Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rallying for Roger

I blogged last week about the sudden and shocking death of Roger Fox . Roger's funeral was remarkable for the number and variety of the people who turned up to share memories, anecdotes, jokes, and handkerchiefs. The three hundred attendees far outnumbered the seats available in the funeral parlour in industrial West Auckland; relatively young folks like me ended up giving up our places for old trade unionists and East Timor activists and standing through the long ceremony. The entire spectrum of the left, from green to deepest red, was on display, and Buddhist, Catholic, and Pentecostal prayers were all said on Roger's behalf. 'The Internationale' was sung, but so were 'Amazing Grace', a short tribute in Maori, and a suite of songs written in Samoan especially for Roger by grieving relatives.

Roger was always a passionate advocate of the open mike at meetings and rallies, and when Master of Ceremonies Dave Bedggood opened the mike in his honour a long queue of speakers soon formed. So many people wanted to pay tribute to Roger that the reception that followed the funeral had to be truncated, and yours truly couldn't take full advantage of the free food.

After the reception's untimely end, a bunch of us piled into cars and a bus and drove north to Kaukapakapa, the beautiful Kaipara village close to the farm where Roger grew up. As Roger was buried in the leafy yard of an old Anglican church, next to the brother he lost thirty years ago, a group of Buddhists chanted for the safe passage of his soul, Jared Philips laid a Unite union badge on his coffin, and Dave read a statement from Latin American Trotskyists which ended 'Viva Roger Fox!' No funeral is good, but this one was a worthy tribute to a life well lived.


Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I haven't visited this blog in quite awhile. It is good it's still going strong.

Classy tribute.

7:58 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

That was great "send off" for Roger.
Appropriate that so many came of quite different "persuasions" and appropriate the open mike.

How we deal with death - and life.

Some hope for a continuation - my son is "certain" we have souls (I cant disprove him), one of my sisters is a strong Christian but the rest of my family I are atheists I think - I am not a "hard atheist" (I admire Richard Dawkin's writing but feel he "Protesteth overmuch" - I am more an agnostic - - Roger bridged a Marxism and Buddhism etc.

This is an interesting approach - an alternative some "hard" Marxists or "Enlightenment or Age of Reason Men" could look to.... For me - I am a skeptic - which I believe is healthy - I am perpetually uncertain or this mystery - consciousness and life.

The reception should have been allowed to continue (albeit there was burial to happen!) - eating is essential after a funeral!

Funerals - we forget - happen just about every hour of the working day
- death and illness is with us always. We forget.

But so is birth!

Roger was clearly well loved.

11:35 pm  
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