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You were one of my first teachers, you were always ready to tell me about what was happening in the world, on the news, in the paper. I grew up with you arguing with others about politics, history, education......about almost anything really.
You never told me what to think but you always provided me with the the food for learning. The front room was my favourite place, its shelves of books full to bursting but still carefully ordered so that I could find what I wanted with a moments notice.
Above your place in the loungeroom were the shelves with my favourite books, the ones about fish and nature and above them the full collection of 101 tales of Arabian knights. A librarian would wonder why you placed them like that, but now that I am older, now I know you just loved so see me read, to see the wonder in my eyes as I looked at each of those pages.
Sometimes I would wander in your garden, enjoying the smell of flowers, finding beetles and bugs, tasting the fruit hanging from the many, many trees. You taught me how to chop wood efficiently, cutting with the grain, because you knew I would never be the biggest child, but I could be the craftiest.
And in the shed that was never locked you kept your tools, tools for every job imaginable, lathes, saws, hammers for smithing. lock picks, ratchets and chisels. Any tool I could ever need when I grew up and had to fix things for myself. Sometimes you would find me in there and tell me what they were for, show me the right way to hold them, to get the most from them.
You told me of your life, of your father and your father's father. Of what our family was, and what we had come to be. I learnt as much from your silence as your words. That some memories lay deep and that you were not ready to share them, because sharing would be reliving and some pain was buried deep.
You told me of the wars, of poverty, hardship and trials. You taught me about being self reliant, to never expect help but to offer it freely. To use what you take because it might not be there forever and should not be wasted.
You taught me to listen but never accept without question, that weakness is human but can be overcome, that pride should be restrained, that gloating is unseemly. You taught me that anger has consequence.
You taught me to be fair to others, to forgive even though people can be cruel. You taught me patience in enduring until I can succeed. I am sorry I have not always done so, I know I should have practised more when I was young.
You taught me time is limited, that all things must end, that not all of us get to choose the way of our passing. You taught me grief when I lost you, emptiness in the time afterwards, longing to see you one last time.
Thankyou Opa, I will remember you always.