Lloyd ran along the bush track by the creek on the farm, he could hear the cicadas that deafened his ears but he didn’t care, he loved the sound. His uncle took big long strides in front of him. Lloyd’s legs were still only little but his and his uncle’s quest for exotic insects was a serious expedition.
Later that night as usual when the washing up was done they both sat with his mother and studied the moths that gathered around the oil lamp on the kitchen table.
There was no money to study entomology as those little legs became a man, a trade had to support a family he was told but he was still the boy by the creek with his insect dreams.
Lloyd took his trade to Taronga Zoo so he at least could be surrounded by his need to be near animals and to study insects in his spare time.
Lloyd then met a girl like no other. She was an artist, a colourful exotic one to be revered. He looked behind,‘Is it me, or is there some one else there she is smiling at?’ He couldn’t believe it was him she wanted. So humble, not knowing his handsome looks were startling women everywhere he went.
The girl loved his intelligent mind, his sensitive manner, the way he could stare at a moth for ages and smile.
They bought books; he fed her the classics and science books. She showed him art books, architecture books and many more.
Lloyd had stories of the zoo. He wanted his children to know as much as they could about animals. One night he woke his eight-year-old daughter so she could see a giraffe give birth in a stable at 2 am. They drove home at sunrise and smiled all the way.
Lloyd read to his children every night and made sure they got his dream and theirs to go to university.
Lloyd wrote papers on moths, which were published in science journals. He became an honorary member of the Royal Zoological Society.
Lloyd held peoples’ hands if they were sad. He would never leave their side until they were all right.
Lloyd knew what an animal needed and they responded to him when no one else could go near.
Lloyd gave homeless people food, lifts in his car, whatever he could. He took presents for people in poor looking houses who he didn’t know. They would open the door to find a box of fresh food with no one in sight.
Lloyd founded The Book Binders Guild of Australia with a friend. He made a special book and his wife did a painting inside the cover. The Library of NSW bought it. A collaboration of the special something they saw in each other when they first met.
Lloyd was my father and one day he said to me, ‘I think I am losing my mind’, and his big glassy beautiful eyes looked at me, frightened. I held my breath.
I exhaled and hooked his arm into mine and drew him close. ‘You know you can trust me more than anyone else don’t you?’ And he nodded as by then his wife was unable to speak and was dying in hospital.
‘Well, move in with me and I will be the part of your mind you think isn’t working properly.’
He stared deeply into my eyes through to my brain and I knew he could see it was working and he nodded and smiled. It was a deal and it worked for quite a while.
Lloyd got brought home by the police.
Lloyd walked toward the plugged in heater with a screwdriver.
Lloyd wandered the house all night.
Lloyd went to a nursing home.
I died inside when I left him, my eyes wouldn’t focus.
We got used to it in an uncomfortable way.
Once we sat at the dinner table with five other patients and one of them held a union meeting. He thought it a good idea, but it drifted into confusion, but no one cared. He became content to live without logic. The answer didn’t matter.
Once I arrived to be told he had punched a nurse.
I couldn’t reconcile this action with him, where had he gone?
I was told to buy my father a doll.
I was told to buy my father a doll.
Lloyd had dementia for eight years and as he died those large beautiful glassy eyes stared into mine with a focussed intensity and for a moment the illness had left and we shared all those years together with sheer joy. And then he was gone. Well I like to think that is what happened, who knows. The more I lived beside this illness, the more I didn’t know.
Lloyd’s story was written by his daughter, Coral.