It’s been a week of decisions trying to create a fitting memorial to good man who lived an ordinary life filled with work, family, love and laughter.
In the end I think we got there. Our daughters are extraordinary young women who each created the most beautiful tributes. Simon’s brother, Jon, and I spoke and so many people contributed in different ways.
Thank you to everyone for everything.
To begin with I would like to read a message from Tiana to her Dad.
RIP Dad I’m gonna miss you so much and I already am. It’s hard knowing you are not going to walk through the door, I keep expecting you too.
We have had the best time ever, taking funny pictures, going star gazing, looking at the sunrise. I loved you past the moon and back, there’s so much I wish I could tell you. It would be your birthday in two weeks, we were talking about how you wanted me to make you pyjama pants in textiles, we even looked at fabric, and we were going to go see the muppets together.
I’m gonna miss the little things, us going to shops, going for walks, definitely going to the beach you loved the water.
You were so fun, caring and easy to talk too, even your Dad jokes were actually funny, you had high spirits and nothing could take that away from you.
You were looking so forward to our soccer season this year, my first game is on your birthday and we’re gonna win for you.
I will never, ever, ever forget you, I love you so much.
Some twenty six years ago my friend Michele got a new flatmate. When I went over to check him out I found a skinny, hairy man in stubbie shorts and Dunlop volleys, who drove a jacked up a Hi-Lux Ute around inner Sydney and carried a fur covered wallet he had affectionately named “muff”. On paper nothing about that sounds attractive.
But that’s the thing about Simon, he never cared what others thought, his sense of self was strong and he was able to turn dorky into long-running gags that kept us entertained for years.
He spent 15 years drinking his way around South East Asia, sorry I mean serving in the Royal Australian Navy. There are so many happy memories from those years. Great friendships formed from Nirimba on. Adventures had in assorted foreign countries and right around Australia.
Simon liked it hot. He spent a lot of his travels trying to track down the spiciest food imaginable. In Hobart he and Tony Sim ordered a triple chilli, triple garlic, double pepperoni pizza which the bloke said there was no way they would finish it, but Simon sat and sweated it out, cause he never liked to lose a challenge and handed the box back empty saying “it wasn’t bad”. The shop owner was gobsmacked.
Tony also remembers the time they got that Hilux airborne at Kurnell apparently he was just “testing” the new twin cam celica motor he had installed. He loved tinkering. In fact you could say he drew inspiration from Tim the Tool Man Taylor. EVERYTHING had to be modified, and given a “Bungy” improvement.
When his new smokey joe webber BBQ took too long to cook the meat he drilled in some extra holes, cause the manufacturers had no idea how to make a decent barbie. Subsequently we had flames to the eaves of the balcony and were able to cherynoble sausages in 1.5 seconds flat.
He loved to make things and was fortunate early in life to select a job that allowed him to do exactly that, the downside is he didn’t believe you had to spend money on anything because you could always make it yourself.
This was brought home to me on Sunday night when we tried to blow up an airbed for Bianca who was staying over. Simon had always inflated the mattresses when we had guests and I had never paid much attention to how he did it.
Turns out THIS is our air pump.
Jon tells me I have a cigarette lighter mattress blower with battery connectors attached to a car charger converting 240 volts to 12.
How could I have not been able to figure out how that worked?
Simon was also good at coming up with outlandish explanations for things, he once justified his excess body hair to the fact – he was a “man from the snowy mountains” it got cold in Tumburamba, therefore evolution had given him an additional layer of fur to protect from the elements. This theory may have been developed after one too many bottles of Tyrells Long Flat Red.
Of course it was his dry humour we will all remember the most, the laidback comment, tinged with sarcasm delivered with deadpan accuracy.
Simon had a life-long love of fishing and he was thrilled when he found a new mate here in Port who owned a boat. He and Grant spent many a Sunday out on the water and he called it his “sanity saver”.
He had a developed a new love too, golf. He and Brett and CJ or anyone else they could con into joining them, regularly disappeared into the greens, they tried to tell me it was a serious competition of high ability, I always suspected it was more “hit and giggle”, this was confirmed in a comment from CJ this week “I’ve never seen someone lose so many balls on the course and still be smiling like he was having the round of his life”.
Simon had worked hard for years to provide for his family and I’m so pleased that in these last couple of years he found the time to create new friendships and enjoy his time on the water and the golf course.
But of course the most important role of Simon’s life was being a Dad. He was enormously proud of his two girls and loved them more than anything in the world.
He used to brag about Daneesha’s art and singing and Tiana’s photography. Particularly when one of Tiana’s pictures won us a $12,000 trip to Sydney. We got to go to the X Factor Grand Final, stayed at the Inter-Continental, received $4,000 in new clothes and a professional stylist to help us choose them. Yes the man from the snowy mountains found himself traipsing around Sydney shops for four hours getting fashion advice from a trendy young thing who usually dressed movie stars. I think it was a unique experience, for the stylist. Of course his reward for the shopping was a degustation dinner at Matt Moran’s Aria restaurant where he enjoyed seven courses with matching wine for each dish. We rolled him out at the end of the night.
When the girls were little many hours were spent in his workshop under house in Brisbane, the girls banging nails into blocks of wood while he built a cubby house, with flying fox, a billie cart and bunk beds amongst other things. Our former neighbour Matt, at the time childless, admired Simon’s parenting style. “He had a very casual attitude to his parenting. While most parents these days put their children in cotton wool with helicopter parenting methods Simon would let his girls do almost anything. I remember on a number of occasions I would see Tiana with scratches and bruises from running down and falling down the driveway. Simon would say ‘well one day she will learn’. I think I learned a lot from him in this regard. He can love his family without being overbearing and let them make mistakes and learn.”
He loved watching the girls play soccer, offering advice from the sideline, his complete lack of knowledge of the game didn’t stop him from having an opinion.
Even when ill health struck it didn’t stop him parenting. I remember sitting next to his hospital bed at the Prince of Wales Hospital after his double heart bypass, he couldn’t sit upright but he was on the phone to the girls helping them with their maths homework.
In the end your legacy to the world isn’t measured in money or possessions. Simon’s gift to the world is the laughter and happy memories he leaves to his friends and family. And two beautiful girls who have grown into funny, clever, talented young women who I know will go on to live happy, successful lives in honour of their Dad.
We will miss him forever.
There was also an article in the Port Macquarie News.