As June approaches, I tend to start thinking about my Dad a little more than usual. While he is in my thoughts often (usually when I suspect he’s out there, somewhere, saying in a Scottish accent, ‘Well that was a silly thing to do…’), as June rolls around each year, he surfaces more predominantly in my thoughts, because that’s the anniversary of his death back in 1988.
Which brings me to this photo of a rather bedraggled looking Snoopy balloon.
Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer, not long after Steve and I married in 1986. I remember when I first realized that’s what the doctors suspected was wrong – I was on my way to work and sitting at the train crossing next to Guildford Grammar when it suddenly dawned on me. Numerous tests had been run, without us being told what was wrong, but that particular day, Dad had been going for a chest x-ray. I remember nutting it out and realizing that the doctors knew it was cancer… and they were searching for secondaries. This was many years, many diagnosis and many deaths before I knew what I know now about cancer and its insidious way of attacking those we love.
Anyhoo – I digress.
Subsequently, the cancer was diagnosed, and Dad had surgery to remove the tumor. Unfortunately, it came back again, and Dad had further surgery to remove the cancer again. And while he was in hospital, back in 1987, recovering from that surgery – I bought him this balloon.
It was poked in the hole at the top of the metal pole at the end of his hospital bed and stayed with him throughout that stay in hospital, and the subsequent recovery period. I recall clearly that Terry and Colin were over from the eastern states, to see Dad in hospital while he was recovering and Mum used the balloon to whack anyone over the head who got out of line or said something cheeky while we were visiting. I remember clearly, Terry getting whacked, and protesting his innocence, although what he had supposedly done, I can’t recall. Some of my other siblings may have been there and recall that same evening, but my memory of that time long ago has faded and I don’t remember exactly who was there and who wasn’t.
Dad died in June 1988, some twenty seven years ago this year.
And that photo, of that balloon, was taken in my house this morning.
Yep, it’s kind a faded and sad looking, and doesn’t have quite as much air in it as it used to do (although that seems to be an atmospheric thing, flatter in winter and fatter in summer with the heat)
But it has remained inflated, every since 1987.
Now that might not seem like much to most people, but remember that from 1990 onwards, Steve has been in the Air Force.
Consequently, each time we’re posted, that balloon get shoved unceremoniously into a packing box, wherever it might fit – the removalists aren’t fussy and I never make a big deal over the Snoopy balloon – ‘cos when all is said and done, it’s just a balloon, right?
But this balloon is stubbornly remaining up – despite having been transported from Perth WA to Wagga Wagga NSW; from Wagga Wagga to Townsville, QLD; from Townsville to Melbourne, VIC (where we had two houses and two moves in two years plus a new baby); from Melbourne to Adelaide SA (an eleven year stay, with four moves into four different houses) and then back across the Nullarbor from Adelaide to Perth three and a half years ago.
Each time, it gets pulled out of the box, put back in its vase and gets set back in the display cupboard until the next move.
I’m not a particularly religious soul – I believe in a ‘greater power’ being ‘out there’ – and I believe that our loved ones are looking over us after they’re gone. And in this case, I tend to think this is Dad watching over me.
So my bedraggled little Snoopy balloon will continue to travel with us, wherever we may go. And it feels as though a little bit of Dad goes with us.