Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Dad

My search for a perfect shot of my Dad continues, but this is one of my all-time favourites capturing his spirit, ever resting out West.
Photo by Mum 
I have been away a long time. By way of explaining my absence, and to excuse all manner of bad behaviour recently (but that is another story) my Dad passed away on the 1st of December. Nothing seems the same, I feel I have lost my anchor just now. And though buried under all my sadness, there is the knowing that life is a gift to be relished and grateful for, it just seems so unfair and I seem to be dragging around a lump of  grumpiness. Forgive me children and husband particularly. I am less calm and patient, more snappy, and I spontaneously descend into bouts of  weeping and am often struck with a great need to just sit down outside and gaze out. Gardening, and nature in general proves my solace. I found the bustle and general frenzy of Christmas such a shock to return to. As much as I loved it for my children, it was as if my inner life was at war with the outer.  I am glad it is over and I can cultivate the stillness and simplicity that my soul craves, and my grief demands.
Having said all that, this year already feels so different, there is so much I want to change, and be and do (and not do) differently, watch this space. It is a year I endeavour to cultivate more STILLNESS, to embrace simple, and free pleasures, to reduce spending and live by the adage less is more. To practice daily moment to moment gratitude, to be present to the joys of my life now, as it is. To pause and play and spend a lot more time "being" and a little less "doing". To live acutely with the knowledge that life is a gift and love is all that is left behind.

I think much of what I want to say was said in Dad's eulogy, so I am going to set it down here as much for me as for you. His send off was truly amazing.A homecoming in many ways.

Dad's Eulogy

For those of you who don't know or remember, or recognise me, I am  Roger's little girl, a sweet spot in many ways. 
As his daughter I would like to welcome you and extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those that have offered him, and us, support, companionship, music, food, accommodation, love and time, on what t has been a challenging journey for all. I know devotion has meant sacrifice, endurance, expense, and that other aspects of your lives have been left on hold. And look at what you have created, Woodstock Smoothies rd. Even nature has responded. the heavens are cleansed in the morning and shine for him in the afternoon. Dad would be impressed!
And I know that Dad has been deeply touched by this love-filled send off. That is the silver lining isn't it? That we are left without him, but with each other. 

We are grieving the loss of a, sometimes imperfect, father, surrogate father, father-in-law, life-partner, husband, x-husband, fellow musician, friend, brother, grandfather, uncle, shelter from the storm, shoulder to cry on, wise council, listening ear. 

We grieve the loss of him as a memory keeper of parts of ourselves of times in history.

We grieve the loss not only of someone we love, but of someone who loves and knows us deeply.
I will miss him, I will miss being loved by him. I comfort myself though that love recognises neither distance nor death.

And we feel vulnerable.
Our parents are our gatekeepers aren't they? When they go, we move one step closer, holding the gate now for our children. It is a vulnerable place to stand.

In many ways his demise has been tragic, but there has been beauty in it too. He was surrounded, til the last, by the love of friends and family, but the music and companionship of his traveling road show. How apt, he always did love a party!
He departed this world from his room overlooking the misted hills of the Hokianga habour, where he has spent much of his life, and where his children were born. 

Faced by his death, I am struck by the not inconsequential privilege of being alive and well, of stealing out for an early morning run, of the pleasure of stepping out into our garden, of having TIME, time to spend with loved ones, words left to tell. 

We can take comfort that we can find him there, in the garden, in the great expanse of sky, in the tall stand of trees, in the horses muzzle, in Bob Dylan music, in his poetic weavings, in this house, on this land. In our memories, some of my fondest; sitting on his knee begging for another round of Mr Tambourine Man, of late night soul searching lent against the old wood stove, clinging to his back riding up Long Luis on his motorbike, or of his figure pulling up firewood by horse, mending fences, playing guitar, singing road trips, stealing into music festivals.

We can find him in  his life's example, lived one-step shy of the law, lived close to the land on little, of following ones heart, of living ones dream (or at least his), of trusting in karma, and in the knowledge our thoughts create our world.

He is one of the last pioneers, a true hippy, a cowboy.

Bless his journey back West, I see the smoke signals rising.
Knock-knock knocking on heavens door. 

Good bye Dad. You are deeply loved. You will be deeply missed.


  1. this is beautiful Hannah. it makes me want to know more about your dad and his life. next time we walk maybe, if you feel like it? xxx

  2. Oh Hannah, As you know i too lost my dad now 5 years ago, and when thought in sad depth it still feels like it was only last week. That feeling never goes away, your heart will continue to sink whenever you think of him. You say... "We grieve the loss of him as a memory keeper of parts of ourselves of times in history" This is exactly how i feel too,I feel i have lost a huge chunk of myself and my childhood in a way. Now being a parent myself i feel i would have loved knowing about myself from Birth to around 5 which i don't remember. (Bit of a puzzle too for me as you know). And his own childhood&teen adventure's.
    Be strong Hannah for yourself and your little family. It does get easier, you will find yourself again soon i know.
    Your dad will be sad to see how sad you are. Smile for all he was and all he did do. Love you big time Hannah xxxxx

  3. Dearest Hannah--beautiful words and thoughts. My heart goes out to you. Give yourself time to grieve and time to find joy. You are never far from my thoughts and I have written you so many times in my head--now to just sit and type so you'll know it. Hug those babies close and pass on the love that you've known from your Dad. That's the greatest thing you could ever do to live out his legacy.


It is lovely to know I am not alone on this journey, your comments remind me of that. Thanks!