Vale: John Maxwell Humphries 1926 - 2014

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of my Dad, who died peacefully on Sunday 21 September 2014. He will always be remembered and forever missed.

Dad (JPG)

The following is the text of my Eulogy at Dad's funeral service held at Tobin Brothers Mt Martha on Thursday September 25, 2014.

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John Maxwell HUMPHRIES

My Eulogy for Dad - 25 September, 2014


Good morning everyone and thank you all so much for your attendance and support today.

Earlier this week, I was thinking about what to say this morning and researching the music choices for the service when I noticed that ‘My Way’ was a popular bereavement song. I couldn’t really understood why until I studied the lyrics a little closer.

‘What is a man
What has he got
If not himself
Then he has nought’

Hmmmm, OK, the words ‘If not himself’ led me to thinking about what was the essence of Dad? What were the attributes, the principles in his life that I saw, and felt, and lived with over the last nearly sixty years?

So the following few words are about my Dad. Not Father, not Pop, not the Old Man, certainly not Max, but Dad. He was always, simply, ‘Dad’.

I have distilled everything down to what I have called ‘The Four Pillars’


- The first pillar is ‘Loyalty & Respect’

- Firstly in his working life. Almost everyone in this room would know of Dad’s love affair with the Ansett Airlines company in general and Sir Reginald Ansett in particular over more than 30 years. He gave everything he had to the company and it was a period in history in which those sorts of efforts and contributions were responded to in kind. Apart from the debilitating effects of his migraine headaches during much of this period he loved the job, loved the notoriety that came from his close working relationship with ‘the boss’ and he had a real passion for driving, for the transport industry and for flying. This is certainly where my passion for driving and cars came from.

- He demonstrated loyalty and respect in his social life. As we have heard Dad was an eager participant in social activities especially mid-life onwards. He was an excellent listener with an engaging smile that added depth and breadth to social situations, and to those conversations in which he was involved. In short, people wanted him around their social circle. Dad was non-judgmental, saw the positives in people and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Ever. If he didn’t agree or get on with someone he would just shrug it off with an ‘Oh well, that’s OK’ or ‘That’s just their way’, with no remonstrations or recriminations.

- His personable and respectful style allowed him to mix and move easily through age groups. He related well to small children, teenagers, their parents, people his own age and those more senior. Many of our friends are not only here today to support Robin and I, but for themselves to farewell Dad who they have got to know so well over the years;

- He had respect for people AND creatures. Somebody once said ‘Don’t trust anyone that doesn’t like animals’. Dad was a bit of a pied-piper where animals were concerned. Soothing of voice, engaging in action, he enjoyed the simplicity and naturalness of their responses and behaviours.

- Finally (and critically) he had respect for himself. It is hard to impress, attract or engage others, if you don’t respect yourself. Dad never wavered from his standards of upstanding behaviour, personal grooming and appropriate sobriety. He looked after himself and treated HIMSELF like he would treat others and would like them to treat him in turn.


- The Second Pillar is that of Family

- What I remember of life growing up was really just a ‘bubble’ - safety, serenity, love, food was plentiful, my clothes always fresh and I can honestly never remember it raining as a kid! I didn’t have a care in the world, I knew, with absolute certainty, that if anything ‘bad’ was to happen, Dad would fix it, organise it, deal with it or just generally make it go away. Now I would come to understand later that there must have been plenty happening behind the curtain that I didn’t see to make this idyllic scene function but it was Dad’s (and Mum’s) familial role to make that happen. To my eternal gratitude.

- Dad wanted his family to be happy and regularly made sacrifices so that Mum or I would get what we wanted if there was a ‘conflict’. He was often the peacemaker!

- He was also a teacher, and sadly perhaps there were some lessons I didn’t learn as well as I should have from him. He shared his knowledge with a quiet patience and he would install confidence in me after I had made a mistake or be positive when I was trying new things. Two examples stand out.

