21 May, 2007
DONALD WILLIAM MACKAY - 4TH JULY 1950 - 17TH MAY 2007
Poem written by wife, Therese Mackay, read at the funeral by the celebrant.
The Man and Me
Sleeping at night my palm opened flat on his chest,
Warmth feeding warmth, I know we are blessed.
No matter the day’s misunderstandings and blues;
No matter points made and lost;
No matter who thinks who’s the boss;
Sleeping always next to him is the life I would choose.
Re arranging pillows, blankets and such;
Both easy to fire off, yet both easy to touch.
Each unwilling to give way, equal to the end.
The Celt in us both, a marvellous brew,
Stirred and stirring, a wondrous stew.
Sleeping hand to chest our rousing battles mend.
Ah! And give me that fire, pure and unpolished,
And give me the spirit, no argument undemolished,
And give me the wickedness and its play,
Give me the empathy and knowing
Give me the common sense for our growing.
And let us wake hand to chest at the start of the day.
How dear to me is the man who breathes beside me at night?
How dear is the spirit, which gives his eyes their light?
How dear to me is the world we share?
There is no measure I can explain
But that his pain gives me also pain
And that our love is sometimes more than we can bear.
For me he stands, young, fair and clear-eyed as in youth.
For me, the things he feels I know, they are truth.
And I will hold these truths like rare and precious treasure,
For in a shifting sea of easy useless lies
The values of such truths are cherished ties
To the love which lives within the heart which is without measure.
So let me lie for hours, my hand upon his chest,
Thinking on the treasures with which we are blessed.
Such as our children treading out into the world to be,
Carrying the dreams of all our life;
Treasures as sacred as the man and wife
And as sacred as the love which binds the man to me.
With Love Therese
Ian Mackay's part (brother)
The dash between 1950 and 2007 is the period Don was with us. It is the most important dash that we know. It fulfils his life and the love that we know both from Don and to him.
My portion of Dons life is mainly from birth till his early twenties.
Born on 4th July 1950 the fourth child of Rod & Kath Mackay in the western town of Moree. His family consisted of firstly Jeanette… (Tet) Judith… (Jude) and myself, Ian. … Not counting the main proponents of the family Dad (Rod) & Mum (Kath).
My sisters used to dote on me until this kid called “Don” arrived, it changed after that and he became the dotee. That didn’t matter all that much as they couldn’t play marbles and didn’t go much on catching frogs.
Not much to do in Moree
One evening at dinner not long after his first birthday Don said to us and all, “We should go to the Snowy and build the Eucumbene Dam as they need people like us”. He was a very advanced child. As a group of half a dozen we set off to build a dam. Turns out it was a bit bigger than the six of us could handle, so we called in a few more people (1000 actually) it took about six years to complete. Those six years probably formed Don into the person he became in later years.
The things that we got up to as kids would have sent you to a home of some sort or other. It included, the four of us setting out for a bike ride of a lifetime, ending up in a pigsty at the original dam site, with a raging fire that could have burnt an average National park. Someone volunteered me to get Mum and Dad (Tet I’m sure) in a raging stormy freezing cold on a 10 mile ride in the dark, with the cavalry Mum & Dad the three eldest – me included were chastised severely. “What were you thinking taking this young baby out in this weather”. As quick as Tet said “Mum at least he is warm and dry and he is not a baby he is four years old. It ended well. The kids could do no wrong.
Don & I were shooting tadpoles and frogs in a creek near home. I had just shot a frog and Don said give me a shot: I gave him the slug gun and he said to me “see how you like it” and promptly shot me in the foot. That was the start of his GREENY ATTITUDE. Not content with the foot shooting when we got home he reloaded the slug gun and chased me around the house.
A mate and myself were going fishing and knocked off a bunch of carrots from the headmaster's place to eat while fishing next thing Don and his mate Ian ‘Ackenzie’, his real name was Mackenzie but Don couldn’t get his tongue around that, caught us and dobbed us into the headmaster- Mr Faulkner. Don got extra points for that. The mate and I panicked when called to his office, but being a great teacher he didn’t go crook instead gave us a lesson on tying fishhooks.
