Did you ever have a good mate, one who was true?
Yes, I guess you did, and I had one too.
Always together, we were closer than brothers,
Real good mates, we were attuned to each other.
Down on your luck, he'd share his last quid,
No questions asked, it was just what he did.
In troubles and triumphs, he'd be by my side,
Our mateship was something in which he took pride.
Out in the scrub, no chance of resupply,
So on your mate, you had to rely.
Without hesitation he'd share his last smoke,
Not even a quibble, he was that sort of bloke.
I remember the time in the bush, I got real sick,
But I knew that my mate, by me would stick.
The weather closed in, no dustoff in sight,
He tended my needs through the long dark night.
He did his gun picquet then did mine too,
When morning's light came he made me a brew.
Then he cleaned up our site without further ado,
Just said, ":Take it easy mate, I'll see us through."
One day we were parted, sent different ways,
Not our choosing, just the game fate often plays.
Typical of the Army, it did this sort of thing,
Never thinking of the hardship or sorrow it can bring.
I saw him much later, but the years had left their mark,
It seemed to me, he was stumbling in the dark.
I reached out to him to help pull him through,
He just smiled, said "It's okay mate, you've had your hell too."
He drank his beer and talked about fate,
I wanted to help him 'cos he was my mate.
I guess life got too much, he gave up the race,
Disappeared one day, not leaving a trace.
To this day I miss him, my best mate,
And sometimes I curse this thing called fate.
It brought us together, then pulled us apart,
And the sorrow I feel, still drags at my heart.
Where is he now I often wonder,
Somewhere in this big land down under.
Wherever you are mate, wherever you roam,
As long as I live you've still got a home.
Lee O'Neill - 6 July 1998
Dedicated to mateship and all those who shared it with me, especially Mick.