I received a shock phone call from an old friend yesterday, regarding the sudden death of her dad. While it was good to hear her voice, for we haven’t spoken for a number of years now, I was deeply shocked and saddened by her message. I have known K for around 20 years now. We met at ROTARACT and became firm friends. I was privileged to meet her parents and sister and many other friends and eventually invited to be the M.C at her wedding.
Her dad was a generous man, hard working and loved his family. He had come to Australia as a political refugee many years ago and it was only a few years ago that he was able to travel back to his original country without fear of execution. He was always kind to me and my brothers. I was only laughing and joking a few weeks ago with another friend, how one Friday night we had stopped there to pick up K for a ROTARACT weekend away to Mudgee.
There we would meet up with other Rotaracters from around the state for an annual weekend away. With much objections from his wife and daughters, the dad offered us all a drink of homemade Arak. As I wasn’t driving, I was the only one who accepted. He offered me another which I also accepted… and then we had to go… on the way out the door I thought he said to me I could take the bottle with me… so I grabbed it out of his hand and walked to the car with it and yet a group of us did drink it over the weekend, which resulted in a hangover of massive proportions.
I found out the week later that he wanted to have a word with me as he hadn’t told me to take it and I just took it from his hands and walked out with it. ..when I did meet him next – along with a wink and a smile another bottle was produced – which I immediately backed away from.
There was another time when we were at a family party, I think it could have been a 21st and a family member spoke in Croatian and he said to his relative. We have friends here who can only speak English, can we stick to English tonight. Such was his gift of hospitality.
I can take comfort that he was a man of faith. Though not outspoken about it, he did trust in God and what Christ had done on the cross. And so on Friday I will join with the many others who will go and say their goodbyes…and yet also have a deep sense of hope that indeed its not going to be a permanent goodbye…rather that there is yet to be another future celebratory reunion.