In late 2007 you were by now firmly ensconced in my second bedroom and were a large part of my life again.
Mum and Douglas had moved to Canberra in 2005 for work and because of Mum’s desire to be close to Ossie and Esme in their final years.
I missed having them close by but I know you felt their loss much more. Jassie was in Melbourne and Annie had gone back to England so you and I were alone in Sydney.
Your birthday in November 2007 was meant to be the occasion when we would finally get to meet the new man in your life, Mum and Douglas were coming up and we were meeting at an Indian restaurant in Surry Hills.
Billy, I and Mum and Douglas were already there when you arrived with Sam in tow.
I had prepared a series of joke questions which Douglas and I were to ask Sam, regarding his future intentions for our precious younger daughter.
I think he was a bit shocked at first, but he soon entered into the joke and the night became a feast of laughter and fun as well as food.
Later in the evening, Mum asked whether you were still walking with me most mornings.
“Mum, walking with Dad is like driving a car that needs a wheel alignment”
“He can’t walk in a straight line, he bumps into people and he is always tripping over the slightest little bumps”
“He is embarrassing”
The last words were uttered with a rueful smile and a gentle touch of my hand, as if to say; “but he is still my father and I love him”
Billy chimed in with his version of my growing ineptitude. My driving, my hearing, my eyesight, and my lack of balance, all suddenly became the butt of a whole series of “getting old” jokes.
I had known something was not right, but I thought I had been able to keep up appearances, now; my shortcomings were being exposed for all to see.
I went back to work the next morning with a growing sense of frustration at my own shortcomings.
I could not be ill, we had a business to run and despite the improvements in 2007, we were a long way from being out of the financial woods.
We could not have known that night what was soon to unfold, perhaps that is just as well.
I had coffee with Mum and Douglas before they headed home to Canberra, we were all happy to see how well and optimistic you had looked last night.
Whatever would happen in the future, the closeness and fun of this night would never leave me.