Vibrant and vivid send-off at Patricia's moving service
Published 04/09/2011 | 05:00
THE send-off was everything Patricia Redlich would have wanted -- because it was her own design.
From the deep red flowers on her casket to the music and speakers and the stunning picture on the order of service, which captured a laughing Patricia in a slinky, off-the-shoulder sweater, it was exactly as she'd wanted it.
Those gathered on Friday at The Island crematorium in Ringaskiddy came to remember that Patricia was vibrant, vivid and very much in charge, and that was what she made possible with the careful planning of her funeral.
Patricia had chosen her favourite hymns by Mozart and Schubert and songs by Amanda McBroom performed by the Deise Singers, the choir she had adopted as her own when she and her husband Val Rossiter relocated from Dublin to Old Parish outside Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
She had also suggested that the service be split into three parts: the first, delivered by Val, devoted to her private life; the middle, delivered by her long-time friend and work colleague Eoghan Harris, focused on her public life; and the conclusion, delivered by Fr John Dardis, spoke of her spirituality.
Val Rossiter, in a moving address, revealed that Patricia had enjoyed a new lease of life following their move several years ago from Dublin to a rural home at Old Parish.
"The city girl had become a country girl," he said.
She had slowly fallen in love with Ireland's oldest Christian parish, its people and its remarkable location. She never got used to meeting cattle on the road or in her garden, but she relished the town's lack of traffic lights and kept up a love of cards -- which had begun during a year-long stay in a TB sanatorium in her teens -- by playing 45s in a local pub, he added.
She took up golf and joined two choirs, never losing her love of singing, Val said, recalling how he convinced a jazz band in a hotel in Manhattan to allow her join them onstage, telling them Patricia was a well-known singer in Ireland.
Eoghan Harris -- a friend since the Sixties when he met Patricia in Irish political and trade union circles -- also worked alongside her on the Sunday Independent for many years. "Her column helped thousands of people and, indeed, it saved lives," he said.
Patricia was a clinical psychologist by profession, but moved with equal success between RTE, the Press group and the Sunday Independent in the media -- she was a friend of the late Veronica Guerin -- and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Workers' Party in the political and labour worlds.
Mr Harris added that Patricia had been a fearless campaigner as a trade unionist and a socialist in the Seventies and Eighties.
He stressed that while she may have eventually left the socialistic dogma of her early years behind, she never lost its principles.
"She was somebody who successfully sought and fought for change where it was possible and practicable. As a leading light in the trade union movement in the Seventies and Eighties she stood for two principles -- the first was economic equality for women. The second principle and, in my view, the more important principle, was her lifelong active opposition to the armed struggle of the Provisional IRA, which she saw as a form of Irish fascism," he said.
Mr Harris said that Patricia had an enormous impact on all who came in contact with her. "While the socialist Patricia Redlich merely shared my beliefs, the Patricia Redlich who replaced her actually influenced my beliefs," he said.
"Patricia Redlich never followed a mob or sat on a fence -- she believed that bad politics began with being a bystander. While sins of commission might be forgiven, sins of omission were mortal and permanent," he added.
Mr Harris said that, at the end, his friend had craved a conscious death. "As a creature of the enlightenment she insisted on a conscious death and Val, her husband, gave her that great gift," he said.
"In her last days, the flesh fell away from her fragile frame but the fierce light of her inquiring intelligence never flickered in the face of death."
Fr John Dardis revealed Patricia's moments of anger in facing death. So much of her life had fallen into place in recent years, he said, and it seemed unfair that her body should fail her and cut short her contentment.
He recited lines by the poet Mary Oliver, telling of the dual forces of life that pull us in opposite directions. On the one hand, to live fully, we must love and commit and utterly immerse ourselves in living. On the other, we must ultimately let go of everything and everyone. That is life, he said, as Patricia understood, and as she strove to live it to the end.
The mourners were led by Val, Patricia's son Alex, sisters Ann, Jane and Lesley, and her brother Paul. Others present included Sunday Independent deputy editor Willie Kealy, photographic editor David Conachy, fashion editor Constance Harris and trade unionist Cllr John Kelleher (Labour).