The Passing of a Son
Written By: Robert Brinsmead
Matthew Needham – Some Memories
A few days ago, we had to bury Matt who joined our family about 1970 after his mother was killed in an auto accident, and he needed a home. He was 8 years old at the time. He died of cancer just before we could celebrate his 50th birthday on Oct. 15 – which will now be a celebration of his life. The following are my notes, some of which were used at the Funeral service – a few bits near the end were taken from Michael Morwood – Praying a New Story – which, by the way, I highly recommend for the developing New Story Worldview.
Matt had an uncanny memory of numbers, dates and telephone numbers. It seemed he remembered everyone’s birthday. He seemed to know where everything was, including my lost glasses. He knew where all the farm tools were either laid or mislaid. I found myself calling upon him repeatedly to find anything I had either lost or mislaid. When he finally left home, I missed him sorely on that account.
When the children were growing up, they participated actively in developing the farm as our own Promised Land – or Garden of Eden. Matt never shirked his share of the work. Along with Judy and Paul, he picked a lot of avocadoes and was a valued hand in the packing shed. He and Paul would competively form up an avocado carton in two and a half seconds – faster than I had seen anyone else do.
Matthew loved taking long hot showers. One day his indulgently long shower ran us all out of hot water. After that, whenever there was danger of that happening, we would turn off the hot water. The sudden end to his shower in this way was always a source of amusement to us, if not to Matt.
In later life, Matt loved to linger in phone conversations like he lingered in the shower. For Matt, a conversation was to be treated like a good wine – it needed to be savoured slowly.
In later life, Matt loved to linger in phone conversations like like he lingered in the shower. For Matt, a conversation was to be treated like a good wine – it needed to be savoured slowly.
He never failed to phone me at least once a week. The conversations were not for the crass purpose of exchanging mere information. It was for the purpose of fellowship and a communion of spirit.
He never forgot my birthday – nor the birthday of any member of my family.
As Matt matured, he exhibited the best of the human spirit. He was a kind and caring human being. He genuinely loved helping people. One cannot ask more of another human being than this.\
He found pleasure in doing very ordinary human things. He was rightfully proud of his own little family. He was also proud of his connections with the Brinsmead family. My last words to Matthew were: “You are a son whom I love and of whom I am proud.”
According to an old Rabbinic saying, the good Lord will ask each of us at the end of life’s journey, Did you enjoy the good things I gave you to enjoy? Matt will reply, O yes! He enjoyed doing simple human things like working on house improvements, sharing around the eggs from his chooks, camping and 4WDriving in the bush with Ingrid and enjoying the company of family and friends.
We loved Matt and will miss him greatly because he was a loving and lovable human being. It is as simple as that.
Here is the most simple yet most profound statement ever made about the Mystery we sometimes call God: “God is love and everyone who loves lives in God and God lives in him.” In death Matt lives on in God – as he will also live on in the hearts of Ingrid, Chrissa, Anthony, Sharna and all of us who will miss him so greatly.
Here’s some science to think about. Every atom of Matt’s body was produced in the unimaginable explosion of a distant star some billions of years ago. And every atom of his body will go on living in other forms. Not an atom is ever lost.
If not even the least atom of Matt’s body will ever be lost, what about the most important thing about Matt – his consciousness and his unique identity? We can be sure that the One who is the Source of all Life and Love will see to it that this will never be lost either. Matt will continue to dance with the Spirit of Life and Love in ways beyond words and images. As we cherish our memory of him, he will also continue to be with us.
Jesus told all kinds of stories to portray his Abba Father as the master of the overwhelming surprise – it is the surprise of unconditional love, unconditional acceptance and a generosity so big and so unmerited as to be scandalous. In death, Matt has stepped beyond the veil into the light of God’s great surprise party.
On the day Matt was born he cried, but his family and friends all laughed.
On the day Matt died we cried , but Matt laughed. Keep laughing Matt.
Let us pray
We give thanks for the many ways Matt’s life touched ours,
We give thanks for the generosity of his loving and friendship,
We give thanks for his laughter and sense of fun and delight in life. We give thanks for the breathe of Life that moved freely in him. We give thanks for the way Matt fathered, nurtured, encouraged and supported his precious family,
We give thanks for the courage with which he faced illness and death.
May that spirit of Life that moved in Matt find hopeful and generous expression in our lives. Amen