Well that was a tough couple of weeks.
My beloved sister passed away on the 27th of February after a short illness so we’ve been dashing around back and forth to Gloucester trying to be there for her and her sons, sorting her house out and generally doing what needs to be done. This hasn’t been easy as her eldest lives in Spain and the youngest in Italy!!
However the dust has settled and we finally laid Lynne to rest yesterday March the 14th 2017 surrounded by family, friends, old parishioners and colleagues from the clergy with a lovely service at her old parish church of St. Oswald’s in Gloucester.
I thought I’d share the eulogy I wrote for Lynne by way of tribute to an amazing woman and an amazing life.
Lynne was a daughter, a sister, a mother and an abuela or grandmother.
She was all of these and so much more to so many of us. A friend, a teacher, counsellor and spiritual guide.
Lynne certainly had, shall we say, an interesting life and because of that was able to bring those experiences to her ministry. Lynne had been there and done that and got the cassock to prove it!
Talking of her Church vestments, she told a lovely story where in her early days as a vicar whilst attending to a funeral on a particularly wet day. This required wellies…..however she could only put her hands on a pair of child’s size 4 green frog ones! On looking down at her feet during the service she was met with 2 pairs of frog eyes looking back up at her from beneath her cassock! How she kept it together we’ll never know.
Lynne loved music and she had such eclectic tastes from Gregorian chants through classical to the Big Band swing music so beloved by Mum and Dad through to the swinging 60s seeing all the great bands such as the Kinks and the Who and of course we can’t forget her beloved Beatles.
She also learned to play the piano in her youth and still liked to tickle the ivories when time permitted, that love for music was passed on to her sons Grant, Bill, Keith and Greg – all great musicians in their own right.
She was an avid reader as the shelves and boxes of books will attest to and such diverse subjects as well and by osmosis her boys took on this knowledge and passion.
Lynne began her family at the end of the 60s with Grant and Billy from her first marriage which to say the least was interesting and certainly gave the Lynne the fortitude to later strike out alone.
Lynne met Keith in the early 70s or Daddy Keith as he became known once Keith (stay with me here) their son was born, a few years later, followed by Greg.
The gang of four was complete.
I say this because one year Lynne and I exchanged Christmas cards at the time as the political Gang of Four was all over the news – I sent my card to Lynne, Keith and the Gang of Four and she sent her card from Lynne, Keith and the Gang of four – totally independent of each other! Lynne loved that 🙂
Unfortunately Keith senior succumbed to the same illness as Lynne and left us in 1985. Lynne had already begun to shape her religious life having worked as a cleaner at St.Richards in Northolt and helping out with the playgroup there, quietly making sure the poorer kids were fed. She also worked in the local bakers in Northolt and even though it wasn’t allowed would often cut a loaf in half for the OAPs that didn’t need a full loaf – compassion in action would be a fair summation of Lynne, she would do what was needed or right and then worry about the fallout later.
Lynne felt the call to deepen her religion and Lynne being Lynne she was also fascinated by the history of her religion.
Lynne studied at Theology College in Salisbury, juggling being a Mum with the task of getting her head around Latin and ancient Greek amongst many things. She loved being housed in the historical buildings there.
Lynne was amongst the first women ordinated in to the Church of England back in 1994, an amusing anecdote spring to mind around this time. We were chatting about the forthcoming events and I ask Lynne if she had any dates set for the ordination. Lynne informed me that everything had to be rubber stamped by the Prime Minister, Lynne then said and I quote “I’m lying on Tony Blair’s desk as we speak”!
Lynne loved the Holy Land, visiting it twice, she took in The Passion Play at Oberammergau, she loved the very essence and fabric of Christianity, it was all wonderful as in ‘full of wonder’ and fascinating to her.
That passion was also evident in her love of football, its self a religious experience to some of us I guess, regularly going along to Spurs with Keith and Greg when she was ministering in Enfield, I can also remember her going along with me to watch Man United at Chelsea in about 1966-7, it was in the blood.
Finally Lynne got her own parish here at St.Oswalds and threw herself in to the role with gusto. I feel she had a bit of the Vicar of Dibley vibe going on! The gardens were a blessing for her as she inherited Mum and Dad’s green fingers, growing her own produce was a joy and in another way gave her a connection with the creator.
Another little story from that time and then I’ll start to wrap this up or ‘just wrap up Bob’ as Lynne would no doubt say! – Reverend Lynne got an invitation to go to a Garden Party with The Queen. Now this is a big deal; she was allowed one guest so naturally she asked Mum – boy that was the fastest hat purchase you ever saw!!
On the day of the party Mum and Lynne had stayed overnight with friends and took the train in to Liverpool Street – they got to the taxi rank and Lynne turned to Mum – sotto voce “I’ve always wanted to say this” and then in a much louder voice to the cabby “take us to Buckingham Palace please”.
Bless you Sis.
Last year we now know Lynne suspected something was wrong. She took a poignant visit out to Spain in September to visit Grant and her grandchildren. But the doctors couldn’t really pin down what the problem was although I suspect by now Lynne feared the worse. Lynne was admitted to hospital in December with pneumonia, being released for Christmas, however she was soon re-admitted in January constantly attended by Bill and Keith with Grant and Greg flying in from Spain and Italy during this time. However Lynne continued to deteriorate and the end finally came on Monday February 27th.
I could probably have spent hours here regaling you with great stories and anecdotes and I realise this is only a snapshot and doesn’t give you the whole story of Lynne’s amazing life. Trust me this isn’t the half of it but I feel we should remember Lynne as that amazing full of life woman. A passion for the things of life, her family, her religion, her music and so much more.
We could take a great lead here from Lynne – whatever you do, do it – but do it with awe, with fascination and above all – with passion.