In Memorium – For My Brother

In Memorium – For My Brother


“There’s no time to lose I hear her say
You’ve got to catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time,
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?”
(excerpt from Ruby Tuesday – Rolling Stones)
These words would come back to haunt me. They were included in one of the letters my brother Richard (Rick to his friends) sent me from Vietnam where he was entertaining the U.S. troops in 1967.
Richard was only 23 when he took his own life.   His life was brief, but full, and although he died long ago he continues to touch many people in different ways.
His life started in England in 1944. Our mother (who was Australian) had left Australia in search of adventure at the age of 21. After living in England for some time and working for the SOE, she volunteered to go to Africa to work as she wanted more excitement. This was during the Second World War whilst buzz bombs were going off all around her in London, but Mum was always independent, and a few buzz bombs weren’t going to deter her from adventure.
She married our father, a dashing Major in the Lancashire Fusiliers in Egypt, and lived for some time in both Egypt and South Africa. They returned to England where Richard was born in the middle of one of London’s fiercest bombing attacks.   Two years later I made an appearance, and they decided to leave England and return to Australia to seek a better life.
We spent the first three months in Australia with our aunt and uncle who had a sheep property outside Cooma in the Southern Highlands, near the Snowy Mountains. Later we moved to a property called “The Willows” outside Cooma, and finally to a small house fondly called “The Shack” opposite the cemetery in Cooma. I remember pushing some poor cat around in a pram there with Richard. We didn’t have a proper toilet, but this residence was only temporary whilst Dad bought a block of land to build our house in Cromwell Street, Cooma.
Cooma was a wonderful place to grow up. The summers were hot and the winters so cold we occasionally had quite heavy snowfalls, but we knew nearly everyone and were free to do our own thing most of the time.  I owned a horse from the age of 13 and used to spend most days riding for miles with my friends and my dog for company.  My parents’ only restriction was that I had to be home for dinner.
When Richard was about 14 or 15 he became very interested in music, and Mum bought him his first guitar. Dad had extended the house after my sister Louise was born, so Richard and I had our bedrooms right at the back which was just as well when his muso friends came to practise.
Mum would prepare snacks, which I would take out on a tray, so I could sneak a glimpse of his cool friends and listen to their music.
I remember him playing at the school dance at Monaro High, and feeling so proud that my big brother was up on the stage singing and playing guitar. Later I would sneak in to the Alpine Hotel with my friends to watch him and his band (the Zodiacs) playing.
His taste in music was incredibly wide-ranging. Our parents had worked for some time as managers of 2XL, the local radio station, and Dad was always bringing home old records (he was a hoarder and could not bear to discard them) so we had every influence from classical to rock. We had heaps of 45s as well as long playing records to listen to. I remember some of Richard’s records – Leadbelly, Miles Davis, Stefan Grapelli, Blind Lemon Jefferson. I was into Peter Paul and Mary (which he used to make jokes about)and later Dylan, and he was into blues and jazz. I used to often sit in his room with him and listen to the music, with him playing along on his guitar. He always had a look of intense concentration on his face whenever he was playing – he was in another world.
I will always remember him as someone who lived life full on. He had lots of friends, loved cars (which he drove like a maniac and sometimes crashed) and always had time to help out someone who was worse off than him. He stood up for me on occasions when I needed help, had a strong sense of justice  and was very creative. I remember his crystal set phase, when in his early teens he assembled numerous sets himself with absolutely no help. We had great fun racing our home-made billy carts down the steep road near our house and managed to avoid being killed by cars at the bottom (the advantage of living in the country).
Most of all I will remember him as my brother.
Richard’s first band in Sydney in 1965
The Beaumarks on Hill 724 – Hai Van Pass – Vietnam 1967 – entertaining US troops – Rick has red guitar
For anyone interested, see Entertaining Vietnam – Mara-Wallis

