Saturday, March 7, 2015

Remembering Tim - Norwood Park Crematorium / Canberra (Fri 11 Mar 2005)

Tim (my Brother) and Tom (my Dad) - Norwood Park Crematorium / Canberra (Fri 27 Feb 2015)

Today, 10 years on, we Remember Tim:

Timothy Francis Eldridge was born on Wednesday 4 December 1963 in Tamworth NSW. He became the third and youngest child of Thomas and Betty. He had an elder sister, Lynn, spelt with two n's not one as Tim persisted throughout his whole life). Lynn was two years older than Tim. Myself, Geoff being 3 years older was the eldest. His father was an electrical engineer with the Electricity Commision of NSW. The Regional Centre was based in Tamworth and from this office the electricity transmission system in northern NSW grew. The nature of his Father's work often required nights away from home. We all looked forward to Dad's return on Friday Night with a bag of mixed lollies for all.

Lynn and I found as oursleves at school and this gave Tim two years at home with Mum by himself. Mum tells me now that he spent this time playing with the kids across the road. Even at this early age Tim was making friends. I seem to recall also that Tim managed to get a 1/2 day of pre-school (a first in the family). I always felt that this small period with other new kids gave Tim a nice head start when he commenced his schooling at South Tamworth Primary. He was well adjusted for the rigours of school, made friends easily (he was always going to birthday parties) and was a natural at anything he put his mind to.

He started in the top class in Kindy and there he stayed each year through his primary school days (and subsequent educational endeavours). Tim was a also a natural athlete and started playing rugby league at he age of eight, moving quickly onto soccer and then finally hockey (all in one year .. maybe this was a sign of things to come). He played representative hockey for Tamworth at the state champships every June Long Weekend. I even recall him playing under 12 hockey at Lismore when he was only 9. He was a prodigy even then. He also represented the North Western NSW primary school team in Murwullumbah where his team came back as state champions. Another little publicised sporting achievement was middle distance running and I remember him running a low 2 minute 800 meters at the Tamworth Primary Schools Athletic Carnival. A record that was not broken for many years.

The year Tim finished his primary school saw the Eldridge family move from Tamworth to Wagga for Dad's work. This was a tough time for everyone but we all adapted to new environs and our new high school in Wagga called Kooringal High. It was a new school and much smaller than the high school Lynn and I left in Tamworth. Probably 1/4 the size in students and was so new that it did not even have a sixth form in our first year there. Tim as always fitted in very quickily and he found new friends almost instantly. Many of whom are here today.

By the time Tim reached Wagga he had found the game of golf and before long he was swinging a set of clubs out at the Wagga Country Club, across the lake from where we lived. Here he spent many hours fine tuning his tee shots, fairway shots, chips and putts (or spits as his young nephew would subsequently refer, many years later). Golf was to become a life long passion and this was something which always stayed with him. It was only his 94 year old grandfather who thought something was wrong four weeks ago when he percieved Tim had lost interest in his Golf.

Tim breezed through high school and obtained excellent grades with little effort. In his final year he was nominated as perfect (whooops I meant "a prefect") and was voted school vice captain by his peers. For his HSC he studied a couple of hours each night on the floor in front of the TV. To recover from this strenous study regime, he would spend the next day playing 36 holes of golf.

With his HSC behind him Tim entered the University of Sydney and worked his way towards a Civil Engineering degree over a four year period. The first two years of his course, Tim lived at Wesley College, a residential college on the grounds of Sydney University. Here, Tim, along with some of high school buddies quickily adapted to the demanding University life style. Days at the beach, missing lectures, drinking beer, etc. He found new friends quickily and again many are here today. The nucleaus of this group were quickily dubbed the "DAMAGE BOYS" because of the drinking reputation at College Victory Dinners, formals and other ramdon gatherings.

