Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Cheers...

Today would have been my fathers 70th birthday; I am in Melbourne, staying with his wife in their home to celebrate regardless. There will be much laughter and gladness through the tears, along with copious cake and champagne.

At the Yarra Boathouse in Melbourne, 2008

My father passed away last September; just shy of his 69th birthday and not a day passes by where he doesn't slip into my thoughts at some point. As he was a musician, my family and I and every one of those who loved him (and there were many) are fortunate to have the most beautiful and resonate mementos to remember him by. His poetry put to music remains behind on this earth forever; tender wisps of a life that was.

As a young session musician before the beard and long hair, 1960s

In those last days before he dropped the body, his dear friend Guy Blackman of Chapter Music (you can read his heartfelt tribute in Mess + Noise here) was a constant bedside companion finalising the details of what would become a posthumous retrospective of collected recordings from a lifetime of songs; In The Doorway of the Dawn. It is an immeasurable comfort to have these to conjure him beside me at any time.

In the EMI Studios in 1970 aged 27, recording with his band Tully

Grief is a curious emotion. It seems foolish to revel in sadness, but in the sadness of remembering is the unmitigated joy of memory. And so I do find myself going for long walks listening to his music and remembering.

... that he loved Anne of Green Gables, telling me only a few years ago that there really was no better instructive work for young women than Anne... helping my brother and I try to save many an injured sparrow found on our walks by the Cooks River and the heartbreak of so many not making it through the night... his getting up before dawn to collect the songs of the elusive Blackbird in the back streets of Melbourne...  our tramps through the overgrown weeds beneath some overpass beside the Yarra River, trying to find those elusive dandelions he loved so dearly to uproot and take home... practicing violin in my grandmothers garage and the look on his face as he clapped, overjoyed that I had finally mastered the tricky Bach Allegro from Book 8... our jaunts around Melbourne chasing the best piece of chocolate cake... the elaborate rigging of traps along the most vulnerable areas of our childhood home in the hope of ensnaring unsuspecting intruders... singing to us as we were trying to sleep as children... that in the past few years we had begun to inexplicably greet each other in French 'bonjour papa!' bonjour ma fille!...

Kidding around at dinner with me, 2008

Nobody cast a shadow quite as long, or commanded a room with as much panache. Many will remember and cherish his warmth; his big hugs, his considered wisdom, his quiet authority. 

And so today on his 70th I remember him again - three cheers papa!

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