This is the most difficult thing I will ever write on this blog, but I feel a very strong need to do it.
Last week, my best friend, my soul-mate, my constant companion for 44 years, my husband Bob died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep. We first met when I was sixteen and he was eighteen in 1969. I had just started study at the Tasmanian School of Art and he was that quixotic, passionate, articulate second year student who had me immediately transfixed. Someone said of him a day or two ago that "the air around him was electric". So true. People were drawn to him. We were married in 1971; still kids really. We went on to have two children and now five grand-children, to whom he was beloved "Papa". Being married to Bob was a mad, wonderful, glorious wild ride......never a dull moment!
He taught me so many things - without him I would be nothing like the person I am today. He gave me a deep and abiding love for literature, art, wine and people, but most of all he shared with me his love of wild, unspoiled places. He was always supportive of all the things I did - my art and music and I know he was proud of me.
With Lyle Closs at Big Gun Pass, 1976
Bob was a writer, a photographer, an artist, an avid reader and lover of ideas. His intellect was incisive and he could argue under wet concrete (much to the chagrin of a few of the politicians etc that he clashed horns with in later years). As a rock-climber he seems to have achieved the status of "legend".
Below the cliffs on Ben Lomond
He was a Art teacher, much beloved by so many of his former students, quite a few of whom went on to become successful. It is a measure of this man that some of the very many people, he touched in some way are coming from, England, from Shanghai, from all parts of Australia to farewell him on Friday. Among them are climbers, ex-students, artists, politicians and some very dear friends.
2006 saw him reluctantly drawn into a political bunfight over a proposal to build a pulp mill in our beautiful valley. Bob was so struck by the injustice of allowing such a chemical monster to blight our valley without properly assessing the consequences, that he fought doggedly to make sure it didn't happen. Because he was so articulate, he became the media "go-to" person. When the phone would ring at 6 am for an early interview, he would open his eyes and start to make sense before he was even properly awake, such was his grasp on the issues. Sometimes the phone would still be ringing at 10 pm. And when others around him were dithering and vacillating and turning wishy-washy, he remained steadfast and unwavering. He was a true inspiration. To date, there is no pulp mill and the possibility of there ever being one in our valley seems remote.
Bob loved good food, excellent wine and intelligent conversation with dear friends around the dinner table. He was immensely proud of the fact that we could provide an excellent meal most of which came straight out of our garden.
In the summer, I will be scattering Bob's ashes from the top of the cliffs he loved so much, so he can blow around there for eternity and be at one with his mountain.
So, my best friend, my love.......go well. Your mountains are calling you home.