See link to photos of funeral service at foot of this page.
From Judy (my sister), to friends and family
This is just to let you know my Mum passed away peacefully yesterday morning (18th March). It would have been around 11.30 on St. Patrick’s Day your time in the UK. She really had a wonderful life and to reach almost 95 (April 7) with a great degree of dignity, still able to care for herself within the nursing home and still walk around with the aid of a walker and feed herself without assistance. The day before she died she said she would like to make a cake for the nursing home for her birthday and were there any films we could go to see. Making cakes and the cinema were probably her favourite pastimes. Funeral Service: St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Banks Street, Dorrington Ashgrove, Brisbane. 4060. 9am Friday 27th March, 2015. My love to you all.
Memories from Nshorna
I wanted to share some childhood memories of my wonderful grandmother who was such a significant part of my life growing up.
When I started thinking about my memories of Gran, the first thing that came to mind was her generous nature, Coronation Street and her love of anything sweet! The only time Gran would ever be strict with me is when Coronation Street was on and I had to be quiet. Gran knew as a young girl, I loved to play hairdressers so for that half an hour that Coronation Street was on, I was allowed to comb her hair into any style I wanted, put make up on her and make her look like one of the characters on the show! I was promptly rewarded afterwards for being quiet with one of Grans passions….Cakes, sweets, biscuits and double cream.
Gran and I were both aware that the amount of sugar intake I was allowed as a child from my dad was minimal and so she truly spoilt me when I was visiting her. I recall one occasion where my father had given strict instructions to my gran that I was not allowed any sweets or chocolate. Gran took me to the kitchen and cut me a slice of chocolate cake and told me to eat it quietly in her bedroom. When I finished, my dad promptly asked whether I had just had cake which I of course strenuously denied, as did Gran.
Dad then asked why I had chocolate crumbs on my face!! I’m not sure who got into more trouble that day, me or gran!
I am truly blessed to have had such an incredible woman as my Grandmother who has inspired me in so much that I do in adult life. After my Grandfather passed away, my Gran spent several years caring for her Aunty Daisy who was totally dependent on her care. I never heard her complain once about it. She cooked and cleaned for her and ensured that her lasting days were memorable and as stress free as possible. It takes a strong, independent woman to be able to do some of the things she did. Gran would do anything for anyone and loved to see that she made people happy.
My Gran had such passion for adventure and travelling. I must have had on average 3 postcards a month from her as a child from one of her adventures she had been on. Even if it was a postcard with the picture of the beach from Blackpool, the town where she lived with Aunty Daisy, She always found an exciting story to tell me about. She was dedicated to keeping in contact with those near and dear to her, no matter what side of the world she was on.
My grandmother has always been a remarkable woman that I have so many fond memories of. I am grateful that I can pass those memories on to my children so that her strong morals, values and passion for life can be carried on through the family line.
Summary of Eulogy of Mark Guyler (Judy’s son)
I wish to say a few words on behalf of the grandchildren. My cousin, Nshorna, could not make it from England because she is expecting a baby in a couple of months. We remember stories when we were kids of our gran. Gran was the grandmother that all kids would want. She always had a smile for you and a welcoming hug. She was a cuddly grandma that would spoil you.
We once visited gran in the UK. There were the three of us kids (Paul, Mark and Cathryn, children of Judy) were in the park. A gang of kids on BMX bikes who were older than us came by. They asked us where we were from. We said we were from Brunei, the country where we lived at the time. They then began to taunt us on their bikes. With absolute precision and perfect timing, gran swung her handbag at them. We called her supergran.
There was also the time when Uncle Chris did not want Nshorna eating too much sugar (recalled above in Memories from Nshorna). She was that gran every kid wants to have. She was perfect at making cakes whether a Paddington Bear cake or cakes for a wedding. She made amazing cakes. My brother admitted to peeling away the marzipan and then putting the rest back so people were none the wiser. We will miss gran’s hugs. We will miss the kisses. Most of all we will miss gran.
Eulogy of Christopher
I would like to express our appreciation to each and every one of you hear this morning for kindly taking the time to attend this funeral service. In a way, this service marks a goodbye to our mum.
