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Years around my Father

My father was in his seventy ninth year at the time of his death. He had lived through times of conflict, had made the transition from being a student to working in a coal mine, from being young and fit to living with a mine related injury, from living in Industrial Wales to living in Australia as a migrant, from being an employee to building and operating a small business in a rural town.

He was approximately five feet eleven inches tall, and of course was less than that at the time of his death, which had been the result of a ten-year decline in health following some mini-strokes and a heart attack. However he still possessed the thick hair that had lost its natural brown colour, and which I had known for all of my life. He had been that colour from his thirties. Although not a man of robust health he worked with all of his resources to maintain and renovate our home. He put the same effort into the building, establishment and operation of a business after the end of WWII.

Brought up in a Welsh mining village with Methodist chapels meant possessing a set of values that could not be waived under any circumstances. He brought these values to his personal life, family life and business dealings.

Dad was a strict father for whom we four children felt respect in all things. One didnít dare open oneís mouth at the meal table for fear of Dadís cane on the knuckles whilst he was listening to the ABC news broadcast.

In my late teen years my father had been stricken with an illness that kept him confined to bed for months at a time. My mother found that operating the business on her own with the support of we children was difficult, and the decision was taken to sell the business so that Dad could retire and recover his health. After helping the new owners of the business to settle in they left for a well-deserved holiday travelling with their car and caravan to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

As a family we were relieved to see Mum and Dad enjoying their retirement, however this was short-lived when Dad became ill again after a few years, to the extent that it threatened his life. At this time mum and dad were operating a business on Henley Beach Road at Thebarton. I can remember being there to help Mum because Dad was bed-ridden for most of the time. The shop was not air-conditioned and Dad was spending his days in discomfort. Relief came at last when they bought a home at Oaklands where Dad could stay whilst Mum went to work. Mum would spend hours making special fruit juices for dad to consume, as this seemed to be the only food that he could tolerate. At one stage the Doctor advised Mum that Dad was probably within weeks of dying. However, my mother was made of sterner stuff and she persisted with her fruit juice regime. It took many months but Dad did eventually make a recovery, although he bore the effects of that illness for the remainder of his life.

Eventually Mum and Dad were able to retire and moved to Glengowrie where Dad spent his days reading his books although there was a problem with his sight, and listening to his collection of records containing orchestral performances.

During their early retirement Mum and Dad made several visits back to the land of his childhood, and although they enjoyed visiting, Dad vowed that he would never go back to Wales to live as it had changed too much from the time of his youth.

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