The Howl of The Black Dog

On the 5th of March, my step-father Norman passed away from a heart-attack, his passing, on the surface, appeared to be a sudden shock and still does not seem real. However, in retrospect, the incident of a heart-attack was simply inevitable, my step-father’s male lineage is severely afflicted with stubborn men suffering and dying from heart-attacks.

Norman works for a cleaning service (cleaning public places like public toilets, barbecues, emptying rubbish bins) and Norman’s job was to empty public bins along the Calder Park Freeway. Norman was on his normal routine when he picked up a bin to bring it over to his truck to empty (the truck has an automatic lift thingy). The bin was filled with dirt, sand, bricks and other gardening/landscape rubbish (that shouldn’t have been there in the first place but regardless) which meant the bin was extraordinarily heavy, Norman (foolishly I may add) picked up the bin and brought it over to the truck. When he came home, he was in a lot of pain, he thought he had merely strained himself

During the Week, my Mum insisted they call an ambulance or go to the doctor’s, however Norman insisted he was fine and his pain situation appeared (on the surface) to be gradually improving. On the 5th of March, a Thursday, Norman was at work (performing his usual routine jobs) and he suddenly felt worse, he then called his employer and told his employer he wasn’t well, his employer drove out and brought him back to his place in New Gisbon, his employer’s wife called an ambulance, the ambulance got there in about 6 minutes, worked on him for roughly an hour and a half, stabilized him enough to get him into the ambulance, unfortunately despite the best efforts of the paramedics, Norman passed away before the ambulance could leave the drive-way.

The real tragedy of this is if Norman had just been willing to go to the doctors, if he had taken his health seriously, he might still be alive. There is a toxic culture of hyper-masculinity that Norman was afflicted with that prevented him from acknowledging when he had injured himself (sometimes very serious injuries like a broken knee-cap). It is this toxic-masculinity and a phobia of Doctors that prevented him from properly addressing his issues with mental health. However, in the last 3 to 6 months, my step-father had gone to a GP and a psychiatrist, got his anti-depressants adjusted (and was taking them consistently), he hadn’t had a drink for 3 months. Norman was doing everything he could improve his current situation.

Normally, I don’t like to share these personal aspects of my life, I’m not doing this as a way of fishing for condolences or compliments, I am well aware that there is always someone else who is suffering far more than I am, the only reason I’m posting this is in the hope that my step-father’s death will serve as a cautionary tale to others. My mother is haunted by the regret of not forcing my step-father into the car and making him go to the doctors and I would not wish that upon anyone.

My step-father loved Enya and Led Zeppelin and these will be the songs played at his funeral and cremation on Monday.

If I Was A Carpenter by Robert Plant

Pilgrim by Enya

Sea of Love by Robert Plant

Amazing Grace by Bagpipes

Bron Yr Aur by Led Zeppelin

A Day Without Rain by Enya

Black Dog by Led Zeppelin

Kashmir by Led Zeppelin


Heart Attack Facts – Learn The Warning Signs (men)

Heart Attack Facts – Learn The Warning Signs (women)

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