In Loving Memory of

Michael G. Lewis 

1st Jan.67 - 6th Nov.97

Michael - aged 30 - with his Malamute puppy Voodoo

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These pages are dedicated to the memory of my son Michael Graeme Lewis who died on or about 6th November 1997.  Michael, who was an artist, committed suicide after suffering for many years with severe ongoing depression, despite persistently seeking medical help and treatment. I would like to share some of the Eulogies which were read at his funeral service by family and friends. But firstly I would like to tell you briefly some of the events which led up to that terribly sad day.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese poet, novelist, essayist, and artist


On the 9th of November 1997 we received news from my son Michael's long time friend and companion Paula, that Michael had disappeared several days earlier.   Michael had been troubled with severe depression since his teens, as well as depressive mood swings. Michael had consistently sought a solution to his depression, but could not find any medication that did not leave him doped into a state of uselessness. His disappearance caused us great concern,  and we held grave fears for his safety.

On Sunday the 13th of December our worst fears were confirmed. The police advised us that a body, that they suspected was Michael's, had been found in a remote area 350km north of Mullewa. The car was Michael's, there were documents in the car that were Michael's and it was in an area that Michael really enjoyed visiting, so we knew it was Michael.  By all indications Michael must have driven there the day after he last talked to Paula and committed suicide that evening.  Michael was in a very secluded and remote part of the state.  Helicopter pilots mustering in that area noticed his car parked in the trees; they landed and found his body and notified the police. If Michael had not been found then it could have been years before we knew what had happened to him. As it was, his body had remained undiscovered for a period of at least 5 weeks or so.

Many of the questions that people usually ask themselves after the suicide of a loved family member or friend were answered in this case. Michael left a very lucid note at the scene, also there was the constant battle with depression. We feel that it was only the tremendous support and awareness of Paula, and his friends that kept him with us for so long.

   Click here to read Michael's Letter to All His Friends 

We all held much hope for Michael and his future as an artist. In October 1997 Michael and two artist friends Andrew Hunter and Andrew's mother Diana Lee Hunter held a joint exhibition at The Brass Monkey Hotel, in Perth Western Australia. We drove down from Geraldton (which is about 400km north of Perth) to attend the exhibition which was very successful and Michael sold 13 out of the 15 paintings that he exhibited. It was a happy enjoyable visit, but tragically turned out to be the last time I was to see him alive.

 

Painting -  by Michael G. Lewis - C. 1994

A Funeral Service & cremation was held at Karrakatta cemetery in Perth, on the 22nd of December 1997. We had a very simple, non religious service which was conducted by Michael's Stepfather Peter Bagshaw, and there were about 150 relatives and friends in attendance.

(The following is the "Eulogy for Our Son Michael" which was written by and read at his funeral by his mother Roberta Bagshaw)

Since the time that our much loved son Michael left home and was no longer the little child who was in our care, I was lucky enough to receive many wonderful, interesting, funny, descriptive and sometimes sad and anguished letters from him. I have treasured these over the years, and they remind me of what an observant, humorous, clever, and always deeply feeling person Michael was.

As Michael's bouts of depression became deeper and more frequent, it was often apparent that he was suffering greatly. He sought help everywhere.... but as any of you here today who have suffered the torment of serious depression will understand, it is extremely difficult to ask for and receive help at those times.... and in fact there appeared to be very little medical help available.

Michael did not always have this serious depression, in fact, it only really began to manifest itself in early adolescence, and we would like to tell you a little about those earlier, more carefree times.

As a child he was quick witted, and had a great sense of humour. We were lucky enough to live near the hills then, and Michael had many friends in primary school, and they spent much time riding their bikes and camping out, and messing about at Susannah Brook and other bush places nearby.

Michael at 21 months with his father Graeme

Bobby & Michael - 1974.jpg (40276 bytes)

Michael at age 7 with his mother Roberta

Michael aged 9 with his dog Buff & his friend Mark. 

Looking through the mementos I have kept over the years reminds us that Mike, even as a child was so very talented, gifted with words, and year after year winning art prizes at school. 

As a child he particularly loved the books and poems of Spike Milligan, and other humorous writings, and we would read them to each other at bed-time, accompanied by tears of laughter. We thank you Michael for the treasured memories you have left us of a bright and happy child who gave us so much joy.

We knew that Michael was unique.... and often quite difficult for mere parents to understand. But we loved him without reserve because he was our son and our sunshine.

As we can see from the legacy of wonderful paintings, writings and memories he has left behind, he touched and influenced many people in the 30 years that he was able to accompany us on our own journey through life, and each of us holds our own unique recollection of Michael - as our wonderful and much loved son and family member, as a staunch, faithful, much admired and cherished companion and friend, and as a singularly gifted artist.

He will be a part of all of us forever.

We love you Michael - 

Your Sorrowful Mother and Father - Roberta Bagshaw and Graeme Lewis

.....to the eyes of the man of imagination Nature is imagination itself. As a man is so he sees

William Blake (1757-1827) English Artist & Poet

 

Michael aged 6 months with his mother Roberta

 

He made one with Nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird;
He is a presence to be felt and known
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone....

He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely.

Shelley

 

 

   " I go to Nature to be soothed and healed"  ....... the scattering of Michael's ashes 

Eulogy by Craig Lloyd

I've known Mick for about 12 years now and I'm quite certain that he wouldn't want us to spend too much time quoting clichés about his unique talents and tormented life.

