The following story appeared in volume 33 of the BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Journal; Spring 1998.
I am very lucky with my job. As an airline pilot, I get to travel all over the world. This means that I have had the privilege of meeting many of you, despite the thousands of miles of continents and oceans that separate us. I have met Burgums in the USA, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore and Australia. Without exception they have been nice people. Just recently, I flew to Brisbane, Australia (its a tough job, but somebody has to do it!). While there, I hired a car and drove north to Maleny, a journey of about ninety minutes. I had arranged to stay with Frank and Edna Burgum (RR 090) and arrived in the late afternoon.
Later that day, Edna and I went to Maleny Hospital. Frank lies in his own room with an oxygen unit nearby to help him breathe. "Hello, mate. How yer doin'?" he asks. Edna tidies Frank's pillows and makes him more comfortable. "By geez, it good to see you." Frank asked about the boys. (We had visited Frank and Edna back in 1991). "I remember that boy of yours," he told me with a glint in his eye. "He'd walk around with his notebook; interested in everythin' he was." (Ashley was just five then).
We sat and talked for a while and Edna told him her news: I'd arrived later than expected, Sally was off to her party by car (a very long drive) and Craig (a grandson) was coming around for dinner. Then it was time to go. "We'll be round tomorrow morning," Edna assured him. "Anything you need?" I said good-bye to Frank and told him I'd be back in the morning. Back at home, Edna cooked a meal and Craig (Ross's son) and his girlfriend came for dinner. We sat and drank beer and talked about family and life. I slept in Sally's room and fell into a deep sleep. It was either the jet-lag or the beer.
The next day, Edna drove me around Maleny. It's a small town, in the hills above the Sunshine Coast. I remembered Burgum Road (named after Frank's brother, Tom). I still have a picture hanging in my house, in the Forest of Dean, with me, Vicky and the boys standing underneath the sign "Burgum Road". As we approached the hospital, Edna pointed to a site across the road. "They're planning a park just there," she explained. "They're thinking of calling it Burgum Park, after Mary (Frank's late sister)." Frank had had another bad night. He had not slept well and he apologised again for not being well. He pulled himself higher up the bed and we chatted. We talked about my last visit back in 1991. We talked about my job with British Airways and my travels. We talked about my visit to Ray (Frank's brother), who lies ill in Perth, Western Australia. We talked about the Burgum Family History Society and my research. We talked about family.
Finally, it was time to go. Frank and I said our good-byes and I shook his hand. "Nice of you to drop by," he smiled. "Good to see you again, mate." Edna and I left the hospital and quietly made our way back to the house. "I have to be going," I explained. "I have a plane to catch !" I knew it wouldn't go without me, but I shouldn't be late. Later, I re-read the sheets of paper given to me by Sally. She had decided to write down some of the things her grandfather had said to her over the past few months. Some are funny; some are very moving. Its sometimes hard to nurse someone you love.........
OUT OF THE BLUE
"By Christ, Sally old girl. Isn't it a bastard?"
"I'll be glad when the old girl gets back, she can get me some tobbacca. By geez, it'll be great to get a new packet of tobbacca."
"How's old Snow McKillop? Tell him I've got an old wire brush that'll clean out any ulcers he's got in his guts."
"God, that Healy, he's a good boy." (Talking about the Australian cricket wicket keeper).
"How I'm going to get out of this chair is a bloody mystery."
"I remember it first came out in 1949, when we were in Millmerran."
"Me and Noel, they were expecting us to be dead this morning." (He was in hospital; I was working the nightshift and Peter and Camille arrived...)
"Sometimes I think about how I used to come home on a Friday night and I don't know how the old girl coped."
After a fall and Frank is out of hospital, he still insists on getting out of bed in the middle of the night for a 'cuppa coorrfeee', so now I get up with him to make sure he's alright and no more falls occur. (Silly me!).
Frank - "I might not be here for Christmas, I just might not be here."
Frank - "Did you see Andy tonight?"
Frank - "What are you doing, Megs?"
"It takes a bloody lot of tobbacca and drink to kill a man, I have decided."
Sunday Morning (November 1997)
My thanks to Edna for looking after me during my Maleny visit and my thanks to Sally for sharing these words with us. There's a lot of love in that house. Good luck to you Frank.
Francis Glen Burgum (Frank) died 4th April 1998.
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