I often think about my Dad, but he has been in my thoughts even more over the last few days. He was a most generous, compassionate man.
He left school when he was 14 and always resisted anything to do with writing. That was until he found the computer in his early 70s. Then he discovered that he had a gift for writing stories. He began writing down the stories that he had told us when we were children. Every family has those stories, about grandfathers and and great aunts, tall tales and funny ones. But Dad’s stories then developed to family history, all written as if he was sitting there with you, telling you the stories over a cup of coffee.
Then Dad wrote about his war experiences. He was very proud to have them accepted by the War Memorial in Canberra. He wrote stories for the children in the family — my cats had a starring role! His work is a treasured possession.
But I am lucky too because I have some of Dad’s other creative work. He tried drawing for a little while, but was never satisfied with what he did. “I can only copy, Anne,” he would tell me. I would reply that that is all I do with botanical art; I copied real specimens rather than the photos he used. But he was never convinced. I have his wooden art case and remember him every time I take it to art sessions. (It is perfect too, because it will fit everything necessary in, without room for the unnecessary.)
Dad then took his drawing skills to design stained glass work. He made these blue wrens for me and they are in a window in my study. (Birds were another passion of his.) I paint my leaves and feathers and plants, look up at these birds and be reminded of all the treasures that my Dad has given to me.
However, I think the greatest treasure he gave to me was his humanity ~ the knowledge that all people have the right to be treated with decency and compassion, regardless of who they are and where they come from.