I said to her quietly that I have some official business I need to take care of, and I will be back before lunch, and she led my other siblings sown the hall to the elevator, and I waited till they had gone before I followed them, and I stopped at the coffee shop of a juice before catching a taxi to the QE2 Medical Centre, and on to J Block, where the State Morgue is located.
After viewing my Father and confirming that it was him, I signed some documents, before exiting the hospital, and I headed to the nearest café in the hospital to try and relax and absorb everything that has happened so far.
Once I was back at the house, Mary and Rhodes were sitting in the lounge, keeping an eye on the two little ones playing in the back yard. “How did it go?” Mary asked me, “It was tough going, I had to spend some time at a café to calm down a little, and I hope I don’t have to do that ever again,” I replied.
“So what happens now?” Rhodes asked me, “I have spoken to Mum, she wanted to do the viewing, but she is in too much pain and the doctor wouldn’t let her, so I told her that I would delay the funeral so she can come and say goodbye to Dad,” I replied.
“Now that Dad has gone, what happens with the stations and us?” Rhodes asked, “Well, both stations are now on the market, and our parents had planned to stay on the airbase as caretakers along with the Parkinson’s,but now with Dad gone, we may have to alter that, depending what mum has to say once she is released from hospital,” I replied.
“What about our schooling? I want to finish year 12 and go onto Uni to study Vet Nursing,” Mary asked me, and it surprised me a little that she wanted to go into the same industry as me, “Well that is a nice surprise, and I am sure that we will be able to let you continue your studies, but with Dad gone, the two younger ones, may want to be closer to Mum,” I replied.
“What about if the family moves… closer to you, in the Kimberly?” Rhodes asked, “Well that has been discussed before, and that will be something that Mum will need to decide, she is our mother, I am just your temporary guardian, until she gets better,” I replied.
“I hadn’t thought about that, but you have been great looking after us so far,” Rhodes said, “Thanks Bro, being an adult really sucks, there is so many things you have to decided, and for now I have to decide what is best for my younger brothers and sisters,” I replied.
“Don’t give him too much praise or his head might burst,” Mary commented and I had to laugh at that comment. “If you two can find things this afternoon, I will go back to the hospital to see Mum again, I think it would be best to make the family gatherings just once a day, as it wears her out too much, I won’t stay all night this time, probably till just 8 pm, which is the usual closing time for visitors,” I informed Mary and Rhodes.
A few minutes later the phone rang, and I got up to answer it. “Hello Dr Kendrik is it? My name is Paul Henderson; I am your family lawyer. This number was given to me by Mr Parkinson at the Airbase,” the man on the line said, “Yes, I guess you are calling about my father’s passing,” I replied quietly, so Mary and Rhodes couldn’t hear me.
After a ten minute conversation the call ended, and I was now fully up to date on my father’s wishes. I was not aware of it, but my father was born in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, and brought up on the remote Riveren Station, which is located south of the Buntine Highway.
The station is so remote, it is on the northern end of the Tanami desert, where the nearest towns are Katherine, 602 kilometres west-east and the homestead is 170 kilometres east of the NT and WA border, on the Buntine Highway.
When I did a web search of the location of the station, I was shocked to see where it is located right in the middle of nowhere, and the station was a little over 1 million acres in area. Dad had wanted a small private family funeral, and that he wanted to be cremated with his ashes be blown in the wind at Supplejack Station.
To get there by plane from Perth will be over a 2,000 kilometre flight, and we would need to refuel part of the way, to make it to the station and back to a airport to refuel again, so I headed to my room to get my laptop computer, and I sat down at the dining room table, with a notebook and pen.
“Hey bro, what are you looking at?” Rhodes said to me as he approached, after Mary had gone outside to keep a closer watch on the younger two. “That phone call I took earlier, that was from the family lawyer, he filled me in on some details of Dad’s wishes in regards to the funeral arrangements.
“Did he ever talk to you about his life growing up?” I asked, “He mentioned something about him and Mum meeting on a cattle station; that is about all,” Rhodes replied, “Ok, well that is more than I knew, until that phone call. Dad was born in Alice Springs, and he was brought up on a very remote cattle station in the Northern Territory, where Katherine is the nearest town at 602 kilometres, although Halls Creek in WA is a bit closer,” I said to my brother.
“Wow that is very remote, so was it near the WA border?” Rhodes asked, “Yes, 170 kilometres east of the border in the Tanami Desert. That is where he wants his ashes spread in the wind near the homestead where he grew up,” I said.
“So how are we going to get there?” Rhodes asked, “Fly of course, but we cant go until after we have the funeral, and after Mum has recovered from her injuries, which will be a while as she can’t fly till her lung is fully healed,” I replied, as I went onto the map and located the homestead, I marked it for future reference, then scanning back, until Katherine appeared on the map.