The remainder of our stay in the Adaminaby Dam site was filled with family love and love of family a really great place to grow up as a child.
Dam completed, Don called us together again and said that the people were having troubles with a dam at Tan Tanungra and felt that we should help a fairly uneventful part of our lives Don schooled at New Adaminaby. Tet worked with Dad and Jude helped mum at the local shop.
Don again gathered us after our Sunday roast and weekly caster oil and said, “there are problems with a power site at the Lake Macquarie we should go and help”
Swansea this joint had it all
TV - never seen that
Beaches - been on holiday
Lakes - made them
Fishing - caught millions and masses of adventures that four kids from the Snowy had never seen.
Don became a super star at Soccer in the under 14s and we both completed schooling there. From there the family fragmented.
Tet married Jack Holmes and had a son Phillip all died in a car accident 1969.
Jude married Buddy who died in a car accident in 1965.
I married Monika and had a son Terry and daughter Jenny.
Jude remarried, Kevin and had a son Rodney and daughter Joanne.
Don said they were calling from Port Headland in WA. The family fragmented further, as mum and dad with Don in tow headed there to sort out the problems the Port mob encountered.
The problem solved and plans to return to Swansea were completed. However Dad encountered cancer and lost the battle in the Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth on 31 Jan 1966.
Don and mum returned to the eastern states, I got leave from Vietnam to see Dad before he passed but unfortunately due to slow transport missed seeing him before passing. My leave was far to short and I returned to Vietnam whilst Mum and Don went to Maroon country in Brisbane where the tied up with Jude.
With Brisbane a temporary base Don now 17 headed to Blackwater mines 4-500 kilometres west of Rocky. This part of his life was born “The wild child” bought new cars and demolished them at a rapid rate.
Mum returned to Cardiff and Don soon followed and sort of lost the Wild Child a bit when he met
Therese and had two daughters
Melissa in 1974
Alison in 1977.
The remainder of his story is related by Therese through Garry our celebrant.
To have known Don as a brother was a privilege and to have loved and be loved by him irreplaceable.
DON REST IN PEACE, WE ALL LOVE YOU.
Therese Mackay's part (wife)
Don and Therese met in Newcastle in 1972 and joined forces about three weeks after that meeting. Don was then working as a Fitter for Hodge Industrial installing underground petrol tanks and bowsers all across NSW.
In 1974 Melissa was born to them and Don’s boss offered them the use of a large caravan to use so that Don would not want to come home each weekend to be with his family and could spend months moving around NSW working.
This was a wonderful 18 months and there were few areas they did not get to spend time. Blayney in winter in an uninsulated caravan was an experience. Opening the van door at the tick gates and seeing their red kelpie, called Red, slithering around in the beetroot which had fallen out of the fridge, because someone had forgotten to put the pin in the fridge door was another.
Port Macquarie was one of the towns they visited and Don was offered work from Gordon Hunt should he ever move here.
In late ’76 they moved to Port Macquarie.
Alison was born in 1977 and the family was complete.
They lived in a small house just past Sea Acres near Johnson’s Fruit shop, which cost $12 a week. Here they were home. Chooks, ducks, a dog – Boris, cats – (Don was never too keen on these creatures) and Lucky - Don’s horse, two happy little girls and little money made this a happy home for Don and Therese
He worked on building sites and drove a backhoe and truck and was able to turn his hand to most things he tried.
In 1982 Don was badly injured while working in the canals behind Settlement City.
He became a quadriplegic and spent a seven-month stay at Royal North Shore Hospital (Sydney). Therese, Melissa and Alison moved for that period living near the hospital, with Therese’s eldest sister Veronica. All returned to Port Macquarie when Don was well enough
After a settling period, Don along with his wife Therese became involved in issues in which he believed in passionately. He lobbied Council in the ‘80’s for better wheelchair access and struck a deal with them that he would go halves in the cost of construction of wheelchair access on major access points around the CBD.
