Saturday, 4 February 2012

My dad is awesome and my inspiration!

Well tonight I decided to get some more added to my blog since the weekend is going to be busy.  Have to finish rearranging my furniture and the spring cleaning, and also the weather is supposed to be great for this time of year, so I am off for a ride in the morning.
I found that the place where I am going to look at tyres for my bike, has a Suzuki Gladius for sale.  Im excited but not sure that I can pull off buying a new bike just yet.

Since I started writing a little bit about myself and my family, I thought I just had an ordinary life if somewhat a little boring.  But from the kinds words of those following my blog, I am inspired to write a little more.  I wanted to tell you about my dad this time.  Thinking about my dad brings a smile to my face.  I miss my dad a lot, I left NZ to settle in Canada 24 yrs ago, and in that 24 yrs I managed to get back to NZ two times.  Christmas 1999 for my brothers wedding with my kids & my then husband. And the second time Christmas  of 2010, I won  a trip home for  Christmas.  My dad and I are very close and I am a lot like my dad in temperament.  Calm and easy going.

My dads story starts a long time ago - before I was born and up until I was 5 yrs old.  My dad at that point in life was in a band and travelled a lot around NZ.  The band was called the Harmonikiwis.  There was two brothers and my dad.  My dad played a triple decker harmonica and a double harmonica that was about 3 feet long and also a regular sized one as well.  They did very well, played on the radio and also cut a record.  They were meant to move to Australia and tour around there as well, but they all decided to just stay in NZ and the band folded.  I remember when I was 5yrs old coming home from school to hear my dads band playing on the radio!  It was a cool experience.

A few years later my dad decided to take up speedway racing and spent many years in the speedway organization as a racer & president of the Kihi Kihi speedway that is still running and racing today.  Dad built his own cars.  These cars were called TQ's or three quarter midgets.  They used motorbike engines from Triumph, BSA, Norton & JAP to name a few.
Every weekend mum would pack up a huge picnic lunch and dad would load the midget onto the trailer, then we all loaded into the car and we traveled hours every saturday to get to the speedway for racing.   The first car dad built did not have the roll cage like this yellow one.  They started off with a roll bar that was lower than your head!
Here to the left is the second stage before the roll cages.  These roll bars where higher than the head.
Then eventually they mandated roll cages as above.
So after a number of years racing dad decided it was getting too expensive to continue on without a sponsor and for one season drove another car for a Suzuki Dealership.

 Dad won many trophies as a driver and was very good at getting around that dirt track drifting in the corners.
My dad was a mechanic, he could fix any kind of vehicle and worked on motorbikes right through to cattle trucks, from mechanical thru to electrical to actually making or creating parts.
Since I was the only girl in the family, I could always get dad to fix my car or my scooter and of course my 3 brothers always thought it unfair as he wouldnt fix theirs.  He always told them to learn and fix it themselves!  haha of course I was spoilt by dad.
After dad gave up speedway, he took up another hobby - building and flying scale model remote control airplanes.  He love his planes and spent a lot of time with this hobby, we all used to pile in the car and go out with him and watch him fly his planes.  It was great fun. The picture below here the plane had a little accident and went through the hedge leaving the wings on one side and the body through on the other side. haha
Dad kept up this hobby for a number of years until he unfortunately had eye sight problems, a speck of glaucoma in one eye right in his centre vision.  Made flying planes a problem as he would lose sight of them which resulted in some crashes and had to give this hobby up.
It was about this time in our lives that it was discovered that my mum had breast cancer.  A very tough and traumatic time for my whole family.  Dad was extremly stressed while this was happening and not knowing what could happen.  Also during this time, the older of my three brothers used to ride trail bikes and was always out riding trails in the forests.  During one of these rides with his buddies, he hit a wash out over the crest of a hill and went over that handle bars and broke his neck.  He became a paraplegic this day. My brother had a bit of dad in him too and was so determined to get a car have it converted to hand controls, that he never had time to go through any of the "7 depression stages" that the doctor told us he would go through.

The next hobby dad got into was rebuilding and restoring motorbikes.
He started because he was always helping the boys with their motorX bikes as they were always going somewhere every weekend racing and then come home and need dad to help them get their bikes back in shape for their next races.
Dad was also working as a Mazda and Suzuki dealership mechanic.  Through out this period of time and up until he retired he was riding and restoring bikes at home after work and on weekends.

Above was a parade in my home town of Te Awamutu where they displayed the vintage bikes.  Dad and his favourite BSA are in the lead here.

Throughout this later part in his working life my dad got pretty sick and in the end when finally given the right diagnosis, had colitis, which resulted in dad having a colostomy.  This has been a disease that has given dad so much trouble in his life from many surgeries to get it right, to cross matching his blood in one surgery and almost killing him.  Dad has been in and out of hospital so many time with this disease, that we have all lost track.

