Gordon was my brother. He was four years older than me.
He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England in 1937 just before the war started in Europe. I was born in 1941 in the middle of the war. We were the youngest of 5 boys. Our 3 eldest brothers were evacuated to the west of England during the war away from the bombings.
Being young we were kept with our mother.
His childhood was tough. During & after the war food was scarce & rationed. The best food always went to our father & elder brothers when they were home as they were the bread winners.
In 1950 we left England to settle in Australia for a better life. At age 13 Gordon was not too happy with the idea of leaving his friends but he had little say in the matter.
In 1951 we settled in Mt. Morgan a gold mining town close to Rockhampton in central Qld.
Life there for Gordon & myself, as school age children, was a dream. We had our own horses, homemade canoes, fishing, swimming holes, endless bike rides & trips to the bush. Every weekend was an adventure. I even have a photo of Gordon trying to ride a goat. He was about 14 at that time.
This part of dream ended for Gordon when at 16 he got a job as a telegram boy riding a Government Issue pushbike to deliver telegrams. It is hard to imagine a life without computers, emails, mobile phones, TV’s & faxes. We didn’t even have a house phone or car.
After about 3 years as a telegram boy his job became redundant. I forget why.
Being a Government employee he was offered a job in the Taxation Dept in Brisbane. Gordon moved to Brisbane & boarded with a family for while before we all moved to Brisbane.
His claim to fame whilst at the Taxation Department was drawing “Rising Fast” in a Melbourne Cup sweep & winning about 120 pounds which was a big amount in those days.
It was during this period that he started his lifelong love affair with art. When we last saw him a few months ago he said that his art was what he missed the most.
I don’t remember Gordon as being particularly religious in those days but one night he went to a meeting at one of the local churches where a priest from the Vincentians was giving a talk. I don’t know whether it was a “fire & brimstone” type of talk but he came home a changed person.
I still get tears in my eyes when, even though I was 4 years younger at about 18, he asked my permission to join the church as a Vincentian Brother. He felt a bit guilty about leaving me alone to care for our parents. Our older brothers had long since gone their different ways. He said he would only go if I said it was ok. I told him to go for it.
From that moment on our mother idolized him. He was her passport to Heaven.
Gordon faced many obstacles & trials in his life but with God’s help & the help of The Church he overcame them all.
We joked about everything even dying. When I said, tongue in cheek, that our mother would be waiting for him in heaven he said maybe he would have the chemotherapy after all.
He was not frightened of dying. He accepted it & faced it bravely.
We have a nephew in Brisbane who is definitely a bit rough around the edges. Smokes, drinks & tattoos & a lifestyle to match. He couldn’t have put it any better when he said to me last week & I quote. “GORDON HAS JUST TAKEN THE JOURNEY HOME “ .