Our Farewells

Sandra and Gillian

Alf was a man of many parts, or talents, as he would say.

He was an advisor, a confidante, a friend, and an inspiration, not only to his family, but to everyone he met.

He gave his loyalty, his trust, his understanding, and his compassion, freely and often.

We feel proud, grateful, and very blessed, to have shared our lives with such an exceptional person.

All our love till we meet again.

Meggie

He was always a pillar of strength, an understanding and empathetic listener.

An inspirational mentor, a comforting shoulder, innovative thinker, and woe unto anyone who tried to hurt the ones he loves.

He certainly lived a full and amazing life, learning and gathering wisdom from every experience, he enjoyed the pursuit of knowledge.

He pursued his dreams and followed his heart with determination. He valued respect, honesty, integrity and personified wisdom.

A beautiful heart, a courageous soul, and a shining light in the darkness.

Daniel

Today I say goodbye to my hero, my mentor and my best friend.

It’s difficult to find words that can do justice to explain the wonderful man that my father was.

He touched everyone he met – whether it was with his sense of humour, his endearing charm, or his positive attitude towards life, he always found a way to make people smile.

His infectious personality, his encouragement to succeed, and his endless words of wisdom, will stay with me forever and help me to make the right decisions in life.

He was always there for me – he taught me how to crawl, how to walk and more importantly – how to live life to the fullest, and have no regrets.

Dad – I will always miss you, always love you and I hope you find peace in the place you have found to rest.

Me

Alf’s goal in life was to make me happy, and not a day passed when I wasn’t in his thoughts, and that he didn’t find something, no matter how small, that would make me smile.

His love was unconditional, and there for the world to see.

My strongest wish is that his children Daniel and Meggie experience a love like ours.

When you left me Alf, I lost more than a husband, I lost my best friend.

I love you and one day we’ll be together again.

Till then you’ll always be in my heart.

Just married

Just married

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Alfie

Our Biography for Père Brown

Alf was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, and left when he was 16 to start exploring the world.

Eventually, he settled in Australia where he had 3 children, Kieran, Daniel, and Meggie.

Alf and Veronique moved to Mauritius 6 years ago, where they began the next stage of their life together.

Alf finally found his paradise on earth.

Alf had a razor sharp wit and was always quick with a joke, a smile and a laugh.

As evidence by the attendance today, he had no pretentions. Alf befriended people from all walks of life. He didn’t care if they were rich or poor, as long as they were good people.

Alf was kind, honest, sincere and loyal. He helped a lot of people and was generous in every way: with his time, with his knowledge, with advice, even with tips for the races – but most of all, with his love.

He was a genuine friend, and his smile made it a pleasure to be in his company.

Alf enjoyed life, and saw the positive in every situation.

He’d often say “don’t worry about the things in life you can’t change. Concentrate on those you can”.

He was also a strong and courageous man. The injuries that he suffered in an accident many years ago, caused him constant pain, and many days were a struggle. Yet he remained cheerful and didn’t let it stop him.

But first and foremost Alf loved his family: his wife Veronique, children Kieran, Daniel and Meggie, and sisters Sandra and Gillian, and would do anything for them.

Alf also loved Mauritius, and made it his home, together with Veronique.

He touched many lives while he was with us, and to the people that knew him, the world feels a little emptier without Alf in it.

The Week That Was

We held Alf’s funeral service on Tuesday in Grande Baie, at l’Église de l’Ange Gardien (Church of the Guardian Angel).

I chose it because it’s situated right on the bay, and I hoped that a beautiful setting might somehow brighten what was such a dark day.

Alf is a Protestant and divorced, yet the priest, Père Brown (Father Brown), didn’t hesitate to hold the mass for him.

Daniel, Sandra, Gillian, Christine, and I arrived at the church immediately after seeing Alf for the last time to say our goodbyes, so we were all very emotional. I had told Meggie that she should remember Alf as she knew him.

Père Brown completely calmed us.

He made us laugh, and said that although Alf wasn’t a Catholic, he was very welcome in his church.

