Thank you all for coming to Chris’ birthday bash. I know that Chris was a bit nervous up until the last week wondering whether you would all turn up but you have and many of you have travelled long distances to be here: Adelaide, Tyalgum and Harrington on the North Coast, Canberra and Bowral but there were also others such as his sister in Minnesota, my son in Darwin and some other friends who would have dearly loved to have been here.

It is wonderful to see so many people from the various stages of Chris’ life thus far: family, school and university friends, friends from his performing days in Sanctum, friends from many of the schools he worked in, his children, my family and our friends. Some of you he has not seen in a while  but rest assured , you have all touched his life in so many different ways.

Thanks also to Caz, Al and the boys for generously hosting the party in their lovely house and all the work leading up to it. If it had been at our place we would have had to entertain you in shifts.

I’m not really in a position to speak about many of my gorgeous boy’s first fifty years because my boys and I have only been in his life for six of those years so I will leave that to his siblings Caz and Simon to do that bit.

What I can say is those past six years have been an amazing ride. Chris is a wonderful, gentle man who has blessed the lives of Aidan. Liam and I. He is a man of great faith, honesty and principles, incredible drive and passion and as I got to know his mum, dad, sisters and brother I knew where those extraordinary qualities had come from. He is quick witted and possesses a wicked (some might say quirky) sense of humour who is only encouraged by the eye rolling and looks of disapproval from those who do not share his sense of humour.

He is the cleverest bloke I know who also has an incredible ability to recall events and names as well as completely random stuff that gives a whole new meaning to the word segue. Unlike a lot of men he is a multi-tasker (but God I wish he wasn’t sometimes). He never sweats the small stuff which is why he is the world’s messiest cook and why I tend to follow him around the kitchen with a wettex, closing every cupboard door and drawer that he opens and never shuts as he goes around his tasks.

He is shamelessly competitive particularly when it comes to his accumulation and use of gadgets. He is the original gadget boy who both astounds and drives me crazy with his penchant for all things technical. Despite this he is very tolerant of us mere mortals who don’t always share his enthusiasm for the latest iphone app or who occasionally glaze over as he talks about ram, gigs and the like. Tonight’s amazing photo presentation and music are all his work; I don’t think that he thought the rest of us were quite up to the job. He has also assured me that we could dust it off again and use it for his eulogy. What did I say about the quirky sense of humour?

Chris knows me too well to know that I I couldn’t let an opportunity pass without offering a few reflections on turning fifty. These are based purely on research rather than experience because, as most of you would know, Chris married a much younger woman.

I trawled the bookshops and found two particularly helpful books:  You know you’re  50 when… which unearthed some pearlers:

You know you are fifty when…

  • When reading the obituaries you don’t care who died, just how long they lived.
  • “Incontinent no longer refers only to a major land mass
  • “Twice a night” now refers to bathroom visits
  • A bad hair day pertains to those growing out of your nose
  • At last it’s okay to sleep late, but you can’t
  • No one gets offended when you leave a party early
  • You need glasses to find your glasses
  • You think menopause entitles you to park in a disabled spot
  • You wish they made a low fat single malt scotch
  • Instead of a long , leisurely weekend the term “hanging out” refers to the object spilling over your belt (not to worry, it’s merely your “inner child” trying to get out.
  • You do an online survey and when asked to include your age you have to scroll down so far you get cramps

I then turned to some of Chris’ favourite writers and performers for some inspiration:

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down. ~T.S. Eliot

At age 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”
-George Orwell

“The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how much ignorance one can contain without bursting one’s clothes.” Mark Twain

“The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything; the young know everything.” Oscar Wilde

“I have the body of an eighteen year old, I keep it in the fridge.” Spike Milligan

“One day you look in the mirror and you realize that the face you are shaving is your father’s.” Robert Harris

And a few from that famous writer “anonymous”

“The good news about mid life is that the glass is still half full. Of course, the bad news is that it won’t be long before your teeth are floating in it.” Anon

“Im not ageing; I just need repotting.”

“They say that age is all in your mind. The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body.”
-Author Unknown

However, as Chris and I have only just begun our life together and he has aptly named his visual presentation the “First fifty years” I think the quote that best sums up our hopes for the next fifty comes from Robert Browning in his poem “Rabbi Ben Ezra”:

GROW old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

Happy Birthday sweetie.