Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reflection delivered at Carolyn's Dad's Funeral

Yesterday I had the privilege of leading the funeral service for Carolyn's Dad.
Everything went beautifully and Carolyn's comment at the end of the day was that if she could have picked what she wanted to happen through the process of her Dad dying and the funeral, she wouldn't change a thing from how it actually happened.
She delivered one of the tributes and did a wonderful job, despite all her apprehension and nervous trips to the toilet beforehand!

This is the reflection with which I concluded the service.

The first time I met Alan was the night Carolyn and I told him and her Mum we were planning to get married.
We had flown over from WA for the weekend to tell her parents and mine.
The only prior knowledge they had of my existence was a letter sent home by Carolyn the previous week laden with coded references to Marcus. To put that in context, I had proposed three weeks after we started going out.
We arrived on a Saturday evening and spent an anxious couple of hours watching television with them before building up the courage to say there was something we wanted to talk to them about. Carolyn had inspired sufficient fear in me that I wasn’t game to “ask for her hand” in the traditional way in case he refused.
With genuine nervousness I said “Carolyn and I are going to get married”
Alan’s immediate reply floored both of us.
“That’s wonderful” and as easy as that we had their blessing and support.
Throughout our marriage we have been on the receiving end of Alan and Mary’s generosity and blessing. We have never doubted that they wanted the best for us and our children.  
Many years later, following the sad passing of Carolyn’s Mum Mary, we made a significant decision to move back to Victoria in order to be closer to her Dad.
With both his eyesight and hearing mostly gone and on his own for the first time in his life, we felt we needed to be closer in order to give him the support and care he would need. It was not an easy decision and once again there was a fair bit of anxiety on Carolyn’s part before we told him we were moving.
Nervous that he wouldn’t approve we were again surprised and delighted when he said it was wonderful news.
For a man not given to spontaneity these reactions were unexpected but very pleasantly so. It caused me to ponder the meaning behind these responses, just as I have reflected on Alan’s long life these last few days.
What was at the heart of his life? What motivated and inspired him?
What was most important to Alan ?
The answer?
His love for his family.
His delight at our marriage plans I’m sure was based on the realisation that we loved one another and this is what his daughter wanted. How else would he respond other than to want the best for his children?
He had devoted his whole life to providing for his family through hard work, commitment, perseverance, reliability and faithfulness. His love for Mary was the light of his life, his constant north star. He said many times “Your mother could do no wrong in my eyes”.
By virtue of his generous gifts Alan showed his willingness to support and encourage his children, to help them on the road to security. I know we were not the only recipients of his generosity. Alan had worked hard and done well but was always willing to share what he had whether it was with his family or his church or other charitable groups.
Prior to his passing and in the days since, his children have spent a lot of time together and when the discussion turned to meaning and purpose in their Dad’s life, there was unanimous agreement that his family were what mattered most to him and that he had devoted his life to providing for them, looking after them and caring about their welfare.
Funerals are sometimes guilty of presenting a rose-coloured view of the departed. In that light, it is appropriate to acknowledge that Alan was sometimes challenging, even difficult to get along with. He and I did not always see eye to eye. But in everything he did there was one constant: love for his family. He wanted the best for them, even if his view and theirs of what was best weren’t necessarily the same.
In the last few years of his life Alan found himself alone, lonely and broken-hearted. It was time for his family return the favour, to gather around him and to give back. The time attention and care of Charles, Ray, Trevor and Carolyn over the last few years have been a source of great joy and comfort for Alan and without them I’m sure this day would have come much sooner.
You have done your father and mother proud. You have risen to the challenge and done all that needed to be done and then gone beyond. You have loved your Dad. You have cared for him. You have been here for him. You have nursed him and tenderly met his needs. And as his days came to a close and he knew his time was nearly up you gathered around him to make that final journey as comfortable and peaceful as possible. You repaid the love he had given you and became in the process the proof in the pudding of your Mum and Dad’s lives. They loved one another. They loved you. What else could you do but love them in return to the very end of their lives.
You have all made important contributions but, even though I may be accused of bias, I do want to especially acknowledge the part Carolyn has played in the last three years. She left the place she loved and with some reluctance came back to Geelong. She became her dad’s driver and companion, his confidante and encourager, his eyes and ears, his carer and friend.
Her patience and commitment I believe extended her Dad’s life not just in time but most importantly in quality.
Carolyn your faithful love and care for your Dad on a daily basis was an enormous blessing to him and a great credit to you. I know your dad appreciated all you did for him. On his behalf I say Thank You.

Charles, Ray, Trevor and Carolyn, as your Dad is laid to rest you can take comfort in his life and legacy and pride in your own actions and responses. Well done. God bless you for your faithfulness.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Carolyn's Dad Alan passed away peacefully early this morning. Carolyn and her brothers were with him as they had been for the last few days. He was 94.
May he rest in peace.
                                                                   Christmas 2011

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

It's August, I'd Better Blog!!

A few random jottings on recent events.

Dad is doing very well in his recovery, so much so that Vicki has come home after a couple of weeks of caring duties. There are more procedures to come but everything is progressing very well at the moment. Even more encouraging is the strong prospect that he will make the move from Queensland back to Victoria on the basis that he is a long way away from the family and our support during his new health concerns.

