His grandchildren, did not have the pleasure of knowing Dane before he had Parkinson’s.
So I ‘d like to share some things with them, things that they might not know.
The first is that growing up, I firmly believed that the name ‘ Doctor Dane Sutton’ had magic in it.
When I introduced myself, people’s faces would light up and with an invariable note of reverence and respect they would ask, “Are you Doctor Dane Sutton’s daughter?” and then the magic would happen – kindness would flow, doors would open, free tickets to the show appeared and often cake would be presented.
With his name magic was invoked in daily interactions but was particularly spectacular with his patients, people in the medical professions and the brothers, nuns and clergy who all adored and respected him.
People respected and loved Dane because he dedicated his life to love and care for his community unconditionally, with spiritempathy and stamina.
His magic was so strong that even when trapped inside his physical self, barely able to communicate, carers, nurses and respite staff would feel the magic and pour out love and respect for our Dane.
I always wondered how they knew about the name magic when he couldn’t say his name.
That’s when I realized the magic wasn’t in his name, it was in his spirit - in that twinkle in his eye.
And that spirit remains in all of us.
Now the other thing you need to know about Dane, is that Dane was, above all else, an ideas man.
And once an idea manifested itself, Dane had the drive and stamina to pursue that idea, sometimes in the face of all logic, reason, bylaws and minor legal requirements.
Dane did not set limits on his life.
He had farming ideas with a property atNotley Hills where he ran a few sheep and cattle and he created beautiful gardens in each of our houses.
He held a 99 lease on Tamar Island, bought when he was young, where he ran some cattle. He gave the island back to National Parks and it is now the Tamar Wetlands project. In order to transport his animals across the river to the island, he got this great idea to purchase a punt. He was very find of an eccentric mode of transport.
One bull famously refused to board the punt when the cattle were moved off the island, and so began the tale of Bruno, the loneliest bull in the world. He was left to roam wild and free. http://www.travelways.com.au/travel-diary/123-short-walk-has-some-tall-tales
When the walkways went into the island a few years ago, Bruno was discovered, and he wasn't happy about it. Bruno’s story was out and animal lovers everywhere responded to his lonely plight. His story was even picked up by Reuters and featured in international press and a 'Save Bruno' petition was circulated. When Dad was asked by the press what should be done for poor lonely, abandoned Bruno, Dad responded "I've got a couple of bullets in my top drawer” – Dad also had an uncanny knack for inflaming a situation and political correctness was never his concern.
Dane had alternative ideas. He embraced the practice of transcendental meditation, every evening at about 5pm, silently in his study, while the noise and chaos of “arsenic hour’ reigned supreme outside with Mum and us 7 kids.
He explored organic gardening when it was considered outlandish, learned acupuncture and believed strongly in the mind–body connection years before it became accepted theory.
When Dane had an idea he followed it through.
He didn’t look for approval or permission from anyone, even Mum.
And Dad knew how to have, not just a good time, but a great time.
One of his best ideas was the purchase of our house at Alanvale. That house was almost big enough for all of us and all of our friends and Dane’s spirit.
That house was all about spirit. Those parties were legendary and Dane lead the charge, his incredible stamina kept him going till the early hours, often outlasting the cocky teens and uni students who had lobbed for the do.
That stamina kept Dane fighting his disease and its limitations to his very last breath.
So kids, listen and remember, Dane left us with an incredible model for life.
Live a life full of spirit, of fun, of love and service, pursuing
your ideas with stamina and self-belief, even in the face of logic, disapproval and political correctness and when necessary, minor legal requirements, because that is where the magic is.