What are you do­ing to­day?

South Waikato News - - OPINION/NEWS -

Last week, Par­lia­ment lost Dave Al­lan­son. Dave had worked at Par­lia­ment for 23 years; a de­voted mem­ber of the se­cu­rity team; a trusted work col­league; a true pro­fes­sional.

There was no doubt that he was well re­spected throughout Par­lia­ment. At the funeral ser­vice there were cur­rent and for­mer min­is­ters; MPs, party lead­ers; and staff from right across the com­plex.

But it was the sto­ries that told the life of a man that truly dis­tin­guished his farewell ser­vice. Cy­cling mates who spoke of his ir­re­press­ible en­ergy - here was a man who had just reg­is­tered for his 14th Round the Lake event at Lake Taupo?. The se­cu­rity team turned up in its full con­tin­gent – the power of their haka fill­ing the church. And there were friends who had trav­elled the world with him in the sev­en­ties, who shared mem­o­ries of their bus tour through Europe like it was yes­ter­day.

But by far the most mov­ing trib­utes came from those near­est and dear­est. A let­ter from Eng­land recorded the mem­o­ries of his next-door neigh­bour from child­hood days in Dan­nevirke. She re­called how in 1954 as two seven year olds, they made ev­ery day an ad­ven­ture – her perched on the han­dle­bars of his bike while they rode the streets. They’d re­turn home with grazed knees and huge grins; full of sto­ries about their ex­ploits.

The other mem­ory was from a tear­ful niece, who shared the story of a day when she’d left her baby son in Dave’s care while she popped out to the shop. When she asked him if he’d mind, Dave said one word – ‘re­ally’?

The young mum was star­tled – think­ing per­haps her boy was too much of a hand­ful for Un­cle Dave. But it was quite the op­po­site – Dave was over­come with emo­tion that she would trust him with this most pre­cious child.

There was one speaker at the funeral who cap­tured it all. He talked about the ser­vice sheet con­tain­ing two dates – 1947-2012 – but that the most im­por­tant part was the ‘dash in be­tween’. Life is all about what you do with the dash.

Hear­ing all these sto­ries made me think about the lives we share with each other. How of­ten do we stop and re­flect about life’s lessons? What value do we place on liv­ing, on lov­ing, on learn­ing - as op­posed to the jobs we are em­ployed in; the roles we are known by?

For Dave, he leaves be­hind a won­der­ful legacy of laugh­ter and in­spi­ra­tion. He treated ev­ery­one with re­spect.

He cher­ished his wife, Nita and his sons, Joe and Tom. He would drive his Mum to the beach and push her wheel­chair to the edge of the shore, so that she could breathe the crisp sea air and al­most touch the froth of the waves.

He would cut down trees for his sis­ters, mow their lawns, and play with the grand­kids. And he was the most loyal of mates, with al­ways a story.

None of this is ex­cep­tional. And yet the un­con­di­tional love this man gave to the world is of univer­sal sig­nif­i­cance – it is a les­son for us all of the value of walk­ing our talk – be­ing the change we would like to see in our world.

It is such a trib­ute to Dave that over 50 years later, a lit­tle girl would still hold on to the mem­o­ries of the boy-next-door with such love; or that pas­sen­gers in a bus trip in 1978 had such en­dur­ing as­so­ci­a­tions with the man be­hind the wheel.

It makes me think – what are we do­ing to­day, that will live on in the world, to make a bet­ter world for our mokop­una to in­herit. How do we make ev­ery mo­ment count? What val­ues are we pass­ing on the next gen­er­a­tion? What will be the great­est con­tri­bu­tion we make to a world we leave be­hind?

Or in other words – how are we ‘fill­ing the dash’?

TAR­I­ANA TURIA

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