Mid way through his second year, Tim's father Thomas passed away suddenly at the early age of 47 after a sunday afternoon hockey match. It was my job to tell Tim the news that Sunday night. I now remember his numb response to my news. "Where has he gone?" he asked. His fathers death at such a young age for all of us was a defining moment in Tim's life (probably the most defining moment up until last Saturday). It was a difficult time for Tim and the Family. Initially he seemed to cope well, but the next year saw Tim arrive home to Wagga unannounced many times during the university terms. I guess the one lesson (or theory actually I would call it a LAW) Tim would give us today from all this would be to grieve properly, seek support from Family, Friends and professionals and to address the difficult issues these tramatic events have on the fragile human soul.

Anyway, back to Uni, Tim bravely persisted and graduated with honours at the end of 1985. His brief but eventful civil engineering career started with a small but prestigous Civil Engineering Consultating companycalled Wargon, Chapman and Partners. Mr Wargon, a famous Amercican civil engineer appeared to take Tim under his wing and Tim quickily found himself designing car parks, and tall buildings. As well as doing one-off type jobs such as a structural integrity report of the Channel 9 Transmitter Antenna at the Channel 9 Compound, and preliminary designs for the now Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Tim quickily realised that Civil Engineering was not for him (however a recent rush of activity with home decks shows there was some latent interest in at least some things civil). On the fifth redesign for an Alan Bond tower on the old Waltons site across from the Sydney Town Hall, Tim decided to move on. This gave him the chance to travel for 3 months overseas which took him to many places in Europe, England, particularly London and even India (if I recall correctly).

London was a place to which Tim would return frequently over the rest of his life, the last being July/August last year. The drawcards to London were friends and another life passion I have not yet mentioned, English Football. His favourite team during his schools days was Queens Park Rangers. Though his interested waned when their goalie Phil Parkes defected to my team West Ham in 1977 for a then world record sum of 565,000 pounds. Subsequent years and more recently Tim has been an Arsenal supporter.

On his return in the late 80's Tim persued his ambition for a new career. In this pursuit he found himself in Canberra studying part-time for a degree in Information Systems at the then Canberra College of Advanced Education and working part-time for small scientific software consulting firms. One system I remember was a flight simiulator program driven by data from aircraft black-box recorders.

On graduation from the CCAE Tim started work at Customs and then Department of Veterans Affairs for a record three years. Towards the end of this stint in DVA, Tim bought his house in Griffith, just up from Marnucka. He lived in the house briefly before deciding that a six month stint in Los Angles working on a Telon Related Inventory system was the go. On his return he decided to work in Sydney and here he had stints at NRMA and Westpac. Weekends saw Tim travelling back to his home in Canberra to catch up with friends and to play golf amongst other things. This became too tiring and before long he was back in Canberra fulltime working at the Australian Tax Office and subsequently Customs. His crowning software achievement was an ATO case-actioning tool which I believed was to be a distillation of systems and processes from the many places he had worked.

More recently, Tim returned to DVA where he ventured into web-based systems using packages such as Websphere and Tomcat.

Wherever Tim worked, he took the roles on seriously. He appeared to very much love a process and a set of rules to capture and implement. He believed rules were meant not to be broken (contrary to the majority of the population) and I always thought that he was perfect fit for the ATO. [He had a great sense of what was right and doing it right].

Another constant in Tim's life were his friends and I will always remember his 40th birthday speech where he said the party was not to celebrate his 40th, but more importantly, a chance for his family and friends to get together.

There is so much more to be said. We all have our memories of Tim and I ask you for just one moment to reflect on the good times you had with him ... and to take this forward with you through the tough times ahead.

It is now time to say goodbye to a loving son, brother, grandson, nephew, uncle, friend and colleague. We now know that Tim struggled with a delibertating and destructive illness which he held undercover for many years. I ask you to take the time to consider the strength he showed under this enormous pressure and to admire him for how he lived a relatively normal and happy life, shared with friends and family.

In the end Tim ran out "Puff" as he said and found peace from his illness the only way he knew how. Please forgive him. He asked for this.

Tim, you asked me where Dad had gone. We know that you searched for him high and low. We also now know that you have found him. The search and struggle is complete and that you have found your peace.

You will always have a special place in our hearts and memories. We will miss you.

Love .. Mum, Lynn and Geoff ..

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