Shepparton News

Neighbour and great friend


- By Terri Cowley Terri Cowley, neighbour and friend, is also a journalist and breakfast presenter on One FM.

Colin Cliff

There are four people in our family but it often felt like five.

Our neighbour Colin would regularly drop by in the morning and end up staying for the day.

Someone needed to watch the dog. Colin would do it. My husband was going to Bunnings. Colin would go with him. My youngest son wanted to stay home while the rest of us went out. Colin would stay with him.

I lost count of the number of times Colin looked after our place and our pets when we weren’t there. It never seemed a chore. He was happy to be useful and keep busy.

He’d amble across the road from the house he shared with his sister Julie and brother-in-law Howard, shuffling and hunched over his walker, but with the most mischievou­s smile you’ve ever seen.

When my husband built the back deck, Colin was appointed ‘site supervisor’, which mainly meant good-naturedly criticisin­g every board Richard laid and pretending he’d done something wrong, when he hadn’t.

On the many occasions that Richard tried to clean out his garage, Colin would park his walker just inside and companiona­bly point out where Richard had missed a spot.

Colin loved our dog Dodger. On one occasion he took him for a walk and Dodger bolted, sending Colin and his walker sprawling. He ended up with cuts that bled profusely because of Colin’s blood thinners. But that didn’t reduce Colin’s affection.

Colin had no affinity with technology. His basic flip phone had large numbers for sausage fingers. But he would patiently sit with my son for hours while he played video games and listen to his commentary. Beau would laugh when Colin asked if he’d been playing Fortnightl­y.

They had their own private joke about the Battle Bus in Fortnite being called the Picnic Bus and Beau would facepalm every time Colin brought it up. It was an unlikely friendship between a 10-year-old and a 78-year-old, but it was deep.

Colin had a knack for just being. Silences didn’t have to be filled with conversati­on. You could sit with him on the deck and watch the day go by. In fact, he made you stop. There might have been work to be done on the computer or the kitchen to be cleaned up, but he had a way of getting your attention.

Julie kept a close eye on Colin’s health, always trying to make sure he ate healthily. But he wasn’t averse to jumping in the car to the shops with one of us, and then concealing his sweet purchases in the box on his walker, to be quietly devoured later.

Over the years, Colin had a number of falls and medical challenges. Far from wallowing in pity, he would turn these experience­s into entertaini­ng stories, like the time his blood pressure went up when the goodlookin­g nurse took it, or how the doctor told him he had some new medicine that would fix him up and he’d never feel pain again. It was called lead.

The recent fitting of a stoma did not dent Colin’s enjoyment of life. He would say that it made his much-loved steam train trips easier because he wouldn’t need the bathroom during the night.

He’d been in the GV hospital so many times, it seemed as though he was part of the furniture there and on a first-name basis with much of the staff. Most of the time he treated these visits like a bit of a holiday. He was a man of simple pleasures. Just a television, a bit of conversati­on and some nice meals, and he was happy. On the occasions that we visited him there he never stopped talking about the goings-on in the ward.

He definitely had a knack for gathering informatio­n and this too was true in the neighbourh­ood because, of course, ours wasn’t the only house he visited on his daily jaunts.

Whatever we thought we knew about the local gossip, Colin was always several steps ahead of us.

He was well known at every place he visited: the doctor’s, the pharmacy, the shopping centre, the laundromat. I don’t think he ever went anywhere and just kept to himself. He connected with people.

Colin shared so much with us over the past 10 years, since we moved to the neighbourh­ood. We will all miss him, every day. Colin Cliff of Kialla West passed away on August 17.

 ??  ?? Dynamic duo: Despite their difference in age, and command of technology, Colin Cliff and Beau Bryce were wonderful friends.
Dynamic duo: Despite their difference in age, and command of technology, Colin Cliff and Beau Bryce were wonderful friends.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia