Celebrating Life

Last weekend I had the honour of presiding over a Celebration of Life service for a very dear friend.

Phyllis and her late husband, Alan, were friends to four generations of my family starting with my Great Grandmother. My grandmother knew Phyllis and Alan through their church. My Mum, aunt and uncles and then me all benefitted from being taught by Phyllis and Alan when they served in the Sunday School.

We also enjoyed many happy memories socially. I still remember holidays spent sailing with my grandparents on their yacht from Chichester Harbour. Alan and Phyl would sail their yacht beside us and then we’d all moor up at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight together.

Phyllis also encouraged and inspired me to live my dreams. She helped me go to uni in the USA which changed the course of my life. A few years later when my first marriage ended abruptly, Phyllis held me as I cried through many tears, many many times! But she also helped me to see what life is really about.

In more recent years, Phyllis sparked a second career as a Celebrant when she insisted that I preside over our friend Lisa and Martin’s Wedding – which I gladly did! I’ll be forever grateful for her guidance.

Phyllis was a huge presence for so many. She was super inspiring and had a sense of joy that was unsurpassed coupled with a never-ending smile. It didn’t matter what challenge you had, Phyllis was always there to support.

When Alan passed on, my Mum, Susie, took Alan’s service. A year later, when Mum passed, it was only fitting that Phyllis took Mum’s service. It was a privilege to be able to return the favour!

A few years ago, after nearly 50 years living in the UK, Phyl decided to return to her homeland – the USA – and settled in California. It was a huge job to pack up their well loved home and move across the world. But we all knew it was time for her to be close to her family once again.

I had been trying to get over to see her a number of times but somehow it never worked out. Then in early 2017, we found ourselves in California briefly – while we were living in Mexico. We had one evening free when we were able to visit with Phyl and see her charming new home. She was so very happy and enjoying a new life. I will admit that I walked around her little apartment with a lump in my throat – so grateful to be in her company again but knowing that it would be a quick visit.

Whenever life gets tough, I often ask myself ‘What would Phyl do?’ and then things don’t seem so bad! Thank you dearest Phyl for your unconditional love, support and inspiration.

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