personal

A goodbye to John

On St. Patrick’s Day 2021, my beautiful, brave, funny, kind Stepdad John passed away after a valiant, relentlessly positive battle with brain cancer.

John was your textbook fabulous Dad – we all were so lucky to have him model what a great parent, and a good person, is. He was supportive, he was kind and generous and always saw the good in people. A card I received in the days following his death, summed it up perfectly: “He was the Dad we all wanted to have”, too true.

In the midst of the grief and pain of his final few days, my brother and I could not join the rest of our family in NZ due to the border restrictions that were in place due to COVID19. Like many other families, those living in separate states and countries have been kept apart, not just for happy occasions, but also being unable to work through the grieving process as we know it.

John “being cool”, finding a way to enjoy Melbourne and have the “best holiday ever” while undergoing treatment for brain cancer. Ever the optimist.

During those days, our family spent a lot of time talking about what John has taught us, how he has influenced our lives, and was one of the best role models. John was always doing good – through teaching, being a good friend, a good father, a good grandfather, a good husband.

Everyone’s ‘doing good’ is different, and it’s too easy to compare ourselves to others. John never boasted, he didn’t showcase, he was always modest. Even the things he was the best at (creating, designing – anything really, even down to a handmade Fender guitar) he would never show them off in a way that could make anyone else feel less-than.

Over the past 20 months, our family has had a lot of time to reflect, and much of what has driven that has been John’s attitude to life and Mum’s selfless care of him during that time. Grief has a funny way of changing the lens through which you see the world. Doing good – and continually striving to do better – has been the lesson I’ve taken from this.

Of course, reflection is easy, action can be hard, especially when it seems the world is turning upside down. During this period of reflection some of the ways we’ve shifted our lives around to honour John by trying to ‘doing more good’ have been:

  • Moving back to the nonprofit space – it’s where my heart is and while I don’t have the skills to work on the front lines during the pandemic, the least I can do is use the skills I do have to help those that do (major plug for Life Without Barriers – an incredible organisation filled to the brim with the most wonderful people).
  • Working hard to shift our small business to a social enterprise model (I make jewellery) – this is a big job but we’re almost there!
  • Prioritising time with one of the coolest humans on the planet, our 3 year old ❤️

Arohanui sweet John, forever in our hearts. My hope is that, as Luca says, from your star in the sky, you look down is us all and are proud. That’s really all any of us want.

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