In memory of darren
He leaves behind a wonderful wife, Nikki and two beautiful daughters, Ashlyn and Kyla. This has been a difficult few days for Simone and I. I can’t imagine what Nikki and the girls have been (and are going) through.
We are travelling up to them in a few days to help out in whatever way we can.
Darren was a good man and a loving father. I met him early in 2005 when I started seeing Simone (my now wife). He not only had a firm hand shake, but looked me in the eyes when we shook. That in itself, for me at least, was a good indication I was being introduced to an honest and decent man.
I was right.
The first time I met Simone’s father, Darren saved my arse, and I’ll be ever thankful for it. Simone and her younger sister (Gerry) had convinced me that their father, Peter (who was Croatian) was a traditionalist, and would expect me to shake his hand and then kiss him on both cheeks. I was a little concerned as I’d never kissed another man in my life (my Army brothers will smirk and offer smart arse remarks of disagreement at that. I would expect nothing less!).
Anyway, when we arrived at Nikki and Darren’s house (where I was meeting Simone’s mum and dad for the first time), Peter, as chance had it, had only just woken up from an afternoon nap. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and dangling half way down his chest was a golden necklace. On his wrist was a chunky, silver watch.
Christ, I’m about to meet the Godfather! I thought to myself.
It was too much. Gerry had already approached her father and kissed him on both cheeks, and Simone was not far behind.
What if he disapproves of me? Will he feed me to the pigs or something? I was stressing now.
Then I saw Darren standing guard over the BBQ out on the patio, turning sausages, prodding steaks, and mixing onion rings.
BAM! I was out the patio door.
“Hey Darren! Is it true I have to kiss Peter on both cheeks?”
Darren looked at me dumbfounded for a moment and then began to laugh.
“No mate,” he managed as he chuckled. “I think someone’s having you on!”
Relief washed over me. Peter was not in fact the Godfather. He wasn’t some mafia criminal mastermind. He was the father of the woman I loved (and still love) and just wanted a coffee.
Darren had been taken by surprise by my question and answered truthfully, but later, kicked himself, wishing he had been in on the trick. It would have been that much more convincing and I probably would have kissed Peter on both cheeks (in his younger days, Peter was a Golden Glove boxing champion, so I’m not sure that would have gone down so well!).
I’ll miss you Darren, and I’ll never forget you…well, my grandad died from Alzheimer’s disease, so if I go that way, I might actually forget you, along with everything else, as I use the frypan as a piss pot; however, as long as I retain all of my faculties, I’ll never forget you. You were a true blue Aussie bloke, and a mate.