In the early ‘90’s he manned the RSPCA phone and was passionate about his commitment to this. Although it’s a well known fact Don was not a great cat lover, he abhorred cruelty of any sort and would too often be upset by the callousness of human beings to their pets and livestock.
His mother died in 1997. He not only looked out for his mother’s needs but also Therese’s mother and was always quick to see when others were had difficulties. He had a great compassion for others who were suffering illness or other.
When his sister Judy was dying in Queensland in 1998 he and Therese spent the last three months with her only leaving a few days before she passed away. This was a special time and he spent many days just quietly sitting by his sister’s bedside talking and laughing about family.
He believed ardently in the right of the individual to freedom of choice on issues regarding Fluoridation, and other and it is well known he did not suffer fools gladly. He was very active in the fight against the privatisation of Port Macquarie Hospital and he worked for years tirelessly to have the hospital returned to public hands.
Unfortunately he was stuck in bed on the day the Hospital Action Group had its celebration outside the hospital grounds once again when the hospital was finally handed back to the people of NSW in 2004, but he spent that morning harassing the local media, as was his wont, into speaking with the Hospital Action Group who were there from the beginning of the fight in early 1992.
He became actively involved in One Nation, and along with Marge Rowsell from Taree organised the original meeting in the Civic Centre when Pauline came to Port Macquarie and filled the Civic Centre to overflowing on a Tuesday morning. When Pauline moved away from One Nation so did Don. He was outraged by her jailing and worked as hard as he could writing letters etc to help raise awareness of the injustice often saying that if it could happen to such a public figure as Pauline, it could happen to any one of us, and that we each, on our own, must always fight against injustice when we are able…
When Pauline was released, fully exonerated he was over the moon.
Don and Therese moved out here to Craggy Island in early 2004. The sense of peace and beauty they both felt the first day they saw this place is still here with us and for Therese it is the essence of her husband and a fitting place for this service.
Becoming a Quadriplegic was bad enough, but Don was unlucky in that he was suffered constant pain and would comment on those few days when it totally lifted how good the day was. As the years went on this became much worse. His courage and endurance, still being able to be concerned about others, smiling, fooling about, being involved and interested and most of all never complaining, was truly wonderful to experience. It was heartbreaking at times when people did not understand his fragility and his exhaustion and bravery he showed by just facing the days at times.
The family are aware of the many roles Don played in life and on the small screen, where just the placement of a wig, or a hat and he would transform into little fat Eadie from Picnic at Hanging Rock which should now be known as “Picnic at Don Rock”…and his Mafia alter ego called “The Don” was done as seamlessly as he did everything.
There was the eighth day of the week “Don Day” which was a special day for the kids.
His force of personality and its many facets became something of a miracle to his family and especially Therese, Melissa and Alison. He was constantly concerned about their welfare, and that of the extended family, and he seemed to grow more compassionate, the more he suffered.
Melissa and Alison joke about the fact that they quickly learnt to never say they were bored because when they did he would give them jobs to do. Now adults they say they are grateful for this. He was fiercely independent and a gentle and concerned loving husband and father.
He passed away at his home on Thursday 17th May, two days before his eldest daughter Melissa and her fiancé Chris were due to be married. He had been in RNSH for 5 weeks and was flown home the night of his passing. Unable to speak because of the Ventilator for the past 5 weeks, when it was finally turned off, he softly talked and joked with those of us gathered for about two hours. He died with his family around him and was loved gently as he went with dignity and concern for others welfare the last things he expressed.
