A tribute to...

Jason Graham

Published: 21/8/2023

Another year goes by without you, but you are and always will be remembered by all our favourite people!

Jason Graham | Always remembered. Forever loved.
Jason Graham | Always remembered. Forever loved.

"A eulogy for Jason" spoken on Friday, September 3 2021 at Albany Creek Memorial Gardens.

Jas saw himself as a simple man, to those that loved him, he was quite simply their world.

- by Jodi Graham, loving wife and best friend

Jason Edward Graham (aka Jase) was born at 11pm on December 4, 1973 at Parramatta District Hospital. First-born son to Lyn and Ted and big brother to Ben who joined the family two years later.

Jase's early years were spent at Westmead Public School, Sacred Heart Primary, Marist Brothers Junior School in Parramatta, and in 1986 Jason started high school at Marist Brothers Eastwood.  It was at high school that Jason picked up the nickname "Lugger" a name that stuck with him for life.

Jase, like most teenage boys, enjoyed his sport and throughout his schooling years played union, cricket, soccer and was a keen swimmer. He was a little athletic member and completed his Duke of Edinburgh Award. He was a keen debater, representing his high school. I think it's fair to say that Jase loved a good debate or two - so knowing he had a pedigree in debating should make many of us feel better about losing a great debate to him.

From an early age Jase fell in love with music and as a teenager could be heard playing tunes on his guitar.  Thanks to his amplifier, the neighbors also got to enjoy the best of Cold Chisel, Lenny Kravitz and Bob Marley.  What came as a surprise to many (including myself) was Jase's love of classical music with Nessun Dorma touted as one of his favourites.

Jase was an animal lover who had pets all his life.  His family dogs growing up were Sheeba and Tessa and his cat was Percy.  For those that spent time at Jase's family home in Westmead you'd recall the cockatoo, Josephine.  Josephine was rescued from a magpie attack at Jason's Nonna and Poppa's house and became a family pet.  Like most cockatoos, Josephine was quite the chatterbox and squawked all day and mastered the art of repeating one word… "Jason!"  Now Jase would tell you that's because he was the bird's favourite human, Lyn (Jase's mum) would give another view, one that involved Jase being a spirited kid who, like Bart Simpson had a name used in high frequency by the parentals - Josephine caught onto this - and thus the bird with one word was born.

Jason's grandparents lived close to his high school, so he and little brother Ben would often spend their afternoons at their house.  Jason's closest friend Steve (affectionately known as Nugget) also lived close by and the two of them spent many hours after school getting up to mischief. The house sat at the top of an incredibly steep hill.  Even driving up this hill could be difficult but that didn't stop Jase and Nugget using it as the ultimate skateboard downhill. These two were the best of mates and always reminisced about their childhood which always ended in fits of laughter.

Jason always talked of jumping on a skateboard again, which I wasn't having a bar of so he turned his passion into collecting them and convinced me that we needed to get a 4WD to keep some adventure in his life. This was the beginning of something fantastic and is a big part of how we and our closest spend our holidays together.

Jase loved The Simpsons and could recite pretty much every episode as most of us know. He had a mischievous side that many of you will have experienced yourselves. From the dodgy tattoo that he got at schoolies that he thought he could hide from his mother despite the serious arm real estate to spending many nights in his crazy white van traveling everywhere - if there was a good time to be had Jase was there.

Jase had a love of horticulture and landscaping and undertook an apprenticeship at Ryde Tafe after high school.  This was the start of his work in this field which culminated in him starting his own successful earth moving company later in life.

Whilst Jase had many passions, the biggest was the love he had for his family. Anyone who knew Jason would have heard him talk about his Noona with a fondness like no other.  Like Jason, she was full of laughter and lit up any room she walked into. It was only last year, at the tender age of 100 that Nonna was taken from us, but I'd like to think that she and Jase are now reunited.

Jase loved the role of big brother and best friend to Ben and often spoke of the special and unbreakable bond the two shared. As a youngster, Jase was always very protective of Ben, and they were inseparable growing up.  As kids, Ben recalls the family's summer trips with Jase to Queensland, spending time in Ayr, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays doing the stuff that dreams are made of for kids - swimming the days away, cruising the outer reef and fishing -  simple and magical times.

The boys were both keen Parramatta Eels supporters in their younger years, and while Ben still is, Jase's loyalty changed to the Brisbane Broncos when he moved to Brissy later in life which created some healthy debate between the two about who was going to take out the Premiership.

He was so very proud of Ben and all of his achievements and looked forward to seeing him, Ruth and the kids every trip to Sydney.

