Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mick 10.2.1922 - 3.3.2008

James Thomas Lacey it says on the birth certificate, but we called him Mick. We called him Mick because Mick is what he was called. And though fathers are normally called "Dad", our dad, our Mick, somehow transcended the role of father. "Dad" was too plain an epithet for someone so unique.

He was our supporter, our rock, our mate. He loved quietly, with restraint, and without flamboyance. He never embarrassed you with showy displays of affection. But it was love that was no less fierce and no less felt. In fact it was intensified by its restraint. To feel his love and contemplate his mortality was something I could, from an early age, find crushing. So I have been preparing for this moment for a long time. He was mischievous, enjoyed a laugh, a yarn, a tease that bordered on torment. But it was the most gentle and affectionate torment you could ask for, and instead of being injured by his velvet barbs, you felt the more loved. Didn't you?

He never took life, or himself, too seriously, and was quick to make a rude face at anything or anyone that smacked of pomposity, self-importance, or self-promotion: politicians of all types and across the generations, the Royals, bureaucrats, Rex Mossop and Tony Greig were all objects of his scorn. Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird and Precious Pup were more his style. He even spent years using the same snicker as Precious Pup.

He loved the Australian bush. Not the obsessive and studied love of an amateur naturalist, but a sheer uncomplicated love of the simple and sensuous pleasure that the bush offered. As a younger chap living at Five Day Creek, he would roam bare-footed up and down the creek fishing for perch, affectionately accused by the locals of being half-native, though that is not the word they used. Later, on return camping visits to the Macleay, the fishing was just an excuse to be out there surrounded by the water, the gum trees, the gnarley hills, the cicadas, the birdlife, the dry summer heat, a bloody good campfire, and his mates...some of whom may not have even been family. When in this element, Mick was truly at his happiest.

Unlike most blokes of his generation, he cooked: meat and three veg, stews, steak & kidney, curried this or that, pea and ham soup, damper, Mickles Pickles. His flagship was definitely Mickles Pickles. But no baking as far as I can recall. No, he left the Anzacs to Nancy. But his nightly cooking, his support of Mum, was one thing that stood as testament to the rock and pillar of the family that he was. There are many things he may not have been, but he was there if you needed him. Always.

He had his faults too. He was a hopeless handy man and I don't think I ever saw him do more to a motor car than put in petrol or fill an over-heated radiator. Changing a tyre was possibly achievable, but a challenge. Maybe he changed a spark plug in the mower once. He had a weakness for pulpy Westerns and could snooze away the afternoon at the drop of a hat. Until his final years he loved a drink with friends -- the mainstay being beer, but port or muscat with soda made a refreshing change…and in later years an occasional snort of Butterscotch Schnappes (or was it snatch? He was never quite sure.) For 50 odd years he smoked. Rollies, never tailor-mades. Log Cabin or Havelock, thanks. He also had a weakness for black jelly beans and crystallized ginger, but these are hardly faults are they? They were just some of his guilty, or maybe not so guilty, pleasures. Along with mangos, fresh prawns, oysters, mud crab, and Crème de Menthe and ice cream. He was an epicure before his time, was Mick.

There is more, so much more that could be said, that will be said, about his life. What he did and what he achieved. His teaching, his golfing, his marriage, his friendships. But not now. Not here. In these few words, I just wanted to try to capture a little of what he was. At least to my eyes. The essence of my Mick. My dad. And to put down this memory, the one that I shall carry of him forever.


Pete said...


I'm really sorry about your loss. I'm sorry also that I never had an opportunity to meet Mick but I'm grateful for your words, which have allowed me to get to know him. I'm thankful also that you and your family had a chance to visit with him so recently--I'm sure that he was grateful for that time together.

Take care, Pete

Christian said...

Sincere condolences.
And thanks for sharing Mick's wonderful portrayal with us!

plu said...

Nice tribute. All the best to you and your family.


Tesso said...

So sorry to hear you news Steve.

Thanks for sharing that lovely tribute and pics with us. I can see the similarities between the two of you, and not just in looks.

Its probably been said before but he must have been so incredibly proud of you and what you have done so far in life, and that must be of some comfort.

Sending good thoughts your way.

Ewen said...

Beautiful words Steve. All who read them will feel they've got to know Mick in some small way.

My thoughts are with you and the family. I'll say a quiet prayer on Saturday morning - imagining it was Mick who cooked the damper and boiled the billy.

Scott said...

Sounded like my kind of man. You were lucky to have had such a father. And as Tesso said he must have been proud of you.

Chin up and keep doing him proud.

My thoughts to your family.

2P said...

Mate - thanks for sharing, you know he looks a bit like Graham Kennedy in those pics....

It is a tough time no doubt, but as you already have, keep on remembering the good bits - the Micks and the Freds (you know who I mean) of this world were truly the last of their kind.

Keep the memory alive so that the generations to come can feel the connection and influence of a very special man.

Thoughts are very much with you and your family.

Cheers, 2P

Robert Song said...

Sounds like he was quite a character and thanks for sharing that with us.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Joachim said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, Steve.
I can imagine how you feel; my dad passed away many years ago.
You have a lot of great memories about your dad, I am sure.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

MilesandMiles said...

Very sorry for your loss Steve. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time. Arnaud

Brett Larner said...

I'm very sorry to hear it, Steve.

Dan said...


I am sorry to hear about your loss. Our thoughts are with you and all your family.

Eryn said...

Sincere condolences, Steve. Really great portrait. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...


Terribly sorry to hear of the loss of your Dad. Wishing all of you the very best and our deepest condolences.

Jim W

Luckylegs said...

Steve, so sorry to read that your 'Mick' has passed away. What a wonderful tribute you have written & what great love you have shared with your dad.

Sincere sympathy.

mika t. said...

Steve, I am very sorry for this, and thanks for sharing your memory of Mick. This gave me some idea of what you loved and where you are from.

Omar Minami said...

I haven't stopped by your blog in months and just ran into this post. I am sorry to hear about your loss. Two months are about to go by, I am sure though your thoughts are still about it. I lost mine about two years ago. Actually a few weeks after I joined Namban for the first time...and I always wonder why? Even now when people ask about him sometimes I even say he is in Peru. But well at least we now have someone running besides us in every race and jog.
Cheers to good dads.