I read this summary of Brendan's life at the start of the service. The details and stories were pieced together after spending time with his family and friends over the last couple of days.
Brendan James Fitzgerald was born at Busselton Hospital on Valentines Day, February 14 1989, the first child of Terry and Lisa. He was a healthy baby and apart from largely self-inflicted skateboarding injuries and lumps he insisted on showing to Mum and Jess, enjoyed good health his whole life. He started talking fairly early and one of his first words was “football” which set something of a pattern for the future. He went to play group then Kindy at the Family Centre and from the very beginning had a real thirst for knowledge, he wanted to learn and know everything he could and often amazed his family and friends with his general knowledge. His Dad remembers a couple of incidents from his early childhood, when he was about 3 or 4.
He was looking puzzled one day and Terry asked him what the problem was. He replied, “I don’t know if I should go outside and play or lay down and let my antibodies fight my germs.”
Another time Dad found him kicking Jessica in the bottom. “Brendan, what are you doing?” he growled. Brendan replied, “Well people do have bad days you know!”
Arriving home from work one day Terry found Brendan with a 40-year-old bottle of Port he’d opened cause he thought Dad might be thirsty when he got home.
Lisa remembers carefully hiding a Superman suit intended for Christmas.
Next day Brendan walked out saying “Look what I found” already dressed in the suit.
He loved food and it made him so happy he would hum while he ate. When he was little he especially loved BBQ’d sausages, as a teenager Tacos were his favourite meal and the only things he would help cook. It didn’t matter what or how much he ate, he would never put on any weight.
When Brendan was 3 his little sister Jessica was born on the 30 March 1992. They loved one another right from the start and remained just as close till the day he died. Jess would follow him round everywhere, besotted. “Stalking him” she said yesterday. Brendan never got annoyed with her or told her to go away, he taught her to kick a footy and bowl a cricket ball and there were plenty of hugs and cuddles, even when they came disguised as wrestles.
The other kids in his family were his three beloved cousins Joel Craig and Kael.
He learnt to read before he started school at Busselton Primary. He loved school and it fuelled his hunger for knowledge as well as seeing him develop and flourish at sports. He was athletics champion, captain of Chapman House, a budding football player and cricketer, as well as being a student councillor. The Principal commented one school sports day,
“Geez he’s quick across the grass!”
He practised his cricket skills for hours, not without a few mishaps like a succession of broken windows and the time he hit Jess in the head with the cricket ball. He loved playing sport and was very competitive but not in an ugly way, he was always a good sport and many times became friends with his opponents in other teams.
Terry and Lisa’s marriage ended in 1995 but on April 3 2001 he and Jess got a new little sister Mia whom they both were very excited about and loved to bits. Mia came to see Jessica in hospital and as she was leaving said, “I want my Brendy”.
Brendan commenced at Busselton SHS in 2002 and was soon to make a whole group of new friends. While he probably didn’t work as hard as he could, he still did well at high school.
He played for Towns footy club and was rated the best player for his age. In his last season he was team captain and won the Fairest and Best trophy. The doctor’s prediction when he was little, that being pigeon-toed would help him become a good sportsman proved true. Brendan loved cricket and was a good batsman and an even better bowler, capable of bamboozling opposition batsmen with his swing bowling. The call from the boundary, “C’mon Fitzy we need a wicket” would more often than not produce the wicket, as if on request. Playing for the A Grade Country Week rep side he opened the batting and the bowling and was very proud of his baggy blue cap.
Brendan loved skateboarding with his mates, often staying out for hours perfecting tricks like his 360 flip but skateboarding is a rough sport and when the bumps and bruises progressed to a sprained ankle he decided he’d have to give it up in case it threatened his football career.
Even driving a go-kart came naturally to him and he couldn’t wait to show his Mum the trophy he won for being champion driver. He loved learning new skills, even delighting in showing Lisa and Jess how he’d learnt to jump up and kick himself in the bum.
Brendan was funny, he loved comedy shows and was always the one to deliver the witty comment or one-liner that would crack his mates up. Lisa smiles at the memory of him bounding down the stairs three at a time, sliding down the banister and leaping into the living room with a “here I am” flair. Brendan was definitely a glass half full person.
On the subject of drinks, it didn’t matter how many times he was told not to he would invariably drink the milk straight out of the carton as soon as he got home from school or came in from playing. Hiding round the corner his glugging sounds still gave him away.
At the end of last term he and Dave would talk excitedly about the coming holidays and argue who would have the best time, Dave in Geraldton or Brendan in Bali. It was his first trip overseas and he was really excited about going, especially being able to share it with Jess and his Dad. Terry described him as a bit of a larrikin yet always a polite and respectful kid who never bugged anybody. He’s proud of both of them and told me “Lisa’s done a real good job raising them”. Both his parents loved the way the two kids loved each other and got along so well. When Jess was lost for half an hour in Bali Brendan was really worried about her.
On that last Saturday his Dad took him surfing for the first time in his life. Rejecting the safe idea of hiring a big Malibu he went for a little board and lo and behold stood up on the second wave he caught. They both caught a wave and as they rode it toward shore together Terry was thinking what a special moment it was. Nobody knew just how special it would be. Just a few hours later a senseless act of terror claimed Brendan’s life.