I’ve come up to visit my uncle in Cairns, this is someone I’ve looked up to from a very young age, the outdoor adventurer that I always wanted to be.
He sent me a photo of himself and his brother in a jeep, just before we emigrated to Australia. I couldn’t wait to go on these incredible adventures one day and by my own Jeep.
I did go on a few rides with him but nothing like the adventures I had in my head, however I always liked listening to his stories and looked forward to his visits.
After my 21st he moved away and we kind of lost contact, he was one of the uncles that would just drop in from time to time so I thought he would be back one day, but then his visits just stopped.
I wasn’t going to blog about the emotional parts of this trip but maybe it will help others connect with their family by doing so.
So a little over 20 years we crossed paths again and he’s not the strong build of a man I remember and i’m quiet shocked what time has done to him.
I spend time with him and his brother in Bundaberg and he made me promise to visit him after my sisters wedding.
My sisters just had her wedding and its time to live up to my promises I made to my uncle over Christmas in that 30 sec handshake that he wouldn’t withdraw until I had said a convincing “yes I promise to come and visit you in Cairns.”
I’ve been here almost a week and I’m not sure what I was hoping for, he’s not the shape of the man I remember he’s a shadow of his former self. His stories, swearing and cigarettes along with his spirt is exactly how remember him.
The only thing missing from the picture is a dog, a day later ones sat beside him as he looks after it for a friend.
It’s early morning and I manage to get Alan outside for the first time in days, He walks to the end of the pier and we go fishing. This is something that I promised to do with my dad but never got the chance before he passed away last year.
As I look over at my uncle sat in the chair looking frail and getting bitten by sandflies, I think to myself he’s only their to please me because I didn’t get to experience any fishing trips with my dad.
He looks fed up and uncomfortable, even though its 26 deg with a slight warm breeze. Fishing is something he used to love and talk about all the time.
I get a little choked up and I say “looks like we’re not getting any bites” He tells me he’s getting plenty of sandfly bites but no fish and he’s fed up.
So the decision is made to pack up, I fold his chair up and walk with him back to his caravan where I know he’ll feel much better watching the world go by and not get eaten alive.
It’s not the adventure id planning since a kid, but this is the 1hr adventure I got and the one I will never forget.
I think in this case I left things 10yrs to late for adventures with my uncle and going forward I hope its not the last time I’m going to see him.
I won’t miss the smoke filled room but I will miss his stories, humour and lots of 4 letter words that he seems to use so well.
Or the photos on his wall showing his life of adventure that I wanted so badly or his love of holden cars at Bathurst.
He had an unbelievable smile full of teeth and I’ll remember that too not the one he gave me this morning over breakfast before he’d put them in.
We love you Alan and I spent an unforgettable time with you between the clouds of cigarette smoke and the 3:30am wake ups.
You are an amazing cook that I didn’t know anything about as you always came around to our house.
It was sad to say goodbye to you this morning at the train station but I’m sure when I buy my 4WD I’ll come and visit you.
Don’t forget to spend time with your family because in the blink of an eye they grow old and fade away or disappear completely and you will only be left with photos and tears…
Phone someone you haven’t called or connected with for months or years. Maybe even visit them, it might make their day, it will certainly make you feel better.
Still more stories from Cairns to come….