Anzac day, and my father

With his jeep at either Vung Tau or Da Nang

With his jeep at either Vung Tau or Da Nang

On the television the football has started with a parade by the old diggers and the Vietnam Vets. It took me to thinking of my father who was a vet and loved football, Aussie Rules and Rugby League and Union.

Dad played, I think, at college or high school level with a country team at Armidale.

He went to Vietnam with the Australian Airforce and later was overseas a lot with his job as an aeronautical engineer with De Havilland. He was on the team that saw to the details on much our military spending on things like the F18s and Blackhawks.

When he came home all he wanted to do on the weekends was get the lawns mowed and sit down for a game of footy on the television. He took us to a few matches at the old Parramatta Oval but most weekends he sat by the telly. He was disappointed that I didn’t have the passion for it he did although I am sure he got a lot of joy from my brothers.

Dad passed away at Mackay in 2004.

About two years back I was sitting in front of the television on an evening over the weekend looking for something to fill some time when I flipped across a Grand Final or a lead-up game. I apologize for not remembering the details but it was a good enough match to attract my attention. Actually it was a very good match and I am not normally drawn to the game.

I watched the game for a few minutes and some advertisements came on. I picked up the remote to switch channels when I felt as though my father was standing behind me leaning in the chair looking over my shoulder. It was such a strong impression that I felt a lump in my throat and had to resist the urge to look around and greet him.

I flicked the remote and almost had a heart attack when my father’s voice said “I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of that son!” I looked around at the empty room and then with tears welling in my eyes flicked the channel back to the football.

It was about halfway through the game and I sat there feeling that presence until the telecast had ended and the room seemed to empty of his presence. There has never been anything like it since nor had there been anything like it before. I felt warm all that day. I loved my father very much and some of the emptiness that came from his passing was lifted. I have never tried to assess the possibilities of that moment or given in to the urge we so often have of subscribing to myths about our lost loved ones.

I wondered if he needed my eyes to see a physical world or just wanted to share one of his favorite things with me, his son.

Something most precious came into my life.

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