The Saga of Mick Continued.

Chip and Mick were late returning from work. I heard Mick’s car pull up and soon Chip entered.

“Why are you so late?” I asked.

“We went down to Beaudesert to get wood,” Chip replied.

“Mick’s getting ready for winter then?”

“Yes. And we had to take another load to a very old gentleman.”

“What? A customer?”

“No. Just someone Mick met somewhere. Mick said he is very old and doesn’t have much money so Mick takes him enough wood to get him through the cold weather. Oh, and Mum, Mick says he wants to talk to you tomorrow evening about your trip to New York.”

I had lived in the United States for many years and I still went back frequently to visit family and friends. Mick knew from previous conversations that I had on occasion attended talks at The New York Explorers Club. Now he had a mission for me. In his quest to find this dinosaur which he believed still roamed the remote wilds of New Guinea, and during his research, he had come to believe that there was a manuscript in the N.Y. Explorer’s Club’s Research Department which referred to that. He wanted me to find the manuscript and copy the pertinent information. The fact that he thought he was making progress had him quite excited about his next trip which was only three months away. He had told us about his earlier trips and the dangers he sometimes encountered. On one trip he had been surrounded by headhunters who carried rifles instead of spears. Fortunately they left him his head, while robbing him of whatever else he was carrying.

His treks were into country so remote that he could travel only by foot on land or  in cut-out canoes on the rivers .

Over the years he had befriended one New Guinea family who lived far from civilization and they gave him whatever help they could. He referred to them as his “other family”. Such was their friendship that when the wife gave birth to a son, they named him “Little Mick”.

Life continued on in the usual pattern of nightly musings over a bottle of red and intermittent silences to study the stars only now, we sometimes spent our nightly unwinds on Mick and Ursula’s porch. Ursula was a homebody and did not like to go far from home.

Mick told me that he was going to ask for $2,000,000 when he sold his farm. He often mentioned that he planned on giving $100,000 of it to me and Chip so we could finish the renovations we were doing to our house. I am a most independent person who has never taken anything, even from family, so I always brushed such talk aside.

My trip to the States was only two weeks away now and I was determined to finish building a set of steps down to our next level before I left. Our property rests precariously on the side of a mountain and we had bulldozed it into three levels.

Chip and I were digging post holes when Mick arrived. Despite my most fervent protests, Mick cancelled his farm-work for that day and took the posthole digger from Chip.

“Chip and I can get these holes dug today,” he said. “You can’t afford to pay someone to help and you will never get it done yourselves.”

Indeed, it was a big job with about twenty steps being required to reach the next level surface. No matter how hard I tried to stop him, Mick would have none of it, and as the morning progressed, the two of them worked away with sweat streaming down their faces. Digging deep holes is hard work on any level but on a steep slope it is much worse. Even the Kookaburras were laughing at their efforts as they watched from a nearby gumtree.

Ursula had told me that Mick was having heart trouble. He was a bit overweight and she was trying to make him watch his diet. I thought of all this as I tried to push aside my uneasy feelings about the hard labor he was doing on my behalf.

At one pm I called the men to lunch and set out a couple of salads on the deck table. Mick stared a moment then said “Is this rabbit food all you’ve got for a hard working man? Come on June.”

“Sorry Mick, Ursula said you can’t eat fried food and all I’ve got is bacon and eggs.”

“Well bring it on girl, bring it on. I’m starving.”

“I don’t know,” I hesitated, “I don’t think I should.”

“I could die for bacon and eggs. Come on, get back in the kitchen.”

I gave in and made a couple of big plates of bacon, eggs and mushrooms which Mick eagerly got stuck into.

By four pm Mick said they were finished for the day. He was going to go home and get cleaned up. He asked Chip and I to join he and Ursula on their porch later.

We were all tired so Chip and I didn’t stay long that night. As we left I called out to Mick “By the way. A letter arrived from The Explorers Club setting up an appointment for me.”

