My Father came from Amsterdam via Indonesia in the Dutch Military and arrived at Sydney docks in 1950. By 1952, having tried his hand as a cane cutter and a bartender. He was determined to become an Australian Citizen to embrace all that Australia in the 1950’s afforded. He was adopted into the Australian family in a ceremony that saw him forge our roots, to embrace this land of opportunity, and by1952, he married my mother, a country girl hailing from Maryborough in Queensland, the only daughter in a long heritage of country pub owners.
My grandmother, a single parent, raised my mum in the spirit of the extended family and though it was a harder life than I know, it was a good one. He says he loved her from the very minute they first spoke. It was at a family get-together in Bondi and through their 8 month courtship, taught him to speak the narrative so akin to the country life moved city bound.
My Father went to work in Sydney Central at Dairy Farmers Milk Company as a foreman and worked there for the next 45 years, 6 days a week amongst a kaleidoscope of individuals who had also come to Australia as immigrants, them looking also for the fulfilment of their dreams, just like he. They ended in the throws of conveyers of crisp clean bottles and oodles of milk, yoghurt and cream. I grew up hence being forcefed yoghurt and milk products and love cream on my potatoes to this day.
This beginning has seen the roots of our family laid in a firm foundation of courage, determination and commitment to the Australian way, the way of the hard work, the way of the seeker, the way of the immigrant, the way of so many like my Dad who have followed.
This story of opportunity began here, to this man, my Dad. He had come from war-torn Europe with all of his youth coloured by war and the suffering akin to conflict, and the stifling discipline of being a serviceman. A prisoner of war rufugee, a fighter on the wrong side of a war that colours history with cruel genocide and insane poverty and hungryness for change. He served his country of original well, wanting to forget he did for the pain and sufferring etched upon his forehead, and now was determined to serve his new home as an adopted Australian, Australia the Garden of Eden to this very Eurpopean man.
My Father is now an elderly man, 80 years of deep vintage with dimentia, no memory to speak of, past what hes doing in the present- living alone in his own home, my mother having passed away a little over a year ago. They both unleashed themselves upon the Australian Dream, spontaneously and deliberately, all of their lives. Children, the family car, owning their own home, building a foundation to support prosperous living, raising one millionaire, one businessman and me. Our family holidays to the Sunshine Coast and Port Macquarie to embrace the sunshine of pristine beaches, our family hobbies of soccer and snake collecting and hikes into the country to collect old relicks to restore. Our family home, a 3 bedroom fibro house with a well tended garden, and an endlessly pregnant cat named Mitzi asleep on the driveway behind a blue FC Holden, a trampoline in the front yard and a bird avary in the back.
His sons, supported through university degrees and I became a school teacher. His wife he cherished till her very last breath and in his mental vacancy carries her crumpled picture around in his pocket as a reminder that she is loved and missed.
This is a tribute to my Father, a courageous and determined man who bourne a dream to come to this wide brown land, the land of opportunity. This furtile ground of increasing abundance and prosperity built upon the backs of families and fathers just like mine. The tapestry of progressive thinking and values that allow the humble beginner of immigrant status to pave the way toward 10, all successful, grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. And though hes not a Digger, an ANZAC or true blue- he is nevertheless the most Australian bloke I have ever known, even in his accented bilinguisity.
Our family is no different to yours, and my Father no more important than anothers. But I pay homage here, to him, to his journey, to the Australian dream and to the continued virtue and goodness we experience in this free country- proudly embracing the Australian way.
I now look after my Dad in his mental failings as his Carer and am really glad to do it.
Oh if you could have known my Dad before his hair turned silver and his memory left him- youd hear his stories and know that every word is real, honest and a true representation of a remarkable Aussie bloke who was just born in another land.