It’s been a strange week. I finished assignments for the end of another university unit, happily getting back into the swing of music teaching for the year, was generally feeling pretty wired and as a result, hadn’t been sleeping well.
Wednesday morning I woke in the pre-dawn glow, thinking of a friend who has been very ill. I was probably dreaming about Jeff, he’s been popping up a lot lately. Anyway, I found out a couple of hours later that he passed away peacefully in his sleep around the time I was waking.
Jeff Weston was bigger than life itself and the world is a much duller and quieter place for his passing.
He was, like all of us, a mass of contradictions. Cantankerous, incredibly generous, brash, opinionated, thoughtful, loud, gregarious and possessed a truly wicked sense of humour. And he influenced so many people he met in his very long and full life.
There are many stories I could tell, in fact I think it would make a great book! As a very young man he walked the rugged south west of Tasmania, was a teacher, farmer, one of the original members of the United Tasmania Group, which gave rise to the Tasmanian Greens, he travelled overseas, married and had four beautiful and talented sons, he opened his farm and home to travellers and loved (and actively supported) creative arts and especially live music.
Last year, when things started to look bad, Jeff decided to have a “living wake”, so he could see his friends and say goodbye on his own terms. We had passed messages but hadn’t seen each other for a decade and typically, picked up pretty much where we left off. It was one helluva party and it was so good to see him.
But the story I’ve been thinking about most the last few days I wasn’t there to witness, but it touched me very deeply and gives at least an idea of the kindness of the man.
My elderly mother lived in South Australia and had recently moved into a nursing home as she was no longer able to look after herself properly. Jeff was travelling from Tasmania up to a block he leased in the Kimberly, in remote north western Western Australia, where he could spend winter in a more comfortable climate. He knew I was worried about my mum and she about me but with recent personal dramas, I simply couldn’t afford to visit her at that time.
So, without my knowledge, Jeff went out of his way to my home town, tracked down the nursing home, and not only introduced himself to my mother, but found a lovely bunch of home grown autumn roses to give her. He spent most of the afternoon with her and according to my mum, told her many things that he never said to me, but which put my mother’s mind at rest in that very difficult time.
Above all things, he was my friend and was there for me at a time when my life was very hard. For that, I will never forget him.
Vale Jeffrey Dubrelle Weston 1927-2016 ❤