When Jase was 13 his mum Lyn married Ken and a new family was created with Ben and Jason becoming brothers to Steve, Brett and Gavin.

Jase shared a special bond with all his brothers. Steve, Brett and Gav also shared a love for music with each of them mastering an instrument that set the scene for many jam sessions. Stephen when reflecting about Jason talked to his kind gentle soul, the fact he was a cheeky larrikin who just wanted to make you laugh. His favourite thing about Jase was the vigorous face rub that we've all seen before which indicated he was very excited about his current situation. There were many of those face rubs when Jase and I and kids continued Noonas 100th birthday after party at the Steve, Brett and Gavs where we jammed the night away in their purpose built studio - a cracking memory for all of us that were there.

In the late 1990's Jase moved to Queensland to start a new chapter in his life as a bonafide adult.

In October 2000, Jase and Emma welcomed their pride and joy into the world when their son James was born. James meant the world to Jason, every time he spoke of James his eyes would light up and you'd see how much he loved and admired his son (who in many ways is a mini-me of Jase - which Jase also loved).  Jase often spoke about how proud he was of James and the path he was on, he loved that he was smart, well read and curious about the world.

James held the same admiration for his dad, saying Jase was a hands-on dad recalling the many weekends the two would spend fishing, watching the broncs play, attending the motor sports events, cooking, constructing lego, camping and playing sports together. Jason coached James's soccer team and was loved by the players and parents - James of course was his biggest fan.

While juggling a young family, Jase got his relevant tickets and started working for PE Francis Earthmoving as an operator. He was instrumental in maintaining the council contract for the company due to his exceptional skill and work ethic. Jason worked at PE for over 10 years before we started Brissy Earthworks in 2015.

To everyone that knew Jase, they spoke of how joyful, fun, caring and generous he was - not an enemy in the world, time for anyone and always ready to lean in and lend a helping hand. Jase did things for people on the DL - like when my Uncle Michael was dying of cancer and we'd visit him after he had a blood transfusion because we knew he'd be re-energised and able to enjoy our time together. Jase saw what a difference fresh blood would make to Uncle Michael and decided that he wanted to start donating blood to help others, a legacy to Michael and a way for Jase to pay it forward. This is just one example of the many things Jason did quietly but always with purpose.

Over the last week we've joked about how often you'd hear Jase before you saw him if he was laughing - he had the most contagious laugh which was impossible to miss or not to laugh at. Jase had presence wherever he went, he'd never enter a room without a giant smile on his face and a big hug ready to give out.  He gave the best hugs, just ask anyone that knew him. He was truly one in a million.

My chapter in Jason's book of life began on January 26th, 2009. Like all great love stories the day we met was iconic (Australia Day) and the location was romantic (Story Bridge Hotel Taxi Line). Jason looked hot (and a little sweaty) in what I'd describe as a "funky" shirt. Jase tried a few of his best pick up lines on me which I declined but a part of me couldn't help but admire his perseverance so agreed to give him my number and the next day he called to ask me to dinner - the following weekend we shared our first date at Southbank.  I joked with friends that I didn't really remember what he looked like ahead of the date but did recall him having gorgeous big blue eyes and a pearly white smile (with great teeth). I was with Andy the day I met Jase and he rated him a 7/10 which Jason often referred to as a great score on the "gay" scale.

Jase and I spent the next couple of years getting to know each other, it was quality time as we were both single parents so we didn't go out much, we just hung out together with our family and enjoyed one another's company. Over these precious years, the walls that Jason had put up to protect himself from hurts of the past came down and he was able to truly come into his own. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

We had many things in common - love for our family and friends, the beach, the football (despite barracking for opposing teams). We loved travel, cooking, music and playing the guitar together. One of my most cherished memories is when Jase cooked me one of his signature dishes - thai beef salad and played "Steal My Kisses" to me on his guitar.  This was the day he wanted to make things official and take that next step in our relationship... 

As soon as I met Jase's family I knew he was the one. The relationship that Jase shared with his Mum Lyn and Noona was just so beautiful to watch. He made sure he called them regularly and would chat for ages, it was part of his regular routine.  I knew I couldn't let this one get away.

Our lives integrated so smoothly, the kids got on like a house on fire and we both instantly became parents of three.

Jason's family accepted Sharne and Marley like their own and a milestone never passed without them acknowledging our kids - all three of them. Jason was an exceptional step father and i know Sharne and Marley will be forever grateful for the time they had with him.

My family also embraced Jase and James and Jase leaned in and learned a whole new culture that he loved being a part of.

