Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jenny Sallans's Funeral Service

Jenny's family has given me permission to post the Service for Jenny's Funeral for her friends, especially those overseas who were unable to be there.

Jenny's Service


Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this ceremony to celebrate the life of Jenny Sallans who was 54 when she died in Whittle Ward last Saturday.  My name is Christine Howard and I would like to welcome you on behalf of Jenny’s family, her parents Jim and Olive, her brother Steve and sister in law Coralie, her brothers Peter and Bryan and sister in law Susan and all the other members of her family.  Following this ceremony you are all invited to join the family for refreshments in the reception room. In Jenny’s memory, please consider making a gift to the Whittle Ward.  There is a donation box in the foyer. 

There are many people who have been part of Jenny’s life; friends, good mates and university colleagues and members of the legal fraternity. Their love and friendship has always been important and Jenny’s family would like to record their appreciation for the support and interest shown to Jenny and to them.

Today will be a time for us to share some of our memories of Jenny, some readings that acknowledge our sadness at this time of loss and change and some words that will help us look to the future with hope. In a spirit of love and friendship, I offer these words for us to consider.

Let us live well today, for today is what we have been given. Let us aim to live all our days with courage and thankfulness so that we may leave this world with hope. For as long as there is life, there is hope. And where there is living hope, tended and protected by a loving community, despair cannot triumph. 

And so today, as we celebrate Jenny’s life we consider what she has left us. She leaves us with many positive memories, of course, and she also leaves us with the memory of a life well lived. If we are to honour her memory, we would all do well to remember that while she is not here to make the world a better place, we can act on her behalf. We can choose to see what we need to change within ourselves so that we can be the best we can be. We can choose to be better stewards for the world and take greater care of each other.

The uniqueness of each human life is the basis of our grief in bereavement. Look through the whole world and there is no one just like Jenny.  But she still lives on in your memories and will always remain a member of your circle through the influence she has had in your life.

We are here also to grow through an ending into a beginning, to let go of Jenny and, with memories gathered for the journey, gain strength for moving through the days ahead without her. Right now most of us have a heightened sense of what is precious and what is true. There is potential for connecting, truth telling and reconciling. This time together today is a time apart when all of us gather not only to remember Jenny but also to remember the bonds between and among us.

 Unknown source
The comfort of having a friend may be taken away but not that of having had one. Let us make the most of our friends while we have them, for how long we shall keep them is uncertain. We who have lost a friend have the joy that we once had in him to match the grief that he is taken away. Shall we bury the friendship with the friend?

We are here today to remember this optimistic, accepting and intelligent woman who faced what life offered, both good and bad, with realism. Jenny believed in living her life and letting others live theirs; she was clear in her opinions, didn’t play games and liked people to be straight-forward,  black and white even, as she was.  To many people she was inspirational, always practical with an active social conscience.  Jenny didn’t sit with hands folded and wait for other to act. She was pro-active and her sense of justice influenced her behaviour and dictated her career and life decisions.

Jenny had a wicked sense of humour and was an avid collector…a family characteristic. She collected anything and everything….miniature shoes, boxes, anything with eye appeal. Scrapbooking was another passion, as was cooking, her beloved dog Annie and cigarettes. Jenny was a Tasmanian by choice, preferred the bush or beach to city life and was a good neighbour. She would have been a wonderful lawyer. Her family and friends were always important and central to her life: Christmas and birthdays were celebrated with family whenever possible.
Life was not always easy for Jenny and she faced her diminishing health with courage and realism.  
She deserves the best farewell we can give her.   Now we will hear from friend, Paula Nelson,
?? from UTas law faculty and brother, Steve. These words will be followed by a photo montage with music for reflection.

Memories of Jenny

Paula Nelson

When Steve & Coralie asked me if I had any pictures of Jenny for today, I thought I might have a few, but not many.  When searching through my computer, I realised that over 30 years had passed since I met Jen, and my mind began wandering to times even earlier than these pictures I had 'on file'.

