Peter Klar

Heather McKay – A Woman I Was Proud to Call a Friend

What I would like to celebrate is Heather’s sense of fun.

I first met Heather around 25 years ago.

I remember the first time I met her at the Eagle on the Hill hotel.

She was this young dynamic woman with an enormous love of life.

You could see it sparkle in her eyes and I saw it again and again over so many years.

We ate together heaps and at these dinner parties she always liked to play.

Memorable ones include the time that Ann and I turned up for dinner with wine and Heather said “oh  nice to see you come in”. It took Leroy and her about 15-20 minutes to work out they had forgotten that they invited us.  But then it was on for a party and we had about 12 dishes that Leroy conjured up from the deepest recesses of the kitchen.  The most enduring was the escargot!  Where did this come from? Do not ask…….

I digress.
 
This was when one of the first great silly business ideas was born.  It was when Crocodile Dundee was at its height of fame, there were shrimps on the barbie and Asian cinema was booming.  Ah ha!  We mix Crocodile Dundee with Hong Kong and you get Crocodile Lee, a great crossover idea.  Who better than Roy Lee as Crocodile Lee and Heather as Linda Kowsloski? The commercial possibilities were endless.

But to make it more culturally sensitive we had to take account of language differences. This was clearly designed to take account of the issues of r’s and l’s. So in the spirit of political correctness we renamed it Clockodile Ree!

But the spirit of silliness just went on. Our next great idea arose from the increasing use of In Vitro Fertilisation. Why was this increasing? Maybe there were alternative therapies?

We came up with the suggestion of direct insemination.  In the spirit of the stockmarket floats and initial public offerings we decided to float the Direct Insemination Corporation! 

We could cut out all those anonymous sperm donors in seedy rooms with tacky magazines and provide a value added experience.   Why use a turkey baster when the real thing was available? There would be different available racial options and of course Leroy would provide the Chinese and I would do a good Anglo Saxon interpretation.
 
But we needed a marketing edge. A snappy slogan that would capture the imagination.  Then it came to us.  Like IBM – an acronym - we could call the Direct Insemination Corporation – DIC

So it was in this spirit of silliness that we met Heather, Roy and Dylan in Saigon. They got in a few days later than us and I went to the airport to meet them.  Waiting out the front were all the major heavy duty people.  All the Mercedes waiting for Mr so and so and all the hotels (Hyatt, Hilton etc) with name cards.

I was there holding up a Direct Insemination Corporation, or DIC for short, placard announcing the arrival of Clockodile Ree to Vietnam. Well all the other placard handlers looked at me as if I was a bit weird (reasonable on their part) and I patiently waited for Heather and Roy for hours.  Heather left stuff on the plane and had to go back.

Well eventually they came out. Heather took one look at me and fled back into the terminal, Dylan looked perplexed and Leroy took pictures!

There are heaps of other stories I could tell like:

•    Cooking Heather roast lamb with rice (it’s a cultural thing) and her bragging to Leroy in Singapore that it was better than her Mums
•    Throwing Dylan across the table at a Restaurant – well because what else do you do
•    Heather trying to work out with Dylan who was Peter.  Was Dylan Peters friend or were Mum and Dad Peters friend?  I thought that this was cool.

But I have a big secret which can only be given out now that Heather has passed on.

Heather was in love with another man and went to see him as often as she could. She also travelled overseas with him and was often seen hugging him in public!

Shock horror! Heather was such a paragon of virtue.

Well I will give out the secret, his name is Andreas Klar.

In Vietnam Heather and Andreas fell in love. Heather confided in me many times that she was in love with my son.  Of course there were barriers to the relationship.  He was two years old.  But even with that they were inseparable and played all day. Five fat sausages and “open shut them” were the order of the day.

Love and fun always won out with Heather.

But I would like to tell you about my experience of the next phase of Heather……I feel honoured to see her just before the beginning, not the end.
 
Last year I was going to India via Singapore and tried to stop over to see her. No luck, flying with important people, Ministers etc blah blah blah.  But just a few weeks ago I was going to the Philippines via Singapore and I knew I must see Heather.  All the flights were mucked up.  I was promised an overnight in Singapore but they left the bookings so late that all the seats were booked. So then the company I was working for had me on flights that went overnight and I would be stuck in the airport lounge in Singapore for only a few hours again.  I went a bit spack at them. I just knew that I must go and see Heather and the family, now!  Eventually on Friday night for a Saturday noon flight I found out I could go through Melbourne and spend about 10 hours in Singapore. Dylan, Leroy and Heather all met me at the airport. Of course I purchased a duty free bottle of Mothers Little Helper for Heather – Gilbys Gin.

We had a wonderful night together eating and drinking together as usual. And being a bit silly. We shared each others plans and dreams at an interesting time of our lives. We agreed that we would catch up at Christmas 2006. I was going to see my brother and his family in Penang at Christmas so I arranged all the itinerary with Heather so that we could stay over on the way. Of course it also gave Heather a chance to see her boyfriend Andreas again.

But I will never forget the hug that Heather gave me as I left – this was a very melancholy goodbye. The emotion in it is a strange thing that no one can understand.

A week later she was dead.
It was distressing for us all, but it felt so close to me. I got the email in the Philippines and was quite distressed. But it made me think. I started to think more about life and what it means, rather than death as Heather was always so full of life.

I went back to an earlier time in my life and reread some eastern literature.

One was the Bhagavad Gita and one was the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. It made me think about the continuum of life and death.

Krishna says to Arjuna on the battlefield of life:

For certain is death for the born
And certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable
Thou shouldst not grieve.
--Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come." --Rabindranath Tagore

So I would really like to celebrate a wonderful life no matter how much it hurts.
 
Given Heather’s sense of fun and love of life I think we should also recognise the definitive philosophers’ of our time.
 

Woody Allen said:

It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry a tune. --Woody Allen

But I know we can all support that great philosopher Albus Dumbledore, who said:

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." --Albus Dumbledore

Heather your next adventure is an amazing one. One that we will all take.

You will always with us in our next adventure.
 
Thanks for sharing the ride.

Peter Klar

Saturday, 1 July 2006

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Hi Leroy

I think that one of my lasting recent memories of Heather is when we met at Saigon airport. I had two hand written and coloured signs:
  • Direct Insemination Corporation
  • Clockodile Ree
I was standing with all the other people from the international hotels who were holding up Sheraton, Hilton etc signs and looking at me quizzically.  I had to wait a long time. Heather walked out first, saw me and blushed and walked back inside!  You walked out laughed, jumped up and down and then took a picture!  Dylan just looked perplexed.  Heather then shrunk past the sign and we all hopped in the van back to the hotel.

I am sure I could think of a lot more later but am in the Philippines and only have the internet for a short while.

She was a wonderful woman Roy.  It was one of my lifes highlights to count her as a close friend and confidant over more than 25 years.  I am deeply honoured.

You are in my thoughts
Peter