I moved to Australia in 2006 and since this date, my dad regularly came over to visit me, from my home country of England. Over a period of years, he made the decision that Australia was a great place to live and he would like to come and join me and my family. This was exciting news and we made plans to allow him to do this over the coming years.
When dad arrived he moved in with us and soon became a part of our family life, but he also desperately wanted to have his own space. Mainly, he said, a space to be able to have the grandkids over for weekends and do the fun stuff without mum and dad around.
Dad was not only a great support in terms of our boys, but a great support of my career. He always pushed me to be the best I could be. In late 2015, I was working with Legal Aid Queensland, and dad began to talk to me about starting my own law firm. He told me that he knew my passion for my chosen area of law and also my passion to be a parent more available to my kids. We spoke about this frequently, but as far as I was concerned, I loved my job and had no intention of leaving.
On 9 May 2016, I dropped my eldest child at my dad’s house so they could have some ‘boy time’ (AKA éat heaps of junk food), whilst I went to Court. I returned to my dad’s home at about 12.00pm to collect my boy. When I arrived, there were the remains of sausage rolls, lollies and various other treats for them both. They had spent the morning laughing and playing and creating the most amazing memories together.
My boy and I left dad’s home and went back to our house. About two hours later I received the call that changed my life. It was a doctor who told me that they had dad at the hospital and I needed to get to the hospital quickly. I wasn’t given much other information, apart from it did not look good. My husband was in Sydney at the time, so I called a friend to take me to the hospital and look after my boy and then called my husband to ask him to get a flight home.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was taken to a private room and told that dad had been found on the side of the road, having had a massive heart attack. He had no heart beat when he was found, but the paramedics worked on him for about 40 minutes and were able to regain a heart beat. Dad was in emergency and in an induced coma and it was a waiting game as to whether he would wake up and if he did, whether there would be any lasting problems, given how long he may have been without a heart beat.
I spent the next 13 days in hospital, sitting next to dad, praying that he would wake up. During those early days, I tried to bargain with him, made him promises if he woke up. He didn’t and on 22 May 2016, I lost my beautiful father.
I was lucky to be employed by a great organisation that offered me as much time off as I needed to grieve and recover from the sudden loss. I took a couple of weeks and tried to return to work, but it felt so disrespectful to return to life as it was before dad had left. I decided that I should do something to honour his memory and began to think seriously about opening the law firm he had been pushing me to do.
I played with different firm names, mostly based around my boys names, but nothing seemed to have the right ring to it or the nod of respect that I wanted to my dad.
6 months to the day after dad died, I was due to marry my partner and I knew that I was about to lose my connection to my dad through my last name. So I tried to find a firm name that would allow me to remain connected to my soon to be husband, my children and my father. My maiden name was Manby and my soon to be married name was to be Green. I played with Green Manby Family Law or Manby Green Family Law, but neither felt right. One night I thought about the connection of Law with Latin and looked up the translation of Green in Latin. It was Viride. Viride and Manby had a nice ring to it, as it allowed the connection to remain, and also created a point of conversation that would allow me to refer back to my dad. So Viride Manby Family Law was born. We then decided to shortened this to VM Family Law. It has continued to create a great talking point for me, which still allows me to be reminded of my dad each and every day. I know he would be very proud of what I have achieved and just wish he were still here to see it.