Thursday, 28 January 2016

52 Questions in 52 Weeks: #3

Well, I'm already behind on this series of posts, but what better day to restart than my own birthday :-)

Image courtesy of Sheetal Bhardwaj at IndiaBright

And, no, I won't mention my age - though you'll get some idea when you read my story below :-)

As part of the Genealogy Do-Over, I undertook a self-interview to record some of the information that my descendants might find interesting.

One of the suggestions put by Steve Anderson on the FamilySearch blog is to answer 52 Questions in 52 Weeks.  That way, telling your own story doesn't seem so overwhelming!

You can read my first 2 stories here and here.  And now, here is #3.

What memories do you have of your father (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on)?
My father,
Ralph Ormond (Bags) WEYMOUTH
at his daughter's wedding
26 January 1990
My father was born Ralph Ormond WEYMOUTH on 21 February 1930, in Euston NSW.  He was the first child of Eric Ormond WEYMOUTH and Gwendolyn Mary GRACE.

Of course, I have no first-hand knowledge of his childhood or his early adulthood.  He would often tell stories of these times, though, and he certainly emerged as a larrikin, a man who enjoyed the company of his brothers and family, and a person who loved life. 

Somewhere in his childhood, he gained the nickname "Bags" which he used throughout his life. In fact, many people never knew his real name.

He was a hard worker and a heavy drinker.  All of his working life was hard physical labour - cutting cane, digging wells, fencing, cutting timber. A long day of hard work was then followed by a long session of drinking. He was what people called "a man's man"; comfortable in the company of men like himself. 

Button accordion c.1950
Image courtesy of
Dad had one very like this!
He laughed loudly and often, recited bush ballads, and had a very pleasing baritone singing voice. Somewhere during his youth, he taught himself to play the button accordion and, much to the embarrassment of his children and the delight of his friends, would regularly accompany himself or others with this instrument.  Dad could never read music; rather, he would listen to a song or melody, then simply replicate it by ear.

Though born on the banks of the Murray River, he eventually travelled to north Queensland seeking work.  

It was in Mackay, Queensland that he met and married my mother, Janice Eileen de FRIEZ, in 1959 or 1960 - there is much debate about the actual year and my research hasn't yet resolved the debate! My mother fell in love with the "bad boy", I think :-)

He was a difficult man to live with, my dad.  At times happy, outgoing, and full of fun, he could also be moody, irritable, and disinterested in the daily activities of his children and wife.  I wonder whether, in today's world, his patterns would be diagnosed as either depression or bi-polar disorder.  But in my dad's world, men did not experience mental health issues, nor did they discuss them.  They simply carried on and toughed it out.

In later life, he suffered a number of physical health trials.  At age 50 (approx), one of his kidneys was removed because of cancer. At age 60 (approx), while cutting timber alone on a bush property, his left lower leg was crushed. The bone was not able to be repaired and instead a metal plate was attached between his knee and ankle. At age 75 (approx), cancer returned, attacking his prostate.  Dad refused treatment for the disease.  

He died on 24 January 2009 in the Mackay Base Hospital, at the age of 79, with his wife and daughters at his bedside.  He was cremated at the Newhaven Crematorium in Mackay on 27 January 2009.

And, despite the many difficulties of living with this man, I loved him.

So, my birthday - which will now always be the day after the anniversary of Dad's funeral - is a good day to say "thank you for everything, Dad. I love you and I miss you." 

1 comment:

  1. A great eulogy to your father. I agree that it sounds like depression or bipolar...we certainly didn't know these things and I now suspect my dad had depression as well. He sounds like a tough, resilient Aussie battler to me.