As I look out at how many people are here I’m amazed. When we had Noah’s funeral we were blown away as to how many people came and how many lives he touched, but this is even bigger. We have been joking all week that Aaron would be loving all of this attention and how when we are all back together again he will be rubbing it into us saying ‘my funeral was bigger than yours’ and I have no doubt that he would be right.
I’m standing here today hoping that I can have the strength to do this once again, less than four months since Noah passed away. When Noah was born and diagnosed we knew that our time with him would be short, but when you meet the one that you want to spend the rest of your life and eternity with, you imagine that you are going to be sitting together in a nursing home one day, old and grey together, knitting and talking about the grandchildren.
I never imagined that before I even turned thirty eight I would be a widow with three boys. Over the past few days I have done a lot of crying, thinking and praying to understand why this has happened and how I am going to get through it, and I believe I will.
Aaron always said that I was the strong one in the family, and that is probably true, but he was the talker, comedian and entertainer and at Noah’s funeral he shared his love for Noah in such an amazing way. Although I’m not as funny or as entertaining as Aaron was, I hope that he will approve of what I am going to share with you today, as I let you know more about the Aaron that I knew and love.
When Aaron was born his sister Trudy said it was the happiest day of her life. She already had a little sister Tamatha, but they desperately wanted a little brother. He was cherished, idolised and spoilt rotten and was one of the cutest kids you would ever see. I often look at Kobe and see that he looks like Aaron when he was little, with that cheeky grin and twinkle in his eye.
Aaron was named after Elvis Presley whose middle name is Aaron, which may explain his absolute love for music. As a child he fell in love with the Bay City Rollers and used to go around wearing the tartan pants to match them. He loved his ‘Woody’ Bear which was dressed as a Bay City Roller and kept it and it is actually sitting out on the table outside.
Trudy and Tamatha loved to dress up Aaron as a girl. Maybe that’s where his love of clothes and fashion came from? Aaron seriously has WAY more clothes and shoes than I do, and cares more about them. Our brother in law Ashley was telling us a story about him helping him work outside fixing something. Aaron jumped up and ripped his favourite Chicago Bulls shirt on a nail and stormed off inside all upset about the shirt being ruined. He was the same even now – if I ever borrowed one of his Hawks geurnseys to wear to a game it had to be an old one in case I dared spill anything on it, or get make up on it. Even though at school he didn’t need to dress up, he chose to wear a shirt and tie most days took pride in how many ties he had.
I believe that when he turned 2 (?) the present he got was his first ever record. Trudy told me that even when he was two he had to show her and Tamatha how to get the record player to work as he was the only one who could work it. It was still the same now – Aaron was always the one everyone would call on to fix something, or show us how something worked. He was always called on by his Dad and Carrol to set up things and also my Mum and Dad. Often I would hear on the phone ‘next time you come out, can you ask Aaron to set up the DVD player again please’. If someone was having trouble with their computer, Aaron was the man to call on.
Since he was a child he has collected records and still did - he used to say that there was nothing like hearing the scratching as you put a record on to play and our cupboard at home is full to the brim of old and new records.
Aaron loved music so much as a child that he used to go around pretending his raquet was a guitar and even put on a concert for his whole kindergarten class on his front porch which we have photos of.
The funniest thing about Aaron is that he loved ALL types of music ranging from the Bay City Rollers and the Beatles when he was younger to his years in the 80s where he found a love for heavy metal and still loved them. Our CD rack is full of ACDC, Kiss, Motley Crew, and Poison, but it doesn’t stop there. He was never ashamed to say that he also loved Pop music and especially had a love for Britney Spears which we loved to tease him about, but he didn’t care.
At church Aaron is known for his very funny performance at talent nights as Jimmy Barnes and Angus Young from AC/DC. He always loved doing something to make people laugh. Together we had lots of fun doing an act like Sharpay and Ryan off HSM at a youth church dance. I have to admit that Aaron was a much better dancer and performer than me and had everyone wetting themselves laughing.
