Tuesday, 3 November 2015

...No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share

That quote is part of Grey's Elegy. I have chosen that for a title because I know of one little girl who has lost her father this past year. I know her mother found her hugging his picture and sobbing at 3 AM in he morning.... something a 10 year old should not have to experience!

Terrance Murray Lewis Jnr was my friend....

And I have written about him on other parts of this blog when we were young.. a long time ago.

On New Year's Eve in 1970 I was standing outside the Pearson family home in Bardon when I was introduced to Terry Lewis. He was tall at a tad over 6 feet and wore a wool cap. For some reason he reminded me of Mike Nesmith of the Monkeys. We were planning what mischief we might get up to on that particular night... and he and I just clicked!

Our youth consisted of many Friday nights at the Lennon's Pacesetters Disco at the original Lennons in George Street, drive in movies with any girls we might be dating at the time and Sundays spent at Lakeside or Surfer's Paradise Raceways.

I even dragged him into the Ford car Club of Queensland in the early 70s.

And then one day in late 1975, (around 40 years ago this month in fact) he introduced me (purely by accident) to my future wife... so he wasn't perfect.. but he was a great mate.

We grew up from our teens to our twenties, spent a week in Fiji together, got married, got divorced and got remarried. Me to the wonderful Debra and Terry to a not so wonderful lady from the Orient. But.. she had a small daughter and Terry loved her. And she loved him right back.

But in between those two marriages Terry had a great life. Management in the Westfield organisation, his own rally car and support team and all the time.. we were mates. Sometimes we might not see each other for 3 months.. and when we caught up.. it was as though we had seen each other just yesterday.

When Terry Lewis Snr was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons... most of Terry's friends deserted him. I wrote to him (as he wasn't taking any calls) and said we were still mates and he should come visit.

And come visit he did for around 3 months as his marriage was a bit strained at the time. We had a good time at my bachelor pad at Albion. (The former matrimonial home of the Bell-Taylors as the lawyers called it) Lots of loud music, John Mellencamp comes to mind, lots of wine and lots of good food from our kitchen.

And then he was gone again.. reunited with his wife.

Which was just as well as it was around this time that I met the lovely Debra... and ... well... three's a crowd.

The last couple of years had not been kind to Terry. His not so wonderful Oriental wife left and took him to the cleaners.. and he found work near impossible to find.

But worst of all.... his health failed him big time.

Terry was diagnosed with diabetes around 8 years ago and did it knock him around. To be honest smoking a large pack of fags every day didn't help him. He ended up living in the tiniest studio apartment I have ever seen. We would have him for dinner regularly and we would always send him home with a mountain of left over food to help him out.

His life continued to go south, car repossessed and virtually nothing to live on. His brother Michael (we always called him Tony) helped him out with cash hand outs as did Debra and I when we could.

Finally, he developed Charcot's Ankle, a complication of diabetes and he could no longer drive. The day he saw the orthopaedic surgeon, I collected him from the hospital and took him home. When he got into my car with his walking stick, I asked him how he got on with the Doctor.

"I'm fucked!!" was his brutal reply.

We stopped in and bought milk and coffee and headed back to his place.  As we settled into a coffee together like we used to do over 40 years ago late at night on his parent's rear deck at 3 in the morning, he said to me.. "They're going to cut my lower leg off! Shit!"

Terry knew my late father was a below the knee amputee and asked me a couple of questions about prosthetic limbs.. I know nothing to be honest. But I did assure him that we would be there to support him along with all of his family. Well.. those with whom he had a relationship. This was also a bit strained too.

A couple of weeks later in March this year, Friday the 13th actually, Debra is having a girls weekend away and I am on my own for the weekend. As she was leaving, Deb asked me my plans. I told her I would buy an enormous pizza, take it to Terry and we would have dinner.. he could freeze the left overs.

So I rang Terry.. no answer.. just voicemail. Not an uncommon thing. I rang him again.. no answer.. same story.

Later that night as I was getting ready for bed, my computer sounded the old "You've got mail" tone. And there was an email from Tony, Terry's brother. He had not been able to get in touch with him.. he was worried. So we both agreed I would go and check on him in the morning.

Sleep did not come easy.. what if Terry was very sick? Tomorrow might be too late.

Out of bed, dressed and into the Holden and away I go.

And as I drove.. I somehow knew what I would find.

Looking through the screen door, I could just make out that Terry was sitting in the dark in his flat in a big chair in front of a fan to keep cool.

"Hey you slack prick, why don't you answer your phone?" I called out.

But Terry did not answer me.

I found a torch app for my iPhone and shone it through the screen door.

And there was Terry.. sitting in that big chair..... and deceased.

And he had been for a few days it would appear.

No.. "This cannot be right", the words whirled through my brain... I rang Tony and as I tried to tell him, the tears came.. as usual for me.

A lot of family drama has occurred in Terry's family since that night I found my mate of over 44 years dead in his big chair.

And I will not air them all here, some are too outrageous to publish, except his ex accusing me of masterminding his death. Sent me an accusing text when we were in New York this year.

But apart from all of that banal rubbish, two things stand out for me.

A small girl has lost her dad.. and I have lost my mate.

Terry Lewis was my friend...... and I miss him every day!