Sheila was modest, sharing and so generous with her time. She was always thinking of others, whose needs she often put first. Many times I tried to take her out for lunch only to be told "Sorry, I am just away to see an old friend is all right". She loved nothing better than teaching friends to golf and helping youngsters who might have otherwise been unable to play. When Sheila was in hospital for the last time, a 99 year old friend sent a get well message. Despite her situation, Sheila's eyes lit up and said "Please tell her I'm doing just fine and I hope she is keeping well too".
Sheila was uncomplaining. Her last illness was challenging and painful but the nurses said she never complained. The New Testament has a proverb "As you sow, so shall you reap". After a lifetime of caring for others and when Sheila needed help most, she found herself surrounded not just by her family but by loving neighbours, friends and professionals who cared for her as if she were their own. Her one regret was that she spent much of her last three summers in hospital and missed her glorious garden. Both her birthday and anniversary were in July, when the roses bloom and these were her favourite flowers. When she was in hospital for the last time, I took her photographs as each of her beautiful roses blossomed throughout the month. It was a joy to see her smile, her eyes light up and nod her head in appreciation.
Sheila was an eternal optimist. Just over two months ago, I was with her when (for the second time), a doctor gave her just two months to live. By this time she knew how to cope with bad news. Going out to her car (she was driving) she said, "Six months, that's not so bad." By the time she got home to family and friends this had grown to five years! "I am doing just fine" she said and with a smile she went off to the greenhouse, sowing seeds for next year. She loved life and never gave up hope, not even at the very end of her long illness.
As the family shared a bedside vigil with Sheila, one of the very last things she said to me was "Will they accept me?" I cannot imagine anyone who would be not be willing to accept Sheila into their fold. In the small hours of her last night I was stroking her hair and cheek when I was overwhelmed to feel so much of her love just slipping away through my fingers and there was nothing I could do to hold on. Then I heard her voice inside my head. "You're just feeling sorry for yourself, I'm doing just fine, now go out there and do some good in the World". When I got home in the early morning, the petals of the last of her beautiful roses had fallen to the ground and I knew that the natural cycle had turned. The love and time Sheila had so willingly shared with others had come to an end. Only precious memories now remain and to hold on to these, we should try to live a little like Sheila.
Sheila thank you for giving us so much love and joy. God bless you.