His all time favourite band was Oasis who he saw a number of times in concert which made him more excited than his birthday and Christmas. If you know Aaron well, then you know that he gets excited about Christmas and his birthday more than any kid does. He plans six months in advance what he wanted to get and we would often get deliveries throughout the year of different albums or collectables that he would then put away in the cupboard for Christmas. His birthday is two days before Christmas which to me was such a pain, but he thought it was awesome. He said everyone was usually really happy around Christmas time, which made having a birthday two days before even more exciting.
Aaron’s Dad Roxley told me lots of funny stories about Aaron as a child. He said he loved to play cricket in the backyard and would play all day and with Roxley when he would get home from work. There were many broken window and holes smashed into the garage from the cricket ball. I laughed as Roxley told me how much of a bad sport Aaron was as a child and how he would throw his bat down and chuck a tantrum and would storm inside if he got out.
Roxley and Trudy also told me how Aaron loved to play the Test Match Cricket board game, but only when it was his turn to bat. As soon as he’d had his turn he had enough of playing, or he would chuck a tantrum as soon as he got out. While they were telling us these stories about Aaron. Jay and I looked at each other and realised where Harri gets his personality from.
Aaron’s step Mum Carrol told me that when he first saw her walking up the drive he thought ‘here comes trouble’. That so called trouble brought along three new sisters – Janet, Kim and Helen. Janet told me about how much Aaron hated going to the shack at the bush. The first time he arrived at the bush shack she said he jumped out of the car with a plastic machine gun and commando gear on. He was such a city boy and it looked like he arrived, all ready for some time in the bush, and was ready to kill something.
Aaron was still a city boy and had never really gone camping in his life because he said he couldn’t handle not having the luxuries of living at home in town like TV, DVD players, and McDonalds up the road. My brothers loved calling him the ‘city boy’ but in the past few years they have introduced him to things such as motor bike riding and fishing which he loved.
The day before we passed away we went to St Helens and were there on our own. The first thing he wanted to do was fish off the jetty. He caught a tiny one and had to throw it back, but added it to the total of fish that he hoped he was going to catch that week after my family arrived. As he headed out on the boat with my brothers and Alex just hours before he left he was pumped for a fish off – telling them that the total at the moment was 'Kings 1, Triffitt’s 0'. He didn’t care that he had an extra day to fish or that it was small he just loved that he had one up on them.
Anyone who had anything to do with Aaron in his younger years would know him as ‘Moochie’ or ‘Mooch’. After I met Aaron I heard a few people call him this and was surprised that it was his nickname as I hadn’t heard it before. Trudy told me that he got it from a show on the Mickey Mouse club which had a naughty little boy on it called ‘Moochie’ so she then gave that name to Aaron.
Aaron’s love of sports of course didn’t stop with cricket. I’m sure pretty much everyone who knows Aaron, knows that his first love in life was his family and his second is Hawthorn.
From 2 years old Aaron started to follow Hawthorn and talked about the good old days when he would have to listen to the games on the radio. His bedroom as a child was of course covered in brown and gold and he covered the walls in football stuff, collected cards and books and would make up his own football cards. I have to say that nothing changed in 37 years.
He still collected football cards and has albums and albums of them. During footy season every few days or so there would be envelopes in the mailbox full of cards that he had won on eBay.
When we first got married I could not believe the obsession he had with football and Hawthorn, but after a while I decided that there was no way it was going to change, and decided to join him in his love for Hawthorn. Aaron usually hates bandwagon jumpers, but he was happy to have me join him in his love for Hawthorn and of course the boys have also been brainwashed into going for no other team.
A couple of times Harri and Jay have thought that they may like to go for a different team and Aaron’s response was ‘Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny doesn’t go to boys that don’t go for Hawthorn’ so they quickly decided again that Hawthorn really was their team. I often joked with him that the Hawks players were going to take an AVO out on him as he was at every event trying to get an autograph or photo, even if he already had it done before.
