There’s nothing quite like a funeral.
Nowadays, families are increasingly after ‘a celebration’ rather than the old somber mood of a funeral, they encourage laughter, clapping and all the joy of the way their loved ones lived. They wish to highlight the love and life of their loved one that’s passed.
On Wednesday morning, I had the great honour in saying farewell to a wonderful lady, Isa Tester.
I knew Isa was a wonderful lady because of the way her family – May, Irene, Ellen and Frank – all spoke so fondly and with such love for their mother. Don’t get me wrong, many families speak highly of their passed loved one, but this family struck a chord with me…..firstly their Scottish humour and their amazing sense of family and belonging to something great in history….a large family!
That’s why I love Christmas, all of my family gets together, sometimes up to 70 people….you can never lose a true sense of a loving family.
Each had great memories of their ‘Mammy’, each had the same but also very different memories, and each of Isa’s children were understandably shattered at their mothers passing but were also OK for her to leave them behind, they knew they would catch her again one day.
We started the service with a wee poem from the Scottish Poet Sir Alexander Gray;
This is my country,
The land that begat me,
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
and those who toil here
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh
And bone of my bone.
With the families blessing, here’s a little of Isa’s story;
SHE GREW UP IN THE GORBALS IN GLASGOW, IT WAS A TOUGH PLACE TO LIVE DURING A TOUGH TIME, AND ISA WENT TO WORK AT JUST 14 IN A MUNITIONS FACTORY, BEFORE SCORING THE PLUM JOB AT GRAYDRUMS BISCUIT FACTORY IN GLASGOW.
I WANNA KNOW WHAT SHE WAS THINKING…SHE NEVER GRABBED A BISCUIT FOR FREE…ISA HATED THIEVES AND LIARS.
YOU COULD SAY DURING HER WORKING CAREER SHE WENT FROM BULLETS TO BISCUITS.
IT WOULD BE AT THE AGE OF 54 WITH JUST 54 POUNDS THAT ISA MADE THE MOVE FROM THE MOTHERLAND TO ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA IN 1983 AND ON HER SON IN LAW JOHN’S BIRTHDAY NO LESS
ONCE IN AUSTRALIA, SHE NEEDED A JOB, SO TOOK OUT AN AD IN THE PAPER AS A CLEANER FOR JUST $5 AN HOUR, SHE CLEANED ELEVEN HOUSES A WEEK.
IRENE WOULD TAKE HER TO EACH HOUSE TO CLEAN BECAUSE SHE NEVER DID GET HER LICENSE.
THEN AFTER A LITTLE PERSUASION THERE WAS PWP OR PARENTS WITHOUT PARTNERS – HER OWN CHILDREN HAD BECOME BORING TO HER AND SHE NEEDED STIMULATION, ONCE IT WAS EXPLAINED TO ISA WHAT PWP WAS THEY ALL REMEMBER HER SAYING ‘LET ME GET MY ROLLERS AND WHO’S TAKING ME’!
ISA WAS AN AVID READER, SHE’D READ LOADS EVERY WEEK – MAINLY THE TV WEEK MAGAZINE!
ISA LOVED TO TRAVEL, SHE EARNED ENOUGH TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD THREE TIMES AND THEN OVERSEAS EVERY TWO YEARS.
ISA WAS BLESSED WITH FOUR CHILDREN MAY, IRENE, ELLEN AND FRANK AND SHE WAS A STAUNCH DEFENDER OF HER CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY THE SONS IN LAW – SHE WOULD SAY – ‘NOTHIN WORSE THAN A WEAK MAN’! SHE LOVED HER WEE LADS AND ALL HER FAMILY.
ISA HAD A KNACK OF GIVING US A SAYING THAT WOULD CRACK UP A ROOM…
WHEN PEOPLE GOT A BIT TOO CUDDLY, SHE SAY ‘I’M A HAS BEEN, NOT A LESBIAN’
OR MAYBE ‘THERE’S WISER OUT IN THE FIELDS EATING GRASS’, OR THE CLASSIC ‘WHY FROWN AND GROW WRINKLES, WHEN YOU CAN SMILE AND SHOW DIMPLES’.
ONE FAILING OF ISA THOUGH, YOU CUNNING THING YOU, MANY HERE REMEMBER BEING CALLED ‘HENNY PENNY’, YEP, SHE’D SAY THAT BECAUSE SHE COULDN’T REMEMBER YOUR NAME.
ISA HAD A GREAT LOVE OF FAMILY AND OF TRAVEL, SHE WAS INDEPENDENT AND GENEROUS.
SHE WOULD HAVE IRENE CHECK HER BANKING EVERY MONTH TO MAKE SURE SHE HAD ENOUGH MONEY FOR HER OWN FUNERAL, AND SHE DID. SO TODAY’S CELEBRATION IS ON ISA!
ISA TESTER WILL BE REMEMBERED AS…THE DUCHESS, A FEMINIST BEFORE IT WAS ‘COOL’, A TEMPTRESS AND A FLURT, A GREAT SONGSTRESS, A GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR – MAINLY TO ELLEN, A HORRIBLE DRIVER AND THE ULTIMATE JUDGE….OF A LIAR!
It was a fitting farewell to a beautiful lady and she was given all the love and reverence she deserved through Olsens Funerals at Sutherland.
The service was finished with an amazingly haunting version of a Celtic classic, that traces it’s origins back to 1635 in Scotland – The Parting Glass – the song is played or more commonly ‘sung’ by all at gatherings, weddings and even at funerals, a kinda all the best and take care song, which I think is the perfect way to end any occasion.