Monday, December 15, 2008

Theo Sneviratne

A lady who helped many through prayer and deed

Theo Seneviratne

Theo was born on January 9, 1922, in Nuwara Eliya . She was the third born to her parents, Stanley and Lilian Jansen. She had a brother and two sisters, and is survived by her younger sister, Barbara Brown, who lives in Australia.

Theo had a quiet and happy childhood. She studied at Good Shepherd Convent, Nuwara Eliya, where she was a good student. She met her late husband Noel when he was posted at the Governor’s Office in Nuwara Eliya, where the family stayed during the Easter holidays to avoid the Colombo heat. They married on December 27, 1947, at St. Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya. I had the honour to be best man at their marriage.

After marriage, Theo moved to Noel’s parents’ home. Coming from a Burgher background, she adapted well to the contrasting Sinhala lifestyle of her in-laws, who took to her kind and gentle ways.

Theo lost her first born, but went on to raise five more children – Avril, Nishanta, Nihal, Lalith and Sabrina. She was the perfect wife and mother, dedicating her life to caring for her husband and young family, giving them lots of love and making personal sacrifices on their behalf. Many times she played the role of single parent when Noel was away on business trips, here in Sri Lanka and overseas. At such times, she acted with courage and excellence.

She spent a short time in a nursing school prior to marriage, and consequently did an excellent job of nursing her mother-in-law, and then her father.

Theo also nursed her late husband Noel during his prolonged illness, a task that took a toll on her personal health.During one of our visits to Sri Lanka, we found a very concerned Theo trying hard to get Noel into hospital. He was refusing to go, saying he was tired of hospital stays. I happened to call her that night. She begged me to speak to Noel. I went over to Nishanta’s house, where most of the family had gathered, and sat with Noel and finally convinced him to agree to enter hospital. Theo was happy and grateful. In return for her loving care of her husband , she was blessed with children and daughters-in-law who took good care of her during her final years. She has eight grandchildren, and they all have fond memories of time spent with her, listening to her stories and benefiting from her love and spiritual guidance. She was thrilled when, a few years back, she was blessed with a great-grandson. She knitted him a pixie cap, among other things.

Theo was a devout Roman Catholic and took an active role in church activities in Ratmalana. She believed in working for the Lord by helping the needy through prayer and deed. Many less fortunate families in Ratmalana benefited from her great goodwill.

Joe Seneviratne (brother-in-law)

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