(William) KEITH EASTON: 18 August 1944 – 26 April 2016
When I was about 12, the family was hit by a virus which made us lackadaisical and sleepy. I recall that on the afternoon it impacted on me, I struggled to meet my raspberry picking quota. Keith, 17 months younger, went down for a week. He was like that; anything nasty going in the health area and he got it worse. He was, for instance, a talented sportsman, but his wonky knees let him down.
So when two years ago, he told me that he had cancer in the liver, my reaction to myself, was ‘you dont have a chance’. Even so, the doctors, nurses and Rose gave him another 22 months of quality life, something we discussed during those last two months which were so much more difficult. He was grateful to them all.
If he had bad luck with his health, Keith had good luck in other ways. Sitting at the front here are three examples – his children, Andrew and Anna and his life partner, Rose.
I greatly admired Keith. He had the attributes of our much loved father: decency, generosity of spirit, caring, kindness, sociability, loyalty, commitment to his family, support for his community. He got some of these things from Mum too — like her, he was a far better organiser than Dad.
It is difficult, you know, when family things are happening and one lives out of town. I am ever so grateful for the support Keith gave to Mum and Dad, especially as they moved towards their ends, and to Jean in her times of troubles. Keith is modest and he would rightly insist I mention Danni’s contribution. I bet there are others in the audience he has supported in their need, but he would not think of mentioning it.
Keith loved music, a passion he shared with Rose. I greatly admired his manual skills. You will know of Keith’s contribution to the Menz Shed in New Brighton; you may not know that from an early age he had his own shed down the back of the family section where he honed carpentering and metalwork skills which he used later in life. He helped many of you with jobs around the home; he added to the stock of Canterbury housing but, alas, not enough to offset the earthquakes.
The Shed was only one of a number of community projects and organisations with which he was involved. I remember too, the occasions when we were walking together and we would bump into a gangly adolescent who said so cheerfully ‘Hello Mr Easton!’; it was a student he taught in primary school, remembering him with affection.
Keith was loyal. Around my house are a number of mementos he gave me to remind I am a Canterbury man. (Actually he did not have to.) One of the last things we discussed was his ambitions to write a book about rugby – it would have been a celebration of the amateur form of the game.
Alas we can no longer have the direct benefit of those skills and talents, nor of his cheerful company. John Donne said ‘no man is an island’. Keith was a terrific son, brother, partner, father, uncle, grandfather to Rose’s grandchildren, cousin, friend and colleague – oh and cat lover. As Donne wisely said, we are all diminished by his death. The loss will be particularly painful to his closest: Rose, Andrew and Anna. Our thoughts are with them too, as Keith would wish – would insist.
As I told him, as I have told many of my friends, Keith was a beaut bloke. He deserved a longer life than his 71 years. He will sort of get it as we affectionately recall him in future years. I will not be the only one who will deeply miss brudder Keith.