Heroes don’t live forever

Last night my hero died. He was in his 90th year, loved reading and learning, and interested in all that was going on in the world around him. He eagerly awaited the arrival of the Listener each week and read every article. After reading the recent article on gluten he  decided that he might like to go gluten-free! He would visit the library fortnightly tottering along with his ‘walker’ basket full of books to return and eager to pick up more. His most loved book, after the bible, was Christine Hunts book, I’m 95 – any objections? Christine needn’t have employed a publicist, he was doing that job for free.  He was so proud of the Poems in the Waiting Room scheme and eager to help in any way. He lived in Taieri Court Rest home for the past two years and whenever I delivered the new season’s cards he placed them in the lounge and ensured they were always sitting on the top of a pile of magazines. Whenever anyone visited him he would have the latest card displayed prominently in his room.  And who was he? He was my Dad.

Robert Allan Simpson

Robert Allan Simpson

He used to ring me every night at 5.35. We reviewed the weather of the day, short and long term forecasts, the happenings and non happenings at the rest home, the number of times he’d walked the corridors to keep fit, the number of birds who’d shown for their twice daily feed, the number of words he’d made out of another word, what he was reading, what the latest listener had to say and anything he ever saw or heard relating to poetry.

And his favourite saying? I am a lucky man I’ve got my four children all on the same telephone exchange. We were the lucky ones, having such a fine man for our father.

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8 Responses to Heroes don’t live forever

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that. He sounds like a dream-Dad. You will miss him so much.

  2. Sally A says:

    How wonderful it was yesterday morning Ruth to pop in and spend time with you and Barry talking about your Dad. So glad we were in Dunedin xox

  3. Kay says:

    So sorry to hear this Ruth. You will have such wonderful memories to surround you and comfort you and I’m sure you’ll find reassurance in knowing he lives on in your and your siblings’ memories and in the different aspects of his personality and character you see in each other.

  4. Donald C. says:

    Have only just heard now that Alan had died, i’ll never forget the look of surprise on his face when he met me in the Presbyterian Archives and realised that I was related to the Simpson’s through my Mother and that my Uncle had been best man at his parent’s wedding, in fact I have that photo. Allan always tried to do his best and gave his time willingly and without complaint. His standard question every time he saw me (and said with a very wry smile) was “Have I received the Simpson family history yet?”…. Like my own Mother who was still happily writing regular letters at age 92 i’m so pleased Alan was mentally alert till the end. I hope that when our time comes we are still as able. Donald Cochrane, Dunedin

    • ruth arnison says:

      Thank you Donald for taking the time to make contact. We’ve enjoyed hearing stories from friends and strangers today about Dad’s strengths, kindness, care and compassion and that “wry” smile. As children we always thought Dad was a ventriloquist – he had a pulpit voice and a family voice! His was a very quiet but effective ministry. All four ‘children’, grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to miss him dearly.

  5. Gallivanta says:

    A lovely tribute. There are many of this age in my family. They are leaving us one by one; but leaving us the richer for their love and care and fine attitude to life.

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