The pictures of mine here today, are only from 2005.  They were taken at Cradle Mountain, East Coast, Mountain River, Fern Tree, Eagle Hawk Neck, just to name a few places I remembered we'd been to together.  Her 50th birthday party – Barbie themed and red! was typical Jenny.

I was asked if I wanted to say anything at her funeral.  I said no thinking I would have nothing to say, BUT then it occurred to me that her family might like to know what others thought of their daughter & sister.

Jen was actually living at Ables Bay when we first met.  I remember staying down there on week ends, the wonderful cooking – Drysdale influenced of course, watching them doing up camper vans, the parties and lots of laughs.  She appreciated the beauty of nature, the wildlife and life in general.  Recently, she loved to talk about the trips she did with Val on the mainland and was always reminding me of 'somewhere I had to go see for myself'.

As years passed and life got ever busier, we didn't see as much of each other but we still caught up at places like the Womens Dances, the P party @ Zoes School, birthday parties, Queens Ball, Halloween, xmas and easter breaks.  Being from the mainland and away from her family, she was aware many more of us were too.  Her Xmas for 'orphans' as she called it, was a comfort to many.  Anyone with nowhere to go on Xmas Day was welcome at her place.  During the past 13 years we supported each other more as we both lived on our own.  We spent more time sharing thoughts on life, love and how to fix the universe.  Typical Jenny, always wanting to aim high – I was just happy to fix the earth.

I have never in all my life, been acquainted with anyone, with as much determination as Jenny.  Moving to Clarendon Vale, she saw first hand what it was like for the 'less fortunate' in our society.  She mediated with tenants and with Housing.  She saw a need and became a JP.  She put herself 'out there' to those in need. She was the most generous person I have ever met. She gave her time freely to those in need with no expectations in return.  She had very strong views of right and wrong, and wanted to do more to help people.  She embarked on her epic journey through University, the years of part time study whilst on an invalid pension, made achieving her dream of a Law Degree all the more personally satisfying.  She saw her diagnosis with cancer as pretty much a bloody nuisance, and wasn't about to let it get in the way of being 'Admitted to the Bar'.  I remember walking into the Royal one day, in the middle of her chemo, when life was pretty rough, and she's sitting up in bed, laptop going and study papers everywhere.  Before I could say anything she was telling me to shut up, she just had to finish this on time to hand in.  She was determined to be 'admitted' with the rest of her friends!

Friends and family was very important to Jen.  Kerri-Lee, Xanthea and Marcus, Kim and Mark, Michael and Ursula were all still very dear to her.  Her Mum and Dad were constantly in her thoughts. Steve, Coralie, Peter and Bryan.  She was up to date with all their goings on!  I know theres lots of people from 30 odd years ago, still touched by Jenny.

Jenny had previously supported her sister Diana, in her final months.  She was well aware of what to expect.  She never once said 'why me?'  She never gave in to it.  She was dignity itself.  She always looked for a way to help others.  Even when they told her it had spread and they were no longer going to do chemo, she was wanting to know if there was some trial she could participate in?  By this stage I'm asking her 'why' and saying 'can't you just live the last of your life for you!' but as usual the reply was 'It might help someone else.'  Selfless to the end!

Jenny Sallans was my mate, pal, buddy, friend.  She was my conscience.  No, she wasn't perfect.  No-one is. Yes, she could be pedantic – especially if she thought she was right.  We had some arguments over the years but got over them because we respected each other.  The worst one was a time when I said the law was an ass!  She said it was black & white!  I said there was times when morally there should be a different outcome.  You can probably imagine how she just kept going on……and on…..and on…..
Which reminds me how I recently described her as the Duracell Bunny.  She just kept going! 

I have discovered in writing this, that I have more memories than I thought.  Some I could share, some best kept to myself and lots that we just don't have time for.  So, this is me just giving a snippet of how we saw Jenny.  Determined.  Generous.  Dignified.  Selfless.  Respectful. Pedantic.  And we wouldn't have had her be any other way!

And I'm half expecting a 'cackle' to come from that casket!

