Monday, June 18, 2012

A Tribute to Uncle Joe

Our dear Uncle Joe passed away yesterday after falling ill with pancreatic cancer towards the end of last year. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the funeral because the family had a little service today in accordance with Joe's wish to have an ecologically sound funeral, and I couldn't make it in time. There will be a big community service on Saturday. He was a well-known figure in his community of Golden Bay, having a strong interest and extensive participation in community politics. He was also an enthusiastic poet, participating in the local Live Poet's Society, and contributing his compositions to special family and friend occasions. His poetry had also been published. Joe also had a passion for vintage cars, and had a growing collection housed on his idyllic property by the seaside.

Joe was fortunate to be able to spend his entire illness being cared for at home by my aunt, who is a nurse, with the support of the district nurses and the children (my cousins). I am sure he wouldn't have lived as long as he did under other circumstances. Auntie Marg's loving and dedicated care was as special as anyone could wish to have during such a terrible time.

Earlier this year I wrote a poem for Joe. I'm not a poet, but felt it was a fitting tribute to him because he always had a poem for every occasion. Some of it won't make sense to most people because I recalled memories of being around Uncle Joe from my childhood.

A Tribute to Uncle Joe 

A stone skips and dances 
Across the wide Waimea River,
Because of you. 

A swing in a vast tree,
Singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Tomatoes under glass,
Kiwifruit coiling,
A taste of ripe boysenberries,
Blackened chops over charcoal. 

Your feather and your sword.
A plea, a rant,
A verse, a joke,
Guardian of the land and people. 

But now,
Tall totara fallen.
Taken by an enemy no words can fight.

Tears fall,
but your goodness lives on
In the air we breathe
And the soil you tilled. 

The waves will gently lap upon the shore,
Forever more, 
And we will remember you 
In the sunlight glinting off the water,
In your Golden Bay. 


Anonymous said...

A lovely post for Uncle Joe.

It was very, very sad day today but the small family gathering under the crying sky was lovely and Uncle Joe had a small, dignified, peaceful send off...his final moments with the family were as we all sung Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...led by Henry as he disappeared behind the curtain.

Love you heaps,


Anonymous said...

A beautiful poem for Joe, I will make sure the family gets it and maybe it can be read next Saturday. I might pluck up the courage. It was a very sad day and seemed appropriate that it was pouring down. Henry was very good and such a dear fellow, he lightened the atmosphere. Lots of love to you, M and D. xxxxxxxx