Friday, October 26, 2012

Another Day, Another Funeral

While we had not met him, it seemed as if we knew our friend's father well. We went to the father's memorial service today, to support our friend. Ninety five is a respectable age to reach. While it was a longish service, with a civil celebrant, it was a good funeral in that it was both interesting and entertaining.

I was reminded that when I was young, my father was treasurer of the local country football club, a primary school committee member, a member of the local rural fire brigade, a position on the local tennis club committee and a voluntary active member of the Victorian Dairy Farmers Association.

My father had nothing on the bloke whose funeral we went to today. He was local councillor by the age of 32, served four terms as a Shire President, Rotarian, local progress association member, business owner's association member, chair of a local hospital board and so much more that I have forgotten.

Rich bloke? No, from Paisley in Glasgow, sold newspapers in Williamstown as a kid to support his family, night soil carrier, share farmer, fruit and vegetable grower, seller at Vic Market, grocery shop owner, council contractor for street and public toilet cleaning.

Did his humble ways of earning a living matter? Not at all. He met the Queen, dined with Lord and Lady Casey in Berwick, met Prime Ministers, Melbourne Lord Mayors, met Prince Charles and Lady Dianna. Again the list is too long.

Did he get a couple of awards, yes. Did he get an award from the government, like an OAM, no. He did the hard yards in setting up a hospital yet the fellow he worked with to do it, went on to be a Sir, who had what surely must be the shortest and most modest highway named after him (well, it is the same name, and I should verify that, but I haven't).

Was he generous with money? Selectively. One successful grand slam tennis player would have thanks to him for paying his way. He helped so many people, not always with cash but in practical ways.

In his older age, could he be grumpy and obstreperous? Yes, rather like our friend, his son. Was he political, very much so. He could not bear the Labor Party. He was very much a 'get yourself out there and work your arse off' person. If you were really disadvantaged, 'I and the community will look after you. You'll not go without a roof over your head or food on the table'. (That almost sounds appealing, until you think it through. It only works if you are an 'approved' person in the local rural or semi rural community. I think I like the government to decide who is deserving of largess)

Our friend, his son, is very involved in the community and has certainly done his bit in the past as a politician, a policeman and continues to, now as presenter on an old person's radio station, one of those people who hand out how to vote cards and scrutineers vote counting for a political party I hate, Rotary, Neighbourhood Watch organiser and on and on, including gay and lesbian associations.

My contribution to the community is........umm, well, ah, I'll think of something in a minute. Yes, ah. I lack the confidence to do things like that and being a rotating shift worker means I can commit to very little, even things for my self benefit. I may have made small changes for the betterment of society by Biro and foolscap, and latterly the keyboard.

While we, well me, are talking about volunteering for the community, can we put our hands together for Daniel Bowen, just retired president of Public Transport Users Association after nine years of service in that volunteer position and more years as an active member. I don't agree with everything that comes out from the PTUA, but if you live in Melbourne and listen to radio news or watch television news, you must know who he is. Well, apparently not as he is often enough asked by the great unwashed if he is the Transport Minister. Daniel has made a positive difference for us public transport users and less directly for motorists in Melbourne. We thank him.


  1. 95 is a good long run. And this person did so much in his life!
    Unlike me, and I suspect my kids will just say goodbye mum, we loved you lots and then get on with the wake.

    1. River, to successfully raise children is a high achievement in itself.

  2. It must be terrible for the funeral celebrant to stand up and have nothing much to say about a recently deceased citizen. I went to a funeral where the eulogy went something like this:
    "Fred turned up to work on time every day of his working life. He paid his taxes on time, always drove under the speed limit and was good to stray dogs. His neighbours respected his neighbourly behaviour."

    Your friend's father had an active and productive life; he will be missed by all the people and organisations he was involved with! I bet we all wish people will speak about our demise with as much respect.

    1. Hels, it takes all kinds to make up our world, including the very normal and average. We might all be poorer if not for the Freds of our societies.

  3. Some of us are high achievers and some not so much, but I don't know that achievement is what it's all about anyway. Perhaps better, or just as good, to be a loving family member.

    1. Rubye, it is rather like a market with some giving and some receiving, and as long the balance is right, the world is well. Being a respected and loved member of a family is important. Not everyone has the wherewithal to give a lot in a very visible way.

    2. Hi Andrew

      A fitting tribute - would the old fellow have guessed you'd obit him? I doubt it.

      BTW, Paisley is near but not in Glasgow. The Scots are kind of fussy about that stuff.



  4. Pants, I don't know if our friend ever even mentioned us to him. The g word was never discussed and the dark skinned partner was accepted without comment.

    I don't know about Glasgow, except Non Dreaded Nephew lived in Paisley for a year or so and worked in Glasgow. It seemed like a suburb to me, so say if you lived in Caulfield here, when overseas you would say you lived in Melbourne. Interesting that there is such a distinction there.