As someone who often hides from the rest of the world, this is probably the most personal and difficult thing I’ve ever had to share. The video below is me performing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at my fathers funeral.
You know that feeling you get when you see in someones eyes that they just get you and can see your full potential? Even at the lowest point in your life when you just want to give up, they still see so much hope for you. That hope in my fathers eyes was the last thing in this world that gave me a reason to keep making music, as most of our heroes are now gone. (Kurt Cobain 1994, Jeff Buckley 1997, Layne Staley 2002, Scott Weiland 2015, Chris Cornell 2017, Scott Hutchison 2018 and finally, my dad, 2019)
I’ve kind of been on an emotional autopilot ever since, living in my own simulation where he still exists. Yet, every morning when I wake up, I gasp for air with the sober realisation of this reality I’m living in. It’s like I’m missing half of me and with only the other half left, it’s difficult to corral the energy necessary to carry on with the day. So I dive back into an alternate world where I can exist.
It’s been almost two years since he left us but the pain still feels like it was yesterday. The eulogy and performance below was my tribute to an actual legend who was literally loved and respected by everyone whom he came into contact with. Please excuse if the eulogy is a bit all over the place, I wrote it just a few days after he passed away.
Make sure you do everything in your power to keep your loved ones healthy and happy no matter how stubborn they may be. Keep telling them you love them and that you care about them with that same look in your eyes that my father gave me. I promise you, eventually this will give them a reason to change. A reason to keep fighting. Otherwise that hopeless void of regret will keep being handed down from generation to generation like a pre-disposed genetic disease. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to tell my father face to face “You were the best father I ever could have asked for” a couple days before he left us. So I’m extremely grateful for that.
“I lost my hero a few weeks ago. This is my tribute to the greatest man I knew, my father Jean Andre Greeff, born 28 July 1953 to Andries Albertus Petrus Greeff and Muriel Morrison. My dad loved it when I performed this song for him, it was his favourite and it always made him so happy. Dad, I hope I made you proud this last time. It was always for you.
My dad had a way of taking you on a journey with his stories. He would paint a picture in your mind that you could never forget and always cling on to whenever you felt nostalgic. I’m not going to attempt to share one of those stories as I could never give it the justice that he did.
Dad I will never forget your warm, loving and caring face. It always gave me hope that everything was going to be okay. Thank you for all the stories, memories and for always offering your support and wisdom when I needed it the most. I miss the good old days when we used to go to the rugby together every Saturday to support the Sharks or the Springboks. I would never leave your side. Speaking of sides, I miss when I used to lay on the side of your stomach as a little kid. It was the perfect, most safe and sacred spot to rest. Nothing could come between us.
My father was a man that taught his kids the importance of manners and respect like a simple gesture of holding the door for a lady or an elderly gentlemen. He didn’t ever want to inconvenience anyone. Whenever we were out at a restuarant I would order a steak that had to be cooked perfectly with just the right amount of mushroom sauce and salt. The embarrassment on my dads face when I sent the order back because it wasn’t just right drove him absolutely crazy.
My father was the general manager at a couple hotels in Durban during his career so whenever he organised accommodation for me at other hotels, he’d have this effect on the hotel staff where they’d think “oh this must be a VIP if this is Mr Greeff’s connection”, then I’d come along walking in with my guitar under my left arm, holes in my t-shirt and this fat beard. The hotel staff didn’t know how to react. They’d quietly whisper to each other, “Shit this is Mr Greeff’s son but this cracker looks homeless. What do we do?”
My dad worked most of his life to ensure we had a decent education, a roof over our heads and even paid for my singing lessons after I left high school. He wasn’t someone that said no very often so we often got a little spoilt at times. He was also one of the few who actually encouraged me to pursue a career in music. He truly believed in me.
My father was a tough old bugger, he attended Grey College where he played rugby for the 1st XV team alongside players who later became Springboks. He didn’t care about germs, bacteria or anything like that. He would share a sandwich with the most contagiously ill individual because he’s a “Greeff” and “We’re a tough breed”. I cant say that I turned out the same way but that just shows how he was one of a kind. You can’t reproduce that type of ruggedness and selflessness. He had a heart of gold, a heart of an ox and in the end it was pneumonia and swine flu that got him. The sixty cigarettes per day couldn’t do shit to that heart of his. Even when his blood pressure had hit rock bottom, his massive heart didn’t want to stop. Dad, I hope one day, I learn to grow a heart as big as yours so I can share it with the world the way you did. I love you forever my father, my best friend and my lifelong hero. I miss you so much!”
If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading and for helping me keep my dads legacy alive. It means the world to me. Who are or were the heroes in your life that give you a reason to get up in the morning? And what are you going to tell them today?
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