Just before he passed away he was very excited to have taken on the roll as communications officer for the Tassie Hawks supporter group. He did joke with me that he was hoping that some of the roll included picking up Buddy from the airport. I think his love for Hawthorn was pretty much complete when he got to be in the Hawka suit at a school fair. It was a dream come true! A few years back I was worried that he had taken his obsession a little bit too far when he turned up at school on school photo day with his Hawks gurnsey and scarf on. I thought he was just joking and was going to take it off before the photo. It was just after they had won the 2008 grand final and his school photo he has the biggest proudest grin and with his Hawks gear on.
I know Aaron is glad that he has Harri pretty much obsessed with Hawthorn as much as he was – knowing all the stats, players and things going on. I’m sure Aaron is proud that Harri will continue his love of Hawthorn on.
Aaron left school at the end of year 11 and first started to work at Coles and then went onto working at Rolf Vos which is now Woolies, full time. When I met Aaron he was working with our friends Rachael and Mick Challis at Rolf Vos and after a little while he started coming to church with them and was then baptised into the church. I met Aaron the night before his baptism and remember thinking he was a pretty cool guy. He was dressed very trendily and had a big mop of curly long hair that I call his Afro as he looked like Joey from NKOTB.
He always tells me that he remembers seeing me thinking ‘wow! Who is that girl!?’ and then keeping his eye on me over the next few months at different activities at church. At the time I had another boyfriend who was away on a mission for our church, so although I thought Aaron was lovely I wasn’t interested in him for a while. I remember friends telling me ‘that Aaron guy likes you’ and being flattered by it. I used to travel to activities at church a lot with my brother Jared, and our friends Chadd Christie and Jared Horsman who were like brothers to me. Aaron told me later that he would see me get out of the car with these ‘bogans’ all wearing flannys and was wondering why I was hanging out with them.
At this time I was at uni studying Education and Aaron would coincidently cross paths with me every single morning at the same time as I was walking to uni and he was walking to work. I remember seeing him with his long curly hair and his headphones on as he listened to his rap and hip hop music on his discman and he would give me a nervous little smile and a ‘hello’ as he walked past.
After a few months I gave up and realised that I was actually more interested in Aaron than I thought and we started to go out. My old boyfriend of course wasn’t very happy at all and pretty much said he knew it was over, which Aaron was VERY happy about. Mum and Dad had heard that I was going out with him and I had never taken a boyfriend home to meet them, so I was very nervous to take him home to meet them. Aaron always had a baby face, and supposedly after we left the house when he met Mum and Dad for the first time, my Dad said he was ‘just a boy’ which he’s never lived down. Aaron always stirred Dad up for saying that and the ‘just a boy’ phrase became famous in our family.
After going out and being engaged for 14 months we were married. At the time I was half way through uni and started teaching for a couple of years before we had Jalen.
Every day Aaron would go to work at Woolies and complain about how much he hated it. I kept asking him that if he hated it so much, then why was he doing it, but he had no confidence in himself to do anything else as it was all he knew.
After lots of encouragement he finally decided to go part time at work and start uni as a mature aged student. He didn’t really know what he wanted to do, but he knew he wanted to change his life and enjoy going to work every day. I tried to encourage him to go into teaching as I loved it so much and thought he would too but he told me he ‘hated kids’! I was a primary school teacher and Aaron would often visit my class and couldn’t imagine himself sitting in front of a class full of snotty nosed kids who couldn’t even write their name. He decided instead that he thought being a social worker may be good, but didn’t last long in that course before deciding to change to doing a Bachelor of Computing as he had always been good with technology. During this time Jay was born so it was very busy with him studying and being a new Dad. He loved being a Dad and was always hands on even though he was so busy at uni.
He found uni very hard, but with lots of work he finally graduated with a Bachelor of computing, but then he said he didn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day. I then suggested that maybe he would be good at teaching computing in high school and after lots of thinking, he decided to do another two years at uni and complete his Bachelor of Teaching. This was when Noah was born and I am now amazed as to how he was able to get his second degree, with so much going on.
