Eulogy Example – From a sister to a brother

My big brother Rey seemed to be in a terrible hurry as a kid. He did everything years before he was ready, started everything before he knew how to do it. Act first, think later seemed to be his motto. He moved from one thrill to the next like a tornado and left wreckage to match. Then as if he reached his destination, seemed to slow the world down to savour every experience as an adult.

There were four of us kids terrorising our poor mother, evenly spaced two years apart. Our older sister Anne and younger brother Cole. But as kids Rey and I were tight. Rey was leading from the front and I was eager to follow. It didn’t matter to him I was a girl and we didn’t hang around to see what anyone else was doing.

So many firsts came courtesy of Rey.
The first broken window. Playing football on the four meters of the front lawn, he kicked a twenty-meter torpedo shot, right through our parent’s bedroom window. I remember mum colouring a Hobbytext picture of “The devil made me do it”. Dad stuck it to the wooden panel covering the hole until the glaziers came later in the week.

My first bike ride – I remember vividly him showing me how to learn, by stealing Anne’s bike and leaning it against a low wall near our house. “sit on, push off and pedal like crazy so you don’t fall off!” Great advice actually.

Another first for me: skinned knees, and legs, and elbows and face. That one was showing me how you ride like a bullet down the huge steep hill we lived on, crouched down on a tiny plastic skateboard. I came off about half way down, tumbling the other half along the bitumen. He forgot to tell me how to slow down. I was about 6.

He was the first smoker, The first to drive, first to get a job and earn his own money – a revelation that I very quickly followed. First to move out of home. Fearless and determined to get the most out of life. That was Rey.

We used to do such crazy, stupid dangerous stuff, but he was the older brother you needed in school when the going got tough. The one to make you feel safe when you were scared, the one to inspire you to push the envelope of life.

With strict parents and the reigns held tight, keeping up with the cool kids was going to be tough in our teens. Rey endured the turbulence of trouble, mostly brought on by himself, testing boundaries, exploring the limits, measuring the consequences. To me, he was like the vanguard bravely going forth, softening up the terrain. Following along a couple of years later, he’d moved the line so far I barely knew what trouble was.

For all our mother’s worry and grief, and I know there was a great deal, he came out the other side just fine, in tune with himself and his head screwed on. A love of animals and nature sprung forth, to lead him on a path to a rewarding career and a newfound thirst for knowledge. All the troubles just melted away.

Despite the roller coaster of detentions and visits to the principal, Rey did pretty well in school and had a solid group of friends. Choosing the path of apprenticeship over university, he liked the applied sciences over theory. He was always a doer more than a talker, and TAFE gave him a newfound purpose and the freedom to learn in his own way. He thrived in this environment of self-determination.

As an adult though, Rey seemed most at home leading a solitary life in the outdoors. He seemed to really become himself and was so excited about this life. Growing up in the suburbs of Perth with parents not that keen on those same outdoors, there wasn’t going to be much of that in his childhood. But somewhere, somehow the appeal of bush survival, roughing it and life in the wild took hold.

At 18, the first chance he got he was off. Duck hunting in Victoria, fly fishing in New Zealand, rock climbing in the Kimberly, or just going bush for a few days to who knows where. He took me out a few times. Patiently sharing his knowledge, showing me this world he loved. It was a beautiful thing to see. Like after pulling me through the maelstrom as a kid, he was showing me how to slow down.

Over forty years on from those wild exciting days as kids, I still look up to my big brother. Now, just as it was then, he always seemed to be there ahead of you, just waiting for you to catch up. He possessed wisdom he held close to his chest, but he was always happy to share it if you asked.

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