It is with a heavy heart that as we welcome in a new year our family must bid farewell to our beloved Grandfather, who passed away peacefully a couple of days ago at the age of 97. To live such a long, healthy and happy life and to be surrounded by so many loved ones is a fortunate life indeed and a life to be celebrated. I am grateful for this. And he will be sorely missed.
Two years ago, an 8 year old Eleanor came home from school after a day of completing the national school exams (NAPLAN). She said the written exam was to "Nominate someone who should be a hero and explain why". In a exam where most kids wrote about their Mums, Dads, a cricket legend or a superhero, she said she wrote about her Great Grandfather. I couldn't have been prouder. When asked what she wrote about she said she wrote about how he was a soldier in World War II fighting to protect our country, how he still marched in the ANZAC parade in Sydney every year and about when the Japanese Submarines entered Sydney harbour he was at the hospital putting mattresses over the windows of the maternity wards. Many people don't realise how close we came to War in this country. A hero indeed.
He was the gentlest of souls, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and a role model for all of us to work hard, enjoy life, travel, and have hobbies. A true gentleman. He was a fan of beginning a visit with "Elevenses", "Oneses", or "Fiveses" depending on the time of day you arrived and finishing a visit with a "Toodle Pip!" on the front balcony. I will always remember the way he used to hold my hand and my earliest memory is of me bouncing on his knee with him saying he was "clickety click 66". I asked him on one of our visits last year whether he had any advice on life for me and he simply said "Look after yourself. And look after other people". Wise words. So friends, there will be no resolutions for me this year. I will simply be taking my Grandfather's advice and trying my best to do just that.
Toodle Pip Uppy, may you now rest in peace, together again with our beloved Grandmother.Things may be quiet for the next few days as I begin the journey by car from Hobart to Sydney with the 5 children on my own. It's a big trip but you know I love a good road trip and I will do anything to have as many of us with the rest of the family in Sydney for the funeral on Tuesday. We're heading off at 3.30am to catch the Ferry across to Melbourne so I best get some rest.