It’s been 23 years since you left us Uncle Paddy…. my shining star! For many years I called you my light in shining armour, you were my saviour. I still remember the day we found out you passed, I knew before I was told, it was too obvious, and even at only 7, I remember it like it was yesterday.
We had a knock on the front door and while I wasn’t there for conversation, we were soon in the white, single cab ute heading up towards your house. Nothing was said the whole car ride, but I could feel something serious had happened.
Getting up to the house, the police car was there and when we pulled up the side of the house, I was told to wait in the car, though I protested, I wasn’t allowed to get out and go in the house, so I sat there, feeling like I knew what had happened, sad, angry and waiting for the news…….
I don’t remember the rest of that day, but the memory of those moments have never left my mind.
You were such a blessing in my life, as you were in every single other person who knew you. You were seriously loved by all and every single person who I’ve ever spoken to who has uttered your name has done so with so much respect and adoration, you were a truly cherished and loved part of the world, and you are sorely missed from all our lives.
There are so many memories I have of you, and to say you were my hero is an understatement. With you, I felt safe, I felt loved, I felt special and I knew if you were there, everything was good, I was good. I remember the day we went out to tea tree cut, it was just you, Mum and I. While we were swimming in the dam, Mum asked me if I wanted to jump off the cliff like I had watched so many people time and time before. I was too scared, but you said to me, If you go up and jump, i’ll be here to catch you when you come down, I didn’t hesitate, I knew I was safe with you. Up I trudged with Mum, up the clay hill, clay sticking between my toes from my wet feet which was such a horrible feeling. Standing up the top, looking down at you with the tire tube floating in the water I was nervous but there was a resolve inside of me that just knew I could do it. Mum went first, and then while you both looked up at me, your arm over the tube encouraging me, soothing my fears again with your voice, I jumped and I landed in the water, coming straight back up again, you grabbed me, smiling, saying “see, I told you, you were safe, I’ve got you”. I was so courageous because of you. You were so strong, in all areas, especially physically. I remember both Sonny and I testing your strength, both running up grabbing onto an arm each saying ‘lift us, lift us’, you’d stop what you were doing and lift us both up at the same time and we’d laugh and giggle then run off again. You always had time for us.
Though I only had 7 years with you, I still feel it was a lifetime worth of memories and feelings, and love. When I got older I couldn’t actually believe I was only 7 when you died, for the significance you held in my life was so great, all the memories and love I had for you didn’t seem like it was only 7 years worth and I know that Sam, Lisa and Sonny who felt more like Sisters and a Brother than cousins, undoubtedly would have felt that way more, though we were all robbed short. I’m sure everyone else probably would have all felt the same.
It was you who I longed for, you who I wanted when I was hurt. I remember the day I was attacked by the dog out the front of the Tuckerbox, my memories seem to hold so much detail, like I can look back on those days and pull the minute details out of them. After I’d been attacked and screamed, there were people calming me down, I was lying down and screaming, “I WANT PADDY, I WANT MY UNCLE PADDY” all I wanted was you, I knew I would be ok if you were there. If this is how I felt with you, I can only imagine how Sam, Lisa & Sonny were.
It’s hard to forget your funeral, though only through my eyes, and heart, standing there I felt such devastation and loss, it’s the first funeral I ever remember. As I’m sure everyone else was feeling too, but a massive part of me wasn’t present that day, it was taken. It was also on that day, the first time someone had ever said to me, “when a person dies, you look at the sky that night and the star that shines the brightest is your loved one, and all you need to do is look up to that star, and speak to them, they are always with you”. I took that with me for that night and always. That night, when the stars were out, I looked up and found the brightest star, it was above the saucepan constellation and that was your star.
For the rest of my life, and even still today, I look at that star and I think of you. For the longest time, I would look at the sky and see that that star was STILL the brightest shining star in the sky, and I used to believe and tell people that you were my shining star, and that your star shone brightest for me. That small thing consoled me many a times, and when I got older and could drink beer, I went and sat up with you at the cemetery to have a chat, with a beer in hand, but you weren’t there. I didn’t ‘feel’ closer to you by being there and while I know that’s where your physical body lay and I honoured that, I had felt closer to you many times before, just by thinking about you and talking to you. This feeling of you being ‘absent’ from this place reminded me, that if I ever needed you, to just think of you and you were there, and I have, always done this, and will continue to do so. I feel you, I know you’re there, up there drinking with all your buddies, having the TIME of your life.
I had a dream, many years ago, I was in a bad way in life and I desperately wanted things to get better, I was missing you terribly one night. Sitting outside a friends house, in the car, drink in hand, I looked up to the sky and thought of you. It had been a long time since you visited me in my dreams and I so badly wanted to see you again. I sat there for what felt like half an hour begging and pleading with you through tears to come and see me again, telling you if only I could just put my arms around you one more time, that would be enough for me, I was in so much pain and I knew a hug from you would make me feel better.
Shortly after that night, maybe within the week, I had a dream of walking up to the Tuckerbox ramp, and as I got to the opening to the side sections, I stepped up to the left and saw you just a few metres away from me. I stopped in my tracks, completely shocked at what I was seeing, how was this even possible. The smallest hesitation before I ran into your arms and you squeezed me so tightly I felt so much pain fall away, that everything would be ok, but how? How has this happened? I pulled back from you, I didn’t understand, and as I looked around there were all these other faces around, Spritza, Biggus Dickus, Uncle Gary and SO many more people that were all ‘dead’, but they were all here, and alive, and happy and partying. Looking at you again I asked you how this was possible, you told me you all had to ‘fake’ your own deaths because of some certain people who were out to get you, but they had gone now so it was safe to come back. I hugged you again and then turned to Mum standing behind me, I was SO angry at her, yelling at her “how could you never tell me the truth”, RAGE filled me after so much love but it didn’t last long, I couldn’t believe I had gone SO many years without you in my life, missed out on SO much of you and your love, I felt robbed and cheated.
That was the end of my dream, and I’ve just realised writing this, If I ever need you again, I know I just have to ask. I got my wish, I got to see and hug you again, it was such an incredible experience, one i’ll treasure forever.
I haven’t cried for you for many years and though today, writing this, as I realise and make my feelings shown, I am. 23 years isn’t a particularly *special year to have had something like this written for you, but I know now this is something which I had to write about for my own healing, for the loss of you, for it was so great. You were my Dad in many ways, even though you were my Uncle but I loved you as any little girl would love their Father, and while the 19th of September isn’t a day I specifically feel the lack of your presence, it’s only because I honour you whenever I think of you, it’s a date i’ll never forget for it’s the day we lost one of the greatest men who ever lived, and while you’re not with us physically anymore, I know you’re with us all in our hearts and in spirit. It’s such a shame you didn’t get to see us all grow up, and your beautiful Grand-kids, I know they would have absolutely adored every hair on your body as you would have theirs, and while we’ll undoubtedly always feel a loss without you in our life, every single one of our lives were enriched just from you being in it.
Sending you love from all of us down here on earth, I know you’re with us, and until I can have a beer with you of age, drink up and be merry.
Sam, Lisa, Sonny, Anne, I’m so sorry for the loss of someone so great in our lives, but he is always with you, and us, always. Thinking of you all, today and always.