The question mark is there for a reason…
Here it is day 38 of 2018, and the number 38 is significant to me. It was the pennant number of my first ship HMAS Perth DDG-38. On that ship was a Chief Petty Officer Norm “Spike” Jones, who treated all the radar plotters like his family and was a great mentor to me and other raw-bone seamen when I joined the ship in 1983.
I was also lucky to have Lieutenant Paul McKibbin as my Divisional Officer, who was a great believer in getting the potential out of people. As a 19-year-old, I still needed my potential ripped out of me on occasions. He was very approachable and the best support I could ever rely on.
So return to now. Over the last two days, I have learnt of the passing of these two great men. The very guys that formed me in my early adulthood, and who I could never forget, have sadly left this Earth, crossed the bar, having a long stand easy, etc.
I realise now that there is a lot in me that I can attribute to these guys and I am truly thankful for it. The question mark in the title shows that even though tragic news such as this can come about at any time, its how you deal with it and move on.
Looking forward, I take on their tenacity to fight the health battles that eventually took them. I am not the introvert that I was back then. I am not going to let post-traumatic stress disorder take over again. Doing extremely well in managing diabetes is the best tonic I need to keep on the straight and narrow.
Yes, I have a daughter in a mental health clinic, and I see a lot of me in her at that age.
I also have a loving wife who is facing her own inner battles, mainly due to menopause, but also the strain from helping me through my tough time.
I have a second daughter, who is so excited to be starting her first day at TAFE on Friday to commence nursing studies.
Then there is the youngest daughter. Learning difficulties, or intellectual deficiency, she is so border-line that she doesn’t fit into a basket. But the AIMS program at her school is helping her progress in leaps and bounds.
I don’t converse with God as often as I possibly should, but I feel that I am so thankful for the position I am in.
I love my life. It’s meant to throw curved balls to test you out, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. And if you come out stronger, you have learnt, embraced and ready to face more challenges.