Early in the morning on Saturday 19th November Dad passed away. He’d been at Margaret Wilson Care Home in Timaru for a number of years following a stroke and was well cared for by the staff. I’d got an early ferry and driven down to Timaru on the Friday, there were plenty of tears as I tried to sleep on the ferry, more as I drove south from Picton, fond recollections and musical cues all having an effect. Arriving in Timaru it was straight to Maragret Wilson to spent the afternoon with Dad and family. My sister Bridget stayed with Dad overnight and she called early in the morning to say that Dad had passed. I was staying at my brother’s and he drove me to pick up Mum and then we all met Bridget at the home to spend more time with Dad and say our goodbyes.
The funeral was arranged for Thursday to allow for family to get back to New Zealand, Catherine coming from Switzerland and Patty from England. All the details were sorted, we’re an organised bunch. Patty wrote an eulergy with Bridget, along with suggestions from the rest of the siblings. Keryn and Alayna flew down on the Tuesday and by the evening Catherine, Florian, Patty and Arlo were also in Timaru. Mum’s place was starting to look and smell like a florists, brighly coloured blooms placed in vases, and when vases couldn’t be found in other containers. Uncles and Aunties, friends and family all came by to offer condolences and chat. Dad was remembered well by all, his interesting life a source of many memories and anecdotes.
A vigil was held on the Wednesday evening at which more fond memories were shared. Richard told a story of a time when Dad was clearing out clothing bins and one morning found a bin with unexpected contents, namely a young man sleeping off a nights drinking. Dad got him out and sent him on his way, but not before opening his wallet and giving some money for a good breakfast. Just one story that told of the man he was. We had a list of songs to play and for the final song, when it came time to end the vigil, the random chosen selection was The Unicorn by the Irish Rovers, an apt tune for a final rememberance. Later on the siblings joined cousins from Dad’s side of the family for a drink at a local tavern, they having arrived late into Timaru.
The next day and the funeral. Dad would have enjoyed seeing everyone there but not being the center of attention. The eulogy is below, capturing a slice of the life of a great man.
Dad was born in India and grew up in Calcutta. Family was always very important to him, he respected and loved his parents, Stephen and Veronica, and he had much love for his six brothers and sisters: Kevin, Dan, Phaline, Eddie, Colleen and Noel. From 1941 he spent seven years at boarding school in the Himalayas near Darjeeling. Being sent on an overnight train at age 7 with his two older brothers Kevin and Dan, for nine months away from home was certainly formative, and he talked about his time at Goethals School his whole life.
In respect to the independence of India, after World War II the family left for somewhere else in the Commonwealth. After seeing an advertisement for St Kevin’s College in Oamaru, the family took a six-week boat trip and headed to New Zealand. Dad was fourteen. After school Dad worked in a range of jobs, from the freezing works to the Ministry of Works. Often, he worked on infrastructure projects and lived in working men’s camps around the country. Dad had fond memories of these times and the people he had worked with.
In the early 70s he was in Wellington which was where he met Janet Cosgrove. Dad used to say that Mum won him in a raffle. They married in 1973 and complemented one another well as loving and committed husband and wife for 49 years.
As a father to the five of us Dad was firm in passing on matters of moral importance. He taught us to honour commitments, to be loyal, be diligent, sharing and generous, and to think of others before ourselves. He taught us to be honest, and to have brave conversations before conflict became a grudge. Dad was also affectionate and warm, carrying us like a sack of potatoes to bed as small children, and singing us songs as we fell asleep. He played games with us, back yard cricket, cards, pool, and darts.
Dad taught us to ride bikes and to enjoy the water, he coached and supported our sporting endeavours, in particular football. We learnt a lot of DIY skills from Dad, with him encouraging us all to give anything a go. Dad was very proud of us, and our strong family ties, and happy that (as adults at least) we all get on and don’t fight (much)!
Another area of great importance to Dad was his faith. The Catholic Church was a solid constant in his life and provided him with direction and comfort. Dad was always an active member of the Church community, prepared to help in any way. From liturgical support and RCIA to volunteering with St Vincent de Paul including his duties as a rag and bone man. Dad’s faith was a fundamental pillar that kept him strong throughout his life.
Dad was always ready with a laugh in good company over good food and drink. He liked people, and he seemed to be able to win over hearts with his soft Bombay Welsh accent, and perhaps his strong singing voice. He will remain a beloved Uncle Mick to the Doran’s, and the Cosgrove’s will have fond memories of the reliable, happy Mike Doran, and his tasty veggie curries.
Dad was one for just getting on with things but slowed down a bit in his last decades. This made Mum’s support even more important. In recent years at Margaret Wilson Care Home, Richard played a huge role in supporting Dad, and Mum was still there for him too. Her presence was hugely appreciated by Dad – who would often ask, “are you there, Jenny my love?”.
We thank you all for being here with us to celebrate Michael Patrick O’Connell Doran’s remarkable life. A eulogy cannot sum up a person, but the combined memories and feelings of us all gathered here, and those who cannot be here, are evidence of who Mike Doran was, and how he spent his precious time among us.
Dad’s love of singing was something he never lost. So, we’d like to end with this:
Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Rest well Dad. God bless.Dad’s eulogy
Dad was buried at Timaru Cemetery as the sun shone and the birds sang. The view out to sea was lovely, a nice spot for future visits and memories to be shared. We had asked Moira to be the 6th pallbearer when we carried Dad from the Church, joining with Dad’s children. For Dad’s final journey Moira handed over to Barry and the 6 of us carried Dad to his place of rest, lowering him down gently. Final words were said as we each scattered palmfuls of dirt and rose petals on the coffin, covering the final offerings placed there by the grandkids.
There were refreshments afterwards where we got to share more time with friends and family. This was followed by a few drinks and toasts to Dad. We remembered Dad well, saw him off with grace and dignity, smiles and tears.
Goodbye Dad, we love you.