This song saddens and inspires me at the same time. It may add something to the memories while reading.
Happy Birthday Brother.
Well it’s September. Traditionally a happy and exciting time of year for me.
The bloom of spring and that subtle, inviting warmth of the outdoors beckoned. The city was abuzz with the excitement of finals football.
Grand final day traditionally used to fall on my birthday or on the weekend of.
For as long as I remember, finals football meant exhilarating times for me.
Remember when we first went to the footy together? Dad took us to see Eagles vs Hawthorn. The ground felt epic in proportions. Everything a little surreal. The stands felt SO high. And you and I stood for that whole game and yelled at Johnny Platten to cut his hair.
We were never meant to win that day. Hawthorn were an absolute powerhouse with the likes of Platten, Buckenara, ‘Derm the Worm’, Tuck and ‘Dipper’.
But somehow our mob of Glendinning, Keene, Lamb, Lewis and Malaxos had managed to take it up to them. We held a very narrow lead late in the final quarter before Brereton took a mark late on in the forward pocket.
Dad said it was over and we had to go. We pleaded with him to stay but he was gutted and there was no convincing him. We trudged miserably behind him and as we exited the stadium, a huge roar went up.
As we got back to the car we switched the radio on. Apparently Brereton had missed! We listened and cheered as we hung on for a giant defeating 1 point victory.
I remember that next day. I wore my ‘I’m an Eagles Fanatic’ badge with glowing pride.
And every game after that I just expected us to win. Every week. It was rarely the case in those early days, but how I looked forward to those weekends. To the game. To the expected elated feeling of a West Coast victory.
And I’d mope around the rest of the day heartbroken any time we’d get done.
I don’t think that you went for the Eagles through and through after that. You were a Melbourne fan and if my memory serves me right, one of your favourite players was Shaun Wight. He was big, hard and nuggetty just like you. Also taken before his time.
I remember the sunny month’s where we spent all of our time together down in Ravenslea Drive. We didn’t have alot but we made do with what we had.
Penalty shots out the back with our overused soccer ball. It always went over the fence. You once hit our miserable neighbour, Mrs Grose and she came around and whined again. Imagine that, a grumpy neighbour called Mrs Grose. We didn’t even need a nickname for her. The perfection of it all!
We played baseball out the back with that old wooden bat. We burst into uproarious laughter as you lumped one of my pitches over 2 houses and off into the nether. After the laughter wore down it would be a melancholy mood as we tried to work out how to retrieve our one and only ball. We kicked the footy relentlessly. We climbed trees. We played cricket that day with a broomstick as a bat and the letterbox as wickets out the front.
Fast forward years and it was parties with our mates. Booze, girls and summer times at the beach after a few cheeky buckets. Sunny, seedy Thursdays down at the Rivo with the skimpies and the sparkling days of backyard cricket in Bosio’s pool. Man he used to lose his shit when you raided the lollies in his pantry!
And then you were gone.
And I had to try and find a way to fill the void. A gaping void. A missing part of me that I never can get back. The joy and the happiness and the laughter. The camaraderie. Replaced with the regret if all those times I let you down. The times when I should have been a big brother and fought for you. When that guy threatened you on New Years eve and you asked to come and fight him. But I told you it wasn’t worth it.
When you peaked off that night afterwards because you said I let you down.
But I was never a fighter Adam. I hated it.
I was a stupid drunk and got hit a few times. But I hated fighting.
Then once it all got too much and I had to fight this other guy. You were there to see it and he got taught a lesson but the next day I hated myself. He pushed me to it. You probably wondered why I would fight that guy but not fight someone for you.
Being a ‘tough guy’ in our group was what it was all about. However, I hated it.
But Adam if you were here now, I’d fight for you.
I’m a man now Adam, no longer a boy. But if you asked me to fight for you, god dammit I would. I’d go in all guns blazing and screw the cuts and bruises, I wouldn’t freaking stop until you knew, brother, I had your back.
I was always on your side. I hate myself for the times I let you down. I despise the thought that you felt you were without my protection.
And I guess, since that day, Spring had always been different for me. Still beautiful and warm – just not that warm.
I wouldn’t allow it to warm my heart because accepting happiness would mean it was OK that you were gone.
And it will never be OK.
So I’d prepare myself for defeat and be a cynic. Accept that the worst might happen and still strive for the best, being pleasantly surprised with a positive outcome.
But your mate spoke to me the other day. Adrian asked me if I thought we could beat the Hawks. Adrian who was with you that night when you didn’t want to be with your brother who failed you.
And I said I didn’t think so. I didn’t think that we had the experience.
He looked and me and he said ‘Rosssscooooo. Are you are believer?’
And that hurt too. Because, you know what? I used to be. I was always a helpless optimist.
And recently I’d been getting there. Not letting negative thoughts be my creators.
So I watched the Eagles with hope. They were amazing. I was so proud. I was so moved by the courage they showed. Their lack of fear and their determination.
And that’s the present I offer to you today my brother.
My commitment to happiness. My commitment to the best case scenario. My expectation that joy is all I deserve and the determination to bring that to my girls and my family.
And I’ll fight for that happiness. Like a dog. Because if there’s one way people might describe me these days, it’s a dog with a bone.
I’ll hang on to our memories, our happiness, for dear life. I’ll let your niece’s birthday be the reminder of the joy of September and the joy you brought to my life. Both your nieces already know you.
I’ll fight those regrets and those blues away.
And all through my happiness, I will carry you with me.
When the day of inevitable sadness comes again, so be it. Because the joy and the happiness, the ride, the warmth – will have been more than worth it.
And it’s the worthiest way that I can think of to honour you.
I love you mate.
I miss you so much. My tears flow easily now as I write this. I’m proud of the way I shed them for you.
I hope that wherever you are, you are happy. In fact, screw that I know it!
Come on Eagles. You can do this!
Good luck Dockers, if it’s your time, let it be!
As my mate Olivia said. It’s time to celebrate football in WA. These are truly exciting and exhilarating times!
I look forward to the ride.
And I fully intend to enjoy…
all of these coming, bright sunny days.
PS. I hope that you liked the picture – I named it ‘Sour-faced Kelly.jpeg’ for you.
Also here are some other photos of just some of the busted ass mates that miss you. Brock = Absolute knobend 🙂