I encouraged Vicki to come home on Friday rather than Saturday so she could come to the footy with me on Friday night. Sadly, the Cats proceeded to lose to North Melbourne. This follows the defeat to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago. They are not quite so imposing and invincible as they used to be (or we would like) but they will play finals and are still a serious contender for the premiership.

 Paula & Bruce, a couple of happy Tigers fans, at Subiaco on my recent trip to Perth

It has been a challenging few days on the buses. I've been spat at (thank goodness for the safety door protecting the driver), abused by an irate passenger, threatened with physical violence, and had to clean up vomit left by an intoxicated passenger on the night bus! Then tonight there was a fight at the bus stop right next to the bus with one bloke repeatedly threatening and then assaulting another. I closed the doors and called 000.

In February I initiated a weight loss competition at work, calling it The Biggest Winner. 6 of us entered, each putting up $50 in a winner takes all contest. I also persuaded the company to add to the prize money, which they did with an extra $100 to the winner, $50 for second and $25 for third.
The competition concluded at the end of July and I'm pleased to announce that I won! And that I have lost 15kg in the process, or nearly 13% of my starting weight. I am down to 100kg and well on the way to reaching my target weight of 95kg.Interestingly three of us lost significant amounts of weight, another lost a little bit and the remaining two put on weight! The money is a welcome bonus but the real prize is losing weight. My strategy was to modify what I ate, largely but not completely cutting out the rubbish I used to eat, and exercising for about an hour every day, mostly by riding an exercise bike (in front of the TV!). While I was in Queensland with Dad I joined a gym on a short term deal and went nearly every day, helped by the fact it was accessible 24/7 so I could go at night, and the machines had TV screens! Not wanting to create the impression I'm addicted to television, the reality is that I get bored easily and exercising without some other form of stimulation/distraction is very difficult for me.

After a lull of several months, following the sale of the last of the lucrative footy cards, I have started listing things to sell on ebay again and have had a few pleasant surprises and good results. Most surprising has been a couple of the old bus stop signs I salvaged after a major replacement program a couple of years ago. I have sold quite a few in the past and the prices had dropped significantly so I stopped listing them to let the market improve. Sure enough the first one sold for $49 and one I have currently listed is already up to $86!!
For those who followed the story of the old Coles footy cards (in a nutshell, I bought a shoebox full of footy cards and a box of old Footy Records for $50) and discovered that one pack of cards in particular were quite old, quite rare and very much in demand. The final tally of sales for about 60 cards came to $2100!! with a John Coleman card going for over $300 being the highlight. I'm in the process of now selling various other cards and Records and continuing to reap the benefits of my original $50 investment.

My favourite daughter had a nasty mishap a few weeks ago while taking photos of my nephew's kids at the beach, falling over some rocks and breaking both bones in her wrist! A night in hospital and an operation to insert a plate followed. She is recovering slowly. One good thing was that it was her left arm so she is still able to do most things including drive my automatic car!

Sport Boy has been a bit crook recently and has a cold/flu/bad throat at the moment. This follows but is not connected to a recent confirmation that he has Celiac's disease and is completely allergic to gluten. Hopefully with dietary modifications we can keep it under control, and his overall health will improve. When he's not sick he is surfing! To the point where he is trying to convince us to let him go to an alternative school next year that focuses on surfing and helping kids pursue careers in the surfing and related industries! We haven't committed ourselves but are considering it, having been to an interview with the school and found out a bit more about it. (It's not as dodgy as my first thoughts feared!!)

When I'm not working on a Saturday I umpire local junior football games which has some minor health/fitness benefit and some moderate financial benefit! The range of characters I share umpiring duties with varies!! Give someone a whistle and a uniform and you never know what sort of meglomania you will unleash!! That's an exaggeration but I did have a few problems with my fellow umpire this week who was young (inexperienced) officious(zealous) technical (pernicity to the point of annoying) and who had little feel for the game (Paid unnecessay free kicks/50 m penalties etc). He also had the special talent of being able to point out my mistakes while ignoring or excusing his own! eg. When I pointed out to him at half time that he had failed to blow the whistle for two marks during the quarter he tried to convince me that because both players had immediately played on he didn't need to blow his whistle to pay the marks!! But, the worst incident occurred when we disagreed on the payment of a technical free kick at a centre bounce and because I over-ruled him he walked off the ground and told me I could umpire the rest of the game on my own!! Basically an "I'm taking my whistle and going home tantrum"!! I managed to convince him at half time that he should come back on and finish the game but then watched as he umpired so poorly that at the end of the game one of the team managers informed me that they were going to lodge a formal complaint against him for biased umpiring!! I'm pleased/relieved to report that they had no complaints against me or my umpiring!! I got a phone call this evening from the umpiring coach asking for my opinion and observations on what happened. Further to my umpiring career I have been asked to be an umpire's advocate at the Tribunal next season and went along last week to observe the Tribunal and find out what's involved in advocacy.

 A couple of weeks ago Broady brought his boys, Tom and Ned to Melbourne for the weekend and we caught up at the footy, Richmond v Freo at the MCG. As always it was great to see him, and the boys had a great time.