Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goodbye Jock

Well it’s been 3 months since I’ve put finger to keyboard. Partly out of laziness, partly out of busyness and partly out of trepidation. The major event in that time being the death of Jock. Too sad. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything until now. Too painful to confront. Another friend gone. No more great conversation over a glass of red or a spliff. No more listening with great enjoyment and admiration as he played guitar. Watching him go from a vibrant, warm, intelligent, talented human being into a wasted away frail figure who couldn’t move his limbs or even speak a coherent sentence. His fear of dying and discomfort there for all to see as he lay in the hospital bed. So many friends who loved him. Some who had been with him for his whole life of 50 years. And loving brothers and family. And those from his band who he spent so much time with in the studio and on the road. He was the seemingly sane one in their musical process. But with demons of his own. I knew about them but never really saw them myself. The painful split with Matty following bouts of depression and drunken wanderings. I met up with him in London during that period. He wept as he told me of the events that had unfolded back in the St.Kilda flat. The later implosion when Matty became pregnant and decided to keep the baby. The fallout still felt today among friends who no longer see each other. The metamorphosis into the most beautiful father of all time. Always time for Ella and all of the other children who played around. My children among them. Jock was always the one with the patience and love to push the swing, play hide and seek and just keep a watchful eye over them. We all sat and talked, taking a moment of respite, glad that Jock was able to take them away for a while. Knowing they were always safe with him, and more than that, were having fun. Sometimes I’d feel guilt that I wasn’t pulling my weight and was leaving it all to Jock. That would be mixed with a certain envy that the kids were hanging out with him and I wasn’t. I’d be happy when either he came back to us or I overcame my atrophy and joined in with him and the kids. The last time we all went to the park, Jock was in the midst of cancer. The treatment had supposedly worked at that stage, but he was weak. I only realised how weak when we had a kick of the footy with Finn and after a short while he had to sit down, almost exhausted. His lung was partially removed. His energy had been diminished. He still had the life force then and some hope, but as it turned out, only a few months to live.

And Matty. What a strong, courageous person. Witnessing the painful death of her mother from lung cancer to then be told only a month afterwards that her partner and father of her child had the same illness. In the last few days I felt almost like an intruder in the hospital. Though Jock could hardly speak, it seemed clear that he didn’t like all the attention and would rather die in dignity with only family around him. But I just had to go in. I wanted to see Jock knowing that I wouldn’t be able to for much longer. But I also felt a burning desire to be with Matty.

I loved watching Jock play guitar. Be it with TISM, Blind Lemon Chicken, slide guitar with Bruce at our wedding, or just twiddling away in a lounge room. He was a generous musician. He never robbed others with his ego. Even when I felt too inhibited to pick up a guitar around anybody else, Jock would always put me at ease on those occasions when I played with him. Always making me feel an equal as a musician in the moment, even though he was far more accomplished. His enthusiasm would give me confidence.

And such a depth of conversation. It didn’t matter the topic. Jock always had an opinion or related fact worth hearing. Theological discussion where he could draw on a wealth of knowledge on all manner of beliefs, social discourse on the plight of man, world history, literature, music and musicians, film. Even just some gossip about what was going down with the people we knew. Ever incisive. Amusing. Interesting. Wise. And often just plain funny.

We’re all going away on holiday together in a few weeks. Up to the sunny climes and beaches of Port Douglas. Swedoshs, Cunninghams, Bruce and Lynne, Matty and Ella. I expect it will be a beautiful relaxing time with my family and some great friends. There’ll be jams with guitar, banjo, didge and variety of percussion. An ample flowing of beer, wine and spliffs. Days lounging around the pool or beach. Excursions full of adventure for the kids. The only one missing will be Jock. We’ll always miss you Jock.