Dave's Proudest Day“How was your daughter’s wedding, Dave?”
His craggy face lit up, split with a gummy grin, dark eyes a-sparkle beneath his bushy brows.
“Ah, Dex, it was grouse. Real grouse.”
His use of the archaic Australian colloquialism for ‘excellent’ was the first I had heard in years.
“Tammy looked real beautiful, with her dress and flowers and that... it was just grouse.”
I smile now as I recall his humble pride.
“And did you have a dance with her, mate?”
“Nah, Dex. I went to the wedding at the church, and I had some afternoon tea and that there. But I never went to the what’s it called? The reception.
“My Missus’ family was all there, so I wasn’t allowed to go along. It was written down on my parole papers that I wasn’t allowed to go within 100 metres of her family. I never even talked to them.
“Yeah, no... I never had a dance with her.”
Dave didn’t have the chance to lead his daughter down the aisle to give her away, either. That privilege was reserved for his late wife’s brother, who’d been a kind of father figure to Tammy while Dave served his long cruel stint in gaol.
“I’ve got a photo, Dex. Have a look...”
It shows Dave, proud and happy, his face radiating pure joy, and his pretty daughter, standing together outside the ivy-clad church. The frills on her wedding dress and her big bouquet fail to hide the evidence of her advanced pregnancy.
His tattooed hand trembled as he held the photo up for me to see.
“She’s lovely, Dave.”
“She’s beautiful, Dex. She turned out real good.”
“You look pretty sharp yourself, mate.”
Dave had a long look at the photograph, and slowly shook his head.
“She turned out real good,” he repeated, as though wondering how such a result were possible.
“All my time in gaol I kept a photo of her when she was three,” he explained. “And now I’ve got one of her on her wedding day...”
And I could tell that Dave was thinking –as I was- about all that time in between those two snap-frozen moments, and all the photo opportunities he’d missed.