Adam Joel Rickard (14th March 1981 – 26th April 2011)

Adam was born at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne on the 14th March 1981. In the days that followed I wrote a poem, a prayer of dedication.

Father, Life is always a gift,

                A sign of love and grace,

                A presence that asks commitment,

                In a world that’s lost in space.

Father, Life has become so violent,

                Deception and greed ensnare,

                The dependent are now the victims,

                In a world that’s ceased to care.

Father, Life has lost its fragrance,

                Good is no longer right,

                What hope of peace for Adam,

                In a world of diminishing light?

Father, Life finds a home in Jesus,

                Your Son, obedient and true,

                He died, despised and rejected,

                In a world He longed to renew.

Father, Life is ours to foster,

                And Adam is our little boy,

                Give us Your patience and wisdom,

                In a world that needs Your joy.

Adam broke his femur when he was 18 months and was in the Frankston Hospital for 2 weeks with his legs in traction.

The Frankston Hospital would have an ongoing part to play in Adam’s life.

  • He had surgery on his shoulder
  • He worked on the roof during part of its redevelopment
  • He supported people in the Emergency Department
  • And more recently, he signed himself into the Mental Health Unit

Adam loved animals. We have photos showing him holding chooks, cats, dogs, mice, and even a wombat.

Some events find there way into family folklore. Adam’s grandfather was a keen fisherman. He was motivated to organise a fishing excursion to Tooradin. Sadly, my dad misread the tides. Instead of gentle waves lapping on the shore they were greeted by mud and mangroves. My dad was devastated but Adam wasn’t fazed. He found a blue tongue lizard in the bushes which he held up for all to see. This was the moment he would remember, the highlight of his day.

Adam was a good sportsman. While we were living in New Zealand Adam played rugby and cricket.

One Saturday morning I drove him to Te Aute College for a rugby game. The Maori boys were formidable opponents. They were bigger and stronger and tackled ferociously. Within the first 10 seconds of the game Adam was hit solidly. I heard his bones rattle from the sidelines. He was soon on his feet again and ready to resume battle. He threw himself into the fray with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.

On our return to Oz Adam played football for the Tyabb Yabbies. He was known for his defensive pressure and fierce tackling. His upright stature reminded me of Robert Harvey, one of the stars of the game.

Adam was a talented fly fisherman. I would drop him off at his beloved Tuki Tuki river where he and Paul, a friend, would wade upstream stalking trout.

Some of Adam’s affection for this pastime is captured in a descriptive piece he wrote. I will quote just a few paragraphs…

After years of fishing the rapids, streams, ripples runs and wherever the river made its way, I grew in the knowledge of the feeding habits and the likely places for trout at different times and what they would be feeding on. There are places where the river runs very wide with weeping willows on one side and luscious grass banks on the other. The trout often rise under the willows taking dropping willow bugs. The river floor varies between huge boulders, small pebbles and papa rock which is a clay surface which glows when the sun is shining. This makes it easy to spot dark lurking trout swaying in the current.

Adam’s first real job was at Taranto’s Market Garden near our house in Tyabb. Adam drove the tractors and forklift and also worked in the shed where he became proficient at washing and packing the produce.

Adam applied to Camp America for a counselling position at one of their summer camps. He was accepted and appointed to Camp Echo not far from New York. Adam contracted mumps while he was away and ended up in hospital.

In 2001 Adam commenced a pre apprenticeship with the Master Plumbers Association. He did further studies at Holmesglen TAFE. He eventually completed his ‘Journeyman’s.’ Adam has been working with Trio Plumbing for the past few years and specialised in roofing.

Adam shared two Rickard traits. They are stubbornness and passion.

Those of you who knew my father are probably smiling inwardly.

Stubbornness can be a positive quality –

It is sticking at something and seeing it through to completion.
It is holding your ground and not wavering.
It is knowing what you want and not being deterred.

But stubbornness becomes a negative force when

– a person stops listening, stops searching, stops relating.
– a person is content with their own counsel.
– a person assumes an air of superiority and invincibility.

A stubborn person isolates themselves from others by concealing their doubts and fears, by covering their vulnerability. To a certain extent this was Adam, particularly in the latter months.

Adam was also passionate, passionate about his God. Julie asked Adam recently when he felt happiest. Adam didn’t hesitate. It was when he became a Christian.

Adam welcomed God’s call on his life. No sacrifice was too great. The things of this world lost their appeal. Adam had the gift of an evangelist. He was like John the Baptist – ‘a voice crying in the wilderness.’

“Repent! Turn away from your self absorption. Turn to the living God, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Adam sowed the seed of God’s Word liberally. He gave out tracts and preached in public places. I often saw him in Frankston. He would say he had an RDO. Sometimes we would talk, sometimes we would acknowledge each other with a smile, particularly if dam was engaged in a ‘deep’ conversation. I would say a prayer for Adam.

In recent months it became clearer that Adam was struggling with a mental illness. Not that Adam acknowledged it. He maintained his issues were spiritual.

I don’t know the root cause of the mental illness.

I don’t know when it began to impact on his life.

I do know the joy drained out of Adam’s life.

I do know he became increasingly concerned about his relationship with God.

I do know he felt he had failed God.

I do know he found it difficult to accept that he was accepted and forgiven.

I do know there were voices, derogatory voices. We have all heard them.

“You’re worthless! You’re a failure! You’re nothing! You’re of no use to anyone, especially God! You won’t be missed!”

Voices, destructive voices, unrelenting voices, tormenting voices, demonic voices.

Adam stayed with us for a couple of days over Easter. On Good Friday Adam didn’t go to church. In the afternoon we lit a candle and celebrated communion. This is something we have done as a family. I took the bread and broke it and said to Adam, “This is the body of Jesus broken for you that you might have life.” I reminded him that as followers of Jesus we are also broken that our lives might be a source of nourishment and healing to the hurting, the lonely, the disadvantaged, the disillusioned and the lost.

Here is a difficult saying:

Jesus says that if we share in His suffering

We will also share in His glory.

Our beautiful, loving, kind, gentle, handsome son is no longer with us in the flesh. His death has violently shaken us. We have been forced to examine ourselves, to examine our hearts, to examine our relationships with God and with each other, to examine what is important to us, what drives us, what it is we want out of life.

The Bible says, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

Father, Even before the foundation of the world,

                Adam was in Your mind.

Father, You were present at his birth

                and You were present at his death.

                You witnessed his triumphs

                and you witnessed his defeats.

                You shared in his happiness

                 and You shared in his sadness.

Father, You know the pain of separation

                You know the grief of loss

                You know what it is to lose a Son.

Father, Your love is constant, unchanging.

                You are our shelter, our refuge, our strength.

Father, Look after our son until we meet again. Amen