My friend died yesterday. He was 64, a dad, husband, poppy and a gentleman. He was also the general assistant at our school.
He was a clever man with vast amounts of knowledge on so many topics. He was a local boy with a deep knowledge of Mudgee history. Local indigenous history was right up his street too. He knew the lay of the land, where rivers and creeks once flowed, where sheep and grain paddocks used to be, where the clay was and shale.
He rode down flirty in a billy cart as a kid or was it a dodgy bike? Hmmmm. He knew who was related to who and how.
He had an iPad...loved it. There must be a heap of pictures on that thing, I bet he loved to research topics he was interested in as well. I would think of my friend and google and have a giggle.
My god he could talk!! I always felt guilty when I had to cut him off, but kids need to be fed my friend and I'm being eaten alive by mozzies!!!! "Yes KC..." he would say "...home you go to the next generation… just quickly, I must tell you..."
He loved to tell a joke… many of them bad, many of them I rolled my eyes at while wryly laughing, however some of them were brilliant. Bawdy and brilliant.
He liked to get a laugh and I was a tough crowd. I demand high standards when it comes to a good dad joke.
He shared his knowledge willingly and had a deep, deep love of nature, a passion really.
His joy at seeing children growing food and learning about the natural environment was boundless. He bent over backwards to help we garden club volunteers. The relationship wasn't always rosy, sometimes we managed to put each other's noses out of joint but we always found our way back to each other through our combined passion for all things Earth and education.
He spoke with a twinkle in his eye regularly about his grandchildren and told me what the older ones were up to, who the new small ones were and loved discussing their personalities. He loved and missed his children as most parents do once their kids are off even if they do live in the same town. Kids are your babies forever. He loved his wife. I hope they know the depth of passion he had for all of them.
My friend smelled of work. Sweat, soil, grass, man, grease....once, a toilet. I didn't even get an explanation for that one, just a shake of the head. Don't even ask KC...
He wore a floppy hat, work gear and a fancy high vis vest at all times. Helmet on when he rode his bike to work, locking her up behind the office near the veggie patch. The lock hangs empty now. I always delighted in catching him at school in his civvies. Mostly after or just before church. He smelled of soap then and it was always lovely to see him spruced up.
He was a volunteer. Passionate. Obsessive. He loved CVPS. he loved the kids (when They weren't running through his gardens or littering) I don't know how many tennis balls he pulled out of those gutters! The world doesn't turn without volunteers and worker bees KC....
I hope somehow he knows that he was loved. That his hard work did not go unnoticed. That I will miss him dreadfully. That others will to. I was looking forward to him retiring. To him getting a rest. To me inviting myself in for tea. For the relationship to continue, the mentoring to roll on.
Rest in peace Les Cook. Mr Cook. Lesmondo. The Les. You rocked my world in ways I never expected.
I left flowers for you on the school fence, I thought I would be first but a young boy beat me. He left a note too, in very neat hand writing. 'Rest in peace Mr Cook' Now there's more flowers and your name written in bark. Bet you didn't think that would ever happen.....
Kristie Cavanagh – Coordinator Cudgegong School Garden Club & Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden
A funeral will be held today, 13 January, at St John's Anglican Church, Mudgee at 1:00pm.