Eulogy for Cheryl
Remembering Cheryl Ramanayake
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.”
― Booker T. Washington---
To Cheryl this was her conquest. For about 40 years, she gave her all, to work at everything that would help her overcome the challenges/obstacles to live a normal life.
Born in England on 24th Dec 1958, she was the beloved older daughter of Dr. Eric and Norma Ramanayake and later became the big sister in every sense to Nirmalene (Nimmi) and a few of us.
Her character stood out from a very young age. I got to know her, closely, when I was around 12 or 13 and she 15yrs. She would look forward to my visits even though I was her younger sister’s friend!
Her generosity and gentleness and caring nature was evident in everything she did. There were times when she would reprimand us for being careless or rude. To her, developing a good character was everything. We couldn’t get away with any mischief!
For a 15 yr old she was wise beyond her years and also very talented.
She was musically inclined and a great baker too. I would hear her play the piano often but once I got close to her, she would stop. I believe she was shy. She was also never boastful. As a baker she continued to surprise me over the years, baking so many different kinds of cake for friends, even me! She tried encouraging Nirmalene(Nimmi) and me too, but I think we were too hyper to join her in the kitchen.
As a threesome we went on our jaunts around the neighbourhood either on our bicycles or we walked. With a word of caution from Cheryl we would venture beyond our usual territory..
Cheryl was just like any teenager or young adult could be. She was always aspiring to do better and to reach greater heights. Accountancy was her passion.
She uncomplainingly carried her cross for those 40years, if not for that, she would have been a top notch Entrepreneur by now.
Yet she never gave –up on her faith, yes she was angry sometimes even sad and she would question me and others, “why would God have allowed this? If not for this I would have been working now no?” This was her usual phrase. We talked about this many times. I reminded her that she was like silver and gold in the refiner’s hand,
(This third I will put into the fire);
“I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.”
She was experiencing the touch of the Great refiner’s hand.
Cheryl knew and accepted that God had allowed this event into her life. She hung onto Him.
In spite of all this, she travelled back to the UK and lived and did voluntary work for over 5 years. This was something she pursued and accomplished with her brave effort combined with support of family and friends.
She returned to SL in 2009, due to a set-back she had due to health reasons. However this did not deter her from living her life to the fullest. She dived back into voluntary work, CIMA classes and singing lessons, she attended many classical and modern musical events and Church regularly.
Cheryl just loved to meet up with friends and family. She loved it when the Uncles and Aunts visited her and even managed the house for her mum. Her commitment and love for Aunty Norma was evident in the way she cared for her and supervised the household and kept Nirmalene informed of anything that might be amiss. She would arrange for Aunty Norma’s friends to visit and call her. There were many times when she has called and reminded me to visit them as Aunty asked after me! She was very sad over Uncle Eric’s passing too. He was the life of the party in their home and he kept Cheryl entertained and spurred her on to meet all the challenges she faced.
She had a ‘never give up’ attitude because of his encouragement.
I saw that Aunty Norma’s passing too had a huge impact on her as one of her main responsibilities was caring for her Mum. Seeing Cheryl struggle through this grief again, I resolved to visit, call and keep in touch more often.
Nimmi, Amitha and the boys, Amantha and Niraj brought her endless joy. She watched over them like a hawk when they were younger and had tuition classes in their grandmother’s home. She enjoyed their company immensely. As they grew older, and shy-er, she took pride in all their success and was a proud Aunt. Am not at liberty to share the nicknames she had for the family, but Cheryl had this innate ability to make up nicknames and songs for people. You may have to ask the family about that!
Cheryl never displayed a moment of bitterness, she chose laughter and light heartedness over it. She always strived to make life better for those around her. I know how much she loved her sweets and fizzy drinks. These were her small joys but she never enjoyed them alone. The maids and care-givers were treated to various goodies that she enjoyed. Entertaining was her forte. She made us all feel very welcome. The frequent visitor’s to her home over the years at Guildford Cres and thereafter at Alfred Pl, were her family, Uncles & Aunts, classmates and other friends and her long time housemate, Sr. Disna. She would always call us and tell us how much we were missed and that she longed to see us. She was honest about her feelings and emotions.
In closing, I would like to say that we have all shared many great moments with her. May we cherish her, may we remember her infectious laughter and the simple joy that she exuded. May we remember her gratefulness for life itself and all that she had.
May we be reminded that she didn’t dwell on what she didn’t have although her physical challenges limited her freedom.
She kept hope alive, always chose to live life to the fullest.
She kept trying to achieve and overcome right to the end.
Cheryl, my dearest friend, if you can hear me now, we all know and understand that this virus caused you to be in a temporary prison. Dearest Cheryl, you know true freedom now.
You left us abruptly, we couldn’t say good-bye but as Amantha said, your legacy lives on in all of us who were privileged to know you. The other day, another friend who saw to your needs regularly which she wanted it to be a secret, told me ….that this is the consolation we have: that as you are in heaven now, you will always be a cherished friend, held closely in our hearts.
15th Sep 2021
Her ashes are to be interred on 16th Sep2021.