wings and things

My dad’s birthday

on April 10, 2015

Today would have been my dad’s 94th birthday if he had lived. He died when my brothers and I were teenagers so he never saw any of our children who nevertheless know him as Granddad. My mother was only 43. Dad was only 57 and died in Intensive Care at the local hospital. He had been admitted having suffered two heart attacks and was recovering when he suffered a third fatal one. The shock and grief of that day is something I will never forget especially as I was on the other side of Australia at the time, in Sydney.

The following portrait was done of a photo taken of Dad a couple of years before he died. We all have the photo and the portrait and my youngest brother even has it tattooed on one of his arms.


Herbert Henry Brinsley Lane, who went by the name of Brinsley but was most often called Brin, was a tall, well-built man who had a presence. He was known for his eloquence and his strong silence, was not particularly gregarious, but very compassionate and generous. His love for my mother is the lens through which I remember my childhood.

He had a Charlie Chaplin way of standing which, as a child, I tried to imitate, and a habit of talking to himself when trying to figure anything out. A strict father, he taught us all manner of manners, especially table manners! But he was a gentle giant.

A radio announcer and high school teacher at Sydney Grammar School, Dad made the extraordinary decision in his early 40s to embark on chiropractic studies and thus began our travels – first to Canada (I was 8) where he completed his chiropractic degree, then to Papua New Guinnea (I was 12) to work as a chiropractor on a mission in the highlands, then to Western Australia (I was 15) where he set up a practice. He was a wonderful chiropractor and if patients couldn’t pay, he would accept milk or apples as payment.

Not long before he died, I was on the phone to him about how much I hated the college I was at in Sydney and, despite being a godly man he told me to come home and to tell the college people to “go to buggery!” Those were his last words to me, unforgettable in the way they still make me laugh, and cry, in that I didn’t make it home in time to see him alive for the last time. At the time of the phone-call, there was no indication that he was ill.

In my writing room, I often look up to my right at the portrait of my father and, underneath, a more recent one done of my mother.


Significantly, Dad approved of Anthony when nobody else did, including Anthony! After all, I was eighteen and Ants was 41. After Dad died, I went back to work for Anthony’s mother, Gar, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I often feel the presence of my dad: when I am having lunch with my mother; at family get-togethers; in the nursing home with Anthony; during moments of hysterical laughter with Ming; during those unexpected moments of intense grief; and when I accidentally speak with my mouth full. Sometimes I imagine that Dad is there/here with me/with us, smiling proudly.

Happy birthday, Dad.

51 responses to “My dad’s birthday

  1. Meg says:

    His love for you kids knew no bounds. Oh how he would have ,loved the 11 grandkids, if only he’d lived to see them.

  2. Happy Birthday Brin!
    A lovely tribute to your dad, Jules. ❤
    Diana xo

  3. Special thoughts for a special Father… Diane

  4. I can’t imagine not having my dad around, and yes I know I am super lucky to have such a great father, your tribute to your dad is great and I can tell from reading this how much he meant to you

  5. susanpoozan says:

    What a wonderful dad he must have been, you were so lucky.

  6. mimijk says:

    Loving thoughts with you today – and everyday Jules..

  7. Happy Your Dad’s Birthday Julie. What a lovely gift of a dad he was for you to remember him, love him, and have him with you still. Beautiful! I love the portraits.

  8. Beautiful. How we love our dads!

  9. That was beautiful Jules 🙂 Hugs xx

  10. Rhonda says:

    Beautiful birthday tribute to an obviously cherished man. Those portraits are an absolute family treasure. Thinking of you dear friend, hoping your day was filled with happy memories of a happy man and father…xoxo

    • jmgoyder says:

      I was actually thinking about you and your dad when I wrote this, knowing how you know what it feels like xxx

      • Rhonda says:

        And your beautiful post made me think of him too, especially the talking to himself when trying to figure anything out…I had to laugh because that is such a vivid memory of mine too…xoxo

  11. Beautiful homage to your dad. His face looks warm and loving. Love my dad also. ❤

  12. jensine says:

    and I am sure he is!

  13. Trisha says:

    This is such a lovely tribute to your dad. He sounds like a wonderful man. Happy birthday to him!

  14. ksbeth says:

    and he is indeed with you still, jules. what a wonderful tribute –

  15. Tiny says:

    A beautiful tribute! I am sure he’s still there every time you feel him.

  16. This was a lovely post about your dad. I really felt his presence.

  17. This is a lovely tribute to your Dad.
    I also can’t thank you enough for sharing this. I lost my Dad just over a year ago and while I feel his presence like you explained and am still a bit more lost in my grief, but it gives me hope for the future. My Dad shared quite a few traits your Dad and I can only imagine how wonderful having him as your father was based on my own experience with mine. I pray for happy blessed family gatherings with your loved ones, that you are blessed by your Dad’s presence, and that the happy memories and feelings surround you.

  18. Sweet recollections!

  19. Judy says:

    That is such a beautiful drawing – your words and that picture brought your dad to life. Even with his early death, he influenced your life in such profound ways. I know he’s always with you. So sorry for all the grief you, your mother and family
    suffered with – losing him before he had a chance to grow old. Such a loss!

  20. My Heartsong says:

    I feel like I got to know your father-thanks for sharing. They are two lovely photos of your parents.

  21. lensgirl53 says:

    Julie, your father would be proud of you. He was a wonderful and handsome man. Thank you for sharing your father with us. I know I have told you this but you look so much like your beautiful mom. Hugs.

  22. Lynda says:

    You’ve made me smile today, Julie.
    Love you!
    ~ L

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