Dennis Melvyn Wardrope
My Friend Dennis Melvyn Wardrope passed away on July 3rd 2019. He was 71. A few days before his passing he asked me to write his Eulogy; an honour I could not refuse. Today, on the 8th July, I read the following at his funeral. I am going to miss our conversations.
My name is Silvio and Dennis was my friend
Being introduced as a friend was something special to Dennis. Dennis believed it was important to let your friends know that they were your friend, something that people do not do very often
Dennis liked to talk
I first met Dennis around 25 years ago through his son. Dennis came over and we all talked for hours. I could tell straight away Dennis just liked taking part in a conversation. This started a routine where Dennis would visit nearly every week and when he could no longer drive I would visit him. Dennis was an intelligent man who could hold his own in a conversation on just about anything. He would talk for hours about the world's problems and how we could solve them, about weapons, conspiracies or any other subject that came to mind. What Dennis was not good at was ending a conversation. I soon learnt that if I didn't ask him to go home he wouldn't and we would end up talking all night.
Dennis liked to cook
Cooking was one of Dennis's passions. On occasions, when I went to visit him, he would be preparing a meal for a small army, or that's what it looked like to me anyway. I remember the first time I was invited over for dinner. Dennis brought out what appeared to be a small serving bowl full of spaghetti and a loaf of Garlic bread and put it on the table in front of me. I assumed it was for all of us but then he brought out the same thing for every person in the room. I remember thinking to myself "there is no way Michelle is going to be able to eat all that" but she did. Dennis loved to cook, especially for other people. He would spend hours in the kitchen preparing everything to the finest detail, everything had to be perfect, and then serve up enormous portions to everyone. He just didn't seem to know how to cook in small amounts. He was trying his hand at apple turnovers once and made 40 of them. Needless to say many of them didn't get eaten.
Dennis liked to help people.
If you ever needed help doing anything you just had to ask Dennis and he would be there. If he couldn't help you physically he would gladly sit there and advise you on the best way to do it.
Dennis also liked to help people work through their problems. He told me that he learnt at a young age that people create their own problems and that made it easy for him to help them work them out. "They already know the answer" he would say. You just need to get them to say it.
If there was something Dennis could do to help someone in trouble he would do it, especially if it was a family member. Things didn't always work out for the best though. I remember one time he lent his car to a lady who desperately had to get to the hospital. He bought the story and the lady stole his car. Incidents like this never swayed his resolve though. He never stopped trying to help people. Dennis even won a bravery award for trying to rescue somebody back in 1973. A man had fallen into the ocean off the rocks at Kurnell. Dennis jumped in the water and swam 200 meters to reach the man. Dennis managed to drag the guy back to the shore but the guy didn't survive. Dennis suffered a lot of cuts trying to get out of the water and back on the rocks. When he got home he was orange because the paramedics covered him in cureachrome. it was the night of his wedding anniversary and he was late. The reception he got from Robyn was not very pleasant so I was told.
When I asked him about the award he said "It doesn't take a special person to be brave, it's just what you do in those situations.
For me, I think the bravest thing Dennis ever did was to help arrange his own farewell party. He even asked for a cake with Bon Voyage written on it. Dennis got to talk to all of his friends one last time and everyone seemed to have a good night. The way he conducted himself in the face of his certain demise is testament to his character.
I learnt so much about Dennis in the last 25 years and could go on talking about him for hours. Dennis had a thousand stories to tell and I think I've heard them all. It is very hard to summarize a man's life in 5 minutes but I'd like to finish with one of the last things Dennis said to me. We were talking about regrets and he said.
"To have regrets is to regret what you have. I have good kids and I love my wife. I consider myself lucky and wouldn't change a thing so I have no regrets"