I visited a mate today. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to visit his Dad in hospital. It’s not a very easy thing to say yes to, is it? The actual answer to the question is, no, I don’t want to see your dad because I won’t know what to say and it will feel awkward.

My mate didn’t want to go. To say him and his Dad don’t see eye to eye is like saying Ben Cousins is bit miffed with the Eagles. There’s a lot to that story, but it’s not mine to tell.

I said he needed to get it sorted, because his dad could be gone quicker than we thought. I’m pretty good at giving advice, but I can’t imagine what I’d say to my dad. “Thanks for teaching me the finer points of cricket during the Alan Border years,” might be a good opening sentence. Anyway I convinced him to go.

This is what I remember about my mate’s dad He used to take us to school in an old XC Falcon 500. He used to smoke in his car and his radio was either tuned to an oldies stations that played Johnny Cash songs or to talkback. And for him, talkback meant him talking back to the shock jock or to the callers who were “morons”. He never spoke in full sentences. He’d just sit in the driver’s seat and mutter at us kids. He always wore a singlet and thongs with slacks, even in winter. I didn’t see him very much when I got older because he disappeared from the scene. He’d turn up every so often, but I just heard about it.

So what would we have to talk about in a hospital ward? That what I was thinking. Turned out the old guy had plenty to say. He kept asking me questions about what my plans were. He was very interested in what my father was doing these days. He looks like a very sick man, but he managed to discuss fly-fishing in great detail. As I left, he asked about my girlfriend. He could tell from my answer that it wasn’t going too well. He said that I had ‘better get all that sorted.” And before I could answer, he said, “Take it from me, I’ve made every mistake under the sun”.

He’s right. He did make every mistake under the sun. So it was a bit of the old, “do as I say and not as I do,” and I’ve got my own father for that kind of thing. But he’s right. You never have a much time as you think. My $45 worth of DVD late fees is proof of that.



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