A Quiet Night

Some years ago I was single again and dating again This night I had been out on a date. it had been great night. I got home at about 11pm.

I am a light sleeper and about 1 to 1:30 am I heard some noise in the house and some lights flashing.

I was close to the road and thought it was some activity on the road. So I rolled over and tried to sleep.

But then I heard the noise and saw light again. I think I have a visitor.

My bedroom joins a small hallway and the lounge is opposite .

I’m going to have to get up and challenge this intruder, in my undies and singlet. No time for formalities. As I’m tip toeing on carpet towards the lounge door I am thinking when he comes through the door way , I’ll ankle tap him and then kick him when he’s down. The courtroom drama yes your honour my client was brutally assaulted in an unprovoked attack.

Hmmm. Now my skin is goose-bumped and ready for anything . I put head into the doorway and say
“Hey what are you doing?”

“I’ve just come to collect my mates stuff”. This dark figure emerges and from the dark. The street light s shines on this huge man with the classic , Balaclava and bag on the back and all black. I guess he didn’t want his mate to recognise him if he was even here!

There goes all thoughts of my beating this guy.

“Your mate doesn’t live here”

He strides right passed me real casually . Arguing still that “this is the place”

“Well lets talk about this place and what’s your name?”

It’s a small house we already through the back door now and I can’t make out his replies. I’m just glad he’s getting outta here.

I’m at the back door and he’s smashed the laundry light that I switched on behind so I still can’t get a look. He is white though, and he has a moustache.

By the time I get to the door. He’s mounting the neighbours fence to scarper.
Already I’m turning on my heels and back to the kitchen to ring the cops.

“your in luck there’s a dog handler in your neighbourhood right now”.

The burglar runs into him almost while I’m on the phone…Yeah yeah we got him”

In about 5 minutes . I have 6 cops arrive and the dog handler has the guy in his van.

The others come in and they bring the bag of stuff in and start emptying the stuff …

Yes it’s all mine ….we gotta take this in evidence…”Hang on. Can I get my car and house keys from my jacket pocket”

All good. I make them all a cup of tea . Extra sugar for me to calm the goosebumps.

We’re chatting and someone’s taking notes. “Quite night? ..This was a pleasing but unexpected response. “

Yes was the reply…then “ksssh” goes the radio phone – “there’s a massive (95) break in , in progress”. They all disappear into the night. With my jackets and my burglar who was just quietly looking for his mates stuff.

It took a while after this night to have a real quiet night again.

History never repeats

History never repeats , I tell myself before I go to sleep. – Split Enz

I don’t want to be like you. I had hated and despised my Dad for many years. This was the final insult and I was resolute in trying hard not to be like Dad. He had been such a terrible role model. My memories of Dad were coloured by all the violent times, the mental illness the drunken times.

At the age of 9 Mum was taken in a car accident. I went to Boarding School in AKL .. a tale for another day.

In the holidays I would go home to Rotorua to Dad. I would ring Dad every now and then to touch base or write letters. He never heard me as he never wore his hearing aids

My first job was in AKL . Loose plan was to save money to go to Art school when I was 21.

When I was about 18 or 19 my Dad gave me that talk …”You’re just like me” “History repeats”was one of the statements that stuck in my throat.

When I did go to Art School in 1983 I called Dad fairly regularly. At least once a term. Maybe it was the distance But something began to happen. The distance and the phone calls to Dad seem to change in our relationship. Dad was deaf and wore his hearing aids at will.

A Classic line he said to my sister was when asked about using his hearing aids was . Yes Sue but I don’t need to hear what you say.

But something happened maybe Dad started wearing his hearing aids or the phone ear piece got better.

The phone seemed to give me access to his ear. I was son number six , I was a long way down the line from the shining star of Number 1 son.

But during these phone calls , which were nothing profound or deep in any way . They were just calls to say hi. We finally got to know each other I could tell he listened. I also listened to him.

I started to accumulate fond memories. The old negative memories are still there but I was now getting to know Dad. I had his full attention . I had a Dad

And so I need not be angry or need to dwell on all those bad times. I’m so glad this happened really, because its an impossible task trying not to be someone. My Dad is a part of me and this was the ahah moment.

My life with Dad from then on was good. I enjoyed many many years of love and affection for my Dad. I was proud of him rather than ashamed as I had been.

There were some times though that tested me. Christmas and gifts were odd. John still was number one Son he got cool presents at Xmas. Dad would always talk about Johns achievements. But not mine or other bros …It was all John. Hard to change a habit of a life time.