“We’ll talk about it in the morning,” Mick hollered back.

At 2 am Ursula called, hysterical. “Come quick. Come quick.”

The police were there when we arrived. Mick was on his back in the hallway. He had been on his way to the toilet when he had a heart attack. I don’t remember a lot more about that night.

Mick was 52.

How sad that he died so young when he had so many plans for so much more living. Dinosaurs and fishing played a big part in those plans. He never had time to find his dinosaur but I’m glad he never had the disappointment of discovering there was NO dinosaur. Or was there? And is there?

We loved Mick in that pure way reserved for only a certain few special ones. For awhile I felt guilty that I had not stopped him from working that day and eating those damned bacon and eggs. We always find something to feel guilty about when someone we love dies, but then, I remind myself, I have always believed in fate.

Understandably, Ursula was bereft and in her grief, she put the farm on the market immediately.

It sold quickly at a fraction of it’s value and soon after, Ursula phoned me.

“June, I need to talk to you about money,” she said.

“I don’t understand, Ursula.”

“ Mick told me he was planning to give you and Chip $100,000 when he sold the farm. I am terribly sorry but I sold cheap and I haven’t got that much to give.”

“For God’s sake, Ursula. I never took any notice of Mick and I wouldn’t take it if you did. We don’t want any money.”

“Well it’s what Mick wanted and I am trying to fulfill his wishes. You know he always tried to follow the biblical admonition of ‘Take care of the widows and children’. But, I hope you are not upset if I give you less.”

“Upset?” I spluttered. “I can’t even believe we are having this conversation.”

Now a few years later, I look at my lovely renovated kitchen and ponder what a good woman Ursula is and what a good mate she was for Mick.

Some weeks after Mick died we were talking about him and Ursula said “You know, his right hand never knew what his left hand was doing. He never talked about the people he helped. When I started going through his diaries and bank statements I found there were many people he had been helping over the years. There was one old lady whose daughter had become a drug addict. The grandmother took the two grandsons in and was raising them herself. Mick had set up a bank account for the boy’s education and he had been supporting them for years.”


PHOTO CAPTION: Big Mick and Little Mick.



At Mick’s funeral his brother read a beautiful eulogy and although all of it was worth repeating the part I liked best of all read;

Mick was a starry-eyed idealist who sometimes seemed a little out of touch with the world as it is. Perhaps because he lived in a world not as it is but as it should be.

He had no airs and graces but he was a complex and sophisticated man. He chose to dress and present himself himself as a bit of a simple ‘bushie’ but he was not from the bush and he was anything but simple.

With a brilliant, incisive mind he had an extraordinary intellect without ever being an intellectual. He had the highest personal principles without ever being moralistic. He was uncompromising in his own views but tolerated the very human compromises of others…..

The Many Facets of Mick.

A bikie

A preacher and missionary

A fisherman of renown

An avid collector

A Scrabble Champion

A wordsmith and poet

A successful, entrepreneurial businessman

A horticulturist

An amateur paleontologist

And much, much more.




5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lee
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 00:51:03

    Mick sounds like just the person I’d like to have known. No airs…no graces…a true, real person of character, spirit and goodness.

    Guilt hangs around us everywhere, June…just waiting for us to reach out and give it a home. Ignore it…you were not to blame. As you say – fate. Fate is far more powerful than we mere humans. 🙂


  2. momtaxijulie
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 02:21:23

    I just love your stories, you write so well! Mick sounds like a great character and fun to know.


  3. June Collins
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 08:03:13

    Thanks Lee. You build my flagging confidence.Mick was indeed beautiful.


  4. June Collins
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 08:06:43

    Momtaxijulie. Thank you Julie and I really relate to you with such a ‘name’. I live in a semi rural area with no transportation. Until recently I was the taxi driver for four people. It is now down to three but still keeps me busy. I appreciate your comments. Thanks for following.


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