14 April was a cold and windy day, but the sun shone through – somehow appropriate for Richard’s funeral. Although conducted in one of the chapels at the funeral home, it was not a religious service.
Richard very obviously had a lot to do in the preparation of his own funeral: there were items in the telling of his life journey that could only have come from him. It was a special touch that Peter Jenke and Rod Allan were specifically mentioned for the support and affirmation that they’d given him over several years.
Both his sisters – twin Trish and younger sister Jacqui – spoke of a brother they loved. Their telling was honest and matter-of-fact: the acknowledged the feelings he’d had throughout his life of being socially awkward and perhaps, in his mind, of not measuring up. But the main point that they made was that he was a better person than he thought he was, and hopefully that message got through to him towards the end of his life. It was certainly one that was emphasised by his classmates who made contact in recent years.
Richard had recorded a final message, apparently just before he died, knowing that his life was about to end. There was no self-pity, but a brave facing of the inevitable. He seemed to be content, with a powerful message that he had come to understand and appreciate that interpersonal relationships and friendships were so critical in life. There was some typical Richard wry humour: we were all encouraged to look after one another, and more importantly, to make sure we had a last drink and feed on him at the tea rooms after the service! We did.
The Class of 1972 was represented by Peter Jenke, Rod Allan, Graham Smith, Tony McKenna and David Cran, along with Kerry Jenke who had been part of the support team, which included Rod’s partner Jenny who was unable to attend. Peter had loaned his old Herbie Johnson cap to be placed on the coffin to represent his Army service of 23 years (hoping that it wasn’t destined for the flames!); likewise there were some medals worn out of respect for Richard’s military service over more than two decades.