Do you have an uncle David?
If you grew up in Australia during the '60s, chances are you called those familiar adults of your childhood auntie or uncle.
We lived next door to uncle David and auntie Elaine (the Kirkmans ) in our housing commission place for more than 20 years.
Last week, the day after my mum would have turned 90, uncle David died. He was 80.
David painted landscapes, played the fiddle, could sing and grew perfect roses.
His voice lifted us at my mum's funeral.
Neighbours were different in the '60s and '70s. Life had a more gracious, leisurely pace, even in working class neighbourhoods and especially in country towns.
Work was Monday to Friday.
Uncle David was a gentle soul ...
Excitement came in very few forms ... Christmas, Easter and the local agricultural show were the highlights of any country town year.
Uncle David was the local post master in a grand Federation post office that dominated the corner of the town's main street.
My dad was a sailor-turned-house painter.
His massive, white, full-body overalls and hairy, paint-stained arms and watch, his weekday uniform.
Weekends were gardening, washing cars and kids playing ... on the streets and under houses ... and in summer the beach ... picnics at Currawong, and Mass every Sunday.
I loved going to Mass with the Kirkmans.
Squeezed into their pale green Volkswagen beetle with daughters Donna, Susan and Megan, I felt part of their family.
That's just how it was.
At Mass with the Kirkmans I belonged somewhere bigger and although not a Catholic, I still attend the occasional Mass.
Mass helps me find meaning and still makes me feeI like I belong. Thank you uncle David.
When I was 19 my dad had a massive heart attack. It happened at 2am on a Sunday morning. He was 48 and uncle David 38.
I remember waking to mum's scream.
"Get uncle David."
I sprinted across the damp early morning lawn and uncle David loped across to our place in his striped flannelette pyjamas. He performed CPR 'til the ambulance arrived. He saved dad's life.
It was uncle David who taught me to love roses and hate aphids; whose painting of Mount Coolangatta has stayed with me for 40 years. These days it hangs in our bedroom.
Uncle David's Donna has her dad's way ... a kindness, grace and no-nonsense approach to life that I call the Bathurst effect.
Uncle David was from a family of 10, who grew up in Bathurst, an icy, cold, flat city/town known for its Catholicism, as the site of Australia's first gold rush and the world's largest gold pan.
Uncle David was also a prospector and I can remember the mystery of his heavy pan and the strange little vials he'd show us of gems he'd found while panning for gold.
Every Christmas the Kirkmans would travel to Bathurst.
The adventure as exciting as an overseas holiday ... but really only fours hours north west of Nowra.
When I called to comfort Donna we spoke of those days, 50 years ago as little girls free-ranging among a safe and loving family and neighbourhood of friends.
History shows that our tribe of aunties and uncles and Catholics did us no harm, only good from the care and support we all enjoyed from our extended families.
Uncle David was a gentle soul of many talents and gifts.
Donna said I should talk to him.
"He will hear," she said.