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Today I learned that an old family friend passed a few days ago. His passing marks the end of a friendship lasting over 50 years.

He was 85 years old. To have him leave us is, in many respects, the coming to the end of an era that I will miss enormously. The heady days of normality and laughter; joy and down to earth values. So vale John and let me say your life was a life WORTH having been lived.

A life when hard work and a solid marriage and having children and a home were all that one aspired to.

A normal life.


I first met him when I was about 12 years old. He was friends with my Uncle and Aunt – he and his wife became best chums with my parents.

The gals would get dressed up in their long evening gowns and the men would wear their suits and each couple would entertain the other on Saturday evenings for a splendid dinner party.

My father used to cook the meals - Mum was a meat and 3 veg kind of cook: Dad was the culinary artiste. He had a cook book “ Food of the World “ ( which I still have ) and, from this, he would find menus to prepare on their bi-weekly soirees.

John’s wife would prepare wonderful meals and my Mum and John’s wife became firm friends.

John’s glamourous and rather magnificent wife ( who could glide in to a room with the grace of Melania Trump) was married to John, who was a down to earth painter and tradie who slogged his heart out to make a buck and keep his family well fed, well clothed, well housed and well loved.

Yet they were the most loving couple: his wife balanced the books, looked after the kids and John went out to work. It was a fair and equitable relationship.

John and his wife were well off – spiritually, financially and, well, in all respects.

They had two kids – a girl and a boy. Their daughter loved horses and their son just wanted to be like his Dad.

John’s wife died of breast Cancer in 1978 and her death was one of the most tragic I can remember. Aged about 34… her beauty and elegance lost and her playful motherhood disappeared in a funeral on a cold , windy, miserable and rainy winter’ s day when we huddled together like shocked children; unable to comprehend that this beautiful woman had left us. The emotional outpouring that day was so quiet. Our grief was massive and John was stoic.

He was a strong man, a good man and a person who forged on and made the best of the hand that he had been dealt.

I was best friends with his much younger sister – a fiery young woman who had a joie de vive that I have never seen before or since. She said to me that this would kill John… he would never be able to cope without his beloved wife - yet his wife’s death did not kill him.

But he was never the same.

Over the years, John kept painting, kept in touch with my parents and kept working hard. His son grew up and became a painter alongside his father. His daughter continued her love affair with horses.

Decades turned from one to another and even a century from one to another . My father passed and John kept popping in from time to time...

John retired and moved to a remote fishing village and lived out his life doing what he loved best: fishing, having a laugh, being a good bloke and being a good Dad, friend and neighbour.

He died, holding his children’s hands, and I hope and pray he is now with his adoring wife in Heaven.

When people like John leave us – hard working, principled and family oriented folk – every time one leaves, I do genuinely pray that he is replaced with another being born who will take his place.

John is probably up there with my Dad, my two Uncles and many other old friends – having a laugh and a good time and then saying “ It’s time to get back to my wife… she has waited a long time to see me. “

It has taken over 40 years John and I truly hope that you and your wife are united tonight.

Vale John and God Bless you.

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