One was when I was in my mid-teens in Strathmore. We had a steep driveway down to some parking spots in the rear. Mums old Beetle was at the top of the drive way and I asked if could drive (or roll it) down the hill and park it. That would be OK, so off I went but mis-judged the distance from the passenger’s side door to the retaining brick wall and ‘scraped’ the side of the VW pretty badly. Hearing the noise Mum and Dad rushed out, Mum berating me for probably speeding and being irresponsible, while Dad leapt to my defence, arguing that it was important that I got some driving practice to improve my skills and that I would learn from this mistake while assuring me that the car would be ‘easily’ fixed. Even then I knew that wasn’t entirely true…

Then, later in life I discussed aspects of my working life with Dad from time to time. But as he had a no real clue what I actually did for a living he couldn’t really offer any ‘professional’ assistance. But when it came to me needing help with a decision, he would patiently listen, check that I had had done my research on the subject, made sure that I had considered the wider implications of any decision on Robin, and always concluded with a variation of ‘You seem to have thought it through son, I know you will make the best decision when the time comes. Good luck with it’. I always left those conversations with a clear head and a warm inner glow of confidence to move forward.


- The Third Pillar is Work Ethic

- No one who ever met Dad would be surprised at references to his work ethic, which I am sure he inherited from his father.

- Dad worked hard, he worked long hours and he worked multiple jobs to support his family. He worked with purpose, with skill, with determination and with perseverance;

- He worked diligently to be successful at each task, in each job, for each ‘career’ which subsequently led to the overall success of his working life

It may or may not be true now, but throughout Dad’s life, opportunities existed and the harder you worked, the luckier you got and he deserved all that came his way resulting from his mental and emotional focus and physical exertions.


- The Fourth Pillar is Self Worth


- Dad had a clear perception and understanding of his position in life and was most comfortable with his ‘lot’. He was not a dreamer, perhaps not even an optimist but he was always happy & positive

- He did have modest but definite aspirations for himself and his family. He knew want he wanted to achieve, understood what he was good at and used that knowledge to set, plan and reach his objectives and life goals

- He was predictable in a positive way (not to be confused with boring), and dependable in the sense that people could rely on him for actions or support knowing that he would always follow through on his commitments.


At the end, until his final illness, Dad grew old gracefully - he stayed the same, just got older, a little greyer, a little slower but with the Four Pillars of Respect, Family, Work and Self still guiding his life and clearly on show.

The final musical selection today will be a song by George Harrison titled ‘All Things Must Pass’. It is a moving piece of loss and renewal and of transitioning from the darkness to the light. There is a line that reads:

‘Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey’

Perhaps today will carry our ‘daylight’. While our hearts have been full of sadness and grief over recent times, maybe those feelings can be replaced, and our spirits refreshed and renewed, with happy memories of the joy of Dad’s life. A life that was well lived, and lived well.

I will miss you Dad. Love you. Rest in Peace.

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Many thanks to all those who attended the simple and respectful ceremony beautifully led by the celebrant Nola Coulthurst, and for the wishes and thought of those who could not join in the day. All of your support was of great comfort. And a very special thank you to Bruce Riley, a life long friend of our family and Dad's Godson. Thank you Bruce for the contribution of your very personal and moving tribute and remembrances of Dad. And while we did not want to dwell on Dad's recent illness, Robin and I would like to thank Dr John MacKenzie for his personal and professional and attendance to Dad and to at the management and staff at Somercare in Somerville for making the final years of Dad's life as comfortable as possible.

Attendees

  • Greg & Robin Humphries
  • Bruce & Marie Riley
  • Pam & Greg Hobbs
  • Elaine Sheppard
  • John & Carol Sheppard
  • Russell & Trudy Sheppard
  • Pam Webb
  • Julie Coleman
  • Chris Humphries
  • David Humphries + 2
  • Matthew
  • Pam MacKenzie
  • Denise Banks
  • Monica Clifford
  • Darryl Luttrell
  • Reuben Nicholson
  • Peter & Peta Garriga
  • Rod, Louise & Catherine Prior
  • Julie Mason
  • Linley & Helen Baxter
  • Joyce & Rob Taylor
  • Elva Parker
  • Sue (SomerCare) + 1 (36)

Apologies
  • Margaret Cleland
  • Chris Mason (Flowers w/Julie)
  • Libby Cleland (Flowers)
  • Geoff O’Neill
  • John MacKenzie
  • Beverly & Gerard Goris
  • Margaret Norrish

Dad and Mum will be interred at the Mornington Cemetery in Mt Martha later this year and may they both Rest In Peace together. Forever.

Bye for now, Greg