Michael and I went on a camping trip many years ago. One evening in the Wilpena Pound camping grounds, I went to the toilet block just on dark. When I came out, I was surrounded by pitch black and totally lost my sense of direction. I walked off in what I thought was the right direction. After 45 minutes, I realised that I was lost and decided that I should ask someone for help. Just then I heard a familiar voice calling my name. Michael had come searching for me. He led me straight back to our camp and to the hot dinner which he had cooked for us while I was lost! Go in peace Michael.
This is the eulogy that was used in yesterday's Mass. Michael, I remember how you were cautious about public requests for personal information! GERRY - BIO Michael Gerard Brown was born on 16 Sept 1952 and died 5 August 2010 just short of his 58th birthday. Michael had a heart attack along with a series of strokes on Saturday 31 July and never regained consciousness. He died last Thursday and for some good to come out of the circumstances some of his organs went to recipients in need. Started life in Brunswick and when he was six years old with 11 kids in toe Mum and Dad moved to Preston. Michael was the 7th child of Harry and Cath Brown. He wasn’t always an easy person to live with being somewhat of a troubled child and at times he had outbursts of anger which could be quite scary. To his credit, in his later years, Michael could refer to that part of his life with empathy and insight. There was also somewhere there though a softer side displayed in his younger years particularly in his acquisition of a variety of animals which included mice, rabbits and guinea pigs and in his later years his beloved dog Charlie. I recall when some new guinea pigs were born them being painstakingly hand fed through an eye dropper and him being very upset when his mice died having been somewhat overheated in the back of our brother in laws car on a very hot day returning from Barwon Heads. He went to school at Sacred Heart and then Marist Brothers and left school after year 9. He completed his moulder’s apprenticeship at Davies and Baird foundry and then after that had odds and ends of jobs mainly labouring and he was unemployed for significant periods of time. There was quite a strong social network amongst Preston youth and late teens in the early to mid seventies and he was part of that and then later he developed mateships with people from West Heidelberg. In his 20s our brother survived the first of several severe breakdowns and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He withdrew from a lot of activity, but gradually found his feet through his own spirit and abilities and through parental love, health care, employment and his faith. In the last 10 years he shared a house with our brother John and they supported each other in different ways. CARMEL - SECTION 2 - CONNECTIONS Michael was our family oral historian. He picked up a lot of information through having a good ear for our mother’s accounts of her life and connections. At the drop of a hat he was the one who answered the questions such as ‘which great aunt worked for and then married into the Spenders?…’ and several times in the last week someone has said ‘Michael would know’! He also took interest in the present. A reliable attender of occasional Sunday lunches, Michael was attentive to how nephews and nieces were going and he enjoyed talking sporting history with in-laws and wider circles. Michael used his great memory and interests to connect with people. He may not have seen someone for years, but would converse with them based on having lived in the same street, or having a shared past through a pub, or Preston parish. In the last eight years he had a job collecting trolleys at a supermarket and although sometimes he said the work was tiring, he seemed to find a niche there. His attendance record was exemplary. He travelled by public transport to work at Nth Balwyn Safeway, which he didn’t seem to mind… he used public transport all his life and was a great walker. Balwyn has a significant number of older clients and Michael was good with older people; so we think it was a good match. One woman used to come to the supermarket every Tuesday and she would often forget where she had parked her car so Michael took it upon himself to take note when she came in of where she had parked her car and then assist her to locate it. Last Christmas a man gave him a tip and said to him I have been watching the way you work and you work hard and do a good job. He only recently told us about this so he was always quite humble about his own achievements and never one to blow his own trumpet. Michael liked the connections with the other employees and took pride in the fact that he worked there and saw it as what he did. GERRY SECTION 3 SPORT Michael had an encyclopedic knowledge of sports generally but in particular, of football, racing and boxing. In football he knew which team had won the premiership going back forever and he knew a lot of detail about particular players. One of the books in his collection was The Encyclopedia of AFL footballers with every Collingwood player listed. Yes, he was, as is obvious also from the symbols on his coffin, a Collingwood supporter and he was also a VFA follower, switching his allegiances from Preston to Port Melb as a couple of his mates had connections with