Rhythm of Life: A tribute to my father

After what he called ‘a rich and relatively happy life’, my beloved father Haydn Savage died on 24 September 2020, less than two weeks after his 85th birthday. Last weekend, we were finally able to celebrate his life with a memorial service in his hometown of Ballan, having waited until COVID-19 restrictions eased and my brother Julian could join us from NSW.

I wrote a small tribute to my father for Stereo Stories, the site that invites writers to share memories attached to music. Stereo Stories ‘is music and memoir, narrative and melody, story and song’. I wrote a piece for my mother Olgamary after she died in May. Follow the link below to read the piece about my father Haydn:

The Rhythm of Life performed by Sammy Davis Jr: Story by Angela Savage

I told part of this story in the eulogy I gave for my father at his memorial service. The image below comes from the commemorative postcard (designed by Jennifer Turner) we had made for Dad’s friends in honour of a lifetime of thoughtful letter-writing. The photo was taken in 2016 at the National Gallery of Victoria in front of Ai Wewei’s work, ‘With Flowers’ (2015). On the reverse is a quote from Oscar Wilde: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation.’

Speaking of Oscar Wilde, I have not been able to get the quote from The Importance of Being Earnest out of my mind, as irreverent as it is: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

I have lost both parents this year, though not for carelessness. Indeed, the saving grace was being able to spend time with both of them, caring for them, before they died, despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Melbourne’s hard lockdown and the closing of state borders. For those unable to be with the people they loved as they lay dying in 2020 I extend my deepest sympathy.

In a strange way, I think lockdown has helped me to manage the grief of this sad, sad year. I was forced to do less, to see few people, to focus inward, to find joy in simple things. And I have my parent’s love to draw on, to comfort and fortify me.

Turns out the Phantom of the Opera was right: love never dies.

Vale Haydn Joseph Savage, 12 Sept 1935 – 24 Sept 2020

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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11 Responses to Rhythm of Life: A tribute to my father

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    What a lovely tribute, Angela. I wish you and your family peace, and I hope you continue to find comfort in the time you spent with your father before he died. I know he must have been proud of you. Thinking of at this time… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I read this, I was thinking, but “I thought it was her mother who died this year”. Angela, I’m so sorry that you’ve had both die. I do understand though what you mean about COVID-19 helping in some ways. Not being pulled by other usual demands has been helpful for me too with My mother’s sudden decline and death, and now caring for Dad who moved into aged care.

    That’s a lovely pic of your Dad in front of that beautiful Ai Weiwei artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Sue. A sad, sad year for so many of us. I’m glad you could also find that silver lining in the COVID gloom. The best advice I was ever given for dealing with grief is ‘Do less than you think you can.’ COVID-19 made that my default.

      Sending strength and warm wishes to you.


  3. Kathy D. says:

    Very sorry to read about the loss of your father. But that photo shows his spark and zest for life.
    Covid does force us to pull in on ourselves, think, feel and draw on our inner resources. Remembering the love from and for your parents is essential and a gift that you can carry on.
    Best wishes for the new year,
    Kathy D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kathy. Your words ring true.

      I hope this finds you safe and well and I send warmest wishes for a Happy New Year in 2021. A new government has to be a good start!


  4. FictionFan says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Angela – what a tough year for you. I’m glad you were able to spend time with your parents despite the Covid restrictions. These last caring days with someone we love can give us some of the most precious memories, however hard they are at the time. Best wishes for 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John Marlton says:

    Dear Angela,

    It was sad to hear of Haydn’s death and not all that long after Olgamary’s death. My condolences to you, Julian, Luke and your families.

    I only met Haydn on that memorable family visit to Magnetic Island. But at other times via Olgamary I did hear lots about him. I felt she was always generous and I do hope in those last years of their lives they had nice family memories of each other.

    I don’t seem to have had much contact with any of the Moruya people, so very much out of the loop – my fault not theirs.

    Thank you so much for sharing the ‘ Rhythm of Life ‘ tribute with me. I really appreciated it.

    And thank you for keeping me in your loop. Memories do fade but never of Olgamary. That’s a little glimmer I’ll share only with you.

    My best wishes and please stay safe.

    John M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, John, for those lovely comments and for sharing your memories of Mum and Dad. I miss them both terribly, but I am buoyed by the memories of their love.


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