jenn jay tales

Jennifer Johnston shares her travel tales; life adventures; observations, photos and random thoughts

Farewell my beige Billy


Death is inevitable – we all know that.  But if you lose a family member, or friend what you’re not prepared for is the feelings that crop up in unpredictable moments. Subtle reminders the person who was once a part of your life is now no longer.

My father passed away in April this year after a few years of declining heath. It wasn’t from a debilitating disease like cancer where the loved ones suffer so unfairly. My father’s condition was never fully diagnosed, despite numerous visits to doctors and specialists. But he had a heart attack at age 41 and bowel cancer at 58 – so to make it to 82 years he’d actually done well!

Dad about 10 years ago

Unfortunately, his last few years were a constant stream of doctor’s visits with an endless number of pharmaceutical pills to swallow.  Whatever ailed my father caused him to have no energy.  The man who loved to “tinker” on projects around the house was reduced to endless hours in bed, zapped of the desire to do anything.  Without energy, finding breathing difficult due to a build-up of fluid on the lungs and with parts of his body covered in scaly red masses – possibly the result of one of his many medications – dad’s quality of life was low.

The word wretched seems fitting.

Understandably he was frustrated and cranky for a fair amount of those years. And after that kind of existence you know it is a blessing he isn’t suffering any more.

Hang on a sec 

But there are moments that stop you when you realise that person is no longer here on this earth. I can no longer talk to dad, hear his grumbles, be told another of his grand stories (he had a few) or sit in the same room as him and look into his brown eyes and update him with something uneventful.

After dad died, my brother, mum and I went through that inevitable process – sorting through his belongings. We smiled at the amount of beige coloured clothing items we removed from his wardrobe. Trousers, shirts, even an old hat – all various shades of boring beige.  What a drab colour I thought – for a man who was far from dull.

dad in his groovy gear – showing off the planes he made my boys

Dad’s special place

At mum and dad’s home there are reminders everywhere of my father. But whenever I venture downstairs – to the garage underneath their house and go to his work bench, where his tools are stored, that is where it really strikes me – my dad has gone.

his workbench

Looking at the piles of tools he’s used over the years, the shovels, grubbers, the saws hanging on the wall, the clean paint brushes standing upright, the assorted glass jars lining in rows their lids nailed to the floor joists (my Dad’s novel way of storing screws) – I’m surrounded by so many memories of my father. He’d often be at his work bench tinkering – fixing, recycling or creating some project.

Dad’s novel method to store screws and bolts

I pick up what appears to be the last project he’d been working on, the realisation hits me hard. My eyes well with tears at the thought my dad will never touch these things again. He’s now tinkering in a different place.

Gone but never forgotten – my tinkering, story-telling, fan of beige-coloured clothing Dad. It’s father’s day today in Australia. I felt I had to write something.

Dad and I – on holidays (some time ago!)

Happy father’s day Dad.  Miss you. xx

Author: Jenn Jay

JennJayTales was created as a place to share my writing. I share random blogs about activities of interest to me and maybe to you. Writing is a passion and there is nothing I enjoy more than meeting people and capturing their stories through my observations and words. As TRAVEL is a huge passion of mine, I've created a travel blog Please enjoy Jenn Jay Tales and if you consider my writing style as something your magazine, book, blog, on-line publication, website or business may be interested in, please let me know - I'm keen to write for you. Email me at

6 thoughts on “Farewell my beige Billy

  1. Beautiful words, condolences to you.
    I lost my Mum 3 weeks ago tomorrow. Like your Dad no cancer but a lung disease that slowly took her vitality away.
    The last two years I thought I had prepared very well for her to go and at times new animals would be treated more humanely than doctors treated her.
    I’m trying too deal with my grief looking for the grief for dummies manual, maybe there’s a book to write, or if it already hasn’t been published.

    • Vanessa – thank-you and very sorry to hear of your loss of your mum as well. Nothing really prepares you for losing a loved one. I guess the biggest takeaway is the memories we still have of them. There is so much written on grief, maybe too much. I just wanted to share this for myself and my dad, who I know understood how writing can be cathartic.

  2. What a beautiful post Jenn. Made me cry. It really does paint such a beautiful picture of your dad. Love the jars on the roof. I hope you got through the day ok. Xo

    • Thanks Daniela xx – I shed a few tears as I wrote it. And yes Dad and his jars – he had a few cooky things like that – very original, the things that make him unique.

      • Such a great idea. You’re right, it’s the little things like that which you miss. My dad was a bit of a nut too – one of my biggest regrets in life is that the other nutty man in my life – my husband – never got to meet him. Or my mother. 😦 ❤

  3. Nutty dads – there seems to be a few of them! Oh that is sad – when your new loved ones can’t meet your older loved ones. Life can be tough at times – that’s why its so important to take the photos and spend the time with them when you can – not get caught up on the “I’m too busy” treadmill. xx

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