I remember our first overseas holiday with the kids to Fiji - I think we both thought that if we could tick the travel box together, we could do anything together.  In true Jase style, he did not disappoint the family or the Fijians and was the life of the island, befriending the Village Chief who invited Jase and his trusty side-kick Andy to a private kava ceremony.  Needless to say, Jase and Andy were in a world of hurt the next day but had no regrets, it was an experience!

When we returned from our trip from Fiji, we decided living in separate houses wasn't working for us so Jason moved into Tyrone Street.  We embarked on our renovation journey to turn our house into a home fit for our new family unit. Jase dug out the backyard himself which allowed us to hold and enjoy many incredible milestone parties with our friends and family. Jason was so proud of everything that we had started to build together as a family.

Ziggy joined the family in the years to follow after a decade of Sharne and Marley begging me for a dog.  Jason's love for animals saw him and Sharne on a mission to find the perfect dog that wasn't going to set off my hayfever. In true Jase style he achieved the mission.

In 2015, I married the love of my life at Tamborine Mountain, surrounded by our closest friends and family.  Jase and I ventured overseas to Europe for our honeymoon and saw some beautiful places together. As quickly as we crossed places off our bucket list we added new ones for future holidays.

Jase was a true gentleman and protector then and up until the day he passed away. He was the guy that walked on the curb side so i'd be safe. Jase carried all of my bags, all of the time. He pulled out the chair for me at restaurants and opened car doors. He kissed me every morning and before he went to bed.  The night he died was no different, only I wish I knew it would be our last kiss and I love you as I would have savored that moment.

With his brothers and best friend living in Sydney, Jase gained a group of mates through my circle of friends in Andy, Aron, Brent, Jay and Dean. We'd joke that they were his adopted brothers. The guys had a love of sport, slow cooking meat, football, fishing, beer brewing and shared a mutual understanding and appreciation of rainfall levels after a big pour - these boys will miss Jason.

Through genetics and friendships, Jase formed strong and loving connections with the kids in our lives and was known as "Fun Uncle Jase". Jase loved the time he spent with the kids and was always interested in what was going on in their lives.  Every chance he had to get down to their level he took and it was special watching the way he was able to relate and connect through fun, advice, a listening ear, playtime, sport, activities or cuddles.

Jase adored his Niece and Nephew in Sydney, Lily and Harry - and it was only last week that he said he wanted to send them both a thoughtful gift to help get them through the extended Sydney lockdown.  Outside of his blood nieces and nephews Jase had a handful of adopted kids in Jada, Ruby, Ella, Miah, Ant, Dom, Maddie, Siena and little Izzy and even our Tyrone Street neighbors - Lily and Charlotte. These kids adored Jase and there's nothing that he wouldn't have done for them.

Our life was full of incredible holidays with our crew - we cruised, we did music festivals, beach trips and for the past 5 years we've spent our Christmas holidays on Moreton island - 4WDing and having fun.  Jase was the leader of our 4WD convoy after we purchased "big blue" 4 years ago - the cruiser was Jason's pride and joy (after James of course) and not many got the opportunity to drive it.  I've made a promise to Jase that I'll learn the ropes and keep driving for him as it brought us so much joy.

We lived life to the fullest, learning about food and wine together.  Jase made me laugh every day. Along with the kids, I was his priority and he treated me like a princess - he asked me regularly if he had told me how much he loved me today and despite me always saying YESSS JASON!!!!!!!!! He'd say he loved me again. He was my best friend, my person.

We were so excited about building our dream home together and were looking forward to our next stage in life - seeing our children find their place in the world, in their careers and eventually meet and marry their soul mates. Becoming grandparents was something we spoke often about along with dreams of eventually retiring and moving close to the beach. We had a big bucket list that included more travel and togetherness.

Jase, I feel robbed that we won't get to tick off our bucket list together. Despite my sadness that you've gone well before your time. I feel gratitude for the time we did have, the time where I was yours and you were mine. I'm grateful that we lived a life of no regrets as a family and in partnership - there were no words left unsaid, we knew how much we meant to each other.  I will love you for the rest of my life and I promise to live my life as if it was yours too.

I will learn to 4WD to keep big blue on the sand (I can't promise I'll be at the start of the convoy but I'll be a part of it).

I will value the life that is waiting to be lived and I'll be grateful for each day, just as you were.

I will love and support our kids and family and continue the family traditions that we had created together.

I will finish building our dream home so that we can enjoy it as a family and in your honour - because that's what you would have wanted for us.

Jase, it seems surreal that today is your official send off party and you're not going to be the last one standing.

As we set you free today to explore the new adventures that await you, please take our love with you Jase - a love that is too big and powerful for words, a love that is only known by those that knew you.

I love you, rest in peace baby.

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