We farewelled my Dad this past Tuesday aged 79 years. While he had lived through prostate cancer around 10 years ago, when it returned around 18 months ago, we were under no illusion that this time he could be cured.
Fortunately, he was cared for by his partner Rachel at home in Ohope until his last few days when he needed full hospice care and went to stay at Golden Ponds in Whakatane. For this I am grateful – and also that 3 of his 4 brothers and sisters were able to visit him that week to say goodbye.
His service was not a standard occassion, with my two brothers, myself and other family and friends sharing stories about his life and his philosophies. Dad was quite the character and known for his opinions on a number of topics, plus his love of gardening, birds and small animals and working with his hands. My reading was the song “MY WAY” by Frank Sinatra plus a short message. The service was interspersed with a lot of humour and that represented the typical Goodger (my family maiden name) way of dealing with difficult situations.
Our family will often quote “if you didn’t laugh you would cry” when faced with particularly awful times and throughout my own life I know that I use humour to cope in a variety of challenging situations. So the funeral while not a jolly occassion, seemed to be a ‘celebration of his life’ and it was not the politically correct but I am sure my Dad would have been comfortable with the way we celebrated his life story.
My Mum and Dad parted ways after 35 years of marriage and a couple of years later, Dad had moved to live with Rachel in Whakatane/Ohope. Rachel had been his partner for around 20 years. Both women have showed a spirit of graciousness to each other throughout this time, towards the end of Dad’s days and at the funeral. Dad had been a huge part of Mum’s life, and although they were no longer together, she has remained a significant member of Dad’s family and showed true compassion while dealing with her own grief.
For me, Dad’s death has made me even more aware of our own mortality and raised significant concerns about how and who will care for Mitchell when Phil and I are no longer here. While we have made guardian and trust arrangements, the responsibility that comes with managing a complex child or adult exceeds the cares needed for a healthy child. Just another consideration that is different when parenting a complex child.
As I come to terms with the loss of my Dad, I will remember these lyrics as they so apply to the way my Dad lived his life.
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my wayRegrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way