I had the privilege of keeping vigil on Dad’s last night on earth he was 88. He kept waking and saying “Is that you John (Number 1 son)” . No Dad he will be here in the morning about 9:30 am . He was on his way from the US to come to Dads side.

It was truly humbling to hold his hand and just be there with him through the night.

The next afternoon he passed peacefully and John was holding his hand . He had waited for John to show up.

In the coming week I organised the funeral and was MC . That’s a whole other story . It was a beautiful send off.

After the service relatives and friends of the family came to give me hugs and a lot of them said

“You’re just like your Dad” or “I see so much of Eddie in you”. It was humbling and comforting.

So it seems History does repeat. But not all of it. There’s no violence in this iteration and also working on the temper. I’m hoping that the next generation is not just a repeat of history also.

So yes history never repeats …I still tell myself before I go to sleep.

PS: Some of the temper and sharp tongue comes from Mum. I only had Mum for nine years. She was the fave. But she could just as easily give you a good thrashing and a good telling off. Tear you to shreds. Must have been a match those 2.

PPS . When I met Charlotte she seemed to have the qualities that are aspirational the consummate Mum. I knew immediately she was the one.

PPPS . It emerged last year that I was indeed no 7 child. Dad had got my Aunt pregnant before she met her hubby . Dads brother Fred.

From me to you

 I want to talk about how I like to use words in many ways as I give myself to the world.

An early talk I gave was when I was about 7. I saw the Sound Of Music and came home reciting the entire movie and songs to my sister. Well that’s probably exaggerated a little.

Age 13 I entered a speech competition. I was a prog rocking goth in those days . I was totally taken with The Alan Parsons project – Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I made a large backdrop of art work, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. In front of this I placed my turntable and played a track from the album. I may have said maybe 40 words.
I had not figured out a way of articulating my love of art, music and words.

1972: my mum was tragically killed in a car accident. My brother Ian and myself ended up at a boarding school.

In  1979. I had my first job as an Accounts Clerk. On a training course we had to introduce ourselves. Time was meant to be 5 minutes. Thirty five minutes later the room, jaws on the floor, they let me continue to tell the tale of my adventures , horror, laughter and tears. They let me unburden myself.

Age 33. I married Lee. My groom speech was totally off the cuff! I told the story of how Lee and I met. I recruited Lee and 2 other female vocalists into our band “The Nuke Wellington Express”. The whole room hung on every word, all eyes were on me. I was sober, but I was really liking this attention. In my summing up, I said how I had found the perfect woman after all. The speech should have stopped right there. But I was drunk on my words and for some reason I thought this “song, this phrasing has not had it’s musical resolve” .
Out of my mouth blurted:“Problem is I keep seeing other nice women”. OMG, pin drop moment, nervous laughter began to trickle. “Just kidding!” A thunderous laughter filled the room . Resolved? I still need some work on my music, words and timing . 

Alas in 1999 after being together 8 years we parted ways. But we have our beautiful son, Tamesi.

Age 43: The busiest year of my life. I married Charlotte. She came with 2 kids, Victor and Claire. It was immediate .This time I sung my groom speech to Charlotte and guests.

The song is called: Song for Charlotte.

I think I’m walking but I’m only standing waiting for the bus
I Think I’m running but I’m only coming to the place I started.
I think I’m driving but really this car is driving me.

I think I better get myself on home to you
Back to the place where my heart beats for you each day
Each day I fall in love again
Each day I fall in love with you.

I still fall in love. We have added Leon and Louis to the mix. The house is full of music and wonder and I am blessed.

Age 51:  I had the privilege of being at my Dads bedside on his last night on earth. During the night he would stir. “Is that you John?” John was winging his way from the USA and was due 9:30 in the morning. “No Dad, its me, Donald”. “Oh”. Back to sleep he went . I held his hand.

When I was really young Dad would use me as a human jukebox . I was made to sing Simon and Garfunkel songs . Pitch perfect, a cappella. I was the MC at his funeral and had allocated 5 minutes to each sibling present. One sibling went 40 minutes over.

Dad was a sailor, a boxer and a ukulele player, on the HMNZS Kiwi in WW2. So I chose to sing the last verse of the Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel as part of my eulogy.

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out out
in his anger and his shame
I am leaving I am leaving
but the fighter still remains.
..lalalala la la lai la la lai

The hairs raised on my neck just like when you hear a perfect harmony as the verse was suddenly much more poignant than I had expected. The flood of memories, gifts he gave to the world, to me, he is part of me and I am part of him.

This is gift,   to get a sense of me and the many parts that are me.

From me to you.