The Greatest Man

In my life I have had some very scary stuff happen to me, but fear is something I am not used to suffering from or feeling. I don’t fear the unknown, I don’t fear death, I don’t fear most things (Spiders strike the fear into me, but I’m bigger, so it soon passes). One thing has put fear into me and it happened years ago, and today of all days, I remember that fear. It was whilst I was walking and I had already done a similar walk once before on the same day.

It was raining when I stood outside the church, everyone was staring at me, looking awkward. I ignored the rain, didn’t let it bother me, those around me stood in the protection of the church overhang, or beneath umbrellas, I just stood there; numb. I never got chance to say goodbye to my Father, its something that haunts me randomly, although he knew my thoughts of him, I hope that he remembered what I said to him during his last moments. I remember caring him down the aisle of my church, the aisle that I have walked down so many times before, and after. The weight of my father baring down on my shoulder, but I was numb, I didn’t mind the weight. When I placed him down I did so awkwardly, but I stood staring, waiting, unsure of what to do next. After the service I carried him out again and off we went to the Crematorium. It was raining again, and the Military Veterans had prepared the location, so when I carried my Father in I wasn’t prepared. I’ll never forget that walk. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to stop and put my Dad down, stop the entire process. I wanted to get him out, talk to him, make sure this is what he wanted. I was hoping that it was all a joke, but that was the fear. This was it, the final, end journey. I’d never hold him, see him or hear him again and that made me stop, fear struck at my heart.

I overcame my fear in the same moment it struck me, I had to do it, just like I had been taught, not against my will, but by watching my parents through life. I did what my mother and father did through their lives, pick myself up and carry on. Advance into the face of my fear and beat it or lose, but never stop moving forward, no matter what the odds. Throughout the entire process I had been numb to all emotion, people must have thought I didn’t care. The Veterans played the last post, and just as the first note played, it hit me; I cried like a baby, I sobbed so much, I didn’t even hear it end. I marshalled everything I had to stop crying. I did, but it was the worse day of my life

People have good parents, bad parents, okay parents. When people say “I have the best Dad ever!” to that person, they possibly are the best Dad. Without exaggeration though, I did have the best Dad. Not because he is my Dad, but because he would give up everything for Georgina, Mum and myself. He would go hungry to feed the family, he was a teacher, rarely let his temper get the better of him. For his family he would do everything in his power for them, help them when they needed him, do things for them they couldn’t do. He would help anyone outside of his family, supporting people whenever they needed him, providing money or equipment to those who needed it. He was always a friend to my friends, and my Sisters, never embarrassing, always supportive and joking around. And no matter what, he always smiled and could make anyone laugh, in any situation. So without exaggeration, other Dads pale in comparison, not because I say so, because he was the most selfless person I have ever met. Even during his final weeks he planned his own funeral, so not to have to put his immediate family in a uncomfortable situation; even the funeral director was shocked. My Dad had balls of steel, he had enough proof of that.

So why am I saying this? My Dads gone, and he died on the 21st of August 2007. I’m not saying your Dads shit, I don’t want someone with an ego issue throwing their tits around in excitement. When my father passed away, I lost my idol, the man I could never be, but yet strive to be like. I am sharing the worse day of my life, yet within that day the best of me came out. Since then I have struggled, every single day, but for others the struggle is worse. I cannot imagine how my Sister feels, and I will never come close to feeling how my Mother does. Yet, each persons feelings are different, each struggle unique to that person.

Every time that song plays, every time I see a father and son playing together, my heart breaks. My friend, Dave Olsen (Blog plug moment), wrote a great blog about what it means to be a great Dad. Being a great Dad is everything he pointed out, apart from one thing he forgot to mention: sacrifice. When you bring that life into the world, you need to show, teach, tell, nurture, care for, assist, guide, love, cherish, talk…THAT is what it means to be a great Dad. There is not a day that goes by where I wish I could pick up a phone and have a five minute chat with my Dad, even if it was to say “L Lu D.” and hear the reply “D Lu L”.

RIP Ron.
Dad, you will be missed x

The Greatest Man

I wasn’t there to say goodbye,
Neither did I hear your cry,
My sister bore that pain alone,
I wish I would have just come home.

Days had past the family low,
The funeral plans everyone had to know,
I spread your plans that I had to hear,
Your own words spoken without fear.

They brought you home for all to see,
Privacy was what we wanted it to be,
My mother never left your side,
She held your hand with a Wife’s dear pride.

That day did come to carry you away,
To the place in the sky so far away,
Down the aisle I carried you to and fro,
Goodbye Old man `tis time to go.

The years have past the pains still raw,
The void you left we can’t ignore,
We carry on but we never forget,
The greatest man we ever met.

My Old Man in ’82

My Old Man in ’82

My old man went down south, during ’82 when the conflict broke out, those Argentines had tried a coup, but failed thanks to those marines few, word got out and things moved about, so our boys set sail into the South Atlantic gale.

With friends he went, few and many, my old man Ron he had plenty, their fire was up and all were ready to teach those against them that few could beat many.

At San Carlos was where he went, his first time ashore, the Argies came and went, Brits lost lives, but stalwart they stood and began to stand, and fight.

My old man went to Buff Cove, to set up coms for all those aboard, that brave ship Sir Galahad, he saw the burns and the fright, that those boys brought ashore that morn, it would wake him nightly from then on.

The flight on June fifth he was meant to take, his ear was buggered so his boss told him “Take a break!”, “There’s nothing to fear, no Argies here.”, so Ron sat back and wished fair well, this was the beginning of this own personal hell.

The flight was short, Pleasent it was but a mountain at that, as they approached the peak, thats when things turned a little bleak, four boys lost, blue on blue, there was nothing anyone could do.

My old man blamed himself, “Should have been me…” often he’d say, “Don’t be stupid Dad, no one knew.” I’d say.

Now I am older, wiser for my years, I appreciate what he said, for losing four friends must have been dread, especially Mike, was what he always said.

My old mans gone, a war he couldn’t win, not for trying, it was the british in him, army trained and fought till the end, his odds were few but those dice he threw.

Mike and my old man are up above, together forever hell behind them, Mike turns and says “Don’t blame yourself Ron, no one knew what was to come. Look down on earth, you married and gave birth, a beautiful wife and two kids, aren’t you happy it came to this? If it was you instead of me, none of this you would see.”

So here’s to those who gave their lives for you, soldiers, friends and civilians too, hats off to Mike, where are Mount Pleasent you lost your life, you gave me a Dad and granted me my life, here’s to heroes lost, lonely kids and wives we never forget your sacrifice, for those you gave lives.

Leonard Smith
Son of Ronald Smith