The manner of his passing after the terrible suffering he endured, will never be forgotten by those of us present, and has left us with no fear of death… none at all. Yet another of the precious gifts he left to those he loved. He was beautiful to the end and died quietly with his daughters and wife and other loved ones… in a quiet room... at home at last. He deserved such a peaceful seamless death to this life. His compassion and empathy for others; his sense of fun and stirring; his generosity; his unpredictability; his intense love of the natural world; so much, but more even was the love he held for his children Melissa and Alison, and his wife Therese. He loved them without conditions. Its known Don had his rough edges but the rough diamonds are always the best, and are always more precious
Thanks must go out to Therese’s sisters Veronica, Joan and Jackie for their support. Jackie spent the last day in the hospital with Don while the family drove home to meet the Air Ambulance. She went on the flight with him so that he always had someone with him he loved. Thanks to Carmel, Patsy, Mike, Rod, Neil and Renata, and Donna, and they know why.
The effort made by Don’s Doctor Dr Mark Stewart and the Air Ambulance and others made it possible for Don to have his last wish, which was to die at home.
He is survived by Therese his wife, Melissa and Alison his daughters and Ian his brother.
Goodbye for now our lovely Eadie… See you round like a rissole.
Melissa’s part (daughter)
One things for sure this world will never be the same again without Don or better known as Noddy to Ali, Mum and I.
Whenever I think of him it always makes me smile and a million memories come rushing to me. Each one making me happier. Dad had a wonderful sense of fun and a wicked wicked sense of humour. Which left a lot of people not quite sure, was he laughing at them? That made it funnier. Alison and I from a young age absolutely loved when he was being wickedly funny. Kids love it when someone can get away with saying and doing things naughty. Ali do you remember your first communion? I know mum and I sure do! Only 20 cents for a glass of water. We had some amazing times as a family, you couldn’t ask or wish for a better dad. He was always always there for you, and nothing was ever too much. The gap in our little family is going to be felt, but he is always with us, because he promised me once. I remember when dad was in hospital, his arms were tied with restraints, mum and I untied them and he stretched out his arms like he was going to fly away. I said jokingly, YOUR FREE! And he laughed and smiled it was the most beautiful smile. So I hope he is free and still has that beautiful smile, that I’ll never forget.
He deserves all the wonders of complete freedom and happiness.
Alison’s part (daughter)
Where do I start, when trying to say goodbye, or a final “see you later” to you Dad? I know that you will always be with me & that I will meet you again, but for now you need to rest. I am so sorry for what happened to you at Royal North Shore Hospital, it was as you said “Shithouse”. We were lucky to have been with you at the end. I hope that you could feel all the love from us.
You & Mum gave us such a fun & rich childhood; there was always much laughter in the house. There are so many stories and great times that will always be with my heart. Thankyou for teaching me so many things its strange but I still remember each moment so clear when you taught me to tie my shoelaces, to dive properly into the pool, my times tables, telling the time on a real clock. All the times you watched me swimming by myself in the pool because I was always to scared jaws would get me if you weren’t watching. You would try to sneak away after a long while but I’d always catch you and you’d always come back out.
There were always lots of cuddles in our house, interesting games of monopoly, jobs if we admitted boredom, and there was always a right way to do jobs and a short time in which to begin them. That was just you though Dad and it became slightly amusing as we got older.
We have so many funny home videos of us four and others, but by far the best was our “Picnic at Don Rock!” you played Edie brilliantly and we have so many one-liners from it that will always make us laugh.
Thank you Dad for always being so helpful and kind to me. You always tried to make things better for me. All the phone calls over the last few years I will cherish. All the stories you told, all the silly voices we did. You taught me how to cope with things that were beyond my grasp, and always when the seriousness was over you’d get me chuckling again.
People tell me that I am like you in many ways and I am proud of that. You always taught me to stand up for myself too, which I am grateful for. You did so with such phrases as “Don’t take shit” and “are you gunna put up with that?” Dad you always taught me to be strong and fair. Two qualities that you have.
I will always love and cherish you, there have just been so many funny and warm times shared. I am so lucky to of have had a father like you, a friend like you and a teacher like you.
Take care Dad wherever you are right now, and always know how proud I am of you for who you are, how you lived, how you dealt with hardship’s, how you joked and how you loved.
I love you
Love always Ali