Passin' Through!

One my first trips to New Zealand was to attend to my brother in law's funeral.

Charles de Thierry was a character - a lovable man, a truckie, musician, lover, joker, brother, friend to many.

It was my first introduction to my wife Rose's culture and how they handled death of a loved one.

It was also two days before my 40th birthday when Charlie died in his rig somewhere on the road between Invercargill and Dunedin.

My dear beloved brother Wes had died 11 years before, just weeks before his fortieth birthday. He actually never wanted to turn 40! I'd been wrestling with this horrible little thought in the back of my mind ever since I turned 39, that I didn't deserve to live longer than my brother. No way could I bear to live longer than he did.

Sounds kindof trivial, having a thought like this. You might even be thinking - "just toughen up - get over it! It's just a thought!"

But it was serious for me. I'd seen how thoughts like this could create calamitous disease, events and situations. I knew I had to deal with it.

And I did. Lots of meditation, lots of processes and lots of writing got me to the point where I realised I had to celebrate my 40th birthday with a party.

And so I half heartedly organised one with a bunch of mates.

But it wasn't to be.

Two days before my birthday, we got the word Charles was dead. Rose and I jumped on a plane and went straight to Invercargill.

His body was being kept at a Marae (a Maori meeting place where such events could be held.)

We entered the hall and there was the body in the coffin, lid off for all to see and talk with Charles.

Rose's mum Norma was sitting by the coffin. We were welcomed with tears and love at this very sad time.

After a while, Rose told me: "You have to speak - get up and say something!" In her tribe, it was a tradition that women can't get up and speak.

So I did. I talked about who he was to me, about who he was to Rose and who he was for Norma. I acknowledged him for all that I knew of him. I knew he was a musician, so I played a bit of blues on my mouth organ and put it into the coffin with him, saying that this was the last song that would be played on it.

Then, I went back to sit with Rose and her mum by the coffin. They were gesturing to me - "You have to sing a song!" Rose told me in a loud whisper.

I only knew the words to one song. I'd never sung in public before. This looked like a major stretch for me!

Somehow, I've been singing this song ever since at all major events I've ever spoken at....'cause in New's cultural protacol to sing a song after you give a speech!

- have a listen to this song:

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