Instead, he'd rather be remembered for his amazing appetite for all the good things in life such as music, beer, his paintings and hotdogs. Wherever he is at the moment I'm sure he's looking good and feeling good and smirking his inane grin.

He never wore a tie, or slacks, or aftershave. He rarely wore shoes or a shirt. An he never 'did' weddings or funerals. When he walked on thru' the valley of the shadow of death I'm positive he did so as if he owned the place.

Mick, your trial is behind you mate.......R.I.P.

My Cousin - Michael Lewis

(By Elton Van Den Dungen)

With all of you I share the sadness of Michael's passing. My memories of Michael are mostly those of time shared together as children. As I recollect on these times I find myself thinking of Michael as mostly quiet, patient, gentle, and a deep thinker. But I also have memories of much laughter. Michael had the ability to make me laugh so hard that I sometimes thought my sides would burst.

I looked up to him when we were children. I thought Michael to be very wise and knowledgeable in the way of things, and would often ask him many questions. Michael's comments and answers were often profound and logically simple. Once while at the back creek near Oma's (Bayswater) with my cousin, I asked "Michael, what would happen if I fell in the water?" (Meaning what trouble could I expect to get into). Michael's answer: "You'll get wet!" A totally unexpected but logical answer. Serves me right of course for asking such a stupid question! And once again we had a good laugh.

My parents tell me that what struck them most about Michael's early drawings as a child, was the sunshine in his early pictures. He would always draw the sun, and the sun's rays in every picture.

Michael, where did the sunshine go?

You touched so many lives in so many ways you can not know! May you find the peace you could not find in life.

Michael you are missed and are not forgotten.

 

"The butterfly flitting from flower to flower ever remains mine, 

I lose the one that is netted by me."

Rabrindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Poet

 

Eulogy written by Jenny Cronin - a friend living in London

~ Michael ~

A cold filthy city, more grey than green is not the best place to think about him.

A Kimberley Gorge or other wild, sun-baked scene, where crows cry madly from parched gum trees, is much more true to the memory of someone whose unfettered way held us spell-bound - for a moment, or an hour, or an age.

He's gone back to that desolate beauty we might think too soon

Not knowing the journey, to a final sweet peace where crows beat their shiny wings

And sing their sad songs with our voices.

 

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair"

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese poet, novelist, essayist, and artist

Eulogy by Andrew Hunter

We are all bodies of water, ebbing, flowing and meandering a different course through unknown territory. Like all bodies of water we must eventually come to rest, whether it be in an ocean or a lake or an isolated creek bed. Man has tried since the dawn of time to predict the distance and effect that a body or bodies of water will have in their lifetime. These predictions fail time and time again.

Michael was a still water, a passive resistance, and still waters run deep. His path has been carved and now the waters that remain, us, need to flow around and beyond the landscape that Michael has contributed to.

As we journey through Michael's landscapes what will each of us see? What will we interpret and what will we learn? Hopefully we will learn to be calm, thoughtful and generous. We shall think - we shall flow to the left and to the right, to gain new perspectives and new views so that we may enrich and fertilize what we already have.

We must look at the contributing factors that created Michael's landscape so that we may cultivate our own, learning from the victories and failures of the past. For those of us with young families and those who are planning we need to search for the reasons, for Michael's reasons, so that our young rivers do not dry up prematurely and tragically. We have a responsibility.

Do not lose sight of Michael's landscape. It is a rich, fertile and tragic one, with many forms and shapes casting dark shadows from the bright Australian sun. Mike's body will no longer cast a shadow on this ground, for he has walked over the horizon into the brightest light of all where no shadows are cast. It is we that still cast the shadows. It is we that remain and we who are left to build the temples and sculpt the gardens.

The spirit of Michael Lewis breathes over us with an open and gentle reach so that we may build a landscape through intelligence and wisdom.

Man finds in the greatness of his past courage and strength for the future.

Michael was a bloody good bloke and we'll miss him heaps.

 

The following poem was written by my friend  Jeri Landon, whose daughter Sunshine was accidentally killed in 1997

My child,  my heart,  my child,  my soul,  my child,  my misery,  my child my despair, when you left my child my heart,  I plunged to the deepest pit on this earth.  My child my soul when you left me that day,  you created a void, a huge dark hole,  how can I be expected to exist,  my child,  my misery lives on everyday, my child, my despair is a dark sleepless night, wondering wondering where is your light, my child, my life, you left me alone in a dark lonely place that will never be home.  My child, my dream where have you gone, I'm ready to see you again its been too long. 

author.....Jeri Landon November 5th 1999

      Link to Jeri Landon's Memorial Page for her daughter Sunshine    

Information on depression - Australian A.N.U. site

 Link to a comprehensive resource for information, help & support for depression and related issues

  Link to S.O.L.O.S. (Survivors Of Loved Ones' Suicides) 

    Link to Mental Health Net  -  All About Suicide  

"Even in its mildest forms, mental illness causes more suffering than any physical disease."

Sir William Osler (1849 - 1919)

    Link to Suicide Survivors Rights

   Link to Alt.Support.Grief.Suicide

His Journey's Just Begun

Don’t think of him as gone away--
his journey's just begun,
life holds so many facets--
this earth is only one...
Just think of him as resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.
Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.
And think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched…
for nothing loved is ever lost--
and he was loved so much.

E. Brenneman


 

This Page Will be Updated From Time to Time - (Last updated September 2003)

If you would like your personal comments to be included on this Memorial Page 

or  if you have suggestions for additional links   -  

Please Email  rbagshaw@junkmailmidwest.com.au

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