The wells of salvation
The phone call came in the early evening one day in October 1990. We were living in Biloela, Central Queensland, about six hours’ drive away. My dad was ringing to tell me he’d been diagnosed with lung cancer.
In a sense, it wasn’t surprising. He’d been a heavy smoker since he was fourteen. He was an asthmatic child; when my grandmother found out he was smoking, she took him to the doctor to find out if it was a good idea. The doctor told my gran that smoking would strengthen his lungs.
Dad was only diagnosed because he had secondaries. Things were pretty advanced by the time he found that he had cancer.
We were thrown into a spin. We were a long way away, and didn’t know how to help. We brought the kids down, and spent some time staying at a motel near mum and dad’s place. It was hard, and harder still going back to Central Queensland.
Another phone call came in late January. Dad wasn’t expected to make it. I arranged a flight early the next day. I arrived too late to see him alive.
It was a difficult time over the next few months, partly because we weren’t close enough to be of much help to my mum. Most of the people in the church were lovely. Not all, though—one woman asked me how I was going after my dad’s death. I was pleased that she asked, because she’d previously made it clear that she didn’t rate me as a minister. I told her I was doing ok. ‘I should think so!’ she retorted. It seems that in her universe ministers are made of sterner stuff than ordinary mortals. Let me assure you that this is not the case.
I found a Brisbane placement for 1992 to be closer to mum. Continue reading