Dad's Eulogy Part 2

Yesterday I posted the first instalment of Dad's eulogy:

I wrote this to read at his funeral service after he passed away one year ago today. Today is a tough day for my family. Here is Part 2:

One of my happiest memories of spending time with Dad was when I had a Wedding Decoration business. At times this was a comedy of errors and provided great amusement for the family. Every single weekend Dad would come and help me decorate weddings. He would tie bows on chairs, drape fabric on ceilings and was pretty much my right-hand hand man. Most times, Mum, Kath and Laura were also there. When Michelle was in Sydney she would come too. I felt terribly guilty that he would spend every weekend doing this for me without any reward. When I mentioned this to him he looked at me very seriously and told me how happy he was because he loved to see all of his girls together.

My sister Kath’s childhood and early teens were consumed by ballet – which of course meant that Dad’s world was consumed by ballet. Driving to and from lessons in Penrith, going to ballet concerts, paying for endless costumes and photos and ballet shoes. I’m sure he thought it would never end. And then Laura started dancing! But Dad never complained. Amongst all the to-ing and fro-ing Dad and the girls had their rituals like stopping at the corner store on the ride home each night for slurpies, lollies and sweets and sometimes they would pick up flowers for Mum. Again, another tradition created by Dad. Every single day when Steven and I were little he would bring us each home a packet of Lifesaver lollies and over the years there were Clinkers, Fantails, Cadbury Roses, Dairy Milk Chocolate, just to name a few.

Another ritual Kath remembers fondly, just as Steven had, is Dad making bacon and eggs every Sunday morning and serving her and Mum in bed while they poured over the weekend papers.

From an early age Dad encouraged Kath in her art. Kath remembers at the age of 6 or 7, Dad set her up in the backyard with pieces of fibro, some old brushes and house paints to begin painting. In recent years Dad became quite an artist himself. For Father’s Day in 2007, Laura and Katherine returned the favour by giving Dad a set of oil paints, brushes and canvasses. It took him some time to get started, but once he did, he couldn’t be stopped. Paintings of landscapes, cottages, seascapes, gardens and even animals began to fill the apartment in Manly Vale. Dad had found his new passion. He was completely self-taught and his appetite for art had been awakened. He and Mum began visiting exhibitions and art galleries around the country and even went to art lectures. Dad rifled through art books to find inspiration. He loved the impressionists, especially Turner, Monet and Streeton. He liked to observe nature, sometimes sketching scenes at North Head, but mostly he just loved to paint. He was always experimenting with paint and new techniques – dabbing with rags, scraping back and painting over scenes until they changed from fire to snow.

When Kath was older, she did a gilding course that made Dad very proud. His own father had also been a good artist and a signwriter and used to do the gold lettering on office doors. It was in the genes, Dad declared!

Laura remembers Dad’s keen handyman skills. There was the cubbyhouse he had constructed for her and the swingset that lay abandoned in the backyard for 5 years after the screws went missing. While renovating the house at St Clair, Dad attempted to pour concrete and stencil the driveway and despite the resulting uneven surface and colour it was there to stay. All his children have fond memories of his gardening abilities as he carefully selected an array of colourful flowers from the clearance shelf at the nursery. It was a particularly good find if he was able to pick up orange and yellow marigolds. Luckily for him, no one else wanted orange and yellow marigolds! What a score! He truly loved flowers and he was always sharing his home grown veges with the extended family.

Family excursions were common over the years and we all heard Dad declare “Come on people, we’re going!” and “I’m sitting in the car!”. Long trips interstate began at 4am with Dad driving straight through for hours on end. Local excursions with Dad included the pigeon club, the nursery, the rubbish tip and Bunnings.

A favourite for Dad in recent years was to “do brunch” in Manly. Always these were family affairs, but it was vitally important that we hurry to get there on time, seemingly so we could all hurry back home again!

He loved to watch old country and westerns movies starring John Wayne, the TV show Bonanza, a wide variety of sports and he got a great laugh from watching the sitcom Two and a Half Men.

I’m sure it’s clear how much Murray was loved by his family. It was no secret however that he could be difficult at times. He could be moody, cranky and melancholy. He was complex and complicated. Stubbornness was a trait he kindly passed on to each of his four children. Despite this, there was never any doubt that he loved us all completely and unconditionally.
If you Googled the term “Family Man”, surely his name would be at the top of any list.

Less than a year ago Dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. We all thought it had been detected early and he would make a full recovery. On the first day of November, out of the blue, Dad announced that he was taking part in Movember. Participants grow a moe for the entire month of November to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer. He had Mum take photos, which was unusual for him and before we knew it he was sporting a fabulous handlebar moustache.

Sadly the cancer spread to his bones and it soon became apparent that a recovery was unlikely. Dad spent the last month of his life in the cancer ward of Nepean Hospital. As a family, we did everything we could to make it as comfortable and pain free as possible. Mum, Steven, Katherine, Laura and myself would take turns to sit with him each day, hold his hand and tell him how much we loved him. In the final week, we slept overnight in his room, so he never had to wake alone and someone was always there if he ever needed anything. At approximately 10pm on May 23, at the much too young age of 67, he passed away, we hope peacefully, with all of us by his side.

Hazel Hawke passed away on the same day. There was no story on the 6 O’clock news about Dad’s passing like there was for Mrs. Hawke, but to those who knew and loved him, his passing was just as significant.

I know for Mum this has been especially hard. It was their 47th wedding anniversary two weeks before and even in Dad’s fragile condition, he didn’t forget and asked the nurse to phone Mum hoping he hadn’t missed the date. Mum was particularly sad that Dad didn’t get the chance to enjoy retirement. She made the comment to me, “I know we were hardly Darby and Joan, but we had plans.” I didn’t want to say to Mum, “Who the hell are Darby and Joan?” so I went home and googled it. Darby and Joan is a proverbial phrase for a married couple content to share a quiet life of mutual devotion in their retirement.

Murray, Uncle Murray, Darling, Muzza, Dad, Grandad – today we remember you and celebrate all that you brought to our lives.

We hope that you are proud of us and left us knowing that you were very much loved.

There will never be anyone else quite like you.


  1. Lovely eulogy Sandy. I'm sure in the years ahead it will spark many happy memories for you all.

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