10 October 2015

Final Resting Places: - Ronald Herbert English

Sitting high above the township on Crawford Road, just outside of the small Southland town of Mataura, sits the Mataura Cemetery. It is a very quiet place, with the only noise being the occasional passing of a car or farm tractor, or the bleating of a lamb from the surrounding paddocks.

Block 5, plot 185 in this quiet, peaceful cemetery is the final resting place for a person who long ago meant the absolute world to me. My eyes would light up when he walked into the room ….. I wanted to go everywhere with him ….. and I often waited along at the corner of our street for him to finish work so I could walk home with him. 

But all too soon this childhood love was over. I had only just turned seven when my dad, Ronald Herbert ENGLISH, died unexpectedly. My dad is now resting peacefully in block 5, plot 185 in the Mataura Cemetery, a place where I still frequently go to visit him, just to talk to him and feel close to him once again. 

My dad with his older brother Evan
(please click on image to enlarge)
Dad was born in Mataura in December 1941 and spent his whole life in the town. He was the second son of Bob and Lizzie (nee RENSHAW) ENGLISH and he had one older sibling, my uncle Evan. Dad was educated at the local primary school and then continued on to Gore High School, where upon leaving school he ventured to the local freezing works, one of the main employers in the town, to seek employment. The boss at the freezing works was a friend of my grandparents and he told my dad that he would not employ him in the freezing works as he had too good a brain for that, but instead offered him a job in the company office, which my dad accepted.

In March 1968 my dad married my mother, Maureen EGAN, the eldest daughter of Doris and Jack EGAN. My mother was a primary school teacher and her father Jack was the principal of the local primary school. In the years that followed my parents were blessed with three children; firstly Stephen, then myself, and later on Julie arrived on the scene too. And my parents were happy. 

As was the norm in the 1960’s and 70’s, Mum stayed home to look after the children while Dad continued to work at the freezing works. In his spare time Dad loved to go duck-shooting or fishing, he loved to play rugby, tennis or golf, he loved gardening and harness racing, and he particularly enjoyed spending time out on the farm of his good friend Barrie Cullen who lived just outside of Mataura on Terrace Road.

My dad with my older brother Stephen
(please click on image to enlarge)
After many years in the freezing works office Dad did finally venture into the actual processing part of the freezing works to work, and at the time of my birth his occupation is listed on my birth certificate as wool-pullers assistant. But he wasn’t content with just “working on the chain”, a term used locally to refer to those working along the production line at the freezing works. He had aspirations of going higher so went away to Lincoln College and re-trained, this time as a meat inspector. When he came back he was employed by M.A.F. (the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) to work at the Mataura freezing works as one of their meat inspectors.

Life was once again back to normal for our family and as much as I can remember from back then, we were a normal, very happy family. But all too soon life was to change and our quiet happy life would be shattered.

My dad, Ronald Herbert ENGLISH
(please click on image to enlarge)
Dad began to experience frequent severe headaches and upon seeking medical treatment was sent for a brain scan. And when the results of the scans and the tests came back our world was turned upside down. Dad had a brain tumour !!! 

But it was soon discovered that the brain tumour was a secondary cancer and the source of the cancer was actually his kidneys. A double blow !!!  Because I was so young at the time I am a bit unsure about the exact time-frame of what happened next. All I can really remember is that Dad immediately went into Wakari Hospital in Dunedin where treatment was to happen. However, within a very short time of him being in hospital he suffered a traumatic brain haemorrhage and passed away. 

My dad was only 36 years old and within the space of a few short weeks we had gone from a normal, happy and loving family to one that was completely devastated. My mother was only 31 years old and was left to raise three young children, aged 9, 7 and 3, all on her own. And that she did, and made a wonderful job of it. My brother, sister and myself are now all grown up and if our dad had still been alive today he would find himself the proud grandfather of five beautiful grandchildren.

I missed having my dad in my life when I was a child growing up. And I miss him still, and will until the day comes that I pass from this world and get to join him in Heaven. I am especially sad that he never got to live long enough to give me away at my wedding, that he never got the chance to meet my wonderful husband, that he never got to be a part of my children’s lives and that my children never got to know him and love him too.

Block 5, plot 185, Mataura Cemetery
Ronald Herbert ENGLISH  (26 Dec 1941  -  9 July 1978)
Thirty six was too young to die. And the seven years that I got to spend with him was not enough time for me. Sometimes life just doesn't seem fair. Dad has now been gone for more years than he actually lived, and his three children are now older than he ever got to be. 

My dad is never very far from my thoughts. I will continue to visit his grave in the Mataura Cemetery for the rest of my life. I will continue to remember him and miss him, and I will continue to love him .....…… forever.

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