We were so devastated when Noah was diagnosed but decided that together we could give him the best life possible, no matter how long it was. We knew it was going to be hard, but we knew we could do it together and we did.
Aaron was lucky enough to do a prac at Kings Meadows High school and was then asked if he would like to come back to do his internship and be paid for doing it as another teacher was going on long service leave, and had to be replaced anyway. It was such a blessing as we hardly had any money back then as I was at home with the boys and he was on a student’s wage. He has been at KMHS ever since.
Right from the start he loved teaching. He finally had a job that he loved getting out of bed for and looked forward to. He has been teaching for around 8 years now and I’m pretty sure that his love for teaching and the kids was an equal second along with his love for Hawthorn.
I’m sure that Aaron loves teaching so much as he is such a big kid at heart. There are so many beautiful messages that his students have been writing to him on Facebook since last Thursday night. I have also got over 40 messages of kids from school telling me how much he meant to them. There are so many stories about what he was like as a teacher and I really wish that I had a teacher like him in High School. So many have said that usually Maths is a class that everyone hates, but everyone would kill to get into his class.
From what I can see Aaron was more than a teacher – he was a friend, who believed in everyone and he tried to inspire his students to be the best they can be, and taught them respect. He never gave up on anyone and would often come home heart broken from things he had heard or seen and was wishing he could just change things for many of his students. So many have said that they wouldn’t be where they were today without him believing in them. I have even heard some say that they wouldn’t be alive today without him.
I love hearing the stories of him always being up for a chat, and to catch up on the gossip. He always knew how to make everyone laugh and I’m sure that’s why so many students loved him, as he always brightened up their day.
The past 4-5 years Aaron has been the organiser of the school footy trip. What a dream it was for him to spend the weekend in Melbourne with up to 50 kids or more to watch 3-4 games of footy. Every year he found it a lot of work to organise and would say to me ‘this is going to be the last year I’m doing it’, but then he would go away with the kids and other teachers and have the best weekend and would then be excited for the next year. I know so many kids have said that the highlight of their school years was hanging out with Kingy on the footy trip and how much fun he made it for them. I have no doubt that he would’ve been the loudest one at the footy, in his Hawks gear, no matter who was playing, stirring up all the students.
Often Aaron would come home after work with some kind of injury after trying to keep up with the kids and playing sports with them at lunch time. He kept forgetting that he was no longer a 19 year old who could play indoor cricket and basketball without thinking twice.
One student had written this week that Aaron didn’t care about the cliques at school. He cared about every single student, no matter what and I know that was true from the things he told me at home. I often visited Aaron at school and loved seeing how much the kids loved him, but still found it hard to imagine him actually being a teacher in the classroom. Sometimes when I was there he would put on his ‘teacher’ voice and it would actually scare me!
He loved his grade team who he often talked about with me. He loved his role as Grade Leader and was really looking forward to doing it again this year. He also loved the girls in the office and would often come home telling me things that they had said or done together. One of the highlights of his year was the school athletic carnival and every year he would have to come up with a new green tshirt for Tamar. He would often come up with some slogan to put on them and was very passionate about his house.
So many students have told me that Aaron was always there to talk to. He was always there for the students especially if they were going through a hard time. Lots of them have told me that if someone in their family had passed away, Aaron was always the first one to meet them at school, to let them know that he was there if they wanted to talk.
At Noah’s funeral Aaron said that Noah was a bit of a super star. I think that Aaron was also a bit of a super star – whenever we were in town and wherever we would go I would hear kids yell out ‘Kingy!’ to him and want to come and say hi. It was the same at church – if Aaron was around he was surrounded by teenagers. He was always in the centre cracking jokes and making everyone laugh.
