Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Sad Farewell

In February 2002, Scott and I moved in together. The parents of Scott's best mate Steve, offered us a 2 bedroom apartment, with an amazing backyard, five minutes stroll from Coogee Beach. The apartment was attached to the main house on the property. I had never lived out of my family home before and it meant massive changes for a wide eyed, 23 year old me. Unlike many of my friends, I had no real desire to flit the nest and I probably wouldn't have for at least a few more years either. I was content, my parents were great to live with and I was paying a measly sixty buckeroos per week for board. It was a pretty sweet arrangement. But along came this too good to refuse opportunity. Absurdly low rental, no lease and no bond to speak of. Certainly a great incentive to take our relationship to the next stage, without the usual pressures of moving into a rental property. There was a period of significant adjustment on my part, not so much living with a boyfriend for the first time, more so missing the home I had always known. Missing my Mama

Prior to moving in, I had only met Steve's parents on a handful of occasions. Andy and Betty were a wonderful couple. Friendly, intelligent, kind, incredibly resourceful and generous to a fault. Both of them just a couple of years younger than my parents. They loved a chat. My, they loved a chat. Thankfully, so do I. They were THE perfect landlords. Although not once did they ever treat us like we were tenants. So for the next two and a half years, we called this place home and we loved every aspect of it. We moved out in July 2004, only months before our wedding, as we found a top little unit that we decided to buy, just down the road and still in Coogee. Betty fell ill with a cancerous brain tumour, that same year and required a full time live in nurse, who moved into the apartment we had been living in. By Christmas 2006, Betty lost her fight with cancer, which had spread to various other parts of her body, in just two short years. For Andy and the rest of the family, losing Betty was utterly devastating, the heart of their home taken away much too soon. Andy, who had always enjoyed travelling, for work and pleasure, threw himself into as many research trips as he possibly could. He ventured to Antarctica, South America and Europe. He worked long and hard. Trying to heal a little of the pain. In 2009, another cruel blow, Andy was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. He struggled to cope with the realisation of his own mortality, not quite three years since the death of his beloved wife. But he fought the battle all the same. After sixteen long, harrowing months, Andy lost his fight last Sunday evening. He was to turn 70 this year, in June. 

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a father, a grandfather, a father-in-law, a brother and a very dear friend. A man who kept a brilliant garden and breathtaking home. A man who accomplished so very much through his scientific research. A man who raised two successful children and adored his five young grandchildren. A man who loved cricket, classical music, good food and fine wine. A man who (along with his darling wife) indirectly contributed to the foundations built by my husband and I all those years ago, when we were just starting out. Without their benevolence, we would certainly not have been able to afford the hefty deposit on our first home, nor would I have felt quite so cared for in my first home away from home. Like so many others, we feel privileged to have known Andy and are comforted by the fact that his legacy lives on in our great friend Steve and his family. A rather poignant and fitting verse read during Andy's service yesterday:

Don't Be Too Sad
~ John W Tease ~

I've lived my life
I've tried my best
The memories I hold dear,
Are experiences I have known
Of happiness and tears.
The love of my family
The care of of my friends,
The good times I've shared
Right to the end.

I've travelled life's byways
Seen children grow up,
Experienced life's living
And drunk from love's cup.
I leave you with memories with thoughts of you all
I'm no longer with you
But your mind will recall,
The good times we shared
The laugher we had,
Please cherish these memories
And don't be too sad.

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