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Friday, October 14, 2016

Passing Of Joyce Long.

We had the privilege yestrday  of attending the funeral of Mrs Joyce Long.
She was the wife of the late Pastor Hariold Long and mother of 5 children.
Her son Graham wrote this in his newsletter from the Wayside Chapel where he is the Pastor.
The funeral service was a wonderful tribute to a fine Christian lady.
Also is a link to the poem "My Two Mothers" that Heather Long read out as a tribute to her mum.

Dear Inner Circle,
An old lady died this week. She was born into an Australia that knew a lot about economic depression and next to nothing about government support. It was a world of hard work. As the eldest daughter in a large family, her lot was about raising younger children and endless domestic duties. Her education finished at primary school because there were many brothers and they needed to be fed and their clothes washed. An old wood stove seemed to perpetually burn with soup for strangers and a kettle constantly ready for a cup of tea. There was no entertainment in the house except for when the family sang together or laughed together. After the lady got married she was amazed at how her parents could suddenly afford some labour-saving devices like a washing machine.
The lady’s mother had agoraphobia before anyone knew the word and so as a little girl as young as seven years, she would toddle up to the bank to bring home wages for the men in her father’s joinery. Her mother was sharp, all the prices for timber and quotes for building jobs were at the top of her head. Her father was a big burley builder. She adored her father who once every night would walk into a room full of children that ought to be asleep and say a prayer. One night she asked her father to pray for their pet dog who had taken ill. The father hesitated and she knew that he thought perhaps prayers for dogs were not in order. He prayed for the dog.
The lady fell in love with a soldier. He’d served in Darwin as an army nurse during the bombing and was on leave in her home town. The soldier came across a group of kids singing Christian songs on a street corner. The soldier thought the young girl playing the piano accordion was the most stunning girl in the world. He left the army and studied to become a minister and they married.
She loved her husband. She believed in him. She taught her children to honour him. He adored her. Every morning of their married life, he brought her a cup of tea and toast on the best matching plates they owned. Their children knew that they had been born into a love story that included them but was never all about them. They had five children but their home was constantly filled with 'strays'. The meal table rarely accommodated the immediate family. All kinds of people who had no place at any table, had a place at this lady’s table. Everyone got fed and everyone got loved.
The endless series of strays were a burden to some of the siblings. At times the siblings would roll their eyes and slap their foreheads when some lunatic remark was made. The complaints rarely broke the sound waves because nothing was clearer than these people could be loved in this family and they had as much right to love as anyone else in the world. This was love, not as ideology but as lived action and it couldn’t help but have a formative effect on the children.
Family trips were sometimes arguments between squashed kids and less than comfortable guests or they were a session of singing in at least a four-part harmony. All the songs were religious. They taught about a reverence for life, about a judge higher than any authority on Earth, about the power of love to overcome death and about heaven to come. Nothing was actually said about heaven to come, except that it was to come and so life was to be lived reverently and with a sense of purpose and urgency.
The lady had no education but she was sharp. She could smell a lie. She had no end of health tips that didn’t make much sense. Wearing a singlet seemed to be important for staving off most diseases. A brown paper bag on the chest under a singlet could prevent sea sickness. She had no interest in theological arguments. Faith was about living and loving not about reasoning. She knew that love trumped reason; it didn’t repudiate it but it trumped it. She had no interest in the television. She never got a joke in her life even though her husband was the joke teller of all time.
She watched her siblings all grow relatively wealthy and though she was one of the hardest working people to have lived in the past one hundred years, she never had any money. She banked everything on love. Even as an old lady with dementia, she loved the people who came to sweep the floors or give her a shower.
Her death, like her life, was hard work. Before she lost consciousness, she couldn’t swallow and her tongue had swollen so that her weak little voice could barely be understood. The last conversation was when her daughter asked her how she was going. Her last words were, "Real good".
This tiny woman, the warrior of love, died this week and I’m counting just how many ways I’m thankful that this was my Mum.

Rev Graham Long AM
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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