Funeral DetailsFuneral: 1:30 PM
Friday 26th March 2010 at Holy Family Catholic Church, cnr Bayview St & Simbai Ave, Runaway Bay, QLD
Memories of Arthur Edward Roberts
19 Dec 1930 - 22 Mar 2010
Much missed and always loved by his wife, Marie and his children,
Michelle Taylor [& Ian]; Maureen Laidler [& Michael]; Peter [& Selena]; John [& Jodie];
and by all the grandchildren.
Maureen Laidler's Eulogy for her father
My Dad was born in 1930 to Arthur (always known as Sarge) and Alma Roberts in the Victorian country town of Nilma, near Warragul.Nanna and Pa were so proud to welcome their little son into the world because they had lost their first child, Kevin, at the age of two to Meningitis. My dad was the ultimate bush boy spending his days fishing and rabbitting with his little sister Lorna.
When dad was eleven the family moved to Melbourne and it has been said that Dad spent the first few years in Melbourne walking on the nature strips because all that concrete and bitumen made his feet sore.
Somehow, this incredibly handsome young boy from the bush met and fell in love with a Victorian Member of Parliament's daughter from Carlton. Dad would call Mum his 'hot house flower' and he then proceeded to take his hot house flower fishing, camping, sailing and eventually had her lugging bricks and timber as they built their first home together in Derby Street, Pascoe Vale.
Between them they raised four very well rounded children. Mum made sure we all went to the ballet and the theatre, had good manners, studied speech and drama and literature and were always dressed impeccably and Dad made sure that we could; light a camp fire; pack a trailer; pitch a tent in under twenty minutes; how some native plants will only ever seed after a bush fire; the best spots for picking mushrooms; the name of every bird in East Gippsland and South East Queensland; the 'bread trick' for catching mullet (involving bread dough, cotton wool, and curry powder); how pick a perfect little gully when surf fishing; how to rig a fishing line so you could catch 2 fish at once-and drive other young anglers on the beach insane; how to take off the distributor cap and clean the points with a nail file when your little Volkswagen breaks down at the lights... to the applause of the guys on a nearby building site... and, not just how to sail a boat, but how to get the plans, build one from scratch, rig it and then spot a wind change on the water from a kilometre away!
Dad found every conceivable route from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back again. We travelled through Canberra and Sydney, across the Snowy Mountains, through the Jenolan Caves, the snow fields, Coonabarabran, Parkes, Forbes and Dubbo.
Along the way Mum was co-pilot reading those strip maps you could get from RACQ. On approaching each town she would read us the population, the local agriculture, the history and points of interest. The funny thing is that in the years to follow we have each tortured our own children in exactly the same way!!! 'I Am Standing on the Shoulders of the Ones who've Gone before me'.
Did you notice the words in that song? Being the music teacher at the school here for last the eight years, I find that music and song lyrics are often the best way to express all our thoughts and feelings.
That song was introduced to us by the young American nun who led our pilgrimage to Assisi last year, a place that Dad had always wanted to go to and St Francis being a saint he had always loved and admired. On our arrival in Assisi we walked up to the town square where we were surrounded by medieval buildings and even an ancient Roman Temple. She told us to close our eyes and think about those who had gone before us, about their lives and journeys and the struggles that had enabled us to be where we are today. I remember being struck by an emotional wave. Suddenly I saw all the people who had gone before me standing like a human pyramid with me on top. Right below me was my Mum and Dad, under them were their parents and their grandparents and their great grandparents, one of them Diggery Roberts who had travelled from the other side of the world to come and live in Australia and another of them even a convict sent to Van Diemen's Land. And there's me sitting safely and securely on everyone's shoulders...enjoying the view. Everything I was and am, is not my doing at all - no matter how many times I might like to pat myself on the back - it is them that put me where I am today.
