26 November 2013, Quorobolong, New South Wales, Australia
Ann Brownlie. Just saying her name changes the way you feel ... and it is always for the better.
Despite how we feel today ... we all agree that Ann's was a life well-lived. I will touch on three things: • family and friends ... • time ... and • laughter And to Judi, I especially say this: you always have and always will have a place of honour in our family. You are family. We hope you know and have felt the love we have for you and how highly we regard and love you for your life of commitment to Ann.
Family and friends
As I look around the place where we have gathered it is clear that Ann has a multitude of friends ... and you are gathered here today as though you were family. Ann beautifully blurred the lines between family and friends and while those of us who share the same blood line were greeted as much-loved friends upon arrival at Skye Point Road, Dora Street, Baker Street, Hawk Mount Road or Sandy Creek Road ... her friends were greeted and treated as much-loved family.
Ann took people into her heart, made a special place for us and let us settle in. You were never singled out for special treatment because you were a relative, colleague, or from whichever orbit that allowed your life to intersect with hers. You were loved, cherished, anguished over and cared for as if she and you shared the same mother or she had birthed you herself.
She loved her family - Bruce, Olive (her parents), Enid, Johnnie, Ruby and Barry ... and her sense of family meant that she cared for Olive and made space in her home and invited Enid to live with her until only recently. That is a rare and wonderful legacy.
Many of us today will say she was taken before her time. Time was what made Ann unique among us all. She knew that love was spelt T-I-M-E and she gave it willingly and in buckets full - and I have no doubt sometimes at her own cost. Jobs would be set aside; projects put on hold because Ann valued us more highly and so gave us the benefit of her time.
We all have felt the world stop spinning so quickly; our heart rates return to normal; and our senses re-engage with the world because Ann stopped the clock, turned to us and gave us what the clock took away. She had no other agenda than to enjoy being with us and experiencing what for her was the pleasure of our uninterrupted company.
It was both a delicious and luxurious feeling for us all ... rarely experienced outside the warm hearth fire of her heart. Sometimes we were carried along on her adventures, to share in the fun, so you could experience what brought her joy and put a spark in her eye ... to stand back in satisfaction at a job well done ... or be bemused at how it all turned out to become another story to tell about success or failure … at her own expense and for the delight of the listener.
A rare and wonderful legacy.
Ann knew the value of laughter. Her wit and sense of child-like fun even in the mundane and ordinary tasks of life was a place we loved to go. Her face puckered up trying to stifle a giggle that made you want to laugh even more (often at the most inappropriate moment). (I tried to stop once but I needed a tissue because I snotted). For me the sound of her laughter peeling above the sound of a gathering will be one of the things I will cherish forever … and miss the most.
A rare and wonderful legacy.
Finally Bringing all these things together - Family and Friends, Time and Laughter - they were ingredients, shaken together and pressed down so they couldn't be separated and they were contained in a unique vessel in the shape of Shirley Ann Brownlie. Friends ... with apologies to Auden ... we won't be stopping the clocks, or cutting off the telephone ... we won't be preventing the dog from barking with a juicy bone ... we'll keep the moon shining and we'll brighten the sun ... we'll celebrate the life of Ann because with her and through her we learned about fun. Thank you, Ann, for the life you have lived and shared with us. Thank you for treating us all gently and gracefully … and that we were loved whether, family or friend. Thank you for the time you gave us. Thank you for the laughter we shared with you. Thank you for your rare and wonderful legacy.