I couldn’t have chosen a better priest if I’d tried.

As Père Brown didn’t know Alf, I (with a lot of input from family and friends) wrote a short biography for him to read during the mass.

After reading it, Père Brown said he was sad that he’d never met Alf.

I was unable to read what I’d written to Alf, so our friend, Heather, did it on my behalf.

Both Meggie and Daniel read their final messages to their father.

They were both so strong and so perfect.

Alf would have been immensely proud of them.

That they were able to stand up in a church full of people under such devastating circumstances, means that there is nothing in life that they can’t do.

I hope that whenever they’re faced with a difficult decision in the future, they think back to that moment, and tap into that inner strength.

After the mass, we went to l’Hotel les Orchidées, where Alf and Kieran had spent a few happy afternoons during Kieran’s holiday with us earlier this year.

Alain read this out on behalf of Alf’s friends:

How do you describe Alf? You can’t, he was a character larger than life.

He was a loyal friend, a sincere friend.

Whenever you met Alf, he would smile because he was happy to see you.

Whenever people met Alf, they would smile because they were happy to see him.

Everybody knew Alf – the corner grocer, the plumber, the carpenter, the builder, even the banker – all of them enjoyed seeing his big smile.

Alf was a smart man, a very smart man, and he was always ready to help you solve a problem.

Alf was a generous man, and would give you anything to help you, or just to please you.

Alf was larger than life, indeed, and made the lives of those he touched, richer.

We will miss you, mate – will we miss you a lot.

Adieu, my friend.

That evening, there was only laughter – we celebrated his life as he would have wanted us to.

Some of Alf’s ashes have been returned to Belfast to be scattered on his mother’s and brother’s graves.

Some will go back to Perth, to be scattered along with Kieran’s ashes.

Some will be in our Mauritian garden under a beautiful plant.

The rest we decided to scatter at sea, so I hired a catamaran for a twilight cruise on Wednesday.

I invited Alain and Robin, Sam and Lyn, and Jean-Paul and Savita to join us, as not only are they our closest friends here, they were there with me from shortly after it happened, up until the first of the family arrived on Sunday night.

Unfortunately only Alain and Robin were able to make it, as one of Sam’s relatives died the previous day, and Jean-Paul was too upset. But I know their love and thoughts were with us.

Daniel invited Kent and Nadine because, through conversations with Alf over the years, he had picked up on how much Alf liked Kent.

The weather that day deteriorated – it rained a little and became very windy.

I explained to the skipper what we were there for, so he took us out of the rain to a calm spot off Mon Choisy beach.

We were all very sad and tearful as Meggie, Daniel, and I settled ourselves on the edge of the cat.

Then one of the crew accidentally hit the urn that Meggie was holding, and she thought he had smashed it. The fright of losing the ashes caused her to laugh hysterically, which quickly became contagious.

Then as we were scattering the ashes, the wind picked up, and blew Alf all over our feet and legs, and when Daniel told Meggie not to “hog all of Dad”, it set everybody off again.

The icing on the cake was when, out of the blue, the crew suddenly started to hose us off.

So instead of being what could have been a heartbreaking moment, it became full of laughter, just as Alf would have wanted.

Kent brought along a bottle of Jameson’s Irish whiskey which Alf loved, so we toasted Alf and wished him well on his journey.

So although many tears were shed, there was also a lot of laughter.

Alf would have been very happy with us.

Everything went perfectly – just as though Alf had organised it himself in that magical way that he had about him.

During this unbelievably difficult period, all our friends have been there for me, and for the last time, for Alf.

You helped me enormously, not only with your love and support, but for organising everything at a time when I couldn’t – I can never repay you enough.

My thanks and love to you all.

A Broken Heart

I’m so very sad to say that Alf died suddenly last Thursday of a heart attack.

Since then, our friends, my parents Eileen and Colin, Alf’s children Daniel and Meggie, his sisters Sandra and Gillian, niece Christine, and I, have grieved together, but also celebrated the wonderfulness of Alf.

This follows, all too tragically, the death of his eldest son, Kieran, who was killed in an accident six weeks ago.

