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.
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.