So in between hospital stays, dad has kept up his riding, kept working and always kept a fantastic attitude.  No point worrying about it just keep on going.

While my dad worked as a mechanic at the dealership, he was lucky to be able to have his boss employ my middle brother to be dads apprentice mechanic.  They worked very well together and my brother passed his exams and became a mechanic working with dad as well.
One friday night just as work was ending, dads boss had some reason to get mad at my brother Wayne.
That weekend, two of my brothers packed up their bikes and headed to Rotorua for motoX racing.  When they got there, the racing had been cancelled because of the rain and the tracks were not rideable.  The boys headed home.  Unfortunatly, they didnt make it back.  They were involved in a head on collison and my brother Wayne, dads apprentice mechanic, died instantly in that accident.

My dad had to identify him.......that must have been the hardest thing my dad ever had to do.  I dont want to dwell on this, but from it - my dad told me he had a change of heart and they way he looked at life.  He said to me, that after Wayne died, he realized theres not point being mad about things, you might as well enjoy life because you never know when it can be taken from you.  He also told me that his boss, an old family friend, to this day was upset that he had lost his temper with my brother and that the last time he ever saw him, he had been yelling at him.  This is something I have learned from - to remember that what you say or do to a person should always be kind because you never know if its the last thing you say or do with this person.  I was not in NZ at this time and was not there to help my family.  I had just had a baby and was not able to travel.

Dad continued his riding and restoring - making lots of friends and taking road trips with his buddies all the time.  He joined vintage motorcycle groups and was having a good time.  One day when he was out riding on his own, he was t boned by a car.  Dad was in the right on the main road and as usual, a car driver didnt look and pulled out right into my dad.  Below is the bike dad was riding when he was hit.

Dad was wearing full leathers and didnt get a scratch, but after he got up and called an ambulance and he walked to the ambulance to be taken to the hospital for a check up - they discovered from the xrays, that he too had broken his neck.  Dad the ended up in surgery to put him in a halo - the sort that is screwed into your head.  In fact his doctor told him he was extremely luck.  He had the same kind of broken neck that Christopher Reeve had (Superman) and that kind of break goes either of two way, quadriplegic like Christopher or walk away like my dad.  So his walking away left him in a halo for 9 months, then months of physical therapy.

My dad always kept up his humor, telling me how whenever he went near electrical things that he got a buzz in his head, how when it got cold he would drape a towel over the halo and create his own personal tent, because the cold air made the steel rods going into his head cold which travelled right into his head giving him headaches!! haha - yes he thought this was funny too.
So of course during this year, he could ride his bikes, couldnt work on his bikes and totally missed being able to do anything.  Mainly watched tv and he could get comfortable in bed, spent most of his time in his arm chair.

So when the day finally came that the halo was off and the therapy was done so he could turn his head properly, and the doctor reluctantly gave him permission to ride again, he did.  He had a wonderful week or two of riding, and the worst happened.  He came home from a ride, sat down to watch some tv and thought that the tv was broken.  But dad had had a little spot of macular degeneration, and this day it had suddenly sprung a leak and he became blind just like that.  What a devastating blow to dad, after all this and he then became blind.

But once again, my dad is not to be kept down for long, once he became comfortable with his legal blindness, he had a slight amount of vision in the lower quadrant of his eyes.  He also told me its like looking into a thick fog where everything is gone.  He got right back into working with his hands, he kept restoring and fixing motorbikes by feel and with his hands.

 Above here is dad replacing something in the starter motor???? on the bike he had kept there just for me to ride when I went back there in December 2010.

And another note to shock you all - my dad keeps his baby - his fully restored BSA motorbike out at a friends private grassed airstrip.  He knows that airstrip like the back of his hand.  Yes you guessed it.  He gets taken out there and he rides his BSA around the airstrip as often as he can when mum doesnt know!! haha.  If you would like to see my dad riding his bsa while blind, I am inserting a link to my youtube page.
Let me know if the link doesnt work for you - I hope it does.  And yes he got in a lot of trouble from mum when she saw this video I took because he didnt have his helmet on.  Oh dear....he just said he likes to feel the wind through his hair. :) haha

So everyone, this is the story of my dad, my hero whom I love very much and miss so much.  I have lived more than half my life in Canada now and even though my kids have all left home and one daughter lives in New Zealand in the town of Te Awamutu where mum and dad live, I cant just move back there to live as my adult life has been here.  I feel guilty and wish there was a way to be able to be in two places, but I cant.  But I have discovered my love of motorbikes and riding.  And I have made some wonderful new friends that I know are only going to become better and better friends as we start sharing the motorcycle parts of our lives.

