When you are sad and you are lonesome…

When you are sad and you are lonesome
And you just can’t find a friend
Just remember
Death is not the end.

B. Dylan

Except it is. And it leaves bereft people behind.

David Lloyd told me yesterday that the support he received by social media and from his friends kept him going over the last few hard months before his Queen of Chardonnay was farewelled on Monday. He asked if I would post his eulogy for Wendy for those who were not able to be there, but who had shared his pain and offered virtual hugs and support. There is nothing more I can or should add to this.

David Lloyd’s Eulogy to his wife Wendy

This is a tale of love and shared dreams, but it is also about good friends, tennis, travel and teaching.

Wendy Susan Soulsby, called Souze by her parents, was born in Melbourne on January 14, 1954.  At the time her parents  lived in Ripponlea and later Wendy would attend the local primary school before moving to Kilvington Baptist Girls Grammar School and then to Monash University in 1972.

Her parents were top tennis players and Wendy inherited this ability as well as great skills with hand knitting.

She was an only child, who was made to work hard by her parents. David remembers one time when she had a flat tyre a km from home and rang her father for help who responded by telling her to call the RACV. It was raining and she had a tennis match to get to. She rang David instead and they made the match on time. Which had an interesting parallel a few weeks later when Davids father died . Wendy and David were supposed to be playing tennis but a replacement player could not be found and they did not want to give a walkover. Fortunately a downpour flooded the courts so Wendy drove David to the match where they waited until a washout was declared before Wendy took David to the hospital so they could say goodbye to Davids father.

This however, is missing the long gestation of their relationship.

David met Wendy at Monash University whilst they both attended Biology lectures in 1972. At the time David was, in his words hanging about with a bunch of private school mates and Wendy was with a large group of girls. He noticed her smile but at the time romance was definitely NOT in the air.

Over the next few years they crossed paths many times but the defining moment came in 1975 when the university tennis club needed another female player for a country tournament. Davids best friend suggested Wendy would be a perfect fit as they knew each other and that Wendy had been in the Monash team that won the Intervarsity championship the year before. Wendy and David played mixed doubles at that country tournament and as well as winning the mixed hit it off pretty well and a romance started.

At the time Davids father Ron was a widower and quite arthritic so Wendy volunteered to spend many evenings with him whilst David was studying at Monash. Later, when Ron died David said to the family that he wanted Wendy with him at Rons funeral. Sister Susan responded by saying that Ron had already told him he expected the couple to wed!

The next hurdle was Wendys father, Ed, known to all as Mr. Ed. The first time David called at Wendys home Ed produced a glass of wine at the door saying “I hear your seeing a bit of my daughter and that you know about wine”. David tasted the proffered glass and responded by correctly identifying it has Hamiltons Springton Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet blend from 1972. David had Eds acceptance from this point and as they say, the rest is history, they married in December 1976.

Wendys parents were very different to Davids yet over the next 15 years David became very close to them. They were incredibly supportive of Wendy and Davids shared passion for tennis and wine.

Many of you know of Wendy and Davids love of travel but few would know that this wander lust started due to Ed and his employer, Trans Australia Airlines.  When Wendy and David went to school family holidays were usually via an over crowded car. In Wendys case it was via first class air travel, usually going overseas, but with a catch, you may get bumped.

One of Wendys oldest school friends, Barbara Gosney, present today, loves to recount how after the second term holiday when Wendys Year 12 studies were supposed to resume she was no where to be seen and the home phone was not being answered. This was a vital few weeks before swatvac and final exams so the school was very worried. Barbara explained that Wendy was stuck in Rome trying to get on to a flight home.

Well she lost access to all that privilege once she married David.

Cattle class it was but it was still travel and she was NEVER happier than when she was planning a holiday. Together they have explored Australia, Europe, USA, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, South America, Africa and New Zealand. Sadly in 1995 Wendy was forced to choose between future travel and owning a vineyard, in typical Wendy fashion, she chose both.

Together Wendy and David pursued a dream, to produce wine from their own vines on the Mornington Peninsula. In recent years their hard work has gained great recognition both locally and internationally. Sales have been good and together Wendy and David felt the dream of more comfortable travel ie Business Class was finally going to return for the Queen of Chardonnay.

In the meantime both have moved on from their initial careers as science teachers, something both loved with a passion. Since stopping teaching Wendy and David gained enormous pleasure from attending classical music concerts, usually in Melbourne performed by their beloved Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A highlight was in 2010 when along with Davids other siblings they attended a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic playing Mahler at the Sydney Opera House and again more recently at Hamer Hall to hear the royal concertgebouw orchestra last October. Wendy was also a regular attendee at the Ballet with tennis friend Pam. Sadly many of these activities were interrupted when she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in June 2012. She was a very private person and did not want people to know about her diagnosis so when the end came many people were quite shocked. Although the cancer slowed her ability to do many tasks especially vineyard work, her love of Chardonnay seemed to surge as did her desire for more travel. The result was the famous bucketlist trip of last 2013 where Wendy and David hoped to achieve a calendar year Grand Slam of tennis tournaments. Sadly Davids detached retina prevented this from happening. However, the cancer may have taken this loyal, strong caring beautiful woman with the lovely smile from us now but David intends to complete this dream in 2014, having managed to achieve the first leg in January with his beloved Wendy.

There was a dark side to Wendy that only close friends were aware of, she has spoken for nearly 30 years that cancer would end her life early. A number of her Firbank colleagues are aware of her conviction that this would prevent her celebrating 60 years of life. Thus, driven by the awareness that she would indeed make her 60th on January 14 a lovely party was held with her and nearly 30 friends to let her know how much we all loved her.

The end came rather suddenly, and although at times this very private and proud woman lost a little of her perceived dignity she did not suffer. The pain was not bad and when asked if she wanted more medication she said no. She slipped quietly into a peaceful sleep on Monday afternoon February 17 and died at 6.10am on Tuesday morning. Neither Wendy or David expected it to be like this. You hear so many stories about how cancer affects people but Wendy & David believed that every case is unique and the last thing either of them wanted to hear about was how someones father or sister etc struggled, they had their own journey to take and they took it together.

Sadly the shared dream now has to change as we all have to survive without her, especially David, who wants  to thank you all for your support and understanding. He is very sad now but feels privileged and very happy to have achieved so much with the woman he loves, a wonderful 40 years of friendship and fun.

Thanks go to everyone who has tweeted, emailed, and called. Your words and thoughts have helped.


All hail the Queen

Today is a sad day. A sadness diminished not at all by the fact that it was some time coming.

A lady known to the wine world and the Twitterverse as the Queen of Chardonnay left us today. Known as a lover of tennis as much as being a lover of all things chardonnay, and for being the other half of a man much respected and adored in the wine world.

I am exceedingly sorry I did not make it to their piece of the world before the QoC left us. Discussions via twitter and email were edifying and engaging.

So, just for tonight, we are asking that you raise a glass of chardonnay in honour of a lovely lady. Blanc de blanc. Burgundy. Chablis. Chardonnay.

Remember the people around us who raise us up and make us better. Remember to keep them front and foremost. Remember to tell our people we love them more often – it will never go astray.

Remember that we might lose the people, but we never lose what they made us. And sometimes that will help. And sometimes it won’t.

And know we are here. We might be on the other side of the world, or just up the road, but we are all right here.

To the Queen of Chardonnay, her bereft gentleman, and the losses we each bear: a toast tonight, with love.