For Christmas last year my son James wrote everyone a letter telling what he loved most about them. That's just the sort of kid he is. In my letter he said thankyou Mum for always being there to support me and help me with my problems. No matter how busy you are, he wrote, you always take the time to help me fix things. ...I couldn't help but think, well, climb up darlin onto our shoulders. James was with Mum and Dad one day when they took communion together at home. Mum read the Gospel reading and they said the Our Father together as Mum gave communion to Dad. James' faith in that moment was transformed from the child whose belief in God is merely that of his parents. In that moment, he told me, he saw the depth of faith that has been the basis of his grandparents' lives together from the moment they met and Dad learned about and converted to Catholicism. God has been number one in my parents' lives over the past 60 years and what they have and had together is their reward for that devotion.
My darling husband Michael, my partner in this human pyramid..... Mike and Dad have been golf partners for too many years to remember. They shared many great times together on the golf course and off and their relationship, and what it meant to Dad, became apparent during the last few years when Dad and Mum couldn't make it to Mass. Michael, without ever being asked and without any fuss or bother would go after Mass every week to take communion to Mum and Dad. In the last few months of Dad's life his face would light up and he would focus on Michael and struggle to talk whenever he heard Michael's voice.
That same reaction could be mustered whenever my daughter Jessica walked into the room. Grandad and Jessica, his little sausage, shared a special relationship that included a love for Winnie the Pooh and the very same beautiful, brown eyes. Dad would say to her, "Jessica, you've got my eyes!" and Jess would reply, from the age of about 18 months, "No Grandad, you've got mine eyes!" Dad will never be far away as long as I can gaze into my daughter's eyes.
Dad's wisdom when all around are lost and confused, his courage in the face of struggle...especially his illness,....his strength of character including his magnificent work ethic and the ability to juggle work and having fun, his awareness of others, his fabulous sense of humour and cheekiness...that beautiful giggle after delivering a one liner that would break us all up , is also alive in my eldest son Josh, who was his little blonde haired blue-eyed boy and the first grandchild to be just around the corner and living in the house that "Dandad" built for us. Dad couldn't believe his luck.
Ghandi said that almost everything we do in life will be insignificant; the important thing is that we do it. Dad got up every morning of his life and slipped on his tool belt and went off to work, but throughout his days, through his example, he taught us everything important in life: loyalty; empathy; strength of character; wisdom; devotion and faith BUT most of all Love. Probably the greatest gift you can give your children is for their parents to love each other. Thanks Mum and Dad for being an example of perfect love for all of us. You can't picture Mum and Dad without seeing them holding hands or with their arms around each other. Dad has his arm around Mum's shoulder giving her a squeeze after saying something cheeky and Mum is laughing so much that Dad actually ends up holding her up. Even in the last few weeks of Dad's life the crinkles around his eyes would lift as he enjoyed a joke or appreciated a bit of cheek.
In the last eleven years Mum has been Dad's carer in every sense of the word. Mum, we are eternally grateful to you for your unrelenting devotion. It was because of you that we had our Dad and Grandad in our lives for as long as we did. I know that Dad also would like me to take this opportunity to thank and pay tribute to you for your unselfish, unswerving loyalty and devotion. It was only during the last eighteen months that Dad needed professional nursing and had be under the care of the wonderful team at Bayview Nursing Centre and we think we know, but can only really imagine, what a lonely, heartbreaking time this was for you, Mum.
During his illness, as his neighbours in the nursing home, through no fault of their own, often reverted to irritability or aggression, Dad's gentleness of spirit was the one thing that continued to shine through and never waver.
As I sat and watched him slowly fade away " holding on to every, single breath " I realised that he was still teaching me how it should be done as he was dying. Never once did he complain or feel sorry for himself, never once did he waste a day moaning or groaning about his fate. He loved and lived his life to the full showing us how to do the same, even as he took his last breath.
So, let's all take our place in this human pyramid, live life to the full, enjoy the view while you're on top and get ready to hold securely to the ones who are to come....like my Dad did.
My dear Jesus, look after my Dad, a fellow carpenter, put your loving arms around him and hold him .... and us...always in the palm of your hand.