Stories

Farewell to Erika, from Kenneth Sheldon-Lee

Shared by Jessica Smith on January 25, 2012

ERIKA WAS VERY DEAR TO US.  WE WENT BACK A LONG TIME.

I FIRST MET ERIKA WHEN SHE WAS WORKING WITH THE AIRLINE AND AS BRASH AS I WAS AT THE TIME I ASKED HER IF SHE WOULD LIKE TO JOIN ME FOR DRINKS AT THE NATIONAL HOTEL IN BRISBANE.  AT THAT TIME IT WAS THE ‘IN’ PUB.

I WAS TO MEET MY GREAT FRIEND CARL THAT FRIDAY NIGHT AND THAT MEETING WHEN ERIKA TURNED UP WITH ONE OF HER GIRLFRIENDS WAS THE NIGHT SHE MET HER FUTURE HUSBAND.  AS I REMEMBER IT (MORE THAN 40 YEARS LATER) IT TURNED OUT TO BE A RIOTOUS NIGHT.  CARL IN HIS USUAL FASHION WAS OUTRAGEOUS, CHARMING, FUNNY AND TOTALLY OFF THE PLANET.  THEY HIT IT OFF IMMEDIATELY AND THAT BEGAN A LONG AND VERY HAPPY ASSOCIATION WITH ERIKA.

I CAN RECALL SO MANY GREAT TIMES WE ALL HAD TOGETHER BOTH HERE AND IN ASIA.

BOTH CARL AND I WORKED FOR MILES LABORATORIES AT THE TIME AND HE, JIM AND I BECAME FIRM FRIENDS WITH ERIKA AND HER FAMILY. 

I RECALL SEVERAL EVENTS THAT COME BACK TO ME WITH SUCH CLARITY IT BRINGS A CATCH TO MY VOICE AND A TEAR TO MY EYES.

THERE WERE PICNICS WITH ERIKA’S FAMILY – WITH HER MOTHER AND PRUE AND HER YOUNGER BROTHERS KEITH AND KEN.

THEN THERE WAS THE TRIP TO THE NORTHERN TIP OF AUSTRALIA – COOKTOWN, ELLIS BEACH ESPECIALLY WHERE WE LIVED OUT OF TENTS AND BOTH CARL AND I WERE CAUGHT USING COMPANY CARS FOR WHICH WE HAD TO ANSWER TO OUR BOSS AT THE TIME (GEOFF AND LAURIS ROSE) WHO ALSO BECAME GREAT FRIENDS OF ERIKA.

WHEN CARL AND ERIKA WERE TRANSFERRED TO ASIA I REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES WE HAD IN SINGAPORE ESPECIALLY THE OLD COLONIAL HOUSE WHERE THEY LIVED.

AFTER CARL LEFT MILES, ERIKA AND HE WENT TO HONG KONG.  BY THIS TIME I WAS MARRIED TO ROBYN #1 AND WE LIVED IN MANILA.  DUE TO THE VISA REQUIREMENTS THE WHOLE FAMILY (WE NOW HAD BRADFORD) HAD TO LEAVE EVERY 60 DAYS.  WE STAYED WITH ERIKA AND CARL IN HONG KONG.  I VIVIDLY REMEMBER MY SON BRAD AND JESSICA AFTER ESCAPING THEIR ARMAHS ATTENTION WERE CAUGHT STUFFING PAPER DOWN THE TOILET GIGGLING GLEEFULLY.

WHEN CARL AND ERIKA CAME BACK TO ADELAIDE I WAS A FREQUENT VISITOR AND AGAIN WE HAD VERY GOOD TIMES.

AFTER CARL AND ERIKA SPLIT WHEN I RETURNED FROM ASIA I MET SO MANY OF HER GOOD FRIENDS IN ADELAIDE DURING MY FREQUENT VISITS.  INEVITABLY WE ALWAYS ENDED UP AT THE HOTEL BRITANICA (I THINK THAT IS WHAT IT WAS CALLED).   

AFTER ROBYN #2 AND I MARRIED AND WE MOVED TO THE BUSH ERIKA SPENT TIME WITH US ON OUR FARM.  THE MOST VIVID MEMORY I HAVE IS ONE MORNING ERIKA RUNNING OUT OF HER ROOM YELLING BECAUSE A LARGE GREEN FROG JUMPED ONTO HER WHILE SHE WAS SITTING ON THE TOILET.  THE FROG CONTINUED TO VISIT HER AND ON THE MORNING SHE WAS GOING BACK TO ADELAIDE SHE FOUND IT IN ONE OF HER SHOES.  HER SPIN ON THIS WAS THAT THE FROG DID NOT WANT HER TO LEAVE…

ERIKA’S PASSING IS THE END OF AN ERA FOR ME.  FIRST MY GOOD FRIEND CARL LEFT US AND RECENTLY THE LAST REMAINING MEMBER OF THE TRIO (JIM AHEARN) PASSED AWAY.

