Category: The Funeral Files

A Eulogy for Omom

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Olga’s first ‘selfie’ (with yours truly!)

I was encouraged to do a eulogy by a close family friend, for my Grandmother’s funeral. I had erred about different words and didn’t really have a peace about sharing thoughts. I knew my Uncle would deliver an excellent eulogy and I was concerned, compared to his, mine wouldn’t hit the mark.

I ended up doing a eulogy for my Grandmother. Want to hear it? (Well, read it!!)

Ok you’ve twisted my arm…

Thank you everyone for coming here today. Thank you Uncle Vid for that moving eulogy, I for one certainly appreciated hearing what you had to day. I know that each and everyone of you here today are here because you love, were loved and have been touched by the life of Olga.

I need some help here. Now who has sat at Olga’s table and enjoyed her cooking? Her delicious roasts? Pancakes with that rich, sour-cream filled sauce? Tea and vibrant conversation? I tell you, Olga could cook!

One of the things that I enjoyed most about Olga’s cooking was bacon rolls. Who here has enjoyed her bacon rolls? I tell you, I loved her bacon rolls!

For those un-initiated, bacon rolls are these little crescent shaped yeast-dough treats filled simply with bacon, onion and lots of pepper. They were simple, delicious and one was never enough.

For me, Olga was the perfect bacon roll. The elements, simple on their own, blended together to make something oh so amazing!

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My first feeble attempt at bacon rolls!

How is Olga like a bacon roll? Lets explore these elements!

Of course, firstly there is the bacon. The bacon in Olga’s life was her relationships. Olga had really meaty, loving, life-long relationships. The love she had for all her family, near and far was always evident. If you were part of Olga’s family, either by blood, law or honour, you were part of her family for life! When you were Olga’s friend, or family, she always saw the good in you. She always wanted to lift you up, encourage you, hear from you. You couldn’t know Olga and not be loved by her. She was meaty in her relationships, she loved those whom she called family and friends.

The next component of Olga, like bacon rolls, was onion. For Olga, the onion is like her love for Latvia. Vid told us so perfectly of her traumatic escape from Latvia and all the hardships both she and her country endured, yet she still just loved Latvia. A love she was proud to share, to tell and reminisce about. It was Olga’s love for Latvia that has encouraged me and my brothers to seek out our Latvian heritage, to learn about her people, her culture, her history. Any time spent with Olga and she would beautifully describe her childhood in the farms and forests of her home country.

Hands up who has been on the receiving end of one of Olga’s ‘discussions’?! I tell you, like the pepper in bacon rolls, Olga’s conversation was certainly peppered at times with spicy conversation! She was not backwards in coming forwards! Sometimes hot, sometimes peppery, always in love! I often remember that, whilst she may have often been a little ‘peppery’ in her delivery, she certainly and fervently wanted to know your opinion. Conversation for Olga was a true exchanging of ideas. She was never scared in telling her opinion, she always, always wanted to know yours!

The thing that keeps bacon rolls together is the yeasty, soft dough. For Olga, the dough that kept her life together was her faith. Yes, Olga loved her family, her friends and Latvia, but most of all, Olga loved the Lord. Up until the very day she passed, she was still learning about, and loving the Lord. Her faith was a living faith – it had been tested many, many times over. She knew the love of Jesus in her life, she had a desperation to love a life that would honour him. Most importantly, she knew above all things that her eternal life is kept safe in Him. She had a hope in eternity that was unshakable. If you knew Olga, you would know she would want you to know that the you too could have the same confidence in eternity as she did!

Now not many people make bacon rolls anymore, but if you do happen to stumble across these delicious treats, thing about Olga for a moment. Thing about the love she had for you. Think about the love she had for Latvia . Think about the love she had for the Lord!

I know, above all things, this would have made her smile!

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Contesting a Will of Talent, Skills and Blessings

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When one prepares for death, they usually prepare a will. A summary of the distribution of their worldly assets. Some have large wills, some moderate, some leave behind a trail of debt and loss.

For some families, it’s a time of great unease and awkwardness, especially if the will gets contested. Lawyers can be called in, claims and counter-claims made, settlements made or judgements issued. All for a fistful of worldly possessions.

As you know, my Grandmother recently passed away. I’ve been thinking of the ‘intangible’ things in life that you can’t bequeath when you leave this earth – you can’t bestow a quarter of your kindness upon four siblings. You can’t bequeath a third of your love to a charity, another third to a church and the final third to your cat. You can’t distribute your faith equally amongst your offspring.

What I want to know, what I’m musing about is, if you could bequeath your intangible assets, how would you do it? I know this is a dangerous question! Would you give your husband or wife some of your patience (ok, that was cheeky!). Would you give your children an ounce of your faith or your allocate your church a portion of your caring spirit? Would you give your neighbour your love for nature or your children your passion for sports?

More interestingly, what would you do if you were bequeathed something intangible that you didn’t want? It would be easy to disregard a bequest of grandpa’s bitterness, or your Aunty’s unusual love for cats. But would you accept talents, skills or blessings that would challenge you? Your brother’s passion for feeding the poor? Your mother’s love for the orphan? Your sibling’s strong faith?

Would you contest a will if a family member got more of the deceased’s kindness? Would you fight for just a bit more of their talent for music or art? Would you call in the lawyers to gain a greater share of someones business acumen or ability to make money?

I’m interested. What intangible talents, skills or blessings would you bequeath? What would you want to receive? What would you fight for, for just some more?

This picture was sourced from @kirpernicus on Instagram

The allure of a place once gleefully left

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In 1999, I gleefully left my childhood home of Wollongong, NSW for the bright lights and sunshine of Brisbane, Queensland. I was 17, excited and ready for adventure.

I left behind a lifetime of friends and a handful of family.

I have returned a few times to visit friends (many of which have since left the ‘Gong for Sydney) and to see family.

My Grandmother died just week and I have had occasion to travel once more to that city wedged between the majestic green mountains and the expanse of the Pacific.

In all honesty, I thought this would be if not my last, certainly one of my last trips to Wollongong. I don’t have many close friends there and my family are at quite different phrases in life. My grandmother was my main relational connection to the city.

On the evening before my Grandmother’s funeral, I spent the most wonderful time with old family friends – their children – children I once babysat are now grown adults and most married!

Sitting around that sturdy table with beautiful, encouraging, faithful friends, I realised I still have many more trips to make back to the Gong. I realised once again that seeds of friendship, faith and love planted many seasons ago were only just flowing. Seedlings of the everyday had turned into a colourful garden!

I went to Wollongong for a funeral. To bury someone and say goodbye to someone very near and very special to me. When I left, I realised it was not the dead that I was leaving behind, but the living that I yearned to see again.

The picture above is the work of @tvidins on instagram. You can find this, and other beautiful pictures here