Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Aoi a bhfuil failte roimhe"

the air seems to ring with the sound of Jim Meehan's softly spoken voice. Stepping into the hall, I glance towards others. Yes, there it is again. With a tangible quality difficult to explain but very present, nonetheless. Welcome! Am I imagining this? Looking around, my eyes falling upon loved ones looking back at me, there is a sense of peace. Jim, not wanting a funeral service bedecked with sadness, is indeed achieving his wish. At this memorial service he seems to be bidding us welcome.

The little Wynnum-Manly Alliance Church hall is full. Friends, acquaintances and family. People speaking of things previously unknown by others including Jim's evangelical work in Ireland and the United States of America. The latter years of Jim's life reflect the power of God's presence in his beliefs and his day to day life.

Acknowledging some previous behaviours of Jim's that are leaving others hurt, even to this day, is reminding me of one thing shared by us all. That is to say, our human frailties. We hear from Jim's eldest son, Geoff, the history of Jim's life including his Irish heritage and his great photographic skills. Geoff tells of Jim Meehan's military service including New Guinea and also with the British Commonwealth Forces, Korea. Geoff and others are also talking about Jim's book on the 5th Australian Division Special Signals Display - Fort Lytton Signals Museum.

Jim Meehan is leaving us with quite a legacy of history. Working tirelessly for many years within the Fort Lytton Historical Association, Jim establishing the Signals Display section of the Fort Lytton Signals Museum is quite an accomplishment. From very humble beginnings, Jim's life story is indeed the epitome of a very ordinary man doing some very extraordinary things!

Experiencing a life-long recovery from early childhood abuse and rejection, Jim is now leaving behind this life with all its joys and its sorrows. Together we are saying goodbye with dignity, sincerity, hope and love.

On a personal note, I say thank you to Jim on behalf of my late brother, Graham. In 1960 Graham died from the ravages of cancer at the age of 24. Leaving behind his widow Rosemary and two small sons, Geoff aged 2 years and Stephen aged 2 days, Graham is not able to say thank you in this life for the huge responsibility Jim accepted on his behalf. Jim Meehan did the very best he could in caring for Rosemary and the two boys, formally adopted by him. As happens in all families, there are times of difficulty between family members but also times of great joy.

Jim and Rosemary also have two more beautiful children, Kathleen and Michael, and wonderful grandchildren of whom they have always been very proud. Although both Jim and Rosemary are now on that other journey which we all embark upon one day when passing through the doorway of life itself, they are leaving here a family who are indeed a credit to them. Rest in peace Jim. My family and I salute you. Lest we forget.

Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.

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