I very much appreciated the warm and generous words of Mark and his recollections. I would like to take a few moments, if I may, to speak about the mother of Judy and I. I can actually say that I have known my mum longer than anybody here. My mother said to me when I was here just a few months ago: “You know the worst thing about being 94 years of age is actually knowing that you have got a 70-year-old son!”
I am going to make some recollections. I was born on a very small farm in the North of England. I got my mother to recall our time on the farm where she lived for about two years. She said that we live in a small cottage on the farm. In the bedroom was a chest of drawers. She said: “You spent the first two years of your life sleeping in the bottom drawer of that chest of drawers.” I thought to myself that’s a nice start.” She then moved to be near her mother in Croydon, south of London.
Judy and I had our upbringing in Croydon on a new council housing estate, New Addington, which was built right after the war. It was better known in the area as Hard Up Hill, because whoever lived there had to be hard up to live there. That is where we had our schooling and the passing of our childhood and teenage years.
My mother would have been extremely pleased that the funeral service is being held in this church. It meant a lot to her. Judy has been connected with this church since the 1980s. She lives only five minutes’ walk away. Our mum was very much a Roman Catholic. I had long since left the Church. She asked me why I was not a Roman Catholic. “I brought you up to be one,” she reminded me.
I said: “I am a roaming catholic.”
She said: “that’s not the same. “There is no R and C.”
For some years, if I may say, I was a Buddhist monk in Thailand and India. It was a very lovely period of my life. I wrote to my mum because there were no emails at that time the beginning of the 1970s. I wrote to her and said that I was taking ordination as a Buddhist monk in a monastery some 15 hours on the train south of Bangkok. She got into an immediate panic. “Oh my God.”
She rang up a family friend, Monsignor Curtin, who was the head of the Theological College in Rome. She said to him: “Christopher has become a Buddhist monk. Will he go to hell? Will he get ex-communicated? “
Whatever Mgr. Curtin said, she would have heard like a commandment from God. “Don’t worry, Peggie. He won’t go to hell. The Church won’t excommunicate him. He is following his heart.”
Those words gave enormous relief to my mum.
My monk’s life was not without incidents. After five years of not seeing my mum, she being a very adventurous type – and Judy and I can testify to this – she came to see me. My mum just loves travelling. It is in the genes of the family. Judy did not stay around in England too long. She got married to Chris who kindly has come today. They moved to the Middle East where he worked for an airline then to Papua New Guinea, Brunei and cities here in Australia.
In 1972, my mum decided she wold come and visit me in Thailand where I was a monk. Because it was a 15 hour train journey down to the monastery in southern Thailand, I came up to Bangkok and met her there. She would see other Buddhist monks in Bangkok, as well.
My Abbot, who was my teacher, insisted that we did not wear any sandals, any flip-flops so we would have a closer connection with the Earth through not wearing any footwear. My mum said to me: “Every other monk in Bangkok is wearing flip-flops (thongs) and you haven’t got any. You always wanted to be different. You haven’t changed at all.”
We went to visit this lovely monastery in the centre of Bangkok that many tourists go to see. It is a delightful and ancient monastery. An American from Mississippi walked up to my mother and me and said to me: “Why are you dressed up in clothes like that?
I said: “I am a Buddhist monk. This is how we dress.””
He said: What do you do?
I said that I live in a monastery in the south of Thailand.
He said: “Let me tell you something boy (I was 28 years of age). I am in the American Armed Forces. I am a missionary. When I was your age, the Lord Jesus came into my life. My marriage was on the rocks. I was drinking a lot. Jesus came and saved me, boy.”
I said that I was really happy for him. I said it is the wonder and the power of Jesus and what faith and trust does. It changes people’s lives around. I am genuinely happy for you for that change that took place.
“I live in a monastery. We have alcoholics who come into the monastery. We have drug addicts. There is a lot of terrorism in the area of southern Thailand. People in crisis come to the monastery and there life also gets changed around. I said: “This is the power of the religious principle. It is the power of faith that really does change people’s lives.”
The American missionary then turned to me and said: “I don’t believe you boy. You are the son of the Devil.”
I turned to my mum and said: “If I am the son of the Devil, who are you?”
My mum said: I think I will sit down for a minute or two.” She said afterwards which was rather nice to hear: “You have changed. If somebody had spoken to you like that a few years ago, you would have got really reactive. Oh there is some change going on there in you.”
