Rad

This week one of my family’s life-long friends passed away.

I’ve known Rad virtually all my life; he and his wife, Maureen, ran the service station down the road from our Drive In in my home town of Grafton. My earliest memories are of popping into the servo and seeing Rad dashing out from the shop to fill up our car – wearing just a pair of thongs and white shorts.

When dad’s cancer got really bad and we gave up the Drive In, Rad and Maureen bought it as their retirement property. Even though the Drive In itself had to close, knowing that the property was in the hands of people who understood how important that place was to us was a source of comfort for me. The Drive In was the one place of my childhood that I cherished the most.

We moved to Sydney after dad died and we didn’t make very many trips back to Grafton. As the years went on, contact with Rad and Maureen was less frequent, usually no more than a Christmas card every year.

Three years ago Dan and I went on a holiday up to Coffs Harbour and we made a day trip to Grafton to see the town I hadn’t seen in over 15 years. By no deliberate planning of ours, we ended up being in Grafton on the 20th anniversary of dad’s death.

That day, we spent the afternoon at the Drive In with Rad and Maureen. We saw how they honoured the Drive In while converting the main building into their home. The waves of gravel covered up with grass and dirt; the cement footings from where the screen used to be still visible amongst the bushes. The projection room still with its tilted window facing out to where the screen used to be. They showed us a folder of dad’s newspaper clippings and paperwork that we’d left behind when we moved away, still in their original folder and stored away safely all these years.

For me, that day was the beginning of what has since been a renewal for me. Of remembering who I am, where I’ve come from and most importantly, remembering my dad as the passionate person he was. Dad died a month after my 8th birthday and most of my memories of him are tainted by what the cancer had turned him into.

Before we left the Drive In that day, Rad showed us his collection of woodwork. Of bowls and plates and wine holders he’d made with old trees and fence pailings from the property. He let me take home this clock, made from a cross-section of jacaranda tree that had grown on the grounds of the Drive In, the place that I love the most.

09-02-01-rad

So when mum rang to tell me that Rad died, first thing I did was stand in the kitchen and look at our clock. The clock that represents so much of my past and what matters most to me. I cried for what my family had lost, for another lost connection to dad.

And I remembered how lucky my family was to have someone like Rad. He was one in a million.

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7 thoughts on “Rad

  1. {{{hugs}}} What a lovely post.

    Fifikins’s last blog post..Twitter365- January!

    Posted on 1 February 2009 at 9:11 pm
  2. thanks fifi :o) it’s taken me all week to find enough words (cozy)

    Posted on 1 February 2009 at 9:14 pm
  3. (hug) that was beautiful..made my eyes a bit leaky

    Leigh’s last blog post..Phoney week 2

    Posted on 2 February 2009 at 8:03 am
  4. (cozy)

    Posted on 2 February 2009 at 8:33 pm
  5. love you so so so so much
    rad sounds amazing. i’m so glad you got to see him when you went back to grafton. i’m sure he and your dad can cause chaos together somewhere else now xxx

    Posted on 2 February 2009 at 9:13 pm
  6. I think I got something in my eye.

    Beautiful post.

    Kelley’s last blog post..I am pretty sure it is the Marburg virus. Cause it is totally more classy than tacky ol\’ Ebola.

    Posted on 5 February 2009 at 8:08 pm
  7. Lovely post. I came to Grafton in 1989 (I was 7) and I never knew there was a drive-in! The only place we ever went to was the Saraton.

    Tim’s last blog post..Small Night In – a replacement for the Big Day Out forum

    Posted on 10 February 2009 at 11:46 am