Terry Denison's Eulogy
by Jean - Paul BRUNET
(Perth, Western Australia, Australia)
For those who do not know who I am, my name is John - Paul Brunet and I have be given the honor of giving this Eulogy for an amazing man and a good friend, Terry Denison.
My relationship with Terry began nearly thirty years ago, at the time I was working at Shenton Park Hospital on Ward One along with Sandy. I remember the day I met Terry, it was his first day at work and he was introduced to me as Sandy’s fiancée.
Well, most times when you meet someone for the first time, you’re a little apprehensive because you’re curious about the person. You wonder if he or she is a good person, how much of yourself do you put into the greeting and could there be a friendship between us.
Now friendship is not an easy thing to grasp. It’s not something you can see or touch or put into word easily, it’s something you feel. When I first met Terry, I was faced with this pale face young man who had a boyish looks, well he looked pale to me and when he was introduced as Sandy’s fiance, Terry leaned towards me and as he stretched out his hand to shake mine, he said, with a big smile on his face and a genuine glad to meet you look in his eyes, “Actually it’s Terry”. I then knew and felt that we would be friends, for Terry surely had a gift of making you feel so welcome and at ease.
As the years went on, I have gotten to know this amazing man, how he was such a very kind and caring person with such a big heart and when you combined this with his humorous and cheeky nature, life was always a lot of joy and laughter around him.
Having worked closely with Terry on Ward One all this years, I saw how so caring, compassionate and respectful he was, not only to the people he worked with, but to patients he looked after and also the families of those patients. I have watched these families come onto the ward with sadness in their eyes and a heavy heart, but Terry would always be able to bring some brightness in their day and make them laugh. That is a gift and he was so good at it. It was his nature and that was one of the things I loved so much about Terry.
There was a short poem from school that has always reminded me of Terry –
“I shall pass through this world but once, any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
I remember many times during our afternoon shifts, in between the turns (those who worked in the hospital would know what I mean) we would to go out the back near the boiler room and we would talk serious men stuff (I know some of our better halves out there would think it would have been a pile of rubbish and it was), but there was one topic that was not and it was another thing I loved about him.
Terry was a family man, when there were just the two of us out there, we would always asked about each other’s family. Terry spoke about his family and friends back in England and how his life has changed, but now his life is here with Sandy. So many a times he would say how he loved married life and I could always see in his eyes how much he loved Sandy when he spoke about her and how much she meant to him. (For the record Lesley (my wife), I had the same look in my eyes when I spoke about you sweet).
The topic of his family became more interesting when Alexandra and Elizabeth came along, he used to say that it was hard work but he loved it. At that time Lesley and I had five children, so I use to call him an amateur and he would reply that he was not a flaming rabbit, but you could see the love in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he spoke about his two babies and that life could not be better. I use to enjoy seeing him fire up and his body bouncing around like a kid when we spoke about Sandy and the girls, family was a topic that was a common ground for us.
In 1995 I left Shenton Park and moved to another field of employment, sadly Terry and I only caught up on certain occasions like events at the hospital, at a dinner or weddings, but every time we meet I would see that same boyish face with the cheeky smile and when we hugged each other, the time since we last met just disappeared.
Last year Lesley came home from work and when she told me about Terry, it saddened me down to my core, but at the time I did not have the courage or the words in my heart to contact him, because I did not want to believe it. I tried to rationalize it, as a Police Officer with all the type people I dealt with, I thought why not one of them, why a good man like Terry, but there is no answer to it.
Soon after that I caught up with Terry at the Shenton Park Closing down Ball, I did not know what to expect, but as soon as I saw that smile and that friendly face, I had to give him a hug, I felt it was the Terry I knew. During that night as I was going to the men’s room when I saw Sandy sitting near the door, she told me that Terry was in the toilet and could I check on him.
When I entered the toilet I saw that Terry was upset, when I asked him if he was alright, he said, it’s not me I am upset about, he said he knew it was bad, but what upset him the most, was how he is going to tell Sandy and the girls, so I gave him a hug, at that time some others who were also concerned had come in to see how Terry was. As they helped him out, Terry looked at me and raised his eye brow, I felt there was something he wanted to say but did not have the chance.
The following week I rang Terry up and we went to the Hillary’s Mariana for lunch, it was a beautiful day, the sun was bright and the air so clear. We made small talk for a little while before he said, how about we really talk because I need to, so we ordered lunch and a couple of beers because I needed it.
Whilst sitting looking at the ocean, Terry said to me that he had an amazing life with Sandy, Alexandra and Elizabeth, who he loved so dearly, and he was so grateful to so many friends and family who have been so wonderful in helping Sandy and him through what they were going through.
As we spoke about our families, Terry said, “I’ll tell you about my life, before I met Sandy, it was if I was in a car driving around with no directions or destination, people I meet along the way would jump in the car and ride along with me until it was time for them to get out. The day I met Sandy, she jumped in the front seat with me and that was her seat from now on. Others we met would still come for a ride in the back seat and would get out when it was their time. When Elizabeth came, she had her own seat in the car, now we were riding as a family and it got even better when Alexandra came on the ride, because by this time it did not matter about the direction of destination, it was all about the ride as a family. I never heard Terry talk like that before.
I told Terry that I understood what he met, he then says, “John you know what I have learned about life? So I said what, he tells me that in three words he could sum up everything he learnt about life, “It goes on”.
At that he took drink from his glass of beer, I just looked at him and at that point of time I realized how amazing this man is, the strength his has, the dignity he possesses, I have known many a men in less situation then Terry that would of been bitter, angry and selfish because of it.
Terry looked at me again and said, “Because “life goes on”, there are two things I would like you to do for me when I die and you’re only to mention these at my funeral.
For the past year I have kept in my heart these two things that Terry tasked me to do when he died. This last while I have been trying to assess when it would be an appropriate time to bring it up with Sandy, but last week as I sat in the lounge with Lesley, the phone rang and Sandy had asked me to give this Eulogy, I was so glad to be given this honor and I can’t put it out of my head that Terry had the vision to set this in motion the day he asked me to do those two things.
(The second task is for Sandy and the girls only)
One of the tasks that he asked me to tell Sandy to do, I have taken upon myself to do as I have been given this opportunity of giving this eulogy. Terry said to me that he understood that people had to mourn and grieve, each in their own way, but what he wanted today was for his family and friends to celebrate his life because he had no regrets. So I would ask everyone here to take a minute to reflect on all the happy and joyful moments, the love, the laughter and funny antics which Terry brought to all our lives, hold that in your heart and mind. For today whist in the company of each other, we will celebrate the memories and life of this most amazing man, Terry Denison.