Hi, I am Heidi and this is my picture.
Lots of descriptions of my dad today – we all knew him through our own experiences. He had 5 kids that all experienced him through their own lens.
This is My Dad. I hope some of what I share reminds you of similar experiences that you shared with him too.
He was very friendly and very caring. A purring cat was often found sitting on his lap. He stroked them lovingly for hours – and hours. Even humans could slide in beside him for a backrub. He gave lots of love and lots of attention.
He was easy to sit with and talk to about anything and everything. And I think, could talk with almost any body. He could listen too, so talking with him over a cuppa was comfortable and interesting. He always seemed to have a new story to tell. Or a joke. Franz went thru a stage of making up his own jokes when he was about 8 years old – one after another – dad laughed so much – he really loved good lighthearted humour.
Before Franz there were 4 little girls. I was the littlest girl and hated having to go to bed first. There were many nights when he’d gently stroke my head till I fell asleep. His hands felt sort of leathery, strong and well worked. I guess they had been thru the tanning process several times. His hands were expert in feel and texture, of not only leather, but also cats and humans. He took out many a prickle from my feet.
A great source of joy for dad was his tatties. Every year for about 60 years or so he developed the art of growing potatoes. We kids had no idea how lucky we were to have fresh hand-picked veges every day growing up. Keeping us fit and healthy was never a chore for him.
Carrots were another delight for him. I would lie on the grassy path gazing at the clouds – when dad was thinning carrots. Tiny sweet carrots would get tossed thru the air for me to eat as I daydreamed.
Happy memories. And this wasn’t just once – this was an annual cycle – he kept meticulously detailed charts of all his crops.
The perfect cauliflower impressed us all! Through him We learned to love natures treasures. To appreciate when all the hard work paid off. He shared all his joys! And he made a lot of fun in the sharing.
At one stage this bank was a lawn. Grass to cut. You had to hold on to a young tree with one hand and the lawn mower with the other – mowing the steep grassy bank. I’d end up stretched out exhausted at the end. Dad would come along laughing in appreciation of me being totally exhausted. He thought working to exhaustion was a pleasure! He simply loved pushing himself physically. Giving all he had to what he was doing. This never ended – in his 80s with tai chi as his physical challenge.
I never once heard him complain about hard work.
And I never once heard him complain about pain.
He would get things right come hell or high water!
His lines were straight. He wanted things done just so. He could be very demanding. He set the bench mark high. He had a few close calls in tall trees! Mum threatened to leave him if he got up that hedge again… but there was no stopping him.
Mum knew her man. She stuck by him through all his adventures – mountain climbing, death defying hedges, being blown across lakes and harbours in choppy water windsurfing in crazy winds, and up extension ladders pruning roses. This was my bedroom down here with roses growing all over my windows – I got up the courage to ask dad to cut back the roses from my window – he wasn’t happy!
He could be stubborn as a goat and blunt as a brick wall about the word NO.
As time went on though he did prune to perfection – and he did keep the windows free of thick thorny branches. He was like that. Hard out “not happening”, “No Way” and then soften and quietly put things right without saying a word.
He liked a good joke and would try anything. Even getting older older dad didn’t ever lose that soft twinkle of delight and playfulness.
He had a deep appreciation of living life to the full. Of the energy that life gives us. Of nature and all her magic. He had this poster on his wall for years. He loved the quiet. He loved his birds. He fed all the birds through the winters, fat to eat for the wax eyes and sweet water for the tuis. He planted trees especially to attract the wood pigeons. He connected with, and nurtured, living nature.
He spent many long hours building the rock walls in the garden. They were long and high – he’d get absorbed in the making – the perfect line – the perfect angle. I remember playing with little trucks in the dirt banks beside him – a peaceful time – filled with quiet concentration and contentment.
So here’s his cat on his rock wall – and here’s a poem he posted to me – he wrote it himself about his life.