Thank you to my father and my children on fathers' day
Monday, 05 September 2016
For my children.
The little girl in this photo is your great grandma Myrene with her brothers and her mum and dad.
Great grandma married Percy Leo Smith - that's him as a baby on his mum's lap.
When I was little grandma and Aunts Lizzie, Anne and Joan still lived at 14 Gloucester Street Rockdale in the house where all 11 Smith kids grew up.
We used to "drop in on the girls" as grandpa Geoff would say a few times every week.
Dad's brother, uncle Pat the policeman lived there too until the police force sent him to Cyprus as a peace-keeper.
That's how I remember grandma, always dressed beautifully, always smiling and mostly whistling a little.
Grandma had lots of advice and we could all be better people by listening to her.
"Make haste slowly" was one of her favourites.
When grandma saw one of us racing around to do the chores like doing the dishes, tidying up the room or polishing our school shoes grandma would gently say, "make haste slowly".
When you rush to do things you make mistakes and end up spending more time than if you'd slowed down and done it properly in the first place.
Aunty Joan paid for piano lessons when I was little and I'd drop in at grandma's to do my practice on the piano.
When grandma heard me thumping away, trying to play scales really quickly and making lots of mistakes I'd get "make haste slowly" with a gentle "good things come to those who wait".
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. That was another grandma-Smith-ism.
On the day I left home to join the army, grandma took me to one side and gave me four gifts.
The first was a book called "Military Traditions" that I read and reread over the years.
The second was a leather "compendium" with writing paper, stamps and envelopes in it (grandma had self-addressed one envelope as a hint!)
The other two gifts were pieces of advice.
"There are two skills that will help you right throughout your life. Spend some time on them every year. Dancing and languages".
One of my mates from the army posted this clip from the movie Stormy Weather on Facebook today with the message
"Raising a glass to all you Jive Jumping Dads and Step Dads out there. Hope this gets your toes tapping and fingers snappin'. Here's to us!!"
Imagine how long it took these guys to learn to sing and play and dance like this!
The singer dude is Cab Calloway with some of the greatest musicians you'll ever hear.
Fred Astaire is probably the most dancer there ever was - he said this scene with the Nicholas Brothers dancing to Cab Calloway's band is the greatest dance scene ever filmed.
Whenever you get frustrated and want things to happen overnight, think about those Nicholas Brothers, or Cab Calloway and the musicians in the band.
And if you think that sort of dancing is just for the olden days like me and my Geoff stories - watch this next clip!
A film editor like Uncle Andrew must have spent about a gazillion hours watching clips like the Nicholas Brothers and getting his edits so perfectly correct before releasing this music video.
Make haste slowly, good things come to those who wait!
I've been thinking about the work I've been doing for the past few years a lot lately and whether it's all worth while.
When I feel those doubts coming on, I try to look for guidance from grandpa Geoff and grandma and other good people I admire.
That movie with the dancing in it came out during the Second World War.
For a while it looked pretty certain that the Nazis would invade Great Britain and the Japanese would conquer Australia.
I'm really grateful to the soldiers and leaders we had back then. Here's the advice from our leader during those darkest of long dark days at war.
Never give in - never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.
Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
Grandma, grandpa Geoff and all your relations would be so proud of you all today.
I can't wait to get back with a Stihl 66 and hook into some firewood like the logs you and your mates are sitting on Hughy.
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.
And I will never, never, never give up.
PS - Hughy, Aunty Lizzie the grammar queen will be very proud of you!