My mother loved travel. She worked for several years for The Universe, a Roman Catholic newspaper in London. Judy worked there. I worked there as a young man. This will please the good priest here – my mother went to Lourdes on pilgrimage more than 30 times. She went to Jerusalem and several times to Rome. Any excuse, my mother would go travelling.
I visited annually the nursing home in Windsor (Brisbane), which she loved to bits. Judy and my nephews and niece were so happy that she absolutely loved the Amarina Home for the Aged. When I arrived in Australia to see her, I would say to her: “Do you want to go out?”
The only place we could go to because it is hot here, and my mum used her stroller, was to the local shopping malls because they had air conditioning.
She said: “”That’s great. We can go to the shopping mall. We will have cake with cream.”
Before she came to Australia, my father died in 1990 and so did my uncle. I was sitting in the hospital in Blackpool, England, with my great uncle when he died until the very last outbreath left his body. For several years after, my mum, who had turned 70, bless her heart, was looking after her aunt, who was younger than my mother. My mum cooked for her, did all the shopping for her and took really good care of her.
When my aunt passed away, my mum contacted Judy. My mum loved her visits to Australia.
“I want to come and live with you in Australia,” she told Judy.
My mum was 78. I said to her: “It’s a big step to emigrate. You have been in your home country for 78 years and now you want to start a fresh way of life. She had a small home in Britain. “Look, what if you don’t like it in Australia. It might be too hot for you. The lovely climate might not be right. The delicious food might not be your cup of tea. The Aussies might be difficult because you are a POM (English). If you don’t like it, rent your home out and then you can come back. If you leave and you sell your house, then market prices will go up and you can’t afford a house in Britain.
My mum then said these immortal words. “If you are going to do something in life, then don’t do it by half. If you are going to go, you go. Go totally. Go without anything to go back to. That’s the way to go.”
She sold the house and she came to Australia. She lived nearby until she was 89 with Judy basically as the Mother Theresa of the family. That’s been Judy’s job for many years. Then she moved to the Amarina Home. During the days here, the family has had some opportunity for some reflection. Mark shared some stories and also told stories from my darling daughter, Nshorna.
Here is my mum. A whole generation has passed. I emailed a friend in India, who is in his 80’s. I emailed him that my mum had been such a precious and wonderful influence in my life. I wrote that Judy and I are the next generation moving along the line. He emailed: “We (the elderly) are in the first class departure lounge waiting for our name to be called.”
I thought: “Wow. Such a sweet point. Sometimes we do not get to old age. We do not know when our name will be called.”
In the Buddhist monastery, the monks say will Lord Yama, the Lord of Death, travels around the world every single day. He will pick out people. It is your day today. It is your departure today. Young and old, rich and poor, women and men, humans and animals… We live in this world, in this extraordinary world, with all of its beauty, the immense challenges and all the uncertainty, and perhaps some insecurity that goes with it. This calls upon us, and my mum is a reminder as well, of having a genuine commitment of taking one day at a time, living life fully and bringing while we are on Earth, as Jesus reminded us, and the Buddha reminded us, as much love into this world as possible, so that we make love the big priority of our life.
When Judy telephoned me when mum passed away on March 18, we know she had a long, rich and full life. I immediately wanted to hear from Judy what was the manner of her passing. In her typical spirit, my mum just the day before she died, she said to Judy “Maybe we can go and visit England in September. Because she likes sweet thing, as Mark pointed out, we can make a cake for the people in her home since it was her 95th birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. What’s on at the cinema, she asked Judy. My mum’s brightness and aliveness was present less than 24 hours before she died. She woke up in the morning around 8 am. One of the staff came to her. “Hiya, Peg, do you want a cup of tea? My mum said she would love a cup of tea. She then said: “I am ready to die.” The staff person went to get a cup of tea for my mum. She came back and my mum had gone.
I thought: in a way it is a blessing to have lived such a full life with such adventure. When the time comes, she could say my time has come, wait for the cup of tea and then pass from this world.
It is a credit to her. It is a credit to the family. It is a credit to all the kindnesses she brought to all of us. THANK YOU.
Here are the photos from the funeral service in St. Michael’s Church, Ashgrove, Brisbane on March 27, 2015.
If you click on the little box on the right hand side of the Flickr page of photos, just below where it says 42 pix, you will get a moving slideshow.