Uncle Paddy

Oct. 3rd, 2015 05:57 pm
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[personal profile] lishesquex

I went to the beach today with my mum and my aunt because it was a beautiful spring day. On the drive home, I found out that Uncle Paddy had passed away in 2013. It came as a shock to me because nobody had told me. I'm a little upset that nobody told me because I'd been close to him when I was little. 

Uncle Paddy was my Irish-Australian uncle-in-law who was the closest thing to a regular dad figure I had when I was growing up. (My actual father doesn't count as a dad figure because he never did anything except put food on the table). Uncle Paddy took me camping, took the time to explain things to me, and helped me with school projects.  I remember sitting on his shoulders during the street carnival that would happen in Mornington every year around Christmas. He took me on the giant slide and even went up with me.

I remember finding a toffee recipe in a library book, once, when I was staying at their place.  I wanted to make toffee but we didn't have all the ingredients and was ready to give up on the whole idea. But he was like "we can still make it... let's just pop down to the shops to pick up the ingredients." And I remember being totally astonished because my parents would never have ever made a deliberate trip to the shops just so I could make something.

I remember when I was in Grade 1 or 2 and I mentioned at the dinner table that the kids at school would call me "ching chong". And he was all fired up and ready to go kick some butts.

I also remember being upset and wanting to cry because he was a really tough teacher and would yell at me when I couldn't spell "Sydney" right. (After that I never forgot that a consonant could stand in for a vowel sound.)

He defended me when my parents said I read too much useless stuff like Greek mythology, because he knew it had cultural capital.

He used to call Xin "long tall Sally" or something, hah.

Uncle Paddy wasn't perfect either. He hated everything Japanese because his father had been killed in WWII as a pilot fighting the Japanese.  He even objected when I bought a Toyota car, and he never particularly liked that Kitteh was half Japanese Bobtail. In fact, he didn't much like cats at all and thought the best way to dispose of extra kittens was to put them in a sack with rocks and drown them in the dam on his farm. 

I remember saying once, when I was 9 or 10 and probably just beginning to deal with my own queerness, that I didn't like Elton John (we were on a long car trip and Elton John was playing) and my aunt kept asking me why, to which I would shrug and say "just because". And Uncle Paddy was like "is it because he's a fag? I don't like him either".

We lost touch after my aunt moved to Singapore for her job, and then they eventually divorced. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to go to his funeral though.

Date: 2015-10-04 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reiexnihilo.livejournal.com
What a relationship! I can't actually hold all that in my head at once.

I dunno if it's fair to ask, but what about yourself now do/can you attribute to having known known him? (Apart from spelling Sydney and related.)

Date: 2015-10-04 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lishesque.livejournal.com
I think it's just developed my older-person-of-that-era empathy? It humanises the attitudes/behaviours that he had.

He was also a Vietnam War veteran and I remember interviewing him for a school project once. All my questions were coming from the perspective that the war was a bad thing, and he answered in a way that made me understand that a lot of the soldiers who went there didn't (and still don't) think it was a mistake. And it was a shock to me at the time, but now it's obvious that he would have a different perspective on it.


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