Going through my library recently I came across a small, rather battered blue book: the 1943 edition of The Last Enemy by Richard Hillary, addressed to my mother, then on Army service as a nursing sister, “With love from Dad.”
Dad? My grandfather? I remembered him as a serious, white-haired old gentleman, Sir Frank Gibson, long-time mayor of Fremantle, Member of the Legislative Council, patron, president or committeeman of innumerable clubs and societies, Knight of St. John.
He had made a considerable sacrifice, I later realized, to pay my school fees after my father died, but I had never been sure he approved of me, and I had always vaguely, though I now know quite unjustly, felt that he disapproved of “love,” or any other emotion.
Still, those simple words suggested to me that The Last Enemy was something special.
It was. Once very well known, it remains a classic which should not be forgotten, and whose message is as relevant today as when it was written.