'Crafty and caring' man outlives diagnosis by decades
WHEN Michael John Matthews was diagnosed with cancer in September 1986, he was told he would not see another Christmas. He saw 33 more, making it to November 17 this year.
"He had endless operations and every time he pulled through," his wife Judy said.
Michael was born in March 1948. He and Judy were nurses and met at a nursing party in Adelaide.
He was the first male nurse to work at Mt Gambier hospital.
They came to Queensland to marry.
"Michael was a volunteer ambulance officer while he was doing nursing training," Judy said.
"He was crafty, very caring, and could cook. He loved to bake. He always had a chat and befriended everybody.
After years spent in Gladstone, Clermont, and Dysart, the couple came to Emerald in 1986.
"He battled the cancer on and off since then," Judy said.
"He made an impression on people. When he was diagnosed we got 365 get-well cards from Clermont.
"He tried to keep active. He was still crocheting for people. He was a very quirky character, very strong-willed."
Michael achieved much after his diagnosis, raising money with council to establish a home alert system for the elderly in Emerald.
Besides his wife, Michael had three adult children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Granddaughter Jade said: "Poppy: fisherman, handyman, green thumb, loved to drink and most of all loved his family. We miss you and love you to bits, to bits."
His other grandchildren called him "the man who lived" and an "invincible man".
"He had this saying," Judy said. "There were to be 'No tears, give a few cheers, have a few beers, and say Thank you, God.' He'd been saying that for years."
At Michael's request, funeral attendees walked out of St Luke's Anglican Church to Toni Basil's Hey Mickey, and cold beer was served at his grave.
"It was a lovely wake, well celebrated," Judy said.
"He was convinced that nobody would remember him, but I've had lots of lovely comments from people.
"I loved him dearly."
Michael and Judy would have been married 50 years in January.