ANZAC Day always reminds me of my dad. I'm a first generation Australian. My mum is from Sri Lanka (Ceylon in those days) and my dad was from the United States (first gen) of French Canadian descent. Hence my very French sounding name (which I'm not revealing....well ok, my middle name is Yvette and the rest is French too).
Dad was a United States Marine..the best of the best of the best. He was enlisted from 1957 to 1961 when he was honourably discharged. He never saw combat (although he really wanted to). He spent the majority of his posting at the United States Embassy in Ceylon.
My mother was a typist at the embassy. They met, and it was pretty much love at first sight - A big strapping 6ft Marine and a tiny little 5'2" exotic beauty. They saw each other secretly for 3 years (my mum's father would NEVER approve). But, finally they decided to get married and had to 'fess up'. They couldn't decide whether to live in Ceylon or the States so they decided to settle for about half way, Australia. Dad came first in 1961 to make a home for them. He worked as surveyor up north (he'd done drafting in the marines), got some money together, and then set up house down in Perth. It was a whole year before my mum arrived in 1962. They were married in December that year and the rest ...is history. He died on 20th February 1982 at the age of 43 (the same age I am now). Cause of death was multiple organ failure due to 25 years of alcoholism.
I didn't shed a tear at the time, nor for years after. I was expecting it, and it was a relief. At the age of 12 I'd overhead him telling my mum that the doctor said if he kept drinking the way he was, he'd only live another 5 years.....and that's all it was. I was 17 when he died. I'd had some miserable teenage years, embarrassing mostly. I missed out on a lot because I just didn't want to have friends over with my drunk dad stumbling round the place. By the end I hated him. So...didn't cry for a long time. I was angry too. Angry at him for drinking himself to death knowingly. Angry at my mum for not doing SOMETHING to help him...just bloody angry. Years later I cried. I cried because the last thing he saw of me was a rebellious high school drop out. I cried because he never got to see me a few years later, as a musician, then as a mother and as a university student. I cry on his birthday, I cry on ANZAC Day, I cry in December on their wedding anniversary. I cry when I think of how he will never see my two beautiful kids (my son looks SO much like him) and I cry as I write this.
Love you Dad xxx