Port. I also am a Collingwood supporter and remember watching a game on TV and going off at the umpires as I was wont to do from an early age and Dad ticking me off threatening to turn the TV off if I didn’t settle down and Michael jumped up and in his own inimitable style stuck up for me. It really is true that side by side we stick together. He watched his first GF in 1963 when Geelong played Hawthorn and my sister Pauline took him - although he complained that he couldn’t see the game because he was standing and too small to see over people. He watched Collingwood in a Grand Final for the first time in 1964 when my brother John who is Melbourne supporter took him to the game, and of course Melb won. He used to go every week with the Frickers a local Preston family and watch them in the mid to late 60s and then with his mates in the early 70s and watched them in a number of losing GFs. Interestingly he not long ago purchased a framed photo of the 1990 Premiership winning team along with a framed Weg Poster of the 1953 Premiership. I’m sure he’ll bring our team good luck for the remainder of the season. RACING Racing was an interest he shared with our father and brother Damien. He also of course liked a punt and had varying success over the years. Again he knew which horse had won all the important races going back forever. My brother Peter described Michael as having classic tastes within these areas of his life and I think that is reflected in the collection of books and other memorabilia he had which in the case of racing included Les Carlyon’s True Grit – 25 years of Turf Tales and a framed photo of the Triple Dead Heat - Hotham Handicap Flemington Derby Day 1956. BOXING Of all sports though his great passion was boxing. He used to buy every issue of the Boxing magazine and kept them all for many years and he would read them cover to cover. He himself trained to be a boxer with the Brizzi brothers in East Preston and had about 10 bouts. His passion also meant that we had to endure watching TV Ringside every Monday night. He had an extensive collection of boxing videos and a variety of books and could not only cite who had won what title in what weight division but the detail of how many of the fights played out. CARMEL SECTION 4 - OTHER INTERESTS In his room Michael had 3 sets of earphones and a heap of CDs of music of the 30s – 50s. The Charley Pride gospel hymn at the end of today is from his CD. Michael also loved radio and had a knack for finding obscure programs on community radio stations. In Michael’s room there are also 2 books about St Francis, several prayer cards and a couple of statues. Occasionally he would give others a booklet that he’d picked up from St Francis Church. His faith was very strong and going by some comments, it seemed to give him solace and motivation. I bet our brother Michael would want to correct some of this account of his life and he was a real caretaker of personal information, so we have said enough. Let’s just say thank you and go well dear relative, work mate and assistant, health patient, neighbour, and very strong and decent human being.
Mick I remember when we were both learning to drive using the same instructor and we thought we could wrap him round our little finger!! Little did we know. Can see you vigorously patting Freddie who was so tiny and him lapping up the attention as did Charlie your dog. You talked easily of your love and respect for John our older brother, I admired you for this and will always cherish these memories. Thanks for being my 'little brother'.
I remember telling you I was bored You suggested to build a bus out of wood. We spent all afternoon making this very simple but fun thing. You were the driver I was the conductor I remember Gerry Carmel Helen and Damien being the passengers. It was fun we made a wagon out of chains and wood and paper footballs. You took me to the oval and I asked you for footy boots. Mum said I was a girl and did not need them. You borrowed a pair for me they were tood big but it did not matter I had a great time. thankyou Michael for who you are and were and for the important lessons you taught me about looking ahead. Thankyou for being at Naomies 21st too It meant so much Love Christine
I remember when Josh and I were younger mick used to drill into us about how bad smoking and drugs were and never to do them or we would turn out like him i tell you what it worked at the time..... I think back and though i only have few memories of him i knew that if there was something i couldn't figure out no matter what it was Mick would have the answer RIP Uncle Mick xoxo
I remember your vast knowledge of football and sports never ceased to amaze me. Rest in peace. . Love Chai
I remember Michael baby sitting us when we we're kids and Dad saying we'd at least be safe from intruders and that Michael knew how to whack someone.
Michael we are thinking of you a lot and of your wonderful brothers and sisters at this time. Rest in peace. xx
Well the Pies won in emphatic fashion so Michael must have been watching over them.
You will always be in our prayers and your many brothers and sisters and the whole family will miss you dearly. xx
Michael lets hope this year will be the year of the Pies right to the end! We will dedicate the victory to you!
We are far away from Michaels home but appreciate the times we have met up on our visits to Australia.