SO VALE ERIKA – WE WILL ALL MISS YOU BUT PERHAPS CONSIDERING THE LAST FEW YEARS WHEN YOU STRUGGLED FOR BREATH THIS MAY BE A KIND RELEASE.        

ERIKA GO WITH WHICHEVER GOD YOU BELIEVE IN – PERHAPS WE WILL ALL MEET UP AGAIN SOMEWHERE.
 

KENNETH SHELDON-LEE                  JANUARY 2012

 

To you from Erika, a letter from Heaven.

Shared by Jessica Smith on January 25, 2012

To My Dearest Family

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say,
But first of all to let you know that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from Heaven, where I dwell with God above,
Where there are no tears or sadness, there is just eternal Love.

Please do not be unhappy, just because I'm out of sight,
Remember that I'm with you, every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you, when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me, and said, " I welcome you".

"It's good to have you back again. 
You were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here so badly as part of my big plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man".

Then God gave me a list of things he wished for me to do.
And foremost on that list of mine, is to watch and care for you.
I will be beside you, every day of the week and year,
And when you're sad I'm standing there, to wipe away the tear.

And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight,
God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night.
When you think of my life on Earth, and all those loving years,
Because you're only human, there's bound to be some tears.

One thing is for certain, though my life on Earth is over,
I am closer to you now than I ever was before.
And to my many friends, trust God knows what is best.
I am not far away from you, I'm just beyond the crest.

There are rocky roads ahead for you and many hills to climb,
Together we can do it, taking one day at a time.
It was my philosophy and please I'd like for you,
To give unto the world, so the world will give to you.

If you can help someone who's in sorrow or in pain,
Then you can say to God at night, my day was not in vain.
And now I am contented that my life it was worthwhile,
Knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

When you're walking down the street and I am on your mind,
I'm walking in your footsteps, only half a step behind.
And when you feel a gentle breeze of wind upon your face,
That's me giving you a great big hug, or just a s oft embrace.

When it's time for you to go from that body to be free,
Remember you are not going, you are coming home to me.
I will always love you, from that place way up above,
I will be in touch again soon.
P.S. God sends his love.

 

 

Tribute from Cass Scott

Shared by Jessica Smith on January 25, 2012

Erika Willmett was my step-mother when I was between the ages of 9 and 12. 

Erika had a profound impact on my life.  She taught me about ethics, food, manners, celebrations and love.  Erika shared her joy of entertaining by imparting gastronomic etiquette lessons with military-like precision.  From the age of ten I knew how to set a table for three courses, which piece of cutlery to use with which course of crockery and how to finish a bowl of soup in a ladylike fashion.  In a decade later, as a young woman often dining in the company of elder statesman, Erika’s lessons in table etiquette came in mighty handy.

 

Erika’s love of exotic food saw such unearthly delights as sheep’s brains, apricot chicken and that 1980’s classic, meatloaf and canned peaches, grace our dining table. Her love of Asian food which was “wayout there” in the conservative suburb of Prospect in the mid 1980s saw us presented with hundred year old eggs and regular Yum Cha Sunday brunches.  Years later travelling in Hong Kong some of that made sense.  Her exotic Asian furniture contrasted so beautifully with the bright orange Datsun 180b, driven maniacally through the streets of Adelaide with a face painted of silver eye shadow and ever present lippy   – reflecting the oxymoronic character she embodied.

 

Erika instilled a strong work ethic in me, with a clever rostering system for ironing, polishing copper and watering plants, alien to most Australian millennials.  Upon inquiring where babies came from I recall Erika explaining what sex was to me in the kitchen at the age of ten and describing what it felt like.  This led to me to declaring I would never marry or have a child which she took great delight in recording on a tape cassette, vowing to replay it later in life.

 

So Goodbye Erika, to your joy of life, your pursuit of pleasure, your passion and elegance. It was quite a ride.

Tribute from Peter Harris

Shared by Jessica Smith on January 25, 2012

My goodbye to a very special, elegant lady whose love for the joy of life and living first brought us together all those years ago.


Erika’s ability to see the best in others was an attribute that I will always remember and admire, and although we only spent some three years together as a couple, she always remained a friend.


The circumstances that finally parted us in 1986 did not diminish that underlying friendship or the memories of earlier, happier times.


Moreover, I am forever grateful to have experienced the kindness and understanding always within her nature, a gift to all those around her.


In so many ways, we all loved you Erika – your passing is a great loss to those of us for whom you cared so much but it is equally a welcome and deserved relief from the suffering of your recent year.  Rest well now, dear friend in the peace that has eluded you for so long.


Always to be remembered fondly


Peter Harris. 

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