I was so touched last Friday to hear that over 50 students went up to the school with flowers to pay tribute to him. I have no doubt he was watching what was going on. I have seen many students say that it’s going to be so hard to go back to school with him not there, and I’m sure it will be, but I know that ‘Kingy’ would want me to tell you to do it for him, but not only that - do it for yourself, and work hard.
When I had to tell Jay and Harri that Aaron wasn’t able to be resuscitated, Harri started crying and then after a while he said ‘that means the fun one in the family is gone!’.
Aaron was definitely the fun one. Most people probably know Aaron as the joker, but he also had a very serious side when he needed to. When we got married I don’t think my family knew what hit them. My brothers have been laughing about how they were all so shocked by the inappropriate jokes Aaron would come out with, especially in front of my Dad, but after a while they got used to them and then just expected him to come out with them.
Just a couple of weeks ago he was texting a friend of ours on my phone – pretending he was me, saying how incredibly hot and spunky my husband was. We often joked about if one of us passed away before the other and how we would never like to get re-married. Aaron would always say ‘you could never get a husband as hot as me anyway!’.
He also used to love me about how I was just a pretend teacher because I taught Kinder and Prep, and according to him all we did was finger painting. He used to tell me that he was the only real teacher in the house, and looking back I can see how that is so true – he wasn’t just a teacher in the classroom, but he was a teacher in everyone’s lives.
At church Aaron often worked with the youth and loved the roll as MC at youth activities. I was always amazed as his natural ability to talk to hundreds of kids and get them involved and also laughing. He didn’t care about embarrassing them at all and would often ask them embarrassing questions on the microphone for a cheap laugh. At church dances he often announced in between songs what the footy score was, because he found it so hard to be away from the TV when a good footy match was on.
It didn’t matter where Aaron was – he was always the one who was keeping everyone updated on the sports score – whether it be cricket, footy, NFL or NBA. At church he often went missing for periods of time, only to be found in the car checking on the footy score on the radio. He then got his iPhone and was loving being able to have sports scores at his fingertips all day and night.
Aaron was always the big kid no matter where we went. He was the first one to jump on a bike that was way too small for him at the bike centre, or the first one to jump in the water at the beach, or to kick the footy around, and his favourite restaurant which he thought was top quality was Maccas, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it.
Everyone who knows Aaron that even though he loves teaching and sports his first love is his family. He was the best dad that the boys could ever wish for. If he wasn’t at school he was home spending time with me and the boys. He didn’t care about doing much away from home, but instead he just loved being together. I’m glad to admit that all four of our boys were Daddies boys. Jay and Aaron have a similar sense of humour and I know that Jay will carry that on in our family. Even the last few days Jay has been making jokes that remind me so much of Aaron. Aaron also passed on his skills in technology to Jay.
Harri and Aaron were sports buddies. Their favourite thing to do was to watch Friday night footy together and to do the footy tipping together. They were so cute together as they would sit in the Hawks dressing gowns and slippers, yelling at the TV together. I can see that Harri is a mini Aaron and will keep up his love of sports in our family.
Kobe idolises his Dad every night when he got home from school he would run to the door yelling ‘Daddy, Daddy’ and then ‘let’s wrestle’ as all three boys loved wrestling every night. Even though he was tired from being at work all day he would drop everything to have some fun with the boys.
Aaron would come home from a long day at school, but never complained and wanted to take on the majority of Noah’s care before bed on as that was the only time he really got with him as he left early for work. Every night he would be the main one to give him his meds, feed him, give him his nebs, and get him ready for bed. When Noah passed away Aaron found the nights the hardest as he no longer had anything to do. Often it would be that I went out with the three boys and Aaron would stay home with Noah, if he wasn’t well enough or happy enough to go out. Aaron was happy to do this as it often meant he got some quiet time at home watching sport on TV in peace, and he also got to spend time alone with Noah. He didn’t do it out of obligation but did it because he just loved him so much.
I’ll never forget the day that Noah passed away. Aaron changed that day and really became the strong one in the family. We knew that Noah was going to pass away, yet Aaron decided that he wanted to wash his hair for him before he died and as he did he joked around with Noah asking him what kind of hair style he would like. In between all the tears that day, he still knew how to make us laugh.
