Kevin Alexander David McLennan
23 JULY 1934 TO 23 JANUARY 2019
Hello, for those of you who do not know me – My name is Scott McLennan, Kevin’s son. Whilst this maybe an emotional rollercoaster, to share with you some of my father’s life is an honour and a privilege.
On behalf of my Mother, and Sister we are extremely thankful and honoured that you have taken time join us this morning to honour, remember, and celebrate the life & legacy of my Father. I also extend a thank you to those who could not make it but have reached out – Thank you.
I would like to make special mention of the wonderful support Mum & Dad received over the past couple of years, as Dad’s health (not his optimism) deteriorated. Patrick, Scotty, Sally, Aleesha, Rob, Donny, Barry, Adam, Glenn, Gloria, Dave, Owen, Norelle, Camellia and the list goes on. Thank you.
As children of an older father with a very extended family who’s ages ranged between old & ancient, attending funerals for loved ones was a reality of the times we lived. It was a chance for the family, the village the community to come together once more and remember the good times.
There are a few different aspects to dad; as individual traits they are very strong and stand on their own; but when wrapped up in a 5foot 2ish munchkin – you have a one of a kind.
Whilst on one hand he was very much the conservative & traditional
Australian Country man; on the other hand he was definitely breaking the mould, not by design nor ambition, but because it was there.
Dad didn’t seem to like the word “no” at all. (unless applying it to myself or my sister growing up). (honestly it was always a no with a tic tic and a shake of his head).
With his stubbornness, his fortitude, and his penchant for overcoming or surviving adversity, betrayal, challenges, and obstacles he survived, experienced and has touched the lives of countless men and women and children in their time of need.
Dad was very much a traditional country farming man, with a strong sense of faith, values and integrity. To Dad the home is the epicentre of his world, this is where his strength, his resolve, his fortitude and his commitment to humanity is based.
Dad was born in 1934 the end of the depression – very tough hard times, As an infant Dad contracted Pinks Disease – many of whom did not survive, those that did have been plagued with internal scars for life, which ultimately contributed to dad’s demise.
Dad was the 3rd child of 7. Lola, (Marie) Peg, Dad, Heather, Aileen, Les and Ed. Born and raised on the family farm- valley View, Nymboida. Dad and the family would ride 4 miles up the gap to school every morning and ride back in the afternoon. The whole family then completed the milking, the chores, and the running of a very large farm. He would remind me of this when I complained about delivering the billy’s of fresh milk from the morning’s milking to the aunts in the Village after school.
Unfortunately their mother died at a young age, this may have been one of the catalysts towards the strong commitment to family & home dad and his siblings developed. Their father survived until he was in his 80’s, Dad’s father was one of 11 and the generation above them was even larger. Thankfully today we have televisions and entertainment. I share this because the extended family is wide – Dad was very much proud to be a McLennan.
Dad had a number of career choices over his early years.
- From being a Lay Preacher for St Mathews and The Cathedral;
- he completed his National Service in the Airforce as a Medic (this is where the passion for nursing began);
- to working on the Railway as a signalman and Telephonist;
- then spent years working at the Nymboida Coal Mine.
He dearly wanted to be a missionary, so instead of following the cloth he chose Nursing.
Dad became a Nurse, one of the first Male nurses, one of 19 nurses from his generation down in our family (there was also a Wards man or two, a radiographer and a psychologist).
Dad did his Geriatric Nursing Certificate, and his basic Nursing course in the 60’s.
In the late 60’s Dad was working at Lidcombe Hospital, where in those days he would bake cakes for his patients – you know the ones Victoria Sponges with lashings of Cream and Strawberry’s. Unfortunately the kitchen on Dad’s ward didn’t work (or so he said) – so he was forced to use the neighbouring ward’s kitchen. The Sister in charge of that ward was none-other than Sister Wilde.
Some how between mum’s eye for a man who knew how to cook, and dad’s eye for a stoic woman in a crisp white vale – that is where Kevin tamed Sister Patricia Wilde. In 1969 Kevin married Patricia, not without some controversy of course: dad being High Church of England and Mum being Roman Catholic – well lets just say traditions caused a stir, Mum and Dad found a solution – and got married in 1969 in Lakemba and again in the 80’s in Cowper
It would have been their 50th wedding anniversary (the first one) in April.
With Dad’s strong sense of family and his yearning for home – had lived away from Grafton and in particular Nymboida for long enough,. So with a young bride in tow they moved to the village of Nymboida; here they not only created a home amongst dad’s extended family, they were one of the stalwarts of the community.
