LEST WE FORGET INDEED!
Dear Dad, I have been thinking of you a lot these past days leading up to ANZAC Day. I think of you as a little boy....
... leaving England at just seven years of age with just your Mum to come to make a new life in a foreign land, mourning the loss of a father whom you never knew who gave his life to protect his country in WWI.
I think of you as a young boy, growing up in the working class suburbs of Melbourne during the Great Depression, working hard at school but having to give that up to go out to work at fifteen but finding a father figure and mentor in your boss, Mr Murphy.....
I think of you as that brave, innocent young man who went off to war "as it was the right thing to do" - your words, not mine - not knowing what horrors you were to face in the years to come during your incarceration in the infamous Changi prison for over three long years after the Fall of Singapore.
I think that some part of you, like those first Diggers of old, thought that this was, in part, going to be a great adventure. After all, where else would you get the chance to wear a monkey on your shoulder?
Alas, adventure it was not to be....
I think of you, somehow, through determination, resilience and some pure luck surviving that terrible place and coming home to marry your childhood sweetheart. My Mum, whom you adored and with whom you had a long, loving marriage (67 years) and looked after for her very long life (91 years), caring for her yourself until almost the very end when it did just get too much for a 94 year old to do on his own.
I think of you being a great Dad to me and my two sisters and of how you loved to spend time with my children and the footy games you would go to when Collingwood played Richmond and how you would gently comment about how good the win was when your team, the Collingwood Magpies, beat my family's team, the Richmond Tigers (which happened a lot in those years).
I think of you going to ANZAC day celebrations to meet up with Army buddies and reminisce about what surely had been the "Bad Old Days" but you would always come home with a smile on your face.
I think of you at 97, living in the nursing home, which you loved, despite your preferred wish to stay at home, proudly wearing your medals on what was to be your last ANZAC day, last year.
... and as I sit here writing this post, crying for the loss of you, I think of your bravery as you fought your last battle, not scared of death but not wanting to leave your daughters alone. You left this world, just fifteen days shy of your 98th birthday but, Dad, you left the world a better place for all of us here in this great land of ours, Australia, and I am so very proud to have been your daughter. Love you, Dad.
Vale Roy Willard
28.08.1919 - 13.08.2017
LEST WE FORGET
ANZAC DAY 2017