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It is coming up for an anniversary of a passing... I always like to mark them here on my blog.  John's passing marked the end of a friendship lasting over 50 years.

He was, let me say, a life that was a life WORTH having been lived. Like most lives. 

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

A normal life. Yes, it was a few years ago now, but I was reminded of him when I got an email from his sister this morning. And the years came flooding back. 

   

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. 

Redhead was in her glory glory days -  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: She still is. A no fuss, no bother kind of cook.  Dad , on the other hand, 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.

He would create menus that took all day to prepare. The meal was always something to celebrate. Many hours of preparation and dedication to the craft of cooking. 

John’s wife would also prepare wonderful meals and my Mum and John’s wife became firm friends.She, John's wife, like my father, loved the gift of cooking and the bounty of the food that people received in convivial surroundings.

And the table would be set and the best china would be brought out ( that was how it was back in the 70's ) and the ladies and gentlemen would arrive.  

To dine and talk and enjoy the bounty that was friendship, food and the odd glass of wine or whisky.

John’s glamourous and rather magnificent wife ( who could glide in to a room with the grace of Melania Trump)  of the 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.  After all, we need Faith in Hope to triumph. 

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.

 I spoke with his sister this morning ( About the 1970's ) . 

 I smiled as I wrote:

" Ahh, the days of our youth when we were so full of vanity and self importance...… hours spent blow drying our hair (upside down in your case as I remember ) when you would then swish your hair back and say " nearly ready. "
 
Then you would lie down on the bed, get a wire coat hanger and zip up your jeans with it in the zipper! Gosh, we wore our jeans tight back then.
 
I often think of your love of " Aunty Jack " in those early years. And you would tell us about this strange creature in Australia who had a beard and wore ladies dresses and leapt out of the TV screen yelling " Hullo my little lovelies! "
 
 
Today, we are surrounded by such people, except they are no longer funny and our life has changed seemingly forever.

 

When I think back on those halcyon days I cannot help but think that youth is wasted on the young.  We took it for granted and never realised that it would not last forever.
 
Instead of worrying about how our hair looks or how tight our jeans could be or how our makeup was, I now think about things like being able to walk without pain! "

 

And so it is as one ages. We hope that the young will step in and save the world.  But I have to ask myself " If, in 1972 I was asked To save the world " I would probably been too busy worrying about my makeup, my hair and whether or not my jeans woiuld fit.

Such is life. 

I wonder: do our kids enjoy the vanity that we did? Are they preoccupied with computer games? 

Or are they growing up before their time?

Sometimes, I suspect that our kids are not having as much fun as we did. 

They are worried about climate change and and the end of the world.

I was only worried about my hair looking good and my jeans fitting.

So tell me, what has changed? 

The world or the way it is governed?

I wonder. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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