Jack White, my spirited drummer, has rounded up a few musicians and we are all busy rehearsing for some upcoming shows that promise to actually have an audience that hasn't just wandered in off the street, when Joe breaks into the rehearsal room carrying some glasses and a cheap bottle of champagne. "Jessie's Girl" has just reached #1 on the Billboard charts and is looking like it will be a worldwide hit. Cheap champagne never tasted so good. I am on the way to what I always felt was my destiny - that thing I believed I was saved for when the rope came unraveled long ago in the backyard shed. But there is still a painful detour I must make just up ahead.
I come home from GH one evening and the message light is blinking on my 70's style PhoneMate answering machine. I hit the playback button and my brother Mike's voice, broken and dire, comes out of the small speaker. "Rick. Call home. Dad is gravely ill." I call Mike back. On the other side of the world, my champion sleeps in a stark hospital bed, drugged against the pain. Mum has been sitting with him night and day for 2 weeks but she needs to go home so she can get some clean clothes and check on the house. She dashes out, hoping to be back by her husband's side within 3 hours. My dad, I think, has stayed around at this point because he knows his wife is desperate not to lose him. But it's time to go.
And an hour after his best girl has left the hospital grounds, my father, my champ, my sweet old man, leaves this world forever. Eileen Louise Springthorpe nee Evennett arrives home to the phone ringing, answers it and hears the words she has prepared herself for years to hear, but it still shatters her. Our man is dead for the second and final time. After 2 valiant attempts, Normie at last makes it home. I am woken in the early hours of a Friday morning with my brother's second phone call. He tells me dad is gone. I am at least 20 hours away from my family in Melbourne and I'm scheduled to be on the set of General Hospital in 3 hours. I think about what my dad would I do in my place. His work ethic would say "finish your job son." His heart would say "take care of your mum." So I do both.
I book a flight home to Australia leaving that afternoon and I arrive on the ABC set at 8:00 AM as I am supposed to do. The only one who knows about my dad is Gloria Monty who moves my scenes forward in the daily schedule so I can finish early and get to the airport in time for my flight home. Its still all so raw and new that I just cant tell anyone else because I know if someone comes up to me and hugs me or offers words of condolence, I will crumble. So I make my face into a mask, finish the scripted scenes and get myself to the airport. General Hospital gives me 4 days to fly to Australia, attend the service for my dad and then fly back to resume my shift as Dr. Noah Drake. I take the 14-hour journey home once again. I'm in shock, as we all are, even though we knew it was coming, and my 2 days at home go by like moments spent in someone else's life.