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3 hours and 5 minutes

Posted in: Di's diary2 Comments

Every now and then I get the urge to write about something not specifically related to animals. Tonight is one of those nights.

Anyone who has ever lost someone close will appreciate the significance of dates. Today May 16th is the day my father died five years ago. I mentioned that this doesn’t have anything to do with animals but in a strange kind of way it does. Let me explain…

A few days after Dad died I was speaking to a friend on the phone. I wasn’t in a good way and was having a hard time dealing with the fact that he had died alone, in a hospital before any of us could reach him. My friend Belinda, was telling me that she was sure he knew that we loved him when suddenly one of the childrens’ toys – a musical train started up by itself and proceeded to chug across the room. I wondered whether it was a sign from him but then at the same time was sceptical. I tried to tell myself that it was just some sort of electrical malfunction but then the timing was uncanny.

Over the next five weeks my family was plunged into total and utter devastation as we lost Daniel my sister-in-law and brother’s son and then my mother. The period is clouded and I look back now and wonder how we managed to get through it.

Exactly one year after Dad’s death I woke with a heavy heart, realising all that had happened in the past year and still missing them all so much. About 9 am I picked up my watch and went to place it on my wrist when I noticed that it had stopped working. I was a bit annoyed as I had only had the battery replaced about a month before. I put it down on the dressing table and took Kelsea to school. Later that day I picked it and looked at it again. I noticed that it was working again but that it had lost three hours and five minutes of time. I checked it a hundred times that day and sure enough it was still working except that for the loss of time. I immediately appreciated the significance of it. The number three is a very spiritual number, it is the number of the holy trinity for instance but it had another meaning for me. ‘Three’ signified Dad, Daniel and Mum and the five minutes signified the five weeks between their deaths.

My watch became one of my most treasured passions and I became increasingly paranoid about losing it. I took it to a jeweller to see if I could get a chain fitted to it. Because it was made of stainless steel, this apparently was impossible but the jeweller remarked that it wasn’t the right time and did I want him to reset it. I snatched it back off him and told him ‘No’, then feeling slightly foolish I recounted the story to him. He was amazed, he had never heard of anything like it and had no explanation for it. He did engrave my phone number on the back of it and the word “Reward’ and I became a little less worried, thinking that at least if I lost it I would have a chance of getting it back.  I left the watch as it was – 3 hours and 5 minute slow for the next 3 years until eventually the battery went flat.

My father was not a religious man but I remember once we talked about death. We were coming home from my best friend’s father’s funeral and I asked him what did he think happened when we died. He said to me that he didn’t know but he thought there was something and added that it was beyond our comprehension at this time. I think now that he has answered my question and I also agree that the ‘mechanics’ of it are beyond my comprehension. I don’t profess to have the ‘answer’ but at least now when I am down, really down about the world and our treatment of animals I have a sliver of hope. I know that there is a purpose and a meaning to all of this. We are not part of some random, indiscriminate accident. I know we are accountable, that we must try to make this world a better place and that developing kindness and compassion should be our ultimate goal.

May the 16th 2007 will always be a date I remember with sadness but May 16th 2008 is a date that I hold close to my heart. On that day a simple object, my watch, provided me with a profound revelation and a message that love really is timeless.

 I will end with the tribute that I wrote for Dad’s funeral. I spoke it with great love then and I write it with love and affection now…

My father never told me what to do but he always told me when he thought I was doing something right. This gentle guidance is one of the things I will always remember about Dad.

There was a time when I was about six years old when Dad was talking to me, and going to great lengths to assure me that anything was possible and that even if it was not possible now, it probably would be in the future. I kept asking him things and he would reply “That’s possible”. At the end of the conversation I was convinced and I said to him “Great, so I can build myself a horse” to which he replied “I’m sorry darling that’s not possible”. Looking back I have always thought how wonderful it was that he took the time to try and instil such an important mindset in me and to this day I also believe that anything is possible. I also have two horses.

Dad had a unique sense of humour. As a young child our Sunday morning treat was to climb in Mum and Dad’s bed and he would tell us Woolly Whoop stories. Woolly Whoop was a character which Dad created to try and encourage my brother Bruce to get a haircut. But before long Woolly Whoop took on a life of his own and even got a girlfriend Raggety Whoop.

Mixed with his humour was a great sense of modesty. It is only the last few years that I have learnt about Dad’s academic achievements. Before that, the only thing I ever remember him talking about was how he used to put a book down his pants when he was getting the cane and how he got 14% in Latin. Similarly as a child whenever I asked him about his war service medals he would tell me that he got them for peeling potatoes.

I also remember one Sunday afternoon when I was a child, watching Dad cut up vegetables for dinner. I kept asking him what each particular vegetable was. He’d say “turnip’ and I’d say “I don’t like turnips”, Then he’d say ‘parsnips’ and I’d say “I don’t like parsnips”, and so on. Finally he put the knife down and he said to me “well you can just bloody well eat them”.

Now you may be wondering why I am telling you this story. It’s because it’s the only time I can remember Dad getting angry with me. That’s not to say I was perfect. I just was an ordinary child but he was an extraordinary father and a remarkable man.

He had a wonderful way with people. He was gentle and kind. He always made up his own mind about things and he stood by his beliefs. He was honest and loyal and devoted to his family.

Just over two years ago at his 80th he made a short speech in which he thanked everyone for coming. He also said that he had really enjoyed his life and that he would see us all on his 90th. Hearing him say that he had really enjoyed his life brought great peace and happiness to me and hopefully to you too.

Dad, Wally, Mr T, Gungie thank-you for your love, your guidance and for always being there when I needed you. Thank-you for being my father. I love you.

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  1. Shona said on 17/05/2012 at 12:40 pm

    Absolutely beautiful Di. He sounds like such a lovely father, and I can see where many of your beautiful, gentle qualities have come from. xxx

  2. Margi Thurgood said on 17/05/2012 at 12:43 pm

    Not a day passes that I don’t think of you and miss you my much loved Dad.
    From Daughter No 1 Margi

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