English: Australian Aviation Pioneers Memorial...
Australian Aviation Pioneers Memorial in Cooma, New South Wales, Australia, with artifacts recovered from the Avro 618 Ten aircraft, “Southern Cloud”, that crashed on 21 March, 1931 in the Australian Alps’ Toolong Mountain range. Its wreck was found on 26 October, 1958. The memorial was officially opened on 13 October, 1962 by Professor T.D.J. Leech C.B.E. BSc BE. Memorial’s Engineer and Architect: Andrius Rimka of Lithuania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Cooma Court House. Cooma, New South W...
Cooma Court House. Cooma, New South Wales, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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8 thoughts on “In Memorium – For My Brother”

  1. What a beautiful way to honor your Brother’s memory and to share him with us. I am so sorry for the loss your family and his friends feel. I lost 2 friends this way one just 3 years ago Fourth of July. So sad we can’t always put into words the pain we are in maybe if we could be better at that this would never happen. I hear these kinds of stories about brilliant loved ones leaving us long before their time.
    Sorry again for your loss

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes suicide is a terrible thing and is often kept hidden within families who see it as a shameful thing. I think that is a lot to do with some religious views that those who kill themselves will not go to Heaven and the Church burying them in unmarked graves in the past. I know my parents felt this, and that they had failed in some way as parents and it took years until I learnt the truth as a result. One thing I have learned from this is to always let others know how much you love them while they are with you and not wait until it is too late and not to lie to others “for their own good”. We can’t control others’ lives, but we can always try to understand them and help them if they let us.

      1. I was blown away from a girlfriend who appear to have it all taking her life with no calls to any of us for help. So sad.

        Our friend Dan shipped his 3 children all the way cross county then left them at home 7 9 and 12 I think and took a hour+ride across state of NH on 4th of July and brought not 1 but 2 guns to a girlfiends home where she lived with her 2 boys they were with their Dad she had gone to store and neighbors saw him break in and stopped her from going home hours of taking and he was done though he was under the care of a doctor of some kind The kids were here on east coast all alone had to wait for their Mom to get a flight just a horrible mess we were so angry at him then so sad he felt it was the only thing he could do. I swear those of us who have lost family and friends to suicide are the ones who should be brought to people on the edge to tell them how really sad people will be forever with them being gone. Again my heart breaks for you all HUGS

      2. The families left behind by suicides recover eventually, but the really important thing is for people to be able to get help for their problems before it is too late. I have enclosed a link to Lifeline, a suicide prevention organisation in Australia but also worldwide which is run by volunteers. These are people who answer phone calls from people with all sorts of problems, mainly to listen, but sometimes to prevent them taking their own lives. I did a Lifeline course and briefly became a volunteer, and it is a hard but very rewarding thing being a phone counsellor. Unfortunately I realised that I was trying to solve everyone’s problems for them instead of just being there for them, which really takes their power away. It is really crucial for those in crisis to have a non-threatening person who is not personally involved to talk to if they feel they cannot talk to their families or friends. Suicide is the hidden killer which is so often swept under the carpet, but it takes so many of our best and brightest long before their time.

      3. I know it saddens me as well Thanks so much.
        Some threaten to do harm so many times people stop caring. In the 90’s a boyfriend and I saw a man on fire and raced to put him out. We thought he had been in his workshop and there had been an horrible accident. Turns out sadly it was planned now he is disfigured and changed forever. So many like you said decide they can no longer take what Life holds for them so sad indeed

  2. I was also at the performance of the Beaumarks on Hill 724 ‘A’ Battery 1st LAAM Bn in 1967 and have pictures as well as a video of the show. Thanks to him fro bringing a little joy to such a sad place. I was actually involved in building the building that the show was in and I also have pictures of that if anyone is interested Sgt. Ken Bruno USMC Semper Fi!.

    1. I have just seen your comment and am thrilled to find someone who was involved in the performance. I am in contact with one of the other members of the group, John Strange and we would both be really grateful to see any photos or video of the show. I have a black and white video of part of the show that was on Australian TV. My mother had it for years and I had it developed at the Australian Film & TV School years ago. I have John’s email address, and he is on Facebook as well. I know he would be really interested. I would love to post any photos, video etc on my blog if possible.

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