On the 28th of August, David, my brother (aka Bill Bailey) messaged me as he often did. “Hi Ronka, how’s your day? I did not see his message until the 29th when I was about to go to bed. So I sent him a quick response. On the 7th of September we had quite a long conversation on messenger again. We discussed our new windows, how Doug was faring and David’s own health. He usually initiated the close of the conversation and this time he did so again. “OK Sis, catch you next time, love to you all, take care xxxx” I responded with four kisses and that was the last time we ever communicated.
On the Sunday the 11th of September I messaged him. “Are you ok?” There was no response. On Thursday the 15th Sept. we flew out to Sydney for our grandson Joshua’s wedding the next day, and our granddaughter Brianna’s engagement on the Saturday. On Sunday morning at 7.30 am just one week since I messaged him, David passed away. All so quickly! All so sudden! Only 15 months older than me.
I understood a little of how it must feel for families to lose a loved one on the battle field, dying on foreign soil, missing, never to return. At the time I wondered how we would ever get closure. When I spoke to the Department of Foreign Affairs consular officer he told me that 1,000 Australians die overseas every year. With our comparatively small population that seemed an enormous figure. It made me realize just how many families must experience this loss.
In the last few days I have pored over photographs, shared memories and reminded myself of all the special times we had over the years. One of our earliest photos shows me sitting there looking quite unhappy because David had wrested the ball from me. He, however, has an innocent, almost angelic, smile on his face. When the Germans were bombing Kent with Doodlebugs back in 1944 David was the toddler who grabbed me from my cot and took me to the Morrison Shelter. “I’ve got the baby Mum” He declared to my panic stricken mother.
It was David who gave me away at my wedding. He survived the Voyager disaster (being on secondment elsewhere) and also survived a very serious skydiving accident. He was generous and would do anything for anyone. He loved the heat of the Philippines and chose to live out his life there. Finally, his heart gave out on him with very little warning.
So the question is “Are you your brother’s keeper?” of course you are! Make sure you check him out today.