TWO weeks ago a golf charity day was held in Goondiwindi to help raise money to fight a terrible disease, Motor Neurone Disease.
Prior to that, Tracy Sullivan wrote a heart-felt piece for the Argus. It described how she and her young family, and his many mates and family in Goondiwindi had lost someone special. Phil Sullivan was a real son of Goondiwindi. He was born here. He was raised here.
He played football for his beloved Boars until he no longer could. He was married here, and he became a father here. It was a sad, but heart-warming story of love. But sadly it’s a story others have to come to terms with as well.
Another Goondiwindi son, Tony Gibson knows only too well what Tracy went through. His daughter Charleah’s father-in-law, Wayne Patterson is fighting the same fight.
“For almost six decades, this lanky lean mass of skin, bones, nerves and muscles served him well, delivering an almost-lifetime of joy, passion, adventure, excitement and achievement,” journalist Sherele Moody wrote movinglyin the Queensland Times earlier in the year.
It’s a description that fits Wayne to a tee, said Tony. It was true of Phillip as well. And yet these two men who were so defined by their athleticism, have been betrayed by their own bodies.
And so death comes. At best, Wayne has four years to live. At worst - one.
"MND is a cruel, terrible disease,” he told Sherele. "There is no known cause and once you've been diagnosed you have such a short time left." But life is about more than what we can make our bodies do, or not do.
When Tony dropped in recently he brought with him a large box. Inside were Wayne’s messages to his grandchildren – in book form. The first in what he hopes is a series called, ‘Fat Rabbit”.
Tragically he had to break the news about his disease to his children first-hand. "It was shocking for them … to know there is no way this disease is going to be reversed. That it's a one-way trip for their father."
The Fat Rabbit character is based on a “friend” Wayne invented when he was a teenager. "That rabbit gave me a sense of home and family and safety and security.
“We are so proud of him and we love knowing that his voice will live on through his books long after he has gone,” Charleah said. Wayne’s Book is available at the Nook Bookshops for $15. All money goes to the MND Society.