Frank Ward lived and died better than the vast majority of men. He was the Head of Production at Arts Centre Melbourne, which means he just oversaw one of the most exciting and challenging projects possible, the rebuild of Hamer Hall.
Then he died in the arms of his family, after almost a year of Stage 4 Bowel Cancer. On August 9 last year he drove himself to hospital thinking he had appendicitis. That night he had two meters of bowel removed. Soon after he started preparing to leave.
So he had a living wake on June 16th at The Cheltenham Panthers Junior Football Club. I’m told it was a howling success. How many of us have the chance to party with ALL our friends and say a happy goodbye?
Then he died in the arms of his family in July.
Beforehand he had a farewell tour of his childhood neighborhood in Longueville.
That’s where we all said goodbye on Friday 9th of August, a year to the day since his trip to hospital. A crowd of us gathered in the late winter afternoon on a clear warm day at Tambourine Bay. Wife Leisel warmly encouraged us to remember her Frank, while his beautiful boys Darcy and Spencer stood awkwardly next to her.
We made little boats from bark, and spooned some of Frank on top, some with a candle. We sent them out.
The day after Frank died, Leisel wrote this:
Today I awake, intoxicated by a sense of love and overwhelming gratitude for sharing a life and creating a family with Frank Ward. My appreciation cannot be described for the public display of connectedness our friends, family and colleagues have so openly shared with us. Thank you for such comfort. Darcy Ward and Spencer Ward are testament to his integrity and honour. I breathe with calm and serenity as he lives on, in us all.
Frank Ward lived better and died better than most men ever will.
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