He was my best friend and we loved to stir each other up. On the day that Aaron passed away we spent some time at Binalong Bay. The weather turned bad but that didn’t stop him from spending ages in the water, jumping the huge waves with my brothers and brother in law Alex, until me and my sister Nicki decided to join them.
I don’t often go swimming in the ocean as I find it too cold, but for some reason that day I just decided to run into the water and join him jumping in the waves. After a while I started getting cramp in my leg, so decided it was time to get out, and so did Aaron, but after a while he ran back in with Alex. It was very windy and rainy and the kids were all freezing on the beach, so we decided it was time to pack up and go. Everyone kept telling them to get out of the water, but Aaron decided that he wasn’t keen on getting out and gave us all the forks to tell us that he wasn’t getting out.
He said to Alex that you can’t waste that kind of day as the next day the waves mightn’t be so big and I’m so glad now that he didn’t waste that day. He had the best day and loved going out fishing on the boat as well, even though he didn’t catch anything.
In the past few months Aaron has done and said things that let me know that maybe he was prepared to pass away. I don’t think he knew it was going to happen, but he was saying and doing things that let me know that he was ready.
In the 3 months since Noah passed away Aaron and I have grown closer than we have ever before. We were so lucky to be able to spend so much more time together and as sad and hard as it was to lose Noah, we also knew how blessed we were to have more time together, and made the most of it. I think we spent more time together in the last three months alone, than we had in years. People often say that having a child with a disability puts a strain on a marriage. Having Noah made our marriage stronger, and even losing Noah made our marriage stronger.
Aaron was always very open with his feelings – much more so than I am. I’m pretty sure he told me every single day that we were married that he loved me – at least once – sometime even more. When we are apart I often get text messages from him just to tell me that he was missing me and loved me – even if I was gone for an hour or just down the road to Coles. I would often get messages saying 'love you, miss you, what are you up to?'. We were best friends and had a relationship where we stirred each other a lot.
Aaron knew that I often would just brush off what he was telling me, but on the way to St Helens the day before he passed away, he said to me that he had something to tell me and it was going to be corny and to just listen. I started laughing and said I would listen and he then told me that he wanted me to know that he loved me so much, that he was who he was today because of me and that I saved his life by believing in him. He then told me that he loved me and that I was his best friend.
One night at the end of last year he came home from school and said ‘no offence but I told the ladies at work today that I used to be petrified of dying, but since Noah died I’m no longer scared and am actually looking forward to it’. He then said that if he died soon he would actually be happy. I totally understood it as I also would want to be with Noah, but didn’t think anything else of it. He supposedly said the same thing again to another friend of ours a couple of weeks ago. He told me he was fine and happy to stay, but if he did go he would also be so happy.
I have no doubt that Aaron was saying and doing things for a reason. I don’t understand why he had to go now and I wish he didn’t have to, but as much as I hate it, I also feel at peace about it. I don’t know how I am going to live without him as well as Noah, but I am so blessed to have three beautiful boys and I know that together we will be okay.
Aaron used to stir me all the time about being the blogerazzi. If I wasn’t taking or editing photos I was spending time posting out family memories on our blog. At the time I knew I was doing it so we could have many memories of Noah. Now I see it was for more than that.
The day Aaron passed away he told me that his ‘heart was being healed’ having my family spend time with us as he was having the best day. He was missing Noah so much but we spoke a couple of weeks earlier about how we both felt like we had turned a corner with our grief and were feeling a like we were starting to enjoy things that we used to do before again. I’m sure that Aaron knew that I was okay and that I could be strong enough without him, as he really needed to be with Noah for some reason.
I imagine how wonderful his reunion with Noah must’ve been and imagine them running, jumping and side stepping together. I love you honey and know you couldn’t stay as much as I wish you could. Please give our monkey a big kiss from me and don’t get up to too much mischief together.