I’m still waiting for a few people to send me their pieces but today for Sharing Sunday I’m sharing Dad’s Eulogy I read out at his wake. I don’t know how I managed to get through all of it without crying but I did it.
George Panagiotis Kontos. It’s just a name, but the man behind the name is one that I’ve always struggled to put into words. He was kind, caring, loving, hilarious and a dork. Each and every one one of you here can attest to having shared a funny or dirty joke with him. He was the epitome of jokester.
Most of all he was the best Dad I could have asked for.
The first time I considered Dad as my best friend was when I was 14. We were on a holiday in Queensland, thanks to the Starlight foundation, at Wet ‘n’ Wild. I never expected my serious, stiff upper-lipped father to let me drag him around the whole park, and without complaining once!
Looking back, I now see this is where my competitive nature really started. As I tried to beat him down the water race slide and found that no matter how much younger I was, he was wiser and trickier! He would not let his younger daughter win, no matter what. No matter what he was doing, Dad was competitive and stubborn. After winning again, he managed to bang up his elbow and found himself bleeding. We had to go to the nurse to get him patched up and she advised him to stay out of the water for two hours.
When I heard, this my heart dropped. Who would go on the slides with me now? Pete was too short and most slides didn’t allow kids with any health conditions on rides. In hindsight, it seemed senseless to go on a trip like because of Pete’s heart problem.
When the nurse told us this, dad was attentive, nodding and listening to her. When we left I was waiting to go back to Mum and Pete, but Dad just laughed and said ‘Fuck it, let’s go again.’
That was dad. Give him a problem and he would stomp right through and keep going.
Everyone seemed to see the funny man in him – very few saw that underneath that was a man that was scary! Growing up, he had a tone of voice that would make actually make me tremble in fear. It took me years to realise how to get around it!
Dad gave me a lecture once. He sat me down and went “There’s one thing you have to remember about me, Amanda, 99% of the time I’m joking but there is that 1% where I’m serious.” It was always that 1% that had me cowering behind the safety of a slammed door.
Dad had an infinite amount of patience. He needed to deal with Pete and I. I think teaching me how to drive tested that patience. I thought I did really well after doing my first u-turn. It was going well when I heard him swear. I thought I’d hit a car! I thought he’d start thinking I’m just like Mum, and he’d never let me get behind the Premier again. After pulling the wheel alignment, I think he felt he felt he had no choice but to find me a driving instructor.
Many of you know that I moved to Melbourne to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. It took me a year and a half for Dad to finally give up control and let me go. I think this made our relationship stronger, after this I could come to him about anything and he was the first person I went to when something went wrong. If I needed to talk about a bill or something, or even if the TV went out of tune and I would call him to ask how to fix it, before he’d pass it on to Pete.
He always had words of wisdom for me, and sometimes passing on wisdom would stretch on for hours. He didn’t get serious with me too often but he did tell me this when I moved into student accommodation. He said, ‘Now listen, Amanda, I know what goes on in uni accommodation. Remember I’m a security guard, I know it all and you can’t lie to me. I know that you will be up to no good. Be careful.’ I reassured him that I would be good.
Needless to say, only one week later after a uni party I ended up curled around the toilet bowl. I thought I’d be safe telling Mum, and I made sure she knew that she was not to tell him. She told me she wouldn’t.
The next time I skyped with Dad, he appeared on screen with a look that made me spill everything. So much for keeping it a secret from him, but he knew anyway! Of course Mum couldn’t keep it a secret!
But that was Dad, he had a knack for both scaring my friends and having a laugh with them. He was a good man, a funny man and he was taken too soon.
If words could bring him back I would keep writing until he was back here with us celebrating a big occasion.
Life gives you exactly what it thinks you can handle. We think it’s unfair and merciless that he’s gone, but I got a good 26 years with a father – a father who loved me, nurtured me and helped me become the woman I am today, standing here in front of you.
So Dad, you dork. I love you and I thank you for everything. There isn’t a person in the room that will ever forget you or your sense of humour.