His faithful dogs were never far from Tom's side, but none of them were "any good".
"B...useless mongrels" he'd call them.
When the Irelands went away, our corgie Robbie, would spend his time at "Carlyle".
Tom said Robbie showed great potential as a working dog and was the most intelligent dog he'd known.
People who knew Robbie remember him as a wandering dog — not a working dog. He was good at keeping people in our yard- not out of it ! ! ! ! !
When Tom was in hospital nearing the end of his life, Peter and I would walk up to visit taking Robbie with us. We'd walk up the side verandah to Tom's room and take Robbie in to say hello.
Tom's face would light up and he'd say, "How ya goin' Rob?"
Robbie would get all excited and give a bark or two, and if he jumped up on Tom, Tom would yell at the top of his voice "GEDOWN,GEDOWN."
I was sure that one day we'd be sprung. If the nursing staff knew of these visits they didn't say. But I'm sure old Mrs Kennedy in the room next door knew!
Tom was well known for leaving all his vegetables in the garden to "fully mature." He'd bring in tomatoes almost as big as cricket balls and literally "dripping."
Ruth and I hated to be in the kitchen too, when Tom came in for boiled eggs for breakfast. He insisted on cooking the eggs himself. The eggs were plunged into the hot water for thirty seconds. He'd "drink" them rather than "eat" them. This was done very noisely. Yuk! ! ! !
Tom also ate very overripe bananas. Mum would buy bananas, and any that became too overripe, would be put in the cupboard for a further four or five days. They would now be ready for Tom to eat. He ate the bananas as they kept him "regular." His bedside table at the hospital always contained a good supply.
After Tom's death, the hospital staff cleaned out his locker. We were handed Tom's personal items, but we were informed his bananas had been thrown away.....!
All of the family was very fond of Uncle Tom.
I will remember him for his individuality with his nonconforming ways, his great sense of humour and his vast knowledge.
He was a real treasure and he greatly enriched our lives. Tom was always included in family functions and I'm sure he valued the "sense of belonging" that this brought.
At Tom's funeral, Jennifer did the Bible reading and Betty Blinco led the singing of "Be Still My Soul". Robert Coleman, too, was in fine voice that day.
We played the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21 (Elvira Madigan), and "Morning" by Grieg.
After the service an old school mate, Clem Mantiet, said to me that we'd given Tom a really good send off.
And we had.
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