The Nymboida dances and Balls were often the pinnacle of community celebrations, Dad’s love of Dancing, gossip and good times often meant that after the clean-up at 3am, the BBQ’s and card games followed on at home til dawn.
Mum and Dad were not like the other parents. You see the woman attending the dances would be in the kitchen preparing the cakes and sandwiches and pots of tea – all gossiping. The Men would be hitching the tarps, having a drink and smoke outside. My father would always be with the women – showing off his latest sponge and cackling with the girls, whilst mum was outside with the blokes keeping them in line. Together they made the perfect pair.
It was in the village of Nymboida they created a family. Unfortunately creating a family of their own was not their destiny (god knows they tried and tried and tried) instead they chose a family.
They went out of their way, went through a process and a half to give 2 babies a home, a life and a family
I arrived in 1973 and my sister in 1976 not by stalk but by East West Airlines.
Where they instilled in us their values, their pride, their optimism.
Family doesn’t have to be blood, family is who you choose, who you influence, who you support and stand by. family is who you love. One thing I’ve resolved this week is that often the ones you choose have a stronger commitment to family.
Growing up as the only son of my father in hindsight was absolutely bloody hilarious, and clearly he gave me a very strong sense of survival, stubbornness and resolve to overcome the ridiculous, because trust me some of the situation’s were nothing short of ridiculous, although at the time though very frustrating.
Trying to help him fix things, or build things, or muster,: lets just say dad’s communication style wasn’t necessary clear, correct, or on topic. I give you an example:
- Go get me the Thingy-me-bobsy-whats-it.
- I bring back something –
- that’s not it, that’s the Whos-a-me-thing.
- Where did you find that?
- In the shed –
- why where you there the Thingy-me-bobsy-whats-it is in the other shed.
- Still to this day I am not 100% sure what those tools where, how to use them or why they were in separate sheds.
Despite our communication moments thankfully In his professional life, dad was an ultimate communicator. I have always admired the man that was my father – for his commitment to others, his compassion and his caring nature – he was an inspiration to the profession he dedicated so much of his life too.
Dad was a Mister Sister, A Deputy DON, A nurse, a friend, a carer, a resource and an advocate.
I remember in early years Matron Screaming down the hall – Mister Sister McLennan, and him standing his ground and yelling back Yes Matron.
His stories regarding his patients, their lives and their stories were inspirational.
Coming from a family of nurses, I of course followed that path – dad wasn’t impressed with that decision but accepted and supported and helped me.
I had the privilege of working with him only once in our professional careers. He was on the ward, and I was the trolley dolly. Dad was very well known for his chit chats, his natters, his passion for keeping everyone in good spirits. I was on a time schedule. I pulled him up for not being ready to accept his patient back. When we got home – Mum looked at me and just laughed – Don’t try and change your father – he works to the beat of his own drum (Mother had years to work that out)
Many of you here today have either worked with him, received care from him, have witnessed him care for your loved ones; I think we can all agree he was an inspiration to All nurses everywhere.
Unfortunately when his health started to deteriorate – having a little bit of knowledge is bad, its scary, and its humbling. In recent times when dad was the patient and not the carer – there were times he was quite the belligerent, stubborn, forthright, and a cranky little old man, for those of you who cared for my father –thank you. I just ask please remember he was quite ill and the Nurse he was would have never tolerated that behaviour either.
His humility & pride, his integrity & eternal optimism, his tenacity, his advocacy, his compassion, his commitment and his humanity. These are the examples of good nursing practice, and good community spirit.
Dad had so many obstacles and struggles in life that upon reflection simply wasn’t fair. However it is said that we are only dealt with as much as we can handle. Dads lessons were hard. But in the end he can stand proud (I wont say tall) of all he has achieved, of all he has shared. Dad leaves behind a legacy like no other. One that I can only hope I can live up to.
Everyone here this morning have an immense wealth of memories, anecdotes, stories of the man who lies before me, The man I was privileged to call my father.
Dad was fortunate to have been able to travel the world; he lived in a number of places around Australia; However, there is no place like home.
Dad may not be wearing his ruby red slippers today or his ruby ring, even though his favourite colour has always been Ruby Red. His favorite movies were The Sound of Music and of course Dr Zhivago, and his favourite song was Lara’s Theme. No more would’ves no more should’ves, no More could’ves, no more regrets.
Dad thank you for being my father and my inspiration.
Finally you get to go home.