Today I thought it was appropriate to begin my blog where I left off, sadly I have not written one since my father passed in the middle of 2009. Today, the 16th of January would have marked dad's 51st birthday. In this blog I will cover a few things about my father Carl and his life.
You all know that Carl battled with Multiple Sclerosis for the last five years and it is healthy that we acknowledge this part of his life today. Though this isn’t the part of Carl’s life we are going to dwell on, I would like to begin by sharing with you the words of the motto that has been adopted by the MS Society – “Never give up trying”.
Those four powerful little words go a long way to capturing Carl’s philosophy about life as does the mantra he lived by – “always play the hand you’ve been dealt”.
Carl wasn’t the type of man who would ever think of shying away from trouble in life. Rather, he would look at it head on and find a positive to work at in the belief there would be a good result, or at least an interesting journey.
Just like the well-known and loved Monty Python Flying Circus song we are all familiar with -“Always Look on the Bright side of Life”, Carl’s great and sometimes “wicked sense of humour” helped fuel his positive attitude, it also helped those around him feel ok.
To have this approach to life is a gift, a gift that is shared and multiplies.
Carl was a smart man because he had identified the important things in life – family, friends, health and happiness. It didn’t matter to him how much he owned, the cars, the house the cash – what mattered was the people in his life and their happiness.
Carl would know the pain that his family and friends are feeling at the moment, but he would not want you to dwell on these thoughts, rather he would want you to look back over his life and remember the good times, the fun times and the warm memories.
Carl was the first child born to Rita and Derek Nott in Forrest Gate, London on the 16th January, 1959. As it came to light later, Carl found out that his friend Vic Rogers was also born in the same hospital – but a different year.
Early life for Carl was lived in the family home in London and shared with a younger brother Mark.
Carl, like most young English lads loved rugby, a game that he enjoyed playing at school and a passion that would travel with him throughout life, either on the field or as a supporter.
Carl was twelve when the family moved to Brentwood in Essex. Four years later after completing his education, Carl left school and began his apprenticeship as a toolmaker. Carl thoroughly enjoyed his youthful years with his mates, playing rugby, drinking beer and eating curry. His involvement with rugby even saw him travel abroad on a couple of tours. One trip in particular stood out and that was the time he went to France, because Carl’s love of food meant he was able to enjoy the wonderful food on offer during the trip.
Romance would enter Carl’s life when he met a fellow workmate Jane during the time that they both worked at Plessey, a company that refurbished torpedo’s. Jane remembers their eyes meeting over the filing cabinet and how taken she was with Carl’s long eyelashes!
That particular evening they were both working back late and Carl offered to escort Jane home – even though he lived in the opposite direction. He then plucked up the courage that evening to ask Jane out on a date. A friendship and love blossomed between Carl and Jane and being the romantic that he was, Carl proposed one night to Jane down on his knees outside the toilet door. Needless to say Jane accepted and they married in 1985 in Barking and settled into married life in Corringham in Essex.
In 1986 Carl and Jane became very proud parents when their daughter Amanda was born and just as proud the following year when I came into the world.
Life was busy for Carl and Jane as new parents and foremost in their minds was the desire to give their children the best chance they could in life. To achieve this, Carl and Jane decided to migrate to Australia after watching a documentary about the prosperous land down under and they set about collecting all the points needed to apply for migration at Australia House. Carl would often remark with tongue in cheek that “it was his points” that got the family to Australia!
Having sold their house, packed their belongings and said goodbye to family and friends, Carl, Jane and the children boarded a plane for Australia. When they finally arrived in Perth, they jumped into a taxi and asked the driver to take them somewhere – that somewhere was East Perth.
Jane remembers turning on the television to be greeted by a man talking to a large pink fluffy ostrich – of course they found out later that this was the well loved “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” show hosted by Darryl Summers and the pink ostrich was Ozzie. Their first thoughts were “oh, what sort of place have we come too!”
Carl quickly found some temp Agency work then settled into a full-time position as a maintenance fitter at Westfi in Welshpool and a fully furnished home was found in Cannington. To make them feel really at home, Carl and Jane welcomed their first Aussie baby Tom into the world in the July of 1992, by now they had settled into their own home in Bullcreek.
Carl and Jane had agreed before they left England that they would give Australia their best for two years and then decide if they wanted to go home. Needless to say they never looked back.
Carl loved it here with the warm climate, the sport and the opportunities for his family. They even completed their family with a second Aussie baby Jon in 1996. Life was good, they had a great house close to the river that Carl loved, with a swimming pool that he enjoyed immensely. All the family was involved in sport, especially basketball and Carl was always there to watch and encourage.
