My Inspiration

Kevin’s Story

In this story, I give a very personal and treasured account of my step-father, Kevin – whose life and death had a significant impact on my future calling as a marriage celebrant.

In 2002 my step-father Kevin was tragically killed in a house fire in Sorrento, Victoria. Australia.

Kevin was a wonderful man.  We called him the “Gypsy”.  For 30 years he had been in “AA” (Alcoholics Anonymous) – which he proudly told all and sundry. “My name is Kevin, and I am an alcoholic!”.

Kevin’s sudden passing was felt by his entire community that extended many hundreds of kilometres away.

A civil celebrant was asked to come and spend time with our family as we gathered together in grief but determined to honour Kevin’s amazing life.  It was during this time that she gleaned information for his funeral service that we wanted to be shared and used to celebrate who Kevin was, his story, his wonderful inspiring journey that his family wanted shared at his final gathering, with those whom loved him most in attendance.

Anne, our funeral celebrant, spoke with total serenity of heart – one would have thought she knew him personally. I was completely moved and overjoyed as I was taken back in time as she told all…Kevin’s life story. And whilst sitting there, I had a very serious “light bulb” moment.  At that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my future – become a celebrant that would touch people lives in very significant, memorable and distinctive way.

Kevin was an extraordinarily happy and incredibly positive human being.  You would take him as you saw him – complete with a few missing fingers from his drinking days and no real skills other than a passion for life and people.

Befitting him and his wishes, our family purchased the cheapest coffin we could buy.  Once it was home, we invited everyone who knew and cared about Kevin, to come around and leave messages that would accompany him on his journey to the afterlife and they came in droves.

The coffin was transformed with love into a visual story of Kevin’s life.  One of his friends, an Aboriginal artist, spent three days painting Kevin’s story in traditional colours.  She began with a circle of dots that represented the campfire, the gathering and then two lines of dots walking off to the next campfire, the ‘Gypsy’s’ story alright.  Other friends left Kevin wonderful parting gifts.

  •  One man had a piece of paper that he placed in his coffin, that simple piece of paper meant so much to him because it had the date written on it that  dad had helped him on his journey to sobriety, some 15 years beforehand.
  •  My brother’s mate brought along his first footy trophy – commenting, “Your dad helped me win that”.
  •  Another friend left a pack of tea bags….”He was well known for his love of a ‘cuppa and a meaningful chat’.
  •  Our family also added keepsakes – we made sure he was sent off with his hankie, tea cup and beloved newspaper – not to forget a piece of cold burnt toast – all part of his morning ritual.

On the day of his funeral service, hundreds gathered from all over to farewell him and boy did they do that.  He loved the Dalai Lama and a special friend of Kev’s lent us her blessed picture of the Dalai Lama. We placed it on Kevin’s coffin and lit a candle.  He also loved the Hare Krishna; so we lit incense.  He cared so deeply for the homeless, street kids, his AA companions and did weekly visits to remand centres; to just sit and listen to those that needed someone to talk too. Dad was known to go “walkabout” and loved working with the indigenous.  So we spoke about his beliefs and his passion to help those in need.  He knew this was his calling in life.  And all along, we had this wonderful funeral celebrant Anne who had taken the time to listen – and using the information she gathered, put together a funeral service ceremony truly befitting a man with such diversity in his life.

As the end of Kevin’s final farewell come we all joined hands united, said his beloved serenity prayer and whispered to the wind “travel freely and safely and thank you for touching our hearts in so many extraordinary ways Kevin”.


Kevin's journey
Kevin’s journey

God grant me the Serenity…

to accept the things I cannot change…

Courage to change the things I can..

and the Wisdom to know the difference…

 Kevin Campbell McLellan 1937 – 2003

 

 

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