We all must end each day with love.
No matter how hard the trial we have endured or how deep the gully we have dug.
When I first stopped drinking, a wise old man told me that he never let his head touch the pillow before he told his wife that he loved her.
If they had had a disagreement on that day, he apologised before he closed his eyes.
Old Joe and his lady, Bede, were both sober over fifty years.
Their marriage, the second for both of them, lasted forty years until they passed within months of their final breaths.
Joe was the sweetest man.
Joe adored Lady Bede.
They were both tough as nails and had strong beliefs, but they always smiled and were kind, giving, and empathetic.
They loved each other unconditionally, and their love was physical and spiritual.
I never witnessed an unkind word between the two of them.
I cried like a baby at their funerals, and I have tried to the best of my ability to uphold their legacy.
Some days, I fail, but I have always apologised to those I love.
The other great piece of advice I received from a beautiful old man was my paternal grandfather. Pop said, “Good manners come for free.”
In an age of impersonal, abbreviated communication, never have his words rung so loudly.
Pop left school to work before he entered his teens. He was illiterate.
He could not sign his name.
With six children born after the Great Depression and during the Second World War, he had to find work where he could.
Pop stood five feet six inches and had massive forearms and wrists, yet when he held your hand, his calloused palms caressed you like a gentle sea sponge.
He told me quietly that he had to take bare-knuckle street fights in the back lanes of Redfern to earn money to feed his children—and more than likely, pay for his love of a cold beer and a bet.
True, maybe not, but more than true than not.
He was Aussie down to his hairy big toes.
I am proud to be his grandson.
I am proud and grateful to be the grandson of all my kind, brave, humble, hard-working grandparents.
They never complained, yet they had nothing, and their sense of family, purpose, and love of God always shined.
Even in death, they all passed with a humility and grace I could never attain.
From my own parents, Jack and Maureen, and my gorgeous sisters, Anne and Margie, I have learned that no matter what, I should never give up, never lose focus, and always forgive with love and compassion.
I have had so many more blessings and opportunities than they would have prayed for, yet my gifts were often taken for granted and wasted.
I was amiss.
I was wrong.
To my ancestors and my family, I humbly say, “Accept my apologies.’
And where ever you are, your energy and efforts are now a deep part of the legacy I now hold with deep love.
I love you!
John Lennon, poet of the twentieth century and member of the The Beatles, put it so simply and eloquently, “Love is the answer.”
And so I end this little book with love.
I have my opinions, and I will challenge the norm and the politically correct.
I will always fight against injustice.
I will fight for the Australia my grandparents and parents built.
I will fight for freedom.
As I am human, I will continue to make mistakes and sometimes let my loved ones down.
I am imperfect.
But I will own my errors and apologise.
At the end of each day, I will go to the silence between the stimulus and the behaviour, whom I choose to call God, and ask for guidance.
And my God will grant me reason and peace.
I will not hold resentment or anger and will let go of anxiety.
All I can own are my reactions and choices.
Freedom of choice.
Every day and every night, I will close my eyes, knowing I love my family, my three gorgeous sons, and my beautiful Donalee with every fibre in my being, expecting nothing in return.
I am sitting at a small table, watching the sun set over the islands of Krabi, in the Andaman Sea, Southern Thailand.
Tiny waves lap at a shoreline on a crystal clear high tide, only metres from my feet.
Lights drape from a tropical tree, perfectly framing a horizon of colours, shadow, and light.
Tiny jawlines of rock and coconut trees jut straight out from the sea, and birds fly to their crags to nest for the night.
Wooden Thai longline boats are mooring for the evening, and the young navigators wade back to the shore.
It is perfect.
Even the clichéd, red-chequered table cloth is perfect.
Sometimes, just sometimes, the old is so new.
The scenery and setting are breathtaking.
I feel very blessed, but I have sat in similar settings in many parts of the world, on beautiful beaches, with my sons and wives, and been closed off and shut down.
Closed by alcohol and drugs.
Closed by ego, envy, greed, and regret.
Shut down with resentment and anxiety, and the anchor of debt.
But tonight, in this God-given setting, I feel blessed and free.
My beautiful, gentle, sexy woman waits for me, and just for today, my heart runs free.
Until tomorrow and the morning wind.
She comes to me on the morning wind, sighing. Softly she sighs.
Will you part the curtain love and blow back the sheet?
Slowly. Softly. Slow. Until it shows. Just so?
Will you run your nail down the middle of my chest?
And your blouse falls and opens. A touch, to let me know.
Or guide my hand, my lover new, and caress you gently low?
Lover old, lover new. Love. My love. With the morning wind?
On the morning wind, we fly, on zephyr breeze. Up high.
Fly, my lover, fly, and wave goodbye to past regret.
See. The sea and the sun, my love. On morning wind.
So warm and new, we glide, then we let it go. Still new.
Together, lover. Hold my hand, creased and worked but new.
We, me, you, come, my love.
Shine, the sun and sea, it shines. A fire it shines so new.
On morning wind, a soaring gull, off shrouded stone
Pass rocky cliff, down, deep down, water low.
With boat to tow and black whale moans
Love atones for hopes of promise lost
Son never raised, will the dawn atone?
My lover new, on morning wind, trees they groan.
Come little one, today, right now, my heart you own.
On boiling foam of rocks below, on morning wind,
Wind blows, blow wind blow
Through heather high and rocks below.
Light morning wind, I will not know
Her mourning sad of fair child sweet
On soft washed feet, she comes to meet
And takes my hand with shoulder bare
She knots my hair in painted nails
Sails, filling pail, oh billowing sail
Boat outside and through the pale
Of dawn, her patient trail, her sigh
To morning wind, we say goodbye.
As tea is steeped, her loss we weep.