Christmas was Dad's favourite event

Dad died suddenly. Not like 'hit by a bus' sudden, but from diagnosis to death it was a mere 11 weeks. None of us had time to get used to the idea of our lives without Dad. He was an integral part of the family cog; connected, committed and such a good man.

Mum and Dad met in Canada and later married in London, he was actually from South Africa. Mum and Dad ran the family antique business together, which was a 7 day-a-week job. Despite that commitment we spent a lot of time together as a family. We used to go to work with him and help out in the warehouse, readying furniture for auction day on Sundays. I have memories of falling asleep on piles of Persian antique rugs.

Dad waited until the last possible moment to tell us he was sick, he was actually due for chemotherapy the following week although when he got there he was too sick to be treated, despite his best hopes and determination. We dutifully set about making plans for his final months to ensure that he was treated with dignity and respect.

It was close to Christmas when he was moved to a wonderful hospice in Adelaide. Christmas was Dad's favourite event and it felt like the right thing to bring Christmas to him, with all the possible trimmings. There was a Carols by Candlelight event organised for early December and we decided to make that our last family Christmas, he even found his appetite for a cupcake. I imagine that the Christmas before and the year that followed would have been very different had he known it was his last.

Dad used to play great practical jokes and he had a talent for unifying the family. He would put old alarm clocks under our beds while we slept on Christmas Eve, all set for the same time, to get us all marching out of bed in unison for the spoils of Christmas Day.

My immediate family, the kids and my husband, had planned a family trip to Canada for a special white Christmas, the timing was terrible. I was away for his final days. My husband traveled interstate to say goodbye, which meant so much to all of us. Before our departure I spent days in the hospice with the kids, enveloped by Dad's new drive to remain close and tactile, literally holding his hand.

- Cele's story about her dad Peter as told to Nat Power

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