But life changed for the family five years ago when Carl was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This was devastating news and one would have expected Carl to drop his bundle. But he had always looked on the positive side of life – that his glass was always half full, not half empty. It was this positive approach, the love of his family and friends that kept him buoyant as he had to learn to adjust to a different life.
This wasn’t only a difficult time for Carl, it was also very difficult for his family having to come to terms with this cruel condition that was robbing their husband and dad and them of precious years.
Over time Carl’s physical body began to deteriorate, but nothing could take away his active and intelligent mind. Every opportunity that he was able, he went along to watch his children play sport. He began to read in earnest and he loved watching the Grand Prix, in fact anything to do with sport on T.V.
He also became involved in the Multiple Sclerosis Society and he attended a course to be a Peer Support leader for people who had recently been diagnosed with MS. Being involved allowed Carl to share his skills and knowledge in the hope of helping others traveling the same journey.
Carl had only turned fifty on the 16th of January this year and his exit from the world on the 10th June leaves behind a family in deep sadness. It will only be time, memories and support from family and friends that will help to ease the pain they are feeling.
I have only touched briefly on Carl’s life, I could never hope to do him justice in this short blog. But we can continue his journey by way of family and friendship tributes.
"A noise in the night bothered me as I slept on a cold June night, the very real noise was incorporated in my dreams for a few brief moments before I realised that the horror screams of "LEE, LEE" were very real. I rushed from the back end of the house to the front where my parent's bedroom was.
When I enter the room Tom and Jon are in a crying wreck, panicking what to do next, the poor souls. Mum is in the bathroom putting in her contact lenses, she is blind without them. I quickly kneel over Dad, yelling his name "DAD, DAD". No response, all that I hear is air escaping his mouth. No pulse, no signs of breathing, I yell at Tom "Call an ambulance and get Jon out of the room". To this date I am not sure if sending Jon out the room was the correct decision, he was by himself outside the room, what must he have been going through? But if he had of stayed how would he be today, if he had of seen what I did?
Tom on the phone, "I need an ambulance... My dad, he isn't breathing... I don't no what to do... Send an ambulance... Please be quick!!'"
Meanwhile, Mum and I are performing CPR. Mum was calm while I was crying, "It'll be ok, come on Dad". We couldn't get his jaw open, it was stuck like jaw lock. We pulled and eventually got it open, Mum began the mouth to mouth while I began with the compressions. Roughly every 30 seconds Dad gasped for air, I knew that wasn't enough, we continued the CPR.
10 minutes had past, I said to Tom "Get out side and open the door, wave down the ambulance." At this stage sadly Dad hadn't gasped for air anymore, his pupils dilated and looked lifeless. Mum began to cry "Lee, no Carl please" , I was suddenly calm. What I experienced at this stage robbed me of emotion. Later I recognised this very moment to be the end.
The ambulance burst in the room, they moved Dad onto the floor and asked me to continue compressions. They got the defibrillator on Dad, "CLEAR". Dad jerked... nothing. Again, "CLEAR". A second ambulance arrived to help. Soon Dad was on the trolley and in the back of the ambulance, they didn't allow Mum in the back of the ambulance with Dad, Mum and Tom went in the second ambulance while I called Amanda and organised to pick her up immediately.
Picking Amanda and Bruno, they had literally got out of bed and into my car. Amanda was crying and asking what has happened? I drove very fast to Fremantle Hospital, dropped Amanda, Bruno and Jon off at the entrance. I parked the car and rushed to the entrance, as I go in Tom came out screaming "No, please no". I knew what that meant, as I followed the crying down the hall way I entered a room where Mum was in tears and Amanda was on the floor crying. I had seen them cry before but this sight haunts me to this day, two of the strongest women I know in their most fragile state."
Carl was pronounced dead, June 10th 2009, 50 years old.
Today I looked amongst the other memorials around the cemetery near Dad, where other men laid. Other memorials said "Died 82 years old" or "Born 1927". What I wouldn't give for Dad to have lasted that long, I wished it was me rather than him. He served a greater purpose, Father of 4, Loving Husband, Great Friend.
I remember toasting at his 50th birthday party that he had played a fantastic 50 years, and rather this a celebration of the first 50 years but to his next 50. Sadly 6 months later Dad died, aged 50.
He always did, and as I will for the rest of my life "Play the cards that I'm dealt".