Handsome, ripped, great legs and hilariously funny - and those are his own words describing himself…. but I certainly wouldn't argue, all of these got him the girl!
Over the years I have had many conversations as to how we did not plan our lives to turn out the way they did but I guess no one ever does.
How dramatically our lives changed when over 14 years ago we were told of dad's Parkinson's, how much we have experienced and discussed due to the diagnosis of Parkinson's. We have had conversations that some never have the opportunity to have and I will treasure these insights into how he was thinking about things.
Being able to pay tribute to my dad ensuring that I honour him properly has been one of the hardest things I think I've ever had to do so far.
There are two words that come to my mind when I think of dad Hero and Mensch...
He has always been my hero, long before Parkinson's tried to take hold, and when I checked the definition of a hero : a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities: the chief male character in a story, play, or movie, it only confirmed what I had always known.
Dad was brave and courageous, Even as he was stripped of control over his body he didn't lose his sense of humour or that twinkle in his eye.
He had a quality about him that just drew people in, most who met him admired him and immediately liked him. I am overwhelmed by how many people's lives were changed or shaped by his guidance, support and tough love!
But for me, he has always been the main character in my story... He was the measure any man in my life needed to be of equal standing to, he gifted me with his passion for all things life has to offer, to accept any challenge and to always always do your best!
That if you have a dream then you can do it and he always believed in me when many didn’t.
In Yiddish, mensch (mentsh) roughly means "a good person." where a mensch is a particularly good person, similar to a "stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague.
Dad was also a good person, a man of morals and someone that was a trusted colleague and a friend, which we have seen and heard about from all who knew him.
I have been overwhelmed by how much of a difference one man can make in so many lives.
When he passed 4 years ago it was humbling to read all the tributes to dad, from his sporting life and from the many schools he taught sport at.
Dad was always committed to whatever he took on be it gymnastics with the Legacy kids, to coaching a football team. He was also committed to winning and did really hate to lose. He used to always tell me it doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you win! I know he felt sadness for my many many many runners up trophies…. even though he said he was proud I know he wished I could get a Winner's trophy… He knew I could manage the Camino de Santiago but was worried about my size, and how that may affect me and when I finished he said I knew you could do it!
My earliest memories were playing at the army camp in the gym and on the trampoline and being taught to do flips, exploring the gun ranges, walking on the back beach and front beach swimming lessons.
I didn't know at the time that this was not what everyone did, dad insisted we all swim when it wasn't even a campaign.
In fact, almost all my memories are of him and us being involved in some form of sport, and the infamous ridiculously short shorts! Adidas was made famous by Ray I'm sure! My girlfriend told me yesterday she never knew of any other dad who always always wore short shorts!
He was ahead of his time in his fitness regimes and programs; he ran aerobics circuits way before they were popular and exercise classes for the mums at schools for next to nothing. I was lucky enough to work with him at a gym he ran and learnt a very strong work ethic, where you do whatever needs to be done and work can be fun! I also worked with him as a trainer for his school football teams where I learnt there was a whole other colourful language that existed out there! quite a contrast to the dad at home, and I worked with him at the aerobic classes he ran, which were very popular with the ladies (perhaps the short shorts again or that silver tongue). In his later years, I took him for PT sessions and he loved seated boxing! I love being a Personal Trainer and I think that's because he taught me that exercise can be fun.
A Dads job is to be fun, and teach his children some life skills and Ray did teach me lots! Here are a few.
-How to tell a story, and he did not let the truth get in the way of a good story, one of his favourites was the ghost in the backyard. Let's just say he and Uncle David enjoyed scaring the crap out of their children!
-That you should not hurt your younger sisters or it could end in tears and blood (mine), he often recounted the story of how he chased me down the street and I smashed face-first into the telegraph pole!
-The importance of friendship and treating everyone with respect
-How to show kids you believe in them and they are enough!
-How to give kids a cheeky smile and sparkling eyes when they are being told off by their mum so they know they are still loved
-That you should call your kid even if you have nothing to say except “I love you”
-How to be competitive, compassionate, kind and considerate and even patient (although as we know he was not always patient) and always polite
-He tried to teach me how to tell a good joke without much luck and sometimes even his jokes weren’t funny but the way he told them had me in hysterics especially the one about the penguin who wanted a duck (still don't get that one)
-He taught me to be generous and always give back which is how he earned his British empire Medal and why I ensure this is part of who I am today
On Father's day with him no longer here, we still love him as much as he loved and protected us, I know he knew that I was thankful to him for always believing in me when others didn’t, for knowing my abilities and for always supporting me.
I hope he is as proud of me as I am of being his daughter, which is why the name continues in my activewear.
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