Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Final Goodbyes

It is strange not to do our usual weekend phone call to Dad in Wanganui to swap reminiscences and talk about our activities here in Doha and his back home in New Zealand.

Dad's War time love cartoon - a symbol of his humour.
We are still adjusting to a life without Dad’s bluff good humour and cheery “Good day son”when he picked up the phone.

Following Des’s phone call in the early hours of Sunday morning (Doha time) Joy & I moved from our usual work day mode to fast forward and long flights back home to farewell Dad.

Dad’s death was recorded in both local papers ( ) with an obituary recording his involvement in the city.
The funeral was, as the neighbours kept telling us it would be, big with 500 people from all sides of the family, from the organisations Dad had been involved with, from the neighbourhood and the wider community there to pay their last respects to a generous friend and neighbour.

Dad had, in his usual manner, scripted everything so that there was little for us to do but follow his instructions with subtle tweaks to allow for those who wanted to speak a chance to say their farewells.

Keren, Linda & Letitia swap Frank stories at his wake.
The wake that evening was tinged with sadness but over laid with the laughter he had instructed everyone to remember him by and went until the early hours of the morning as many a yarn was spun about Dad’s exploits from Waipukurau, to Stratford, through the war, up the River and throughout our lives.

The tribe - Grandchildren and Great Grand children ready to depart after farewelling their Poppa
Des, Jocelyn and I sorted out the estate over the following week before Jocelyn and Caroline drove Dad’s car to Christchurch and Joy and I prepared for the long flight back to Doha.

Before we left Doha was celebrating Ramadan which saw the Malls decorating their atriums with reminders of the cultural heritage behind the 40 days of fasting and meditation on the teachings of Mohammed as this presentation at the City Centre Mall shows. It certainly beats the tired elves and coca-cola created Father Xmas features we are accustomed to at home.

Ramadan presentation in the City Centre Mall - Doha

We returned to the Eid celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan.
We got back early Friday morning, with an upgrade to business class on the Dubai-Doha leg, and crashed out until early evening. Saturday saw us sorting out our fridge which had decided to cut out during our absence thus leaving us with a load of food to dispose of. Fortunately we could use a colleague’s fridge until the management provided us with a new working one.

The view from the roof of our apartment block
We are now back into working mode. Joy starting on a new painting and me at school providing professional development and advice to the English teachers and librarian - the Arabic Department will come this week once we see the students at school.

The week, since our return from New Zealand, has disappeared incredibly quickly. Probably because the demands of the job have consumed a good deal of the time! The staff at Ahmed bin Hanbal School are enthusiastic and responsive to the proposals and demands of the curriculum reforms they have to embrace following their move from a MoE school to an Independent one which makes our job both easier and more demanding as the ideas and techniques we present and model are taken up positively, rapidly and used in a constructive manner in their programme and lesson planning.

Outside of work Joy and I have been entertaining some of our colleagues as well as going to a Thai Cultural presentation at the Hyatt Doha which was very entertaining with its mix of dance and martial arts as well as visiting the Souqs in search of the new and different as we adjust to a very different family structure and filling the hole Dad left.

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