A beautiful life

I went to a memorial service the other day for a 35 year old young man. He had mental health issues. He was unable to hold down a job, so he didn’t have much money. His mind often went on strange, intriguing flights of fancy, so his role in society was limited. Many people would say that he had a difficult life. Many people would have felt sorry for him.

But, he had a passion for life that drove him to enjoy the moment. He loved to stand out in the rain, even if there was thunder and lightning, because it was exciting to feel the water on his face. He loved to garden and tended his plants with utmost care and devotion. In fact he gave his plants and his cat far more attention than he gave himself. He loved people and they loved him. At the service a number of people brought bunches of flowers – particularly sunflowers (his favourites) – in honour of this fellow.

An opportunity was made for anyone who wanted to speak on his behalf. One chap got up, accompanied by his carer. He had that special way of holding his head slightly to the side, as if listening to a fairy orchestra that only he could hear. His fingers were splayed and twisted at his side, as if he were playing with invisible pieces of string. His attire was an interesting, eclectic mix of clothing that represented both genders. You would be tempted to feel a bit sorry for him but then, he spoke. He’d written a poem for his friend. It was exquisite. I’m not just saying that because he was “special”. I mean it was a poem of skill, word-craft, sensitivity and artistry. It sang.

Another friend played a solo on her violin. She said it was a piece she’d played for the young man’s garden a short while ago. (He liked to play music to his tomato plants.) And a young lady, almost a Goth but not quite, sang a little ditty that he had made up for her. “Siobhan grew into a butterfly that turned into a tsunami and the world ended.” (How brilliant is that!)

Up they came to the podium to honour their mate: the physically and mentally challenged; the slightly-not-right-looking; the living-on-the-margins people. And, they all spoke of the deceased’s beautiful smile and funny ways. They said that they loved him and their lives would never be the same for knowing him.

Many people would say that this young man was poor, disadvantaged, handicapped and that his short life didn’t amount to much. But, I say they’re wrong. His short life was a blaze of glory and love. He shone like the stars. He blessed others with his joyful, exuberant embrace of the simple things in life. He loved.

It was a privilege to attend his memorial service. I cried for his parents and siblings who are grieving his loss. I cried for his friends, for his little community, that have lost their shining light. Most of all, I cried because I was moved by the sheer beauty of the love his friends had for him and their courage in sharing that with us.

I think his life was just right.



  1. Jeanne
    May 20, 2014

    Wendy, you express just how I felt. I was awed at the beauty and gifts that his friends, carers and family brought to the memorial service. The poem was such a priceless accolade and positive knowing of just where he is now with the Lord. The lady who played the violin expressed such beauty and love for him through her music. The funny anecdotes made us (who never knew him) wish we had known him. His father’s tribute was so lovely. Everyone who spoke shared such a lot with us. I am so glad that I got to share the experience. God’s presence was tangible, He moved through His people. WoW.

  2. Sue Hoye
    May 19, 2014

    Thank you Wendy for a wonderful reminder of a beautiful service.
    As his mother I sat amazed and humbled at the outpouring of love from so many people. You perfectly captured the moment.

    Goodbye my Sunflower son, till we meet again.

  3. Wendy Rowe
    May 19, 2014

    I agree with you Wendy- I too, think this young man’s life was ‘just right’ for him. I had the privilege of working with him, as one of his support workers. He was an extraordinary, talented and passionate being. Just being in his presence was indescribably up-lifting. He served as a teacher, to so many of us.

    • Wendy Noble
      May 21, 2014

      I think the work you and your colleagues do is absolutely inspiring. Thank you for being such a loving support for this young man (and all the others).

  4. chris stutley
    May 19, 2014

    Thank you for your insightful tribute to the young man and his friends! The worlds ideas of success seem irrelevant in the face of these moments!

  5. Anne
    May 19, 2014

    Hello Wendy,
    The piece you wrote was very moving and I was so pleased to read it. I didn’t attend the memorial (I reside in New Zealand), but I am a cousin of the said young man’s father, and I know the memorial, and your recount of it, was not only a fitting tribute, but a great comfort to my cousin and his wife.

    • Peter
      May 19, 2014

      Thanks Anne,

      Its a comfort to see how much Linton mean’t to so many others, as well as his Mum and Dad.

    • Wendy Noble
      May 21, 2014

      Thank you, Anne. I’m so pleased it was helpful to the family. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  6. Sandra
    May 18, 2014

    Thank you Wendy for your heart felt words that recaptured the memories and love shared by friends and family for this fine young man. It was a beautiful tribute to him. As Joyce said it was an “honour” to have attended his memorial service.

  7. Ros
    May 18, 2014

    Wendy, I agree with Joyce, you said it all beautifully, just how I felt too!

    • Wendy Noble
      May 18, 2014

      Thank you, Ros, for helping me with the cup of tea! I’m glad I’ve done okay with this blog as I wanted to honour both the lad, his family and his friends.

  8. JOYCE
    May 18, 2014

    Wendy, you said it all, exactly as I felt, but I couldn’t put it into words as beautifully as you did. I believe we were all honoured and humbled, by attending this Memorial.

    • Wendy Noble
      May 18, 2014

      Thanks, Joyce. I was also impressed with the way you and the other ladies served everyone after the service.

  9. Margaret
    May 17, 2014

    How true Wendy how true. His life was honoured for who he was and at the same time his friends were also honoured.

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