Family and friends (including many from Hazeldene Gardens and CAMEO) gathered to say goodbye to Sue Olden at Basingstoke Crematorium today. A wonderful lively character from Hazeldene Gardens in Itchen Abbas who lit up our monthly CAMEO lunches at St John’s Itchen Abbas with her laughter and sense of humour. Sue entered to Vincent by Don Mclean and we all departed to The Lords Prayer by Andrea Bocelli. Sue’s sister Debbie, very bravely, read the poem A Very Special Sister and the following tribute by her sister Jane was read.
Sue by Sue’s Sister, Jane
Sue’s life began in Hampshire. Her early school days were spent here, and after moving to Yorkshire, she eventually came back to Hampshire with the family.
Her first job was in Romsey, and while living at Mottisfont she met and fell in love with Richard. They married in 1967, and two years later welcomed their daughter Sarah.
Sue was thrilled to become a mother and enjoyed a normal family life. As Sarah got older, Sue embarked on several different jobs. She worked at Winchester College and the “Crusades” for a number of years and enjoyed being among people from all over the world.
Sue was a very sociable person and enjoyed life. She loved to laugh and have fun. Music, dancing and wildlife were some of her passions. She was a very loving, caring and loyal person and her family and friends were very important to her.
As a big sister, she was everything you could wish for. Not only a sister, but a second mum to my sister Debbie and I. She was a constant in our lives, and always kept in touch. Anyone that knew Sue, knew she talked a lot!
Losing her only child in 2012 devastated Sue and Richard, but despite everything, she carried on smiling and caring about others. She was truly amazing in her determination to continue and make the most of her life.
I knew that she longed to see Sarah again, but ‘not yet’ as she told me a few weeks before she left us. She truly believed in the next life and my only consolation is that she is now with her girl again.
I can’t imagine life without Sue in it. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing and knowing that I won’t hear her voice again on the telephone is hard to believe.
We all loved and adored Sue. She had a vitality and presence and her passing has left a huge hole in our hearts and lives. She will be remembered with much love and affection and my hope is that Sue is now truly at peace.
We listened to some reflective music by Josh Groban as we remembered Sue
The Bible reading was John 14 (see below)
Revd Alex Pease gave the following address:
Sue used to light up our regular CAMEO lunches at St John’s Itchen Abbas with her conversation and laughter, sitting at the ‘naughty table’. She was, I always thought, the heart of Hazeldene Gardens looking out for everyone and knowing everything that was going on. I am not sure how we will do without her.
A Christian funeral is the final part of a journey started at baptism. Its a journey taken by one of the church’s saints accompanied by the Christian Community.
When I say ‘Saint’ – you may think that I am overstating the case a bit! Sue had many many strengths and wonderful qualities but along with her strengths she probably also had her weaknesses; things she would be happy to be remembered for but also things she would rather were forgotten.
In this she was like all of us.
But Christian understanding of what happens at death is that when we, as Christians, cross over that barrier, we can be confident that God, creator of universe, who made each of us, will see not those successes and failures, but only Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.
Despite our weaknesses, despite our failures, God will judge our lives on the basis of what Jesus did, not on the basis of what we have done or not done. Theologians call this “The Atonement”, we are put at one with God, because of the Cross. This is why the gospel is “good news” and rather a relief for many of us.
Death is always a terrible separation for those left behind – for Dick, Jane and Debbie and all the family for Sue’s many friends. But I am confident that it is a separation which is not for ever.
So what is it like beyond death?
First of all, we don’t need to worry because Jesus has said to us in the passage which we have just read from John’s gospel that he goes on ahead of us and will prepare a place for us, if we follow him, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
But what does that place look like?
Life after death is not a disembodied eternity: twanging a harp on a cloud. No, There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Christians believe in a physical resurrection, like that of Jesus in a new Earth ruled by Jesus, where will be able to eat and drink and enjoy many of tangible joys experienced during lives in the world.
I feel sure will be singing and dancing and wildlife! And lots and lots of conversation! And of course Sarah…
Whatever it is like, it will be so much better than we can possibly imagine.
CS Lewis who wrote the Narnia Stories describes this eternal life after death well. In his books Aslan the Lion is the Christ figure and Aslan speaks to the children who are the heroes of the stories when they reach Narnia for the final time. He says
“…all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead.
The term is over: the holidays have begun.
The dream is ending: this is the morning.”
Lewis continues: ‘..for [the children] it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: and in which every chapter is better than the one before’
John 14 Jesus the Way to the Father
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 14:1–7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.