Today was the funeral of a dear friend of mine’s father. He was two days shy of 62 when he finally succumbed to a long and bitter battle with kidney disease.
He was one of those men – kind, gentle, softly spoken, tough, clever and creative. The passion with which you could see he loved his beautiful wife, now bereft of her soul mate who had been by her side for the last 40 years, and their two children could honestly take your breath away.
A large part of my formative years did not feature a traditional mum, dad senario and there were friends whose families filled out that picture for me. I remember dinner’s with K’s family of Amazonian giants (seriously they’re all 6ft or taller) and being both scared, intimidated, in awe and in love with the volume and energy a dad at the dinner table brought. J’s dad was a farmer and that was another whole realm but one I just soaked up. I marvelled at how he’d yell at J and her sister in the paddock not doing whatever they were meant to be doing but then that was that, done with, forgotten. What happened in the paddock stayed in the paddock I guess. And then there was L’s dad. Beautiful man.
My faith has taken a great deal of interrogation over the last 14 years and I am in a weird twilight zone where I see the role faith can have in your life but no longer believe. Today’s service showed me, reminded me of the comfort a faith can bring in times of intense emotion.
Driving down to the service (just the other side of Wollongong) brought other memories flooding back. All the container ships sitting there off the coast. We used to stand on Nan’s verandah and count them and every Boxing Day watch the boats sail by in the Sydney to Hobart. Funny the things that stay with you.
A very dear person was at the funeral today. I had hoped she’d be there. Years ago – as in a DECADE ago – we had a dust-up on email. Stupid stupid email. It came off the back of a couple of incidents where I had behaved badly, lying to her rather than being honest and then both of us being at different place in our lives. For me I was jealous, intimidated by her and some of her friends and their confidence and comfort in their own skin. I felt like a very ugly duckling. Funny, I was always told how mature I was and yet I look back on how I let our relationship down and realise what a child I was. I found it so hard to move on from the ‘fight’, feeling self-conscious and clunky but now, I realise, I was embarrassed. GOD. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her. Not one day. I think it’s about time I pay that forward yeah?
Felix came with me today – Chef couldn’t get away from work as his boss was interstate and it was a long way to go (2+ hours each way) on my own. Can I just say, my boy? He does me proud every single day. It was the first funeral he’s ever been to and he handled it with grace and care, offering me a squeeze and a hand around my shoulders every so often. We came home on the coast road, stopping for an ice cream at Stanwell Tops and marvelling at the view back down the South Coast. He went to say it was a good day but stopped himself for obvious reasons. But you know what, with immense sadness there was peace, reconnection and time to stop and say goodbye. I think he was right.