Remembering Kelly – By Tania Marsden
By Tania Marsden, recent graduate of the Happyzine Positive Writing Course. This article is a memorial about her friend Kelly, who passed one year ago, and is still inspiring bottom pinching to this very day.
In life, Kelly Bannister was a vibrant woman of bright and joyous energy. So, one year on from her passing, it’s only fitting that her memorial would echo her life and her celebration service, doing away with the blander aspects of such traditions and reflecting her sunny personality. It would have to be something fun, colourful, inspirational, unconventional, and absolutely unforgettable.
It is just as well then, that Josh Harley is a man comfortable with ambitious ideas and making them a reality, a man with a “Somebody said I couldn’t? Watch me do it…” kind of approach to life. In keeping with both their unique styles, Josh has once again created a way for friends of Kelly to come together for hours of fun in great company. It combines a memorial seat with a memorial stone, creating a ‘memorial couch’ of epic proportion.
The seat is carved from a 2500kg block of Oamuru Stone by Josh, friends Corey Griffiths and Paul Grey, and local stone carver Joccelynne Bacci. While it was taking basic shape, Kelly’s friends and family were invited to find a ceramic tile or similar that celebrated Kelly in some personal way
for them. In this way, folks that don’t live here in Golden Bay could still be part of its creation. Tiles have come from as far away as Jersey in the UK, from Kelly’s sisters there, and from her Aunty in Scotland.
Once most of the tiles came in, we local friends gathered together to glue all the tiles to the seat and mosaic all around them, amidst much laughter and frivolity, and some perhaps dubious jokes. (Some of this was blamed on the glue, but as this sort of carry on is quite common at any such occasion around here, I doubt fumes can be held entirely responsible!) With so many friends all contributing, the seat has become a medley of style. A gorgeously eclectic tapestry of colour, it is now adorned with symbols that remind us all of our lovely lady – a sunflower, a mushroom, birds, butterflies, wildflowers, hearts, a jandal, dolphins, mandalas. A huge mosaic rainbow covers the back. Kelly’s fairy tile that she bought on holiday with Josh in Jersey 7 years ago takes centre stage on the front; look further and you’ll find one word on a handmade tile that reminds us all to “Shine”, as she did.
For Kelly’s one year anniversary, another gathering will be held at the same site as her service last September. In keeping with the ‘unforgettable’ theme, Kelly’s ashes will be sent up by skyrocket over the sea, a ‘final flight’ that ends with a big explosion in a rainbow of colour, and no doubt much yahoo-ing from below! Here the seat will be unveiled. It’s fitting that it will itself sit in a place where there are many living memories both for Kelly and about her – looking over the sea and golden sands at Tata Beach. It will rest there on a concrete pad provided by the council. I feel it will be a great place to go and have a moment with Kelly, have a toast to her with friends, or hang your towel while you skinny dip! There is another added bonus to the memorial being a seat, which is to possibly offer a zone of temporary respite come next ‘annual bum-pinching day’, held in honor of her birthday, 29th June. Of course, by no means are celebratory bum pinches restricted to this day for any reason.
Kelly wouldn’t want it that way; in fact she would instigate and encourage just this sort of ‘cheeky’ behavior on a regular basis! She remains the only person I know of, to date, that has been sent a photo of ‘a whole lot of loved-ones mooning bums’ when they were sick. Usually people send cards with sympathetic catch phrases and generic soft focus pictures. Of course there were beautiful cards, in fact a whole book overflowing with loving messages and photos, but it is the blend of the traditional with the unique and personal that has made all of the tributes to Kelly so special. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that she is still bringing me joy and inspiration, a ‘brighter day’, even as I am sad that her physical presence has gone. Whatever fantastic adventure her ‘presence’ is now having, Kelly Bannister really lived while she was alive, and would only want all of us to do the same.