Alf died on what would have been Kieran’s 30th birthday.

For our family and friends overseas who were unable to be here with us, over the next two posts, I’d like to share a little of the past week with you. I hope you find some solace in it.

Today, Sandra, Gillian, and Christine fly back to Belfast, and on Saturday, Meggie and Daniel fly back to Perth.

The house will feel very empty.

But I know that Alf would not have wanted our lives to stop, nor for us to remain trapped in our grief.

He always encouraged us to be the best we could be, and we will all honour that.

I love you Alf. xx

I Flooded the House

Hello, boys and girls.

The topic for today’s lesson is:

“Don’t go on the internet while you’re filling the kitchen sink”.

Because if you do, instead of spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon at Resto Bar de la Baie eating this:

Fish tartarewhilst looking at this:

Grand Baie and Coin de Mire islandyou’ll end up using this:

Squeegee on a stickto sweep out the 2 inches of floodwater that (a couple of hours down the track) leaves your house vaguely water-free, but rather dishevelled, like this:

LoungeroomDining areaWhere it all startedHundreds of wet towels later...and requires a visit from your cabinetmaker the following week to quote on replacing ALL your drawers because they’re warped and won’t close/open like this:

Warped drawers which no longer closeand based on past experience, the arrival of the new drawers will probably take ages, so for the foreseeable future, your house will continue to look like this:

New kitchen storage areaand if you accidentally drop a drawer on your toe while cleaning up, you’ll end up hobbling around, and over a week later, said toe will still look like this:

Ouch!Well, that’s your lot for today, boys and girls.

In the meantime, don’t forget:

The internet is addictive and EVIL!

And remember to turn off that tap!

Resto Bar de La Baie

Ph: 5798 2765 or 5702 8355

Closed Mondays.

Delicious!

Thai Buddhist Amulet Artwork

Whenever we visit Bangkok, we inevitably end up at an amulet market  – they’re situated around the main temples (the best one is held on Sundays near Wat Mahathat).

Thais buy amulets for good luck or protection.

I buy them because I like looking at them – I love their colours, textures, detail, and shapes.

As the amulets we buy cost between 10 and 50 baht each (rs10-rs50, or 35c-$1.75), they’re obviously mass-produced, but authentic ones blessed by monks can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

Amazingly, despite both Alf and I selecting them without checking to see what the other has bought, we didn’t have a single duplicate.

Over the years, we’ve amassed a nice little collection, and now, I’ve finally thought of a way of displaying them.

I’m going to glue them onto painted canvasses, and hang them in our stairwell.

Amulets

Here, I’ve roughly laid out the amulets, and mixed a sample of the paint colour

I’ve chosen a maroon background – the paler amulets will stand out nicely against it, but the dark ones will need a little help – I’ll rub on some gold gilding paste to highlight them and to bring out the detail:

Gilding Paste

Only the top halves have been gilded in this photo

As you can see, red-based paint doesn’t give good coverage on white surfaces, so I’ll undercoat the canvasses with black paint.

Some of the amulets are made from clay or wood, but others are metal, which means they’re pretty heavy, so I’ll attach everything with 2-part epoxy to ensure they don’t fall off as a result of gravity, or summer heat and humidity.

As I don’t have maroon paint, I have to mix scarlet and purple together.

I’ll need a fair bit of paint to cover three canvasses, so I’ll mix one big batch for each coat, as I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to replicate the same shade if I were to run out halfway through.

(With the black undercoat, I only needed two topcoats.)

Though they’re small canvasses, they’re fairly busy – so when Alf hung them, he spaced them out, so that you can appreciate them individually.

If you like standing in stairwells and looking at stuff, that is.

Anyway, that was the background to this project, and now, here are the finished canvasses (the maroon is actually much darker – the flash brightened everything – I really need to take a photography course!):

AmuletsAmuletsAmuletsFinally, they’ll get the presentation they deserve, instead of being stored in the spare-room wardrobe.

And who knows – they might even bring us luck – here’s to health, love, prosperity, and happiness!