“Scamp come down outta that tree!”

The title of this post comes from my loving and dear Uncle Warwick (aka Uncle Wowza/Wow). He would say this to me and other kids whenever we acted up.

Uncle Wow often made up one-liners for us. It was like he was inviting us into a joyful world that taught us to wonder, be expressive, and learn life-lessons.

A Christmas Broadhead Extravaganza (circa 2009). Wowza taking centre stage.
He never eschewed the creative potential in the world. Uncle Wow saw that we were creative beings, and he wanted to swim with us in the creativity, or invite us into his pool. I loved this about him.

When I was with him nothing was lost to the mundane or boring. Alongside learning about the importance of karakia Māori, Uncle Warwick also introduced me to the power of giving thanks in everyday life.

One year on, all things change (*sigh*)

It’s been a year since my Uncles death, and we wished him well into the great mystery. Upon his passing, an inner circle of close family and dear friends committed to fulfilling his last wishes. You can read more about these, and my personal experience of caring for his body here.

One year on I am encouraged by a Māori proverb that says “Hinga atu he Tētēkura, ara mai he Tētēkura”. It reminds me that all things change; nothing stays the same, and yet we are bound by spiritual interconnections. It’s as if there’s an ever-changing, yet enduring connection between people, places, events and things. The interplay of memory and ritual play an important role in keeping this awareness sharp.

Perhaps writing and sharing this post is a form of ritual; an act of remembrance and love for you, my loving *Onkle*.

One year on I’d like to feel as though I’m at ease with the change of losing him. Most days I am, some days I’m not. It’s easier to write about this stuff as opposed to actually leaning into the new reality: knowing he’s not physically and verbally available to me, or those he touched during his time on earth, is still hard.

Since his death, my wider family have lost more significant people. This has usually been due to shocking and sudden circumstances. What I have learnt from responding to and caring for my Uncle, is how to skillfully respond to these disorientating situations with more empathy and humility.

It’s an out-of-it thing when people you love die. If we allow it, I have learnt that these experiences can positively shape the internal life. Ironically, my Uncle’s death has opened me up to life. I’m more available to people working through the death of their own loved one(s). I am more at ease with the realities of death and dying because of losing someone so dear to me.

“With our thoughts we make the world” – The Buddha

“Surreal Distorted Reality” by Erik Johansson
I’m a sucker for short quotes and powerful stories. This one, from the Buddha, is a goodie. If I want to make positive change in our world this saying reminds me to keep my creative juices flowing, and curious mind-heart pumping.

Sometimes my self-critic sneaks into my head and distorts my perceived reality. This can really suck. The inner-critic can get in the way of being at ease in myself, in my own flow, and the flow of those around me. My Uncle’s one-liners would bring me back to him, back to ground level. His words and my own work would help to break the crappy incessant chat of my inner-judge. My Uncle helped me to see how my thoughts created my world and our world.

Like many members of my family, Uncle Warwick struggled with his own distortions of the mind. He wasn’t always easy to be around because of this. Yet, he was open about it. His magical curiosity in and about the world was a circuit breaker to the potentially paralysing grip of the inner-critic. His “out there” approach to life freed me and those around him. His ways gave me permission to experiment and appreciate the mysteriousness of life.

Thanks Uncle Wow.

I trust you’re finding your way in the mysteriousness of death.

I, and many others, continue to love you.

Uncle Warwick would have loved knowing that.

*The inspiration for this post came from Riria, Rangimarie, George and Jenny, and Onty Anne. Tēnā koutou. Thank you.*

Uncle Wowza in “Rubbings from a Live Man” (2008)

7 thoughts on ““Scamp come down outta that tree!”

  1. Thanks for your reflective writings Al.
    It’s good for me to remember humility too.
    Warwick would have loved this way of you/us marking the year gone by.
    Love AA xx


  2. Thanks AHB et al. I ‘ve had a cry reading this cos this is my journey at the mo with my mum. Goin with the flow and appreciating the moments.
    I think of you and Riria often. xxxx


  3. Thinking of Warwick today too. Terry Stringer said yesterday that the head he was working on looks a lot like W


  4. Thanks Bro. Loved what I saw and knew of Uncle Wow since meeting you and love you too. Whole lotta love around your whanau because of him obviously. Love comes to love. My piece of bush wisdom.



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