It’s testimony to Nick’s ability to love and be loved that so many of you are here today to pay your respects. Thank you.
My dear son had a too short, but an extraordinary, rich, life.
The moment he was born – by caesarian section with 8 medical students from Sydney Uni looking on in the hospital delivery room, I was besotted and never stopped feeling that way. I believed there was something extra special about him.
His childhood was filled with happiness – mudbaths with his little soulmate Dave McLain, Melbourne holidays with his adorable cousins Amelia, Fenella and William, family fun with Amy and Ashley and his devoted grandparents.
Rod and I took him on many holidays abroad, especially Italy … the Veneto, Rome and then Tuscany with his primary school mate, Simon Correggio.
At weekends he loved bush-walks, and made countless visits to the Australian Museum to feed his obsession with dinosaurs and birds – and his longing to be a paleontologist.
But it was music that dominated his life.
Nick’s extraordinarily long, slender fingers, his innate sense of rhythm and tone, and his creative bent … sealed his destiny.
He began classical piano lessons at four, learnt jazz from Bridie King, played the flute and joined the band and orchestra at Newington College.
But when I brought home an acoustic guitar, that was IT. He’d found his instrument. Over years of lessons .. to when he graduated with a Music Degree – his teachers would tell me they could do no more – he was teaching them! He ended up specializing in bass.
Today, many have spoken about his talents and Tia and I are indebted to all his music colleagues and heroes, here and overseas. Of Donny Hathaway’s LIVE album, Nick wrote after listening to it at least once a week for 15 years, ‘I can hum along to every slight nuance of every instrument, yet I seem to hear something new in it every time.’ He was forever ingesting, learning and developing.
Nick told me the last two years of his life were his happiest. With Tia – he had it all.
He was free to do whatever it took to create his best music, enjoy photography with his old camera, plant a balcony garden, study birds, read books, indulge in podcasts from all over the world, Monty Don’s garden series, David Attenborough’s series, Richard Fidler’s interviews, his favorite comedians and classic movies.
Sharing in all this was Tia.
They built a wonderful, rich world, with Tony Soprano their Selkirk cat, and more recently, Ellie their rescue greyhound who gave Nick so much pleasure and amusement.
He loved Tia for her honesty and sincerity, her natural beauty and femininity, her intelligence, common sense and encyclopedic knowledge of music and film.
And she could spark off his wit with hilarious repartee.
Nick was the healthiest person you could meet, no risk factors for disease and he had a fantastic, nutritious diet.
But he disclosed to me, late February, that he’d had stomach pains since late January .. that he thought was irritable bowel.
He’d acted promptly, getting a test – that showed no indication of there being anything untoward. But when the pain persisted, he quickly got a referral to a gastroenterologist. A Colonoscopy was booked for … 20th APRIL, the first they could offer due to demand following COVID lock-downs. Nick wouldn’t take it .. and began clamoring for an earlier appointment which he attended the following week. He then went to the Culburra beach house for the weekend with Ellie to write music – texting me about how happy he was surrounded by heavenly skies and azure blue water.
But on his return, he rang to gently tell me he had a tumour in the bowel .. and oh yes, they’d also noticed a small spot on the liver.
I immediately felt deeply sick fearing we were about to enter some very dark alleys.
And we did.
He had a successful bowel operation but every scan showed these BRaf tumors were growing exponentially. The chemo didn’t work, the tumors grew more and so did the pain. Immunotherapy started .. and this was our great hope.
But the tumors again beat it. The oncologists at St Vincents said they were the most aggressive they’d ever seen and that this was a cancer that targeted healthy young Caucasian men.
Throughout this terrible ordeal of scans, injections, medicines on the hour and a string of disappointments – Nick remained positive, calm, sensible .. always doing whatever he was told to give himself the best chance. He was absolutely remarkable – courageous and very, very strong. He wanted to protect Tia and me above all.
Tia also was enormously strong, not sleeping for days on end because she wanted to keep a vigil over Nick.
I’ve never seen such mutual devotion and I’m so happy that Nick got to experience true love and soulmateship. I’m so grateful to Tia for that.
Nick and Tia married on Sunday 18th April, 10 days ago, in a beautiful, tearful ceremony. He gave the most magnificent heartfelt speech, mustering every bit of strength he had left.
Just 2 a half days later .. he was gone.
The day before he passed away and was in extreme pain .. I realised his greatest musical works were locked up in his computer and could be lost forever.
Knowing there wasn’t much time left, I rang Simon Relf and urged him to come to the apartment after Nick had taken his morphine and slept .. to discuss with Nick about getting a start on this music to complete it, for when he was better. But access to that computer was needed.
The strategy worked – Simon got the hard-drive. Mission accomplished just in time.
Today, I want to sincerely thank the musician friends who made it possible to complete the key music work, Won’t Let Go. It was an act of love.
They pulled it together in 3 days, dropping everything to make it happen.
In LA, Producer Tony Buchen organised what Nick had specified for the song, a fabulous string quartet. Simon Relf organised everything here – Carlos Adura and Nick Meredith played drums and Simon Berckelman recorded them.
They were Nick’s dream team, and all was done to his strict specifications.
It really is a monumental feat to have done it so brilliantly in such a short time.
And I am forever grateful.
I will never fathom why this bad luck fell on Nick. He had so much to give and was really starting to blossom .. personally and musically, and love life.
Every day I expect to hear, Hello Mumsy.
I’m missing his big smile, his rich voice, those eyes, his warmth, his cold brew coffee .. weekends away in Bowral … his sincerity.
I can’t imagine life without Nick but he will want Tia and me to carry on, not hold on. And so we must.