My father, Maurice Clifford Perry, passed away just before Christmas after a struggle with Motor Neuron Disease. My sisters Di and Cath shared their special memories, as well as Dad’s sister Pam Hansen, his oldest school friend John Christie, and Paul Maxim from the Tararua Tramping Club. This is my tribute to him, spoken at his funeral on Monday 22nd December, at All Saints Anglican Church in Otaki. Feel free to add your own comments or tributes in the comments section below.
“There’s nothing that can’t be fixed.” This is the saying we grew up with, thanks to our Dad, Maurice. It’s the can-do attitude of a very practical, loving and generous man.
Our Mother Fleur, and the family are so grateful for all your support today, we’re so glad you came.
Whether he was your Dad or husband, your brother or your friend, Moss fixed things, made them go, and he made them better. As a family we love the fact that our lasting memories are of a wonderful man who regulalry sacrificed his own comfort and time to ensure that our lives were well oiled and working properly.
My sisters Di and Cath will share their own memories shortly. I have a wonderful early memory as an eleven year old, when I wanted a new bike. I had my eye on one which had three gears. Bear in mind this was 1979 and 10-speed bikes were all the go then. So when Mum & Dad bought me the 3-speeder, I asked Moss “Can we make it have more gears?” To my amazement, Dad said “I think we can do that. Shall we turn it into a 6-speed bike?”
So for several Fridays I met Dad after work, and we’d walk down Cuba Street to a bike shop and by various bits and pieces. The on the Saturday mornings he’s spend a few hours tinkering with cogs and derailleurs and bike bits, … and I ended up with a 6-speed bike. Magic! It was unique, a breed of it’s own, and it worked really well. A bit like Dad. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed.
Maurice’s practical-generous-fixing personality meant that every group, club or organisation that he belonged to soon grew to enjoy his innovations. In the Christmas of 1953-1954 Dad and seven friends set off on a ski mountaineering adventure on Fox Glacier.
Two days of climbing high up into the Southern Alps, and 10 days of climbing up and skiing down, and living in a snow cave! And what did they do about Christmas and New Year’s decorations in a snow cave? Maurice had carried a string of battery-powered coloured lights to adorn their icy holiday home. A cave high in the southern alps – and it looked like the James Smiths Christmas display! There’s nothing that can’t be fixed, or fixed up.
We love the way Moss not only fixed things in a repairing sort of way, he was creative and loved making the places he lived beautiful – in a very practical way. Don’t tell DOC or the local Iwi, but a lot of driftwood, punga logs and rocks have been “relocated” around the North Island as Maurice built garden features, bench seats, and rock walls. When the Roman Empire spread out across the northern hemisphere they built amphitheaters wherever they went – the amphitheater is known as the thumbprint of Rome. Well Maurice’s thumbprint is the rock wall – Seatoun, Karori, Raumati South, Otaki … everywhere he settled, he built a rock wall. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed, or built.
Maurice’s positive optimistic attitude flowed to all his relationships, especially Mum and Dad’s marriage. As kids we learned a model first hand, that husbands and wives are devoted carers and supporters of each other. Of course, we thought this was normal, and by the time we realised that marriage is not always that smooth, the model was set deeply. We three owe Fleur and Maurice a great debt of gratitude for the example of a wonderful love.
Maurice’s enthusiastic and practical talents made him a special member of numerous clubs and organisations:
- His dedication to the Tararua Tramping Club is legendary, where he was president, and a life member.
- He was a charter member of the Karori Rotary Club, and was made a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary for his services to the community.
- He was president of the Otaki Rotary Club.
- He was president of the Otaki Probus Club.
- He was a founding member of the Probus Club of Marsden in Karori.
- And he was president of the Ruapehu Ski Club, and a life member also.
In all of these clubs and places, Maurice gave his all and enjoyed himself. They are of course, the best-wired, best-maintained, best-labelled, and most well lit organisations in New Zealand.
So as we know, Maurice was an amazing man. A skiier, tramper, leader, lover of music, mountains, good grammar, and family. A loving father can say to his children “there’s nothing that can’t be fixed”, and even though we know it’s not strictly true, we loved him always and admire him forever.
The tough reality of the last couple of years is – some things can’t be fixed. Old age, Motor Neuron Disease, and the inevitable exhaustion of the human body. So it’s been my turn to encourage Maurice, with faith. My saying for him this years has been “Believe it or not, the best is yet to come.” At first he raised his eyebrows, but we talked about it together a few times. My favourite verse of scripture in the Bible is this:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
We were not created to die. We were created for LIFE and adventure in God, and in His wonderful creation. This death is temporary, but it means we face suffering and the sadness of separation and loss, like today. But if we believe the promises of God in the Bible, reflected in the amazing hymns we sing – this promise of a fantastic heaven is true – and the best is yet to come!
I want to finish these tributes with two lines from the hymn we just sang…
“And keep us in your grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills, in this life and the next.”
May it be so.
P.S. Please feel free to add you own comments and tributes if you knew my father, Maurice Perry.