Remembering Dad and Poppy

Three years ago I lost the most important person in shaping who I am today: my father.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish he was here to help guide me and to watch my three daughters grow. They didn’t know him for long – they were 5, 3 and six months when he passed, aged 64 – but they adored him, and the impact that he had in that short time will shape them forever.

He was, like my husband, a very hands-on dad. He even coached my netball team and drove my sister and I around the Victorian countryside most winter weekends so that we could participate in netball tournaments. He didn’t know much about netball in the beginning but his love of sport in general soon took over.

We always loved that Dad had such a keen interest, even if we weren’t playing football like our brother. Having three girls, this is something that my husband is already getting used to, although women’s football is having a great impact on our girls.

He took his role as ‘Poppy’ equally as seriously as he did being a dad. He loved reading his copy of Black Beauty that was his as a child to all his grandkids, not to mention the famous “Poppy-Kiss” that the kids still re-enact today: he would pretend he was going to give them a normal kiss goodbye and then give them a big raspberry on their face!

It didn’t matter what you needed if you asked him for help he was there in a heartbeat. Once, when we were travelling around Australia, one of our girls was flown from Broome to Perth Children’s Hospital with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Without asking Dad had booked a flight from Melbourne to Perth to look after our eldest, Sophie, so my husband and I could both be at the hospital.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish he was here to help guide me and to watch my three daughters grow.

A life member of Cobram’s football and tennis clubs, he loved nothing more than being involved and helping people. He was well known for his ability to get the job done, and, more importantly, his sense of humour. This was best captured in the annual players’ review that he produced – a highlight of the social calendar – and the weekly column he wrote for his beloved Cobram Tigers in the Murray League’s Weekender ‘footy record’ for more than 20 years. While all the other clubs had standard commentary from the previous week’s games, dad’s contributions were comically crafted masterpieces that were loved by not only Cobram’s members, but league officials, opposition teams and even the local printer who always set aside 20 minutes to enjoy dad’s latest yarn before putting together that weekend’s publication.

He was forever the practical joker, placing for-sale signs on friends’ houses, moving their clothes lines when they went on holidays, and Christmas at our neighbour’s house would not have been the same without dad’s annual – and always unannounced – bomb in their pool.

He did not care for materialistic things. For his birthdays and Christmas, he would ask us to pick a child in our community that needed help and donate to their fund. One year I remember him asking for a sleeping bag. When we laughed at why he would need a sleeping bag he simply replied: “No, the kind of sleeping bags that you donate to the homeless.”

The wedding picture above is my favourite all-time photo.  You would think that it was set-up but it wasn’t; I just had an amazing photographer who was able to capture how special this day was. I think that expression on both of our faces says it all. Dad was not an emotional man – he never actually said he loved you but said “same, same” instead – but would rather show his love through actions and comical speeches at 21sts, 30ths and weddings.

Dad was the first person that I called when I needed advice.  Not that he ever gave you a direct answer to your problems; more that he would work through all of the possible scenarios and let you decide for yourself. Even now, more than a thousand days on, when I need help making a decision I still find myself thinking, “I’ll just ring dad” – then I remember that I can’t.

But I take comfort in the knowledge that, through dad’s legacy and my amazing husband, my girls will have had some pretty amazing male role models.

Emma Boyd (nee Meehan) is an Echuca-based mum of three girls.


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