for today's post, I will write something tomorrow but as I have
just got to Merle's and after all the driving over the last few weeks
My mind has siezed up, hopefully tomorrow it will work better
Dad and Vicki, I had the foresight to fly Alan and Bruce over from
WA and Vicki from SA for this last visit and have always been
very pleased that I did so, Marcus' turn came a bit later when he
came from WA and performed the funeral service.
Ada used to say she knew every town within 300 kilometers with a race course, she had never seen the towns, only the racecourses, so used to really enjoy having a roam around places like Toowoomba if we were around.
Racing not being my cup of tea, Dad would go of to the races and we would all meet up just before the last race, all having had an enjoyable day.
Dad was either a very good judge of horses or very lucky, I believe a bit of both, as he used to win more often than lose on the horses, if he was winning though he never subscribed to the theory that he was gambling with the bookies money, “it’s my money the minute I win it” he would say, and he’d guard it the same as the rest.
Dad used to advertise thoroughbred horses for sale fairly regularly, and was in the habit of yarding 8 – 10 at a time for customers to have a look at and make their selection from.
He would quickly run through the prices of, the bay mare, the bay mare with 4 white feet, the black gelding, the little brown filly, the bay mare with the white blaze, the chestnut mare and so on for whatever was in the yard.
The prices were always pretty reasonable $300 - $500 range usually, woe betide any buyer who mistakenly said “the bay mare with the white feet was $400 wasn’t she?”
It didn’t matter if she had originally been $200 she immediately became a $400 horse, Dads reasoning on this was that the buyer valued her at $400 so he must have been wrong with his valuation.
For many years Dad used to buy well bred young horses at auction, bring them home for about 1 year while they grew up, then through his vast circle of friends in the racing industry, find a trainer to lease the horse to.
After trying both training horses himself and paying a trainer, he was sure that leasing was the best way to go, “let someone else buy the feed , pay the Vet and do the work, then give me a third of the winnings if we get a good one” he’d say.
Dad owned literally hundreds of horses over the years, often having 100 or more at a time, and being a pretty fair judge it was inevitable that he would get a few good ones,his boast was that he never lost on them, and while I don’t subscribe to that theory totally, it’s fair to say that as with most other things he tried, he did alright at it.
There was an interesting exercise each year at tax time, his livestock report had to locate and identify each of the horses, was it at home, out on lease, was it still with the same trainer, or had it died somewhere in the shuffle.
Searching for horses some times entailed ringing a trainer to ask what horses he had under lease at the moment, God knows what they thought of this eccentric who didn’t know where his horses were.
While Dads memory was still good this didn’t present to many problems, although he needed to sleep on it to solve the curly ones, but as the years caught up with him it became an annual nightmare.
Dad was nothing if not down to earth, I’d had a 14 year marriage that ended in divorce, and when I told him my second marriage of 25 years was also over, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “You don’t hold onto your women too well Son”
While he was sympathetic to troubles he was also a realist who made the best of whatever came along, another good lesson from the master.
Sickness, and plenty of it.
My Dad must have had the constitution of an ox, he always kept very good health, until he got sick, then there was some beauties, so many heart attacks I lost count, a violent reaction to penicillin, bowel cancer, an aorta operation and diabetes, that covers the main ones.
Dad lived by the creed that you have to keep trying, “If you give up you’re buggered”
For nearly the last 30 years of his life he took pills by the hand full, no doubt they helped keep him going, but I firmly believe that it was his will to live that was the main factor.
I told him once he’d better spend his money he couldn’t take it with him, “I won’t go then” said Dad.
After his aorta operation, which became a life or death situation for a while, he showed me this huge angry looking scar where they had opened him up, “gee that looks nasty, is it painful?” I asked, “no Son, I’m a bit worried about that, perhaps a man’s to stupid to feel pain” he said.
Another time he came home from hospital after a serious heart attack and stated, “that’s the best thing that ever happened to me Son,” when I queried how he had come to this conclusion, he said, “well I went into hospital thinking I was going to die, they treated me, changed all my medication, and sent me home feeling great.”
You think whatever you want, I call that a will to live, with an attitude like that he would live forever, so much so that I told him that as soon as he turned 100 I’d be coming down with a big stick to finish him off, Dad thought that was a great joke.
There was the time, again after a heart attack, the night nurse found him toddling of down the ward, complete with saline drip, at 3am, she asked where he was going.
Dad replied, “I’ve got to milk the cows” a conservative estimate would be that it was 50 years since he had last milked a cow!
When he got home from that one it was about the time he’d given up gardening, he disappeared on the second morning home, when I went outside to find him he was busy upending a half 44 gallon drum with a small tree in it.
“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled at him, “don’t you like it at home?, do you want to go straight back into hospital?” Dad said “well it’s got to be done or they’ll all die”when I looked around he had about 20 of these bloody trees in drums and his plan was to transplant them all.
He was quite happy when I said I’d do that job, but really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, “I’m really quite well now!” he said.
Dad was the perfect patient, never complained, was always bright and cheerful, did everything he was asked to do, BUT he just couldn’t resist the temptation of a loud “RUFF” accompanied by a lurch at the poor unsuspecting nurse who was attending him.
There were no exceptions, from the Director of Nursing, to the aides who brought him meals, they all got the same treatment, nurses who looked after him would often say, “he gets me every time with that, even though I’m waiting for it.”
Dad flirted outrageously with all and sundry of the ladies who looked after him, each one got a “thank you my darling, you’re my favourite” and the nicest smile to go with it, they lapped it up.
I’m almost, but not quite, tempted to want to try this out, I wonder is the health care system so starved of nice patients that they just fall about when ever they are treated decently, or did they collectively catch a glimpse of my Dads wonderful nature.
about 35 years old.