This Anzac Day was going to pass me by without comment.
I’ve written before about my inner battle with this most Australian commemoration of war and I’ve made peace with myself on that front. The trouble is on another more personal front.
April 25 is also the anniversary of my father’s death.
The serendipity of dying on a public holiday maximises the deceased’s chances of being remembered. Throw in coronavirus lockdown and you’d be hard pressed to come up with a reasonable excuse not to spare a thought for your dearly departed.
Dad died three years ago today.
This Anzac morning I woke up in his bedroom, where I have slept for the last five weeks of lockdown. I put on one of his old jumpers to ward off the morning chill and wandered down the hall to make a cup of tea in the kitchenette he built a decade ago.
Once my oldest brother’s bedroom, the kitchenette was built for the live-in nurse who was going to care for my parents in their dotage. Even then, we children knew no such nurse would be allowed to cross the threshold.
But Mum was happy enough to let Dad work on his project. It gave him something to do other than hang around asking her what was for lunch. And left her free to spend more time in her beloved garden.
Dad would love to think his ‘foresight’ meant that my son and I could self isolate while keeping a socially distant eye on my 89-year-old mother. If he were alive today, I’m sure he would lay claim to having built the kitchenette wing in case of a COVID 19 pandemic.
If he were alive today, I might even have let that one through to the keeper.
But he’s not.
My mother has made it clear she doesn’t want to be reminded of his anniversary.
So I spent most of the day working at my desk and watching the world pass by outside my windows. Until a knock came on my bedroom door. It was my younger brother. He looked around the room admiringly and commented on the little reading nook I’d set up in the corner. Then his gaze fell on a dusty old CD player.
You’ve got all Dad’s music here.
Not quite all. Half of it is still downstairs in the study. But my brother’s comment has opened my eyes to what is really going on here in this upstairs retreat of mine.
I’ve been immersing myself in Dad’s music ever since I’ve been here. I’m looking out on his view. I’m the beneficiary of his DIY handiwork every time I make a cup of tea. Dammit, I’m even wearing his jumper.
I am surrounded by memories of my father. I have no need of an anniversary to bring him to mind. He’s there in every note.