My Dad, Jeffrey Wayne Pace was born 18th February 1960, the third child of Joyce & Bill Pace and little brother to Susan and Gary. Sister Susan was particularly delighted to have a little doll to dress up and push around in her pram.
While Jeffrey was a bit of a surprise to Joyce and Bill, he proved to be a special gift to them and being the last one left at home he developed a very close and devoted relationship with them which gave them great comfort in their old age. He shared many an afternoon watching the Balmain Tigers at Leichardt oval with his mum making sure he ate the salmon sandwiches and celery that she always packed.
As Jeffrey grew up he developed some life lasting friendships through school – Punchbowl primary and high, Boys Brigade and his beloved rugby league, playing for Riverwood United initially and later the Greenacre Grasshoppers.
Not only was he sports minded, Jeffrey remained serious about his academic life, starting with a cadetship with OTC and later achieving a Bachelor of Science from Macquarie University. He was also conscientious with his savings, buying his first apartment in his early twenties.
The big question then was who would he share his flat with – his best mate, Mort or his new girlfriend, Sally? Sally won – after all, they fell in love the night they met. Sally and Jeff had met three months earlier in a nightclub in Campbelltown called Scandals. Their eyes locked from across the room and the rest is history.
3 months after Mort missed out on being Jeff’s flatmate, Dad decided to propose to his flatmate. They were married in the summer of 1985 and in June 1989, after a holiday to day dream island, they were blessed with their first daughter, Nerilee. Then, in June 1992 after Dad returned from a trip to New Zealand, Sally and Jeff were blessed with their second daughter, Nicola and then, after a trip to Papua New Guinea, in February 1994, my mum & dad were blessed with a son – Steven. Dad was so proud to have a boy at long last – he thought his skill lied in creating girls.
After mum & dad decided that shift work didn’t suit the needs and wants of their growing family, Dad’s career took a change in direction from a technician to more of a managerial role. In 1996, on Nikki’s 4th birthday, Dad joined the Primus Team, a team which he stayed with for the rest of his working career.
Other than his family, Dads biggest love, as majority of us here would all know, was the Tigers. There was nothing Dad loved more than to sit on the hill at Leichardt oval and watch the Tigers play. One memory my mum has of her and my dad at Leichardt was the time she passed out on the hill. My dad was so worried that he took her to the nearest hospital – Callum Park. He didn’t realise that this was a mental hospital.
Dad couldn’t wait for Steven to start playing Football. The year before Steven started, our dad would drive to Neptune Park and tell him excitedly “this is where you’re going to play football next year” – and he did. Many afternoons were spent at Neptune Park where he made many friends.
A funny memory of dad was the time the tigers beat the bulldogs. We were watching the game in the clubhouse. In drunken celebration my dad decided to execute a cartwheel which resulted in a broken finger.
It really didn’t take much to make my dad happy. He enjoyed many afternoons in the garden just listening to his radio, soaking up the sun or watering his babies. He also loved the beach. His love of the beach took us to many destinations up the east coast of Australia – Terrigal, Foster, Nelson’s Bay, Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise to name a few.
We were also lucky to travel overseas as a family, enjoying a white Christmas in Boston, followed by a New Years in Times Square and then a trip to Disneyland. We also went on a cruise through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand…we almost didn’t make that Holiday – Pilot Strikes in Sydney left us a narrow 5 minutes to board the boat in Singapore. Our last overseas trip as a family was in July 2009, to Fiji.
We were lucky to have a dad that wanted to take us with him around the world. In 2004 my dad was diagnosed with a heart problem known as Ventricular Tachycardia. It was a very big scare to us, and also to him. From this point my dad knew that life was a precious gift, hence why he took us on these amazing holidays. He arranged his affairs so that if anything were to happen to him again, we would all be okay.
In 2007 my dad hurt his neck. He was in a large degree of pain for many months & after several scans and tests, no doctor could tell my dad what was wrong with him.
Then, in 2009, just after our trip to Fiji, he started to have strange burning sensations in his legs and a feeling of nausea that just wouldn’t go away. Once again, after a series of scans and tests, no doctor could tell us what was wrong with him.
And then, it hit. On Friday the 13th August, 2010, my dad experienced his first seizure whilst at work. This time, after many scans and tests, the doctor could tell us what was wrong with him – my dad had a grade 2 brain tumour. After a round of radiation treatment things were looking up – you could live for 25 years with this type of tumour.
It wasn’t until April of this year that things took a turn. Dad was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis but was let out of hospital after a few days. About 3 days later, on 19th April, we woke up and something wasn’t quite right – Dad was acting very strange. After observation we decided it would be in his best interests to return to St Vincent’s. It was then discovered that Dad had fluid on the Brain & that the tumour had grown. A craniotomy revealed the tumour was now a grade 4.
Dad stayed in hospital for over a month. On the 31st May, we brought him home. It was the best decision we ever made. For weeks he improved, we got him walking again and the fact that he was at home was a big comfort to him.
The last weeks were hard but aided by the fact that his beloved Tigers were winning week after week. After the Tigers lost to the Warriors in the Semi final, my Dad faced an extremely rough night. We didn’t think he was going to make it through. But he did.
After 2 full days of sleep my dad woke up smiling and trying to speak – both behaviours we hadn’t seen him exhibit in weeks – even months. He was alert & happy, telling my mum that he was alright. He stayed like this for three days, and they were the most special 3 days we could ever ask for.
My dad gently passed away on Tuesday, September 27th at 5.30 in the afternoon. He was in a very relaxed state and that is all we could hope for given the circumstances.
We will miss our dad every day of our lives. He was not only our father but a friend, a role model and a teacher. My brother, sister and I understood the concept of tax from a young age. If you had a packed of chips, you had to pay tax by giving a chip to him. This went for any type of food we were eating.
Everything I’ve done in my life I did to make my dad proud, and that won’t change just because I can’t see him anymore. In some ways it is comforting to know that he is now no longer suffering.
We will ALWAYS miss him, we will ALWAYS love him & we will ALWAYS be able to look back and remember how lucky we were to have the best Dabby in the world.