Rob White

Jenny Sallans – Farewell

Sharyn and I met Jenny Sallans about 10 years ago. It was at a conference dinner for a Human Rights event. We sat next to this smiling, joking person and before long we were laughing our heads off. The conversation was peppered with witticisms and one-liners. It was a hugely enjoyable night. When we got home, we said this is a person we’d like to keep in touch with – and thank goodness we did.

Jenny Sallans had a ‘joie de vivre’ about her that was infectious. She was a great cook, and great company. She handled everything in her life without fuss, and yet appreciated everything that people did around her. She had presence. She was fun.

The Law was a large part of Jenny’s life. For many years, and before she qualified as a lawyer, she was a Justice of the Peace, of which she was rightly proud and enthusiastic. She took being a JP seriously and accordingly people took her seriously and relied upon her in many different ways. She wanted to be of service to the wider community. And this she certainly was.

For example, when she lived in Clarendon Vale, she would frequently help young mothers and other women in the local community – with paperwork, advice, and yet more paperwork. She was valued by her neighbours for her generosity and helpful nature. She became part of the fabric of their lives.

One day she was confronted by a very big, very tough looking bearded man. He pointed at her and said, ‘If anybody hassles you or gives you a hard time around here, they’ve fffing got me to answer to!’  Jenny experienced no fffing problems the whole time she lived there! Protection – of all kinds and in different shapes and sizes – comes to those who give, and Jenny was definitely a giver.

Jenny not only gave to other people, she gave it out as well. Rarely shy about offering her (usually well informed) opinion, she once counselled our daughter Sienna about a previous boyfriend – the quote unquote ‘dick brain’ that she used to see. After Jenny talked with Sienna, things were never quite the same!

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Jenny was receptive to everyone but intolerant of those who spoke falsehood or who tried to take shortcuts. She would speak to truth – in her activism, in her law school classes, in her private moments. There is a word for this: it is called integrity. With Jenny you always knew where you stood, and why she stood where she stood.

As I’ve said, the law was a large part of Jenny’s life, especially once she had moved into Newtown. Over many years of part-time study she pursued a Law degree. Jenny’s technical understanding of legal studies was simply outstanding. She got it. And she had a passion for it.

The law for Jenny, however, was never about ‘authority’ or kowtowing to what the experts and the books said. The law was about achieving particular ends, about creating and constructing the ‘good society’. The authority of the law was something that had to be achieved, something that had to be judged on its own merits. Law was about people, not pomp and ceremony or going through the motions. Jenny respected people, and the law, when it, and they, walked the walk – of justice, of equality, of respect for human rights.

Not surprisingly, in her law school tutorials Jenny was never afraid to challenge, and never frightened to speak her mind. She was hugely interested in studying law and in the practices and outcomes of law. But she was not seduced by the law, nor intimidated by its language and its trappings. As with everything, the Law was seen as a potential servant, and where this was not perceived to be the case, it was open to critique and condemnation.

Jenny’s face at graduation was simply amazing. The pride and joy was wonderful to see. She graduated with excellent grades, and with the experience of having published in the University of Tasmania Law Journal amongst other things.  She was an active doer and contributor within the Law School, and her university experience was marked by lots of engagement with other students, with lecturers and with many others who accompanied her on her long journey of study. She just loved the whole thing about being a student, being in the Law School, and being part of the energy and passion of ‘The Law’.

Jenny was a wonderful friend and human being.

She loved her dog.
She loved her friends.
She loved her family.
She loved ‘The Law’.

And she served us all – with humble pride, quiet resolve and generous heart.

We celebrate her life and bid her a fond farewell. Good-bye our dear friend. 

Rob White
University of Tasmania

Steve Sallans

Steve's Words

Paula and Rob, thank you for your memories and helping to bring Jenny back to us for  this brief celebration of her life and heart felt farewell. And thank you to Christine for guiding us through these difficult and emotional times.

For my part I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate Jenny's special character, as I believe her character was, and is, extraordinary and inspirational.  Her remarkable character was tested to the hilt over the past twelve months, and she demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, that it was as true and firm as I had known it to be throughout her life.

