Below is Leigh's submission for the 'Win a Kombi Beer and Wine Table' competition, December 2019. Enjoy.
5th May 2018 was the day my life and that of my father changed forever and little did we know it at the time, but it would never be the same again. You see my dad had a major stroke on this day, he collapsed next to me and I had to provide first aid while the ambulance found our location. He had one of the biggest brain clots the surgeon had ever seen or removed.
Fast forward three months of intensive care and rehabilitation and my dad was well enough to come home but requiring ongoing high care needs. I chose to give up my career to care for him and allow him to remain in his home environment.
I bought him a German Shepherd puppy to aid his quality of life at home and with the need to travel with a wheelchair we were in desperate need of a larger vehicle. I remembered back in the 80’s when my dad had an old Ford Transit van that he sprayed black and had red stripes down the side, and he installed a rotating captain’s chair. My dad was hands on like that, always tinkering. Eat your heart out B.A. Baracus. Do you remember the A-Team tv series with the car chases and multiple gun fights, and yet no one ever got shot? Aahhh, the good old days…sorry, I digress!
Armed with this fond memory I asked my dad if he would like it if I bought a van and you could see the glint in his eye and a smile on his face (although a little crooked than it used to be) as he replied a resounding “YES”.
Let the van hunt begin. After spending many hours researching different vans and people movers I could not go past a Volkswagen Multivan, it had the best look and the most functional interior to suit our various needs. I traded in my old vehicle and brought home our new black shiny van. It had to be black but missing the red stripes!
Now due to my dad’s health condition and medical needs I cannot take the van away camping or have any kind of holiday away. But to make up for that we take the van out and about wherever and whenever we can.
My dad will get up out of bed and say, “are we going out in the van today?”
Apart from taking him to numerous Hospital, Rehabilitation, GP, Geriatrician, Speech Pathology, and Pharmacy appointments, I drive him locally to country spots in the West Wheatbelt area where we have a picnic in the van and just enjoy our surroundings whether it is looking out over the vibrant yellow fields of the canola flower, an avenue of spectacular Western Australian wildflowers or parked up next to a tranquil riverside with the gum trees gently blowing in the wind. And yes, our beloved German Shepherd Kobi comes with us as he is part of our family too. He loves to check out new places and smells once the sliding door opens for him.
I love our van and every time we go for an outing together it builds on the ever-growing memories and nostalgia that will serve me well in the future. I hope I have the opportunity one day to drive the van from WA to Tasmania and take in the beautiful sights and scenery along the way.