Shit, it has been a journey!
You, as the eldest of the three girls have unwittingly become the spearhead of this crazy social experiment that has been our family.
Your words many years ago, still echo around in my brain.
“You know, you used to be a terrible father, thank god you woke up to yourself”
I can only hope I have redeemed myself in your eyes.
Our weekly phone calls are one of the touch stones of my life, a laugh or two, news of the kids and the week just gone. There is also the usual question “How are you” and the inevitable answer “A lot better than I should be”
I had to sit down with you, way back in 1989 and tell you Mum and I were separating, It was heartbreaking to look into your tear filled eyes, I did my best, to reassure you that somehow things would be OK.
In 1994 I waited, scared shitless, after I handed you a letter trying to explain the last five years and telling you I was gay. Your response was more, much more than I could ever have hoped for.
In 1999, after I had been sick for weeks, I had to tell you I was HIV positive. You were the Rock, forcing me through the next two years of those 23 doses of poison every morning and every night. You must have lain in bed every night, listening to the dreadful retching noise coming from the bathroom, but; early every morning you would drag me out of bed for our walk, before going off to work and pretending nothing was amiss.
In 2000, I waited for you to come home after you had told me you were going to tell Jorge, your dad was gay. Jorge came from the north west of Sydney, where being gay would still get you bashed in the school yard, I understood how much you feared this moment and how important Jorge was becoming in your life.
I have seen you become the “earth mother” of this family, grappling with two gorgeous kids and dealing with the emerging news of Esty’s autism.
I have no idea what or how, you have told the kids about Billy and I, but somehow, by a process of osmosis, they have accepted Billy as a an integral part of the family and it has never been a point of discussion.
In 2008 I had to talk to you, along with Annie, Kayla Mum and many others after the visit to the Professor.
Your strength became my strength, you and Jorge rallied in my support, along with the rest of the family and a wide network of friends.
I have said many times this dying caper is actually dead boring, you gradually lose parts of yourself and the tiredness is almost overpowering. You have been beside me every step of the way, sometimes with your own version of “practical” support but always with love and care.
We laugh when you tell me about Esty’s latest burst of obsessiveness and I can’t understand what your problem is. Billy is always telling me, I am gradually becoming Benjamin Button as I recede into my childhood, sometimes it seems Esty and I are kindred souls, just going in opposite trajectories.
I watch in awe, as you and Jorge give these two kids every opportunity to find their own way in life; the swimming carnivals, the Nippers, the baseball, the netball and of course; the school results.
The pride, love and support you give and have for your kids and each other, warms my heart as nothing else can
It is the simple things I will smile about as the darkness closes.
The time when you and I sat in the coffee shop in Williamstown, playing “words with friends” and laughing together across the table on a lazy Friday afternoon, the mealtimes when Horrie or Esty would spend time in the naughty corner trying to stifle giggles as I winked and made faces at them across the room, watching Esty red faced and determined on the Netball court, seeing Horrie emerge from the surf after a gruelling swim, the hard earned cuddles from Esty, the quiet times with Horrie as he tells me his breathless garble of news, the not so subtle jibes from Jorge and the times when he lets his heart hang open despite his best intentions.
These are the things, that mean so much at a time when it could be so easy to focus on a bleak future. The kids are my present, you and Jorge are my present and I love you all so deeply.
Love ya all
Dad and Grumpy