Tribute to a Brother

Jan 28, 2024

There are not many men in my life I would refer to as a KING.

On the 23rd of July last year, very suddenly, I lost one such person, a very dear and beloved friend, Gary Simpson.

Loving and devoted husband to my very close friend Robyn, and a dedicated father to his children and grandchildren.

Some men teach a woman how she should be treated. And Gary was one such man. Gary's respect for women made me feel safe and honoured in his presence. We co-facilitated together many many years ago.

Most of all he was my brother. A man I loved and looked up to, who had a cheeky twinkle in his eye and a hilarious comment to go with it. He helped me laugh at myself one moment and the next he could crack my heart open with his reverence and sincerity.

They say 'Don't die with the music still in you'. Well, I think that refers to those who live to an old age. I watched Gary for over 30 years and I can say he was just flowering into his life's work.

Coming into his own at 69, he was a leader of men and highly influential in the men's movement in SE Queensland, Australia for over 25 years. In recent years, he had become immersed in and been highly trained by world leaders, the best in trauma-informed work, Poly-vagal theory, and Attachment theory, significant approaches in Psychotherapy that have informed the creating of safety and security in relationships and introducing it into classrooms through training teachers.

Gary would have all of his friends spellbound with his fascinating synopsis of trauma and the brain. Being all therapists, we were in awe of his ability to absorb information and reissue it in bite-size chunks, coupled with his philosophy from Aikido, his work was taking off in New Zealand in their Education Depts.

He and Robyn have been there for me at some of my most dark and vulnerable moments. One of the things that Gary used to say when I was faced with hardship or difficulty, was 'How can I support you?"

That question would often make me cry. Just to know that someone cared that much because it was genuine. Not, 'Go change yourself', 'Come on, you should be further down the track than this', 'You don't need to feel that way.' 

It is such a magic question. It's one of the most loving things you can ask a friend, lover, or loved one who is struggling. 'How can I support you?

Part of a strongly bonded group in Brisbane through the late 90s and early 2000s, we all dispersed geographically 20 years ago, gatherings were more few and far between.

This picture was taken 2 years ago when we all decided we MUST get together. I’m so glad we did. I didn't know why at the time I asked if we could have a pic of the two of us. I think it's because I just valued our brother/sister bond so much. I respected him so much. And I think vice versa.

He championed me for those 25 years. As a woman, I felt seen. His respect and reverence for women and care for children and youth was inspiring. I knew this because I watched as he singularly steered his youngest son at a young age, in those early years with so much love and respect. Father also to 3 daughters, he felt a deep commitment to be the best he could be, willing to be humble and admit where he could have been more present in his younger years for them.

His love and attention were returned at his sendoff. At sunset, in early August 2023, with a full moon rising, his male kin - his son, son-in-law, and two grandsons walked into the cold waters of The Tweed Rivermouth with a small raft they'd built that had Gary's ashes carefully tied to it. As the raft bobbed into the distance, we all watched in silent sadness, and at the same time smiled - 'just as Gary would have loved it'. And hovering above, encircling the entire body of water, was an eagle that had accompanied us as we walked the long path to the location.

So as I write, my eyes water. Grief is not something that is well recognised or supported in our culture. To me, grief is like a roving fishnet that collects and carries all other grief under the surface of what may be an apparent calm.

My heart goes out to his beautiful children, grandchildren, and of course, our dear and beloved Robyn, whom Gary was eternally dedicated to. 

For those who have suffered a loss recently, I feel you. Click below for some encouraging interviews with the amazing James 'Fish' Gill whose views on grief and love are inspiring. Interviewed by my dear friend and Taruma informed Grief Therapist, Nathalie Himmelrich.

When I see a flock of birds taking off in the distance at Noosa Main Beach, I often think of Gary. Fly on Gary. Thank you for all you've been to us all. Fly on right through >>> here's one of my favorites - a song from Coldplay.


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