My dad does have a tiny bit of vision that he manages to be able to use a computer with a special program on it.  He loves getting emails, he has a youtube account and a facebook page.  I email him and I send the text a little bigger than normal and white text on black, then he manages to read it.  Yes he has learnt to use the computer, use a video camera, and to skype.  He amazes me more and more.

In December 2011 dad finally got into hospital again after waiting 3 yrs for a hernia operation.  The hernia came about from all his surgeries he has had over the years.  Surgery went well, but afterwards lots of issues with healing.  He got home mid january, was home a few days, back in hospital because some thing was closing up the shouldnt, so more surgery, back home, then back to hospital because the surgery site was leaking - yup back into hospital for massive amounts of antibiotics.  He is still there now, mum says he is getting better.
I hope that he is finally on the mend so that he can get home and start to enjoy life as much as he can.

Now just another note, I will of course start writing some more about me and then onto my daily trials and tribulations of a kiwi transplanted in Canada and of my riding adventures - mum and dad are also dealing with the fact that last year mum discovered that she has cancer again - a different on to last time but similar.  While dad is in hospital she is visiting him every day and also going for chemotherapy.

And to conclude this book long blog...........throughout all this adventure in my dads part of life - he inspires me because you cant keep him down.  He says to me that he has changed since my brother was killed, but I always tell him - he was always my inspiration and was always a tough old buggar - this is what he calls himself. The human spirit is undefeatable in my dad - I just wish for him that the rest of his retirement, can be uneventful so he can relax.

Thank you all for reading this and if there is anyone who would like to get to know dad or even email him - let me know.  I hope no one is feeling down after reading this because please be inspired by him.  I am.  Dad is only 76 yrs old.  He has a sharp mind and a quick wit - makes me laugh all the time.
Take care everyone and good night.  Thanks for reading.

I hope this blog wasnt too long, but I just couldnt stop once I got started.


  1. Your family has been through so much and yet keep such a sunny outlook. Your Dad is an inspiration.

    I hope he gets well soon and all is well with your mum. Only 2 flights back in 24 years must be hard. Good thing we have the internet now. It keeps people a little closer.

    Oh, and the Gladius can be a fun ride. Not so good for rough forestry roads, but fun just the same.

  2. The word "hero" is used way too much these days to describe ordinary people being doing ordinary jobs. I personally don't consider firemen, policemen, paramedics or even military personnel heroes, these are people who choose a career and get paid very well to do what they do.
    The title "hero" belongs to extraordinary people who do extraordinary things not by choice but circumstances beyond their control and persevere through traumatic events, overcome obstacles and keep going while remaining humble, grateful and inspiring others. Your dad has earned the respect and honour of the title. Your dad is a hero and an inspiration, thank you for sharing.

  3. A man to write a book about. Someone who always gets back on his feet. Admirable and a real role model.

  4. An inspiring read. Perhaps next time I shoud visit him on my trumphy!. I enjoy reading stories such as thses.

  5. Deb:

    Oh Deb, thanks for sharing your life. Your family seems to have had more than enough tragedy, hope that it's smooth sailing from now on. Your Dad is an inspiration for all of us to admire

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Deb - I agree with what Troubadour said about your dad being a true hero. If people could only see what is beyond their immediate pain and grief the world would be a better place. You are a lot like your dad, you are strong in spirit and heart and you are an inspiring person. You get out there and live life and keep going. You are a strong spirit and one many can learn from. I am glad to count you among my friends. XO Dar

  7. Trobairitz, Troubadour, SonjaM, Raftnn, bobskoot and Dar, thank you so much for your kind words....he really is an inspiration. But everyone has it in them to be like this too - the human spirit is a strong force and if you can reach inside yourself to use it - the world is your oyster and you can do anything you want. I have a few sayings that I believe...., if you want something bad enough you can make it happen (without breaking the law of course haha) make the most out of any situation, and always give and my favourite "what will be will be"

    Trobairitz - you are right the internet is great because we can skype and see and hear each other.

    Troubadour - you too are right in that its the quiet hero's that are the real hero's...thank you

    SonjaM - I wonder if I could write a book - there are many things in his life that are just as interesting like the time he was working on building a canal and dug up a complete pertified tree!!

    Raftnn - You should visit him if you get the chance - I know he would love the visit. Then pop down to the local pub and meet my daughter who is a bartender there.

    bobskoot - thanks Bob, he is everything I aspire to be...

    Dar - thanks for those words of encouragement, I enjoy being around you too because you brighten my day and any room you enter. Motorcycling is a great bond between friends eh?