“Holy smokes, that is a long way out,” Rhodes commented, “It sure is, I need to work out the best way to fly there in our plane,” I replied as I began to work out the best route, with at least one fuel stop needed. “It looks like it may be a two stop trip, first 548 kms to Kalgoorlie then 720 kms to Warburton, before landing at Supplejack Station, after another 836 kms,” I said after working out a good flight plan.
“Can’t we just make it so we stop just once?” Rhodes asked, and I looked at the map again for a more direct route. “Well, not really, I have to have a good safety margin for fuel, so we will have to have two stops, as the plane only has a range of 1,200 kilometres, and the whole journey is well over 2,000 kms,” I explained.
Later that day back at the Hospital, Mum was all smiles when I entered her hospital room, “Hi Mum, you look so much better this afternoon,” I said cheerfully, “I feel a lot better too son, I just wish I didn’t have to be here for so long,” Mum said, “Well you know the doctors, they know best, and you cant fly anywhere until your lung is fully healed,” I replied.
“And you would know eh, Dr Kendrik,” Mum said and I heard a laugh from the hallway, but whoever it was disappeared out of sight. “Now tell me, have you been to see Dad?” Mum asked me, and I felt sick in my stomach at the thought.
“Yes Mum, and I don’t want to do that in a hurry again, it was absolutely awful seeing Dad lay out like that,” I replied, and Mum smiled, “No, its not nice is it, but I am glad that you were able to do it on my behalf. Now have the family lawyers been in touch yet?” Mums asked me.
“Yes they have today. I didn’t know that you and Dad met on a very remote cattle station in the middle of the Tanami Desert?” I replied, “Yes, your Dad was very handsome man back then, a very dashing stockman riding his horse, it was love at first sight for me,” Mum replied, and I could see that she was thinking back to those days.
After three months of courting, we managed to get three days off work and we drove to Katherine to get married, your grandfather and grandmother wanted us to have the wedding on the station, but your Dad convinced him for a church wedding in Katherine.
When we returned as Mr & Mrs Kendrik, your grandfather arranged for the Flying Minister to come and visit, to hold a second wedding service at the Station homestead, and that took place about three months later after mustering was over. We stayed on at Riveren until I was born, and we moved to Western Australia, where your Dad was head stockman at Hillside, for two years, before taking over as station manager, and eventually we bought the station shortly after the twins were born,” Mum explained.
“Did you ever go back to Riveren?" I asked, “Yes, when you were one and three and five years old, for Christmas, but once the twins arrived, it was to difficult to travel with three children, and then your Dad had the option to buy the station, which we did.
When you’re Grandparents retired and the station was handed over to your uncle, they came to live with us for a while and your grandmother helped me with the twins, and they both died before Julia was born. Pa and Auggie were my parents, who lived in Perth, and they would visit us every second Christmas; and eventually stayed on till they both died at Hillside,” Mum said.
“Do you know that Dad wants to be cremated and his ashes blown in the wind at Riveren homestead?” I asked Mum, “Yes, I do, and I would like the same, so that hopefully one day our ashes shall meet again somewhere on the station, like we did those many years ago,” Mum said with tears in her eyes.
“I am sure when that time comes that Dad will be gathered in a dust Willy-Willy, and meet up with you as I release the ashes,” I said to Mum who pulled me into a hug and cried. When Mum’s dinner arrived at 5 pm, I said goodnight to Mum, and said that I would return in the morning with the others.
By the time I arrived back at the house, Mary was serving dinner, and she grabbed an extra plate and served a large portion of Lasagne for me, and I smiled as I sat down. “Thanks sis, this smells delicious,” I said and began to eat right away.
Three days later, Mum’s doctor announced that if all goes well, then she can be released from hospital in two days time, but she is not to travel by air for another week, so Mum and I worked out the plans for the funeral, with a small family service at the Chapel Crematorium, and that we would hold onto the ashes urn until Mum is fit to travel by air.
Over the past few days, Mum and I had discussed the funeral plans, and I put them into action, she told me that our Uncle Owen still owns and runs Riveren station, and that she had spoken to him by telephone yesterday with the news of his brother’s death. I also had to have a meeting with the police to discuss the results of their investigation into the accident that cause Dad to be killed and Mum seriously injured.
The van that slammed into Mum and Dad’s vehicle had sustained a lot of damage, due to the bull bars on Dad’s vehicle, but it was determined that the other driver was at fault because he was on the wrong side of the road, and because of the morning sun glare, dad didn’t see the oncoming vehicle until just before impact, where he swerved a little but only enough to sustain damage to his side of the vehicle.
The driver and front passenger in the other vehicle were also killed in the crash, while the two rear passengers survived, and were flown to Darwin Hospital, were they are slowly recovering, and all four of them were from the Netherlands.
When the day finally arrived for Mum to be released, everyone wanted to go to the hospital, but I informed my siblings that it would be just me, as Mum is still recovering from her injuries.