Monday, 7 October 2013



Yesterday was my birthday. The previous evening Brenda, my wife, and I celebrated the event at our favourite Melbourne restaurant. My two adult children and their partners flew down from Brisbane for the occasion. Likewise, my wife’s oldest daughter and granddaughter flew down from Sydney. Brenda’s son and youngest daughter and their partners and two other grandsons were also there.

   This was the first time our children - all impacted in varying ways by Brenda’s and my respective marriage break-ups - had ever come together. Our nervousness about this gradually evaporated as the evening progressed and by the end of a wonderful dinner it was obvious that everyone got along fine.

   However, for me, the highlight of the celebration was Brenda’s toast. Brenda is a superb off-the-cuff speaker, but on this occasion she read from prepared notes which, I know, took her a long time to write. I was truly astonished and humbled with what she read. Part of me still resists believing it – however, I know it came from her heart.  



Welcome Don, to the Golden Age…… an Age where dreams can indeed come true if we adhere to a simple guiding principle;  that we never stop “Reaching for the Stars” in all that we think, say and do, for all that is noble and good and true in us.

Thus the Golden Age is not reached chronologically, but with the acquisition and practise of this basic spiritual discipline.

Tonight as you celebrate your 70 Birthday, surrounded by your immediate family and loved ones, a long held dream of yours has at last come to fruition.

May this be the beginning of a new family tradition.

In the 21 years we’ve been together you’ve often shared with me another deep longing of yours…….your aspiration to become a kinder, more forgiving and generous person.

I find that really strange  For if I were asked to describe you…..two words that immediately spring to mind when thinking of you are KINDNESS and GENEROSITY.

Don, there is not one person here, sitting around this table tonight who has not been on the receiving end of your KINDNESS and your BOUNDLESS GENEROSITY.

Whether it be your willingness and GENEROSITY to help those in need;  or some comforting words said to one who’s fearful and despairing;  or words of inspiration and motivation spoken in encouragement; or perhaps words of wisdom borne of understanding………matters not; what matters is your willingness to help another.

Here are just a few examples of your KINDNESS AND YOUR BOUNDLESS GENEROSITY.

Your KINDNESS and your GENEROSITY toward me when I had major surgery in 2009. You cared for me, and nurtured me, and kept my spirits up when I was down. You really pulled me through a most difficult time in my life.  I will be forever grateful for your unfailing support, and your dedication to see me well.

The amazing KINDNESS you showed Ron, my stepfather, in the 4 years between my mother’s death, and his death.

The outings you so willingly took him on – to some of his favourite places on the Mornington Peninsula, and the Yarra Valley.

The time you took him on the long trip to Torquay to visit his sister and brother-in-law because it was otherwise impossible for him to get there.

The almost daily one hour telephone chats with him when he was experiencing his “Black Dog Days”, as a result of the effects of chemotherapy.

The night you caught a tram from your work in the city, plus a long walk, to North Balwyn to support Anna, and say good-bye to her dog, Mischa, before he died that night.

A COURSE IN MIRACLES counsels us…….. “To have, give all to all.”  If that is so – then you will truly never want for anything. You will always have, so you can keep giving.

Another thing which comes to mind is your absolute delight when in the company of any of our 5 grandchildren – LUCA, ISABELLA, ALEXANDER, NOAH, and SIENNA. 

You are immensely proud of their achievements and successes.

Many commented on the “brilliant” Eulogy I gave for Ron at his funeral and the “fine” things I said about him.

I have always regretted that I was not able to fully express my feelings for Ron when he was with us.  I never told him how much I loved him and appreciated him……..except maybe once a year, in birthday cards.

I regret waiting until he died to say what I wanted to, and needed to say to him for so long – but couldn’t.

Why are we so able to express our love and affection in a loved one’s Eulogy but unable to express our love and affection for them when they are with us?

Perhaps we’re embarrassed to do so……..or afraid of being rejected, or perhaps we’re afraid of coming out of our comfort zone?


And so Don, before it’s too late, and the remorse and regret inevitably gnaw away at me…….let me take this opportunity tonight to let you know how much I treasure you. 

You already are that which you are looking for.  It is within you. It is you.

And we can all testify to that.

As I have already said, the two words that describe you most aptly in my mind are KINDNESS  and  GENEROSITY.

By definition – one cannot give what one doesn’t have; therefore, that which one gives, one already has.

It follows then, that……….


My birthday wish for you is that you see yourself as we all see you.



Would you please all stand and raise your glasses for a toast to Don on his 70 Birthday.

(Brenda De Lene)

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