Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dad's hard headed. Literally.

If I posted Dad's extensive medical history all the doctors and nurses reading this would have a conniption as it's a miracle he's reached 87 at all.
Back in 1974 , mid-December, we hadn't heard about Cyclone Tracy at that stage but we knew all about a random thunderstorm that blew up out of nowhere and whooshed my Dad off a 2 storey roof he was putting on a brand new house in Werribee.
He kinda landed on the lawn next to the driveway so this tale could have turned ugly at this point.
Fortunately they breed 'em tough in Montague and while he was pretty doo-lally for a few weeks with a fractured skull (with a few other incidental broken bones) he managed to recall something of his plumbing career when he took to climbing out of the strait jackets they put him in and went about 'fixing' the water works on every floor of the Western General Hosp (except maternity, thank gawd, can you imagine him 'fixing' the female plumbing on that floor????).
They could easily follow where he'd been as every.single.tap was turned full on.
They ended up actually shackling him to the bed-rails, wrist and ankle.
Mum said he was in a 4 bed ward with 3 other fractured skulls and he was the only one to survive.
Some angel was watching over his shoulder to get the lucky tap on the shoulder in those statistics.
All I can remember is the tears and venting and gnashing of teeth as his (shonky) business partner kept running up bills in Dad's name and the Sheriff came around to repossess goods to the value, etc, when 6 year moi challenged him and told him to leave us alone.
I vaguely know the antique dining table disappeared along with the chairs and some pricey Toby jugs, but all I really knew was that Dad got swallowed up in a hospital for almost 12 months and then rehab snaffled him for more than 2 years.
It was fireworks and excitement when he was allowed to come home to visit for weekends, I can still remember him standing on the train platform with his suitcase waiting for the train to go back to that (deeply loathed on my part) place.
I did some agency shifts there years later and still found it to be a charmless, cold place with an atmosphere amongst the staff you could cut with a knife, or it could have been that the heating was turned off on weekends as most patients were away and the water felt like it was piped in straight from the sea.
He made me some sheep-skin moccasins in South Melbourne (Sydney Swans) colours and I was most displeased to find Mum had tossed them years later when I'd out-grown them and they'd turned smelly and yick.
A few rellies have told me his personality completely changed after that, that he was no longer the wild laugh-a-minute-larrikin who'd pop firecrackers down friends' chimneys.
A couple of doctors have been horrified at the extent of the (old) brain damage evident on head CT scans, one questioning me if this was the same person sitting in front of him.
But he managed to get back to plumbing, build up his business and keep us fed and clothed (including his mother-in-law) until he retired and let his registration lapse in 1995, twenty-one years after he was blown off a roof.


  1. You have an exquisite way of telling your Dad's stories, Ro! Love reading them and thinking of what he was like when you were a lil' Ro.

  2. what an amazing man.

    Just like his damn awesome daughter.

  3. Oh - his story needs to be put in print. WOW!

  4. That was a pretty big oops off the roof huh- but he clearly lived to tell the tale! And I second what Kelley says.

  5. Yes, that's an amazing tale! It wasn't really an option NOT to be tough in those days, was it (if you'll allow me the indulgence of a double negative). Sounds like you've got some great memories - your skill at sharing them shouldn't be underestimated!!

  6. Wow. I mean, wow. The saddest part of this story is that crooked business partner taking advantage of him -- horribly injured, and from a job accident no less. Mind boggling.

  7. Your Dad's a tough old nut, isn't he? I can tell you love him very much.
    I wasn't close to my dad at all.

  8. Thanks you, I'm trying to jot everything down now and I'm glad you're enjoying his highlights :)