I find it odd that a funeral can offer such a variety of experiences and emotions, not that I'm an expert with just three under my belt. Dad's funeral was last Thursday, and aside from the obvious emotions, it was really nice to see so many people, both the friends and family I keep in touch with regularly, and those I may not see so often or have not seen in many years. Including some of his friends I have probably not seen since I was a teenager.
We knew in advance the chapel would seat 70 people, and while we expected there to be quite a few more standing, I think we were all blown away with the number that actually came. People were crammed up the back, and then into the foyer where they could see and hear what was going on inside, via two large screens. There must have been more than 200 people.
Anyway, I wanted to share what I wrote for him and read on the day. Not an example of my finest writing, but I'm sure it says what I want it to.
I may never know whether I would have developed an interest in car mechanics if it hadn’t been for Dad nagging me when I was a teenager. It’s true we didn’t get along so well back then, but I’m not sure this is any different to the majority of teenagers, and it certainly didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.
I only saw him once a week, so when he’d say ‘You should learn how to do an oil change,’ or ‘I’ll show you what this part does’ again, I’d shake my head and wish he’d want to do something that I wanted to do. I didn’t even have my learners permit.
But he did show an interest in something I wanted to do. In fact, he showed an interest most weeks as he came to swim meets, cheered us on, entered parent/child races, joined committees, took on one or more of the roles shared amongst the parents at the swimming club.
And still managed to make sure we got to know our nana, aunties, uncles and cousins through frequent trips. Sure, he spent much of this time resting on the couch, but let’s just pretend that was so we could get to know everyone else.
Perhaps he accepted I wasn’t cut out for motor mechanics, or perhaps it was just that he had a new interest and thought I should learn to use his fancy new camera. Or be on the other side as he tested lighting, angles and how long it took for me to lose my patience before he’d just take the damn shot.
I could tell you about the way he demanded I move in with him after I moved out of Mum’s. How he tracked me down at a friend’s grandparent’s house on the other side of town because he couldn’t wait until the next day.
I could tell you about my weekly visits to friends’ houses and Mum’s for nutritious meals, because he gave me $50 a week to get enough food for the dog, the cat, his pasta-bowl breakfasts and all his other favourite items. And still wanted change.
I could tell you about the fight we had over how to cook plain rice.
Or I could tell you that I still take crap photos. With the easy-to-use camera.
Maybe you’d like to hear about the many conversations we had about the Big Bang and the first moments in time.
As I grew older and set about finding myself as a writer, I started to develop a new relationship with Dad. He was supportive from the outset, and while everyone else was too, Dad’s support was different. He got it, even though he wasn’t a writer himself. But as a photographer and a musician, I guess, he knew that for me, writing is something I just have to do. I can’t not write.
From the very first acceptance all those years ago, Dad was someone I could share my writerly news with. Including when I had urges to try new forms, new styles.
Most recently, after practicing my poems at regular gigs and open mic nights, I thought I’d like to try recording a few to see how they’d fare in the big wide audio-poetry world. But I don’t know the first thing about music, let alone recording. So, I called Dad.
He agreed, half heartedly, although I later realised that was more about him not quite understanding what I had in mind.
The first time we met to record my poems, we spent the first few hours finding our feet, and by the end of the day, we’d recorded four tracks and although they were drafts, we knew what to do and we’d had a blast. We met again to record final versions a few weeks later, in time for me to submit them to a journal, and when one was accepted, Dad was the first person I called.
I’m not sure right now if I’ll pursue audio poetry or even where I’d begin to start on the learning journey ahead of me if I do. But I do know that regardless of my decision, it will be something we had together and I’ll take that with me on my journey. And I’m sure too, that it’s got to be easier than learning how to tune the car.