Jenny was brave; she faced the brutal facts head on; she did not brook euphemisms; she never complained or became unduly upset, nor did she consider herself a victim.  In fact, toward the end, and losing the use of her legs, she was offered a risky operation to her spine. Jenny, ever the optimist, unhesitatingly took this challenge on, determined to walk a little further before she left us.

After initial positive indications, her doctor informed her that unfortunately the operation was unsuccessful leaving her with movement only in her right arm and hand. She accepted the news quietly and calmly.  However, her doctor interpreted her calm stoicism as denial and ordered the services of a psychologist.  Jenny was duly horrified by this development and in this case Jenny did raise some vociferous complaints concerning her treatment, at least with some of us.  However Jenny counted her small mercies and was in fact grateful that she could at least continue to smoke her precious cigarettes, which of course she did to the end; well, no one's perfect after all.

In the face of her adversity, she stood as she always had; brave, honest, pragmatic, calm, optimistic and always considered others before herself, to the very end.

I think a good life can be compared to climbing Mt Everest, attempting the summit is the real game in town, and the risk of death is simply an unavoidable part of the climb, and an honourable one at that.  Death is simply one of the costs of experiencing this wonderful challenging life.

Jenny's example inspires me, and I hope it inspires others, to travel toward our inevitable date with death, not with fear, but as a challenge to live well while ever we can, and to not permit those things that we cannot control unnecessarily drag us down. 

While this may be easier said then done, Jenny's example stands before us to show us the way up the mountain. On the other hand, and notwithstanding her brilliant example, I do think she possessed an innate advantage that the rest of will just have to work that much harder to replicate.  She was by nature an intelligent, outgoing, sceptical, optimistic, personality who challenged life from her earliest days. 

The following photo montage may at first glance appear to be simply a set of dusty family snapshots. However, if you take special note of Jenny, you may find that even in the youngest shots of her you will see that special character bursting with interest and humour, challenging the authority of the camera, while others simply smile.  I believe these images will resonate powerfully with those of us who knew her at all well.

Its not possible to express just how much Jenny will be missed by Mum and Dad, myself and all of our family, and no doubt her many, many friends and colleagues. I think that I can safely say that we are all very proud of her philosophies, her substantial achievements, and her friendship.

Finally, I am proud to say that my sister Jenny died a good and dignified death, and I only hope I can do as well when my time comes.

Thank You

Photo montage with music for reflection  

David Harkins
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray she’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
You can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want; smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

With understandable sorrow but with spirits lifted by our fond memories and our hope, we put aside our sadness at parting and all our regrets for things that were said and done or left unsaid or left undone. Only our love remains. To love someone always carries the risk of parting but not to love is not to have truly lived at all.

Let us all be strong in the conviction that in spite of death, the scheme of life is ultimately
good. Let us aim to leave this ceremony determined to live through the loss and the grief to
an even more abundant life. Death is not too high a price to pay for having lived. We pause
to gather our feelings and thoughts and we remember how Jenny touched our lives and in our
own hearts, we each say our farewell.

We are grateful that Jenny has been, and still is, part of our lives. We will remember her with love and affection and gratitude. And now we have each other. That is all we have but it is all we need. We are subject to natural law and to chance but our humanity gives us the power to stand over and against them. We have a measure of understanding and so we gain some control. We share our thoughts and our feelings and so we support each other. By our living and our loving we create the value of the world.

We commit the body of Jenny to the elements. We are glad she lived, that we saw her face, knew
her friendship, and walked the way of life with her. We deeply cherish the memory of her words
and deeds and character. We leave our dead in peace. With respect we bid her farewell, in love we
remember her companionship, her ways. And thinking of her in this manner, let us go in quietness of spirit and live in charity with each other.


I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life
is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down
the ways.
Of happy times and laughing times and bright
and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry
before the sun.
Of happy memories that I leave when life is
Helen Lowrie Marshall