’I told you so’: Dad idea for ‘living wake’ before his death
"SEE … I told you the living wake was a good idea."
The haunting words were spoken by a Laidley father before he tragically passed away, having fought a long battle with chronic illness.
Though his family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Kevin Balke in person at a living wake last year, his recent passing on May 13, has left his loved ones heartbroken.
Kevin's daughter Kylie said her father was like a best friend to her and recalled the time she got a tattoo of the words "daddy's little girl" at 17, knowing her dad's disdain for body ink.
"My older brother told dad what I was doing … Dad wouldn't look at me because he was so upset," Kylie said.
But Kylie stood in front of him to show him the tattoo.
"The smile that spread across his face is a smile I will never forget."
Born in Esk on June 1, 1954, and growing up in towns within the region, Kevin has spent his entire life between the Somerset and Lockyer Valley.
At 16, he found his first job and began working as a porter at the railway in Forest Hill.
"While working as a porter he sat the exams for a promotion," Kylie said.
"On his 20th birthday he become the youngest guard Queensland Railway had ever had … He was very proud of this achievement."
As his terminal illness worsened, Kevin worried for the future of a club he had grown to care deeply for.
As president of the Lockyer Valley Fish Restocking Association, Kevin searched for someone to replace his post to ensure it continued to run.
Nearly a year ago, more than 60 of Kevin Balke's friends and family packed into the Queensland National Hotel, Laidley, to have one last chat with their friend.
Kevin's daughter Kylie Kajewski said coronavirus restrictions meant the family were not able to farewell Kevin as they expected to - but the living wake had been a silver lining.
"The whole purpose of having the living wake was because we knew dad was dying … It gave him the opportunity to say goodbye," she said.
"We weren't allowed to have a wake … We could only have 30 people at the funeral."
The Lockyer Valley Fish Restocking Association will meet for its AGM on Tuesday, July 7 at 4pm at the Laidley Showgrounds.
Read more stories by Ebony Graveur.