It was a scorching hot summery Saturday and my Dad was busily working away on the family Farm, trying to keep it up to scratch while his own father lay ill in a Sydney hospital ward. He began to feel funny and, assuming dehydration was the culprit, started the long walk back through the paddocks bound for my Nan’s home.
Except he never quite made it, collapsing on the side of the country road.
Driving past at that exact moment, on a dusty road that never saw much traffic happened to be, of all people, a nurse. She was able to get him to the house and insisted on calling an ambulance.
Dad, of course, didn’t want any fuss. He thought he could have a long cool drink and sit it out, without the bother of doctors.
Mum arrived on the scene around the same time as the ambulance, and together they convinced Dad that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a trip to the hospital to get checked out, seeing as though they were here in any case.
And I count my blessings every day that he agreed, that somewhere an angel decided it wasn’t his time to go, because en route to the hospital my beloved dad went into massive cardiac arrest and had to be brought back to life on the side of the Pacific Highway, with my poor mum following in the car behind.
10,000 miles away, on a bleak Saturday morning in London, my sister and I were nursing hangovers when we got an early morning long distance call from my uncle. I still remember thinking it was strange he was ringing and even though I was instantly alarmed I tried to be chatty and light in tone, wanting to prolong the inevitable bad news that was sure to come from this unusual phone call. I’d feared the worst from my Pop, who’d been ill. Never in a millions years did I expect him to phone and tell us we’d almost lost our Dad…
After a hysterical and truly terrifying 40 hours my sister and I managed to get the very last two seats on a Qantas flight home. And I literally mean the last two seats – the very back row – an endured an interminably long flight across the oceans, uncontactable and oh so far from home.
I’ll never forget the look on Dad’s face as we walked into that hospital ward. Despite being hooked up to a multitude of machines, and suddenly so frail and older beyond his years his eyes lit up like a starry night. And I knew then in that very moment we’d made the right decision to be there, even if the worst was over. I’ll never forget that image as long as I live.
The fact that our Dad is still here with us today is, to me, testament that guardian angels do exist. I don’t dare think about what would have happened if he’d refused to go to the hospital, if he’d not been found by a stranger on the side of the road. All the things he’d have missed, walking his two daughters down the aisle at their wedding, seeing his son achieve so much, the three grandchildren who absolutely adore the very essence of him, the amazing holidays he has taken with Mum since then… None would have been possible without the interception of angels who must have seen he’d still have so much living to do…
So on this special day I wish my beautiful Dad a very happy birthday… We are eternally grateful to your guardian angel you are here with us to celebrate another year.