abided by her wishes.  Sadly, Dad convinced Bob and his wife not to go to the reception either.
When Susan was born Dad and Olive gave us a pair of cot blankets - which I later learned had been a double bed blanket which they'd claimed insurnace for as they had been ruined in the wash - Olive had cut them up and bound them with some wide ribbon!  Great present for your first natural grandchild (she had grandchildren of her own, Susan was Dad's first.)
When my first husband, Reg, died in 1990 I naturally rang Dad to tell him.  His response - we can't come to the funeral. He was waiting for me to say I'd pay for them to get there, but I wasn't going to.
Another time I was talking to Dad on the phone and I could hear Olive in the background - "Ask her how the girl is, you know, the girl, what's her name?"  Her name was Susan, and she was their granddaughter!  Dad hasn't remembered Susan at birthday or Christmas for so long I can't remember when was the last time.  Same thing happened when I told him I was getting married to Bill - "We won't be able to come" even before he knew the date.
My brother John used to see Dad quite regularly, but in recent times they've also had a parting of the ways.  I believe John reconciled just a short while ago.
The SULLIVANs 1984
About two years ago Bill and I were holidaying in Queensland when I got a phone call from my brother to say Dad was in hospital and wasn't expected to last long.  I remember crying in the Atherton street.  We called to see him in Berwick Hospital on our way home - and I cried again.  Ironically Dad seemed to spark up once I arrived - even John commented on it.  Whatever the reason, Dad survived.
Today I haven't cried.  When I told Susan she expected I would be upset.  I'm not.  I'm sad to think that even if Dad has kept ANYTHING from the past (family mementoes, photos etc.) Olive is unlikely to consider John or I might like them.  Susan said some wise words - "It is OK to mourn for what you didn't have."  I guess that's what I'm really doing, because I do regret that I didn't have a better relationship with my Dad - but he made his choice, Olive was more important than his family.
Dad as a baby
I wrote Dad a letter some time ago, in which I thanked him for things he had done for me.  I thanked him for my love of music, for taking me to the massed Pipe Bands in South Melbourne when I was a child – what a wonderful experience.  I love bagpipe music, and this experience was just magical.  I don’t know how many bands / pipers there were, but it is an event I will never forget.  I have a lot to thank Dad for with regards to my love of music.  There was always a variety of music in the house, ranging from classical to musicals with some ‘modern’ (for the time).  We began with 78s, and graduated to stereo 33rpm LPs and 45s.  I loved Spike Jones and the City Slickers, especially their version of the Nutcracker Suite, and All I Want For Christmas.  I adored Strauss Waltzes, and the Musicals of Oscar and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan.  I also love hymns and Gospel Music.  John and I used to have to take it in turns to dry the dishes, which Dad washed.  The thing that made it fun rather than a chore was that we always sang songs while were doing them.  Lots of songs from the war years, and the musicals.  I loved it.  Funny, I just searched my computer for a copy of the letter I wrote to Dad, and it isn't there.  Maybe I hand wrote it.
Rest In Peace Dad.

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