“Dad would have been dying to see Eva’s new uniform, to hear about her day, and that makes it all the more emotional. Lola felt really sad that Poppy was never going to see her start Year 4, but we keep reminding her that he’s watching. Dad is remembered constantly.
“We talk randomly about him, about funny things he did, all the time and I think that’s really nice. Although Alby is only 1, he will grow up knowing all the stories. He’s the spitting image of Dad and even sleeps the same way, with his hands above his head.”
Cherished by his family and fans alike, Albert Watson ‘Bert’ Newton AM MBE passed away on October 30, aged 83. Sadly, the multiple TV Week Gold Logie winner spent most of 2021 in hospital through Melbourne’s lengthy lockdown, only allowed to see limited visitors.
“But I have no regrets,” says Lauren, who has been a rock for her heartbroken mother Patti, 77. “Sam visited by himself about a week before Dad died and stayed for a couple of hours. He probably told him things he didn’t tell anyone else! As we all know, Dad was pretty good at talking to people.
“He had a very special bond with all the kids for different reasons. Lola is the entertainer, so Dad would applaud the concerts and shows she wrote and performed for him. He used to watch TV with Monty and would even look at children’s stuff without the kids, so he could talk to them about it.”
Lauren will be forever thankful for her father, not least because Bert played Cupid and introduced her to her now-husband, Matt, 45, in 2003.
“I was living in Japan at the time, but I flew back for a couple of days to see Mum and Dad at the Regent Theatre in The Wizard of Oz,” says Lauren. “They really liked Matt when he was a guest on [Good Morning Australia], so they arranged for us to see the show and meet beforehand.
“Afterwards, they asked if we were going to have a drink somewhere. Well, we weren’t, but decided perhaps we should,” she smiles. “Basically, that was it. I’ve always thought it was great because I never had that pressure of bringing someone home to meet the parents!
“They suggested the whole thing and here we are today – with six kids. I’ve always been so close to my parents that whoever I married had to be OK with that. I’m lucky because Matt loved Mum and Dad, and was always happy to be around them.”
Living close to each other in Melbourne’s inner east, the two households shared dinner most nights. Since Bert’s death, Lauren, Matt and the kids have given Patti unwavering support through the devastating loss of her husband of nearly 47 years.
“She has Lola and Monty to stay, and they love that. Monty holds her hand through the night because he doesn’t want her to be lonely without Poppy.
“But it’s difficult for Mum and always will be. She’s missing the person she loved most in the world and that’s never going to go away. It’s like her heart has been ripped out.
“But she gets up every day, puts in her hot rollers, puts on her makeup and keeps going. She knows Dad wouldn’t want her to be in a dark room, crying. We’re all taking one day at a time, not thinking too far ahead. We’re trying to work out this new world we’re living in, now Dad’s not here.”
Read more in this week's New Idea, on sale now.