Plummeting through the air, I am suspended by the feet. Slap! Landing face first, my cheek is pressed hard against a sweaty back. “That’s for lighter weight people. If they are too heavy for ya to pick up find something you can drag em’ on like a chair, and if there is nothing around use the foot as a handle and pull with all your might — it’s better to be injured than dead.”
Dad lowers me down with gentle toss onto the couch. He is in the middle of another one of his life lessons; today it’s how to move an unconscious body in an emergency situation. Last week he showed me how to feel my way out of a dark building and the week before, due to my bad cooking, how to put out an oil fire.
Dad has just retired from over 30 years of service in the NSW Fire department. I am proud of his job and all the people he has saved. He always says, “Anyone would do the same thing in that situation.” But Dad’s different: for the past 30 years he has volunteered to be in these situations.
[Phil Baggs retrospective. Photo: Belinda Baggs collection]
My dad is my hero! He is one of those people that can do everything: build a house, fix a car, glass a board, charge the biggest wave and love his family. His name is Phil but his mates call him Digby. He was born and bread in Newcastle, Australia and at 55 years old still lives there now.
I am lucky enough to share with him his greatest passion: surfing. He started surfing on a ’60s log, cut it down in the late ’60s, rode a stubby through the ’70s, lost his marbles on a mid-length during the ’80s, and has found solitude once again on a 9’6” longboard. Ever since I was a kid I would go to the beach everyday with Dad; that’s what we did and still do together. If the waves were too big, I would sit on the shore and watch him until one day I got sick of watching and made an oath to surf with him no matter what! I knew I would be safe even in the most challenging situations because dad was there. He has taught me almost everything I know and inspires me to love life everyday.
I wanted to say thanks to people like my Dad for existing.
[Belinda and Phil Baggs today, post-surf rinsing. Photo: Belinda Baggs collection]