Below are the word by the Humanist who lead us during the Funeral.
Below are the words spoken at Gytha's Funeral. I hope you will find them uplifting as did we. Let me say Humanist speaker managed to help me to both celebrate her life and close the book of her life. I do not know who or what would have any copyright on this so if you think there is a problem please let me know.
Gytha's coffin was carried in the Journey of the Sorcerer
We meet here to pay tribute to Gytha and to express our love and admiration for her and to bring, if we can, some comfort to her family and friends who have been hurt by her passing. We are all concerned directly or indirectly with the death of an individual for we are surely all members of one community.
Some of the bonds that connect us are strong and some are tenuous, but we are bonded by links of kinship, love or friendship, sometimes by living in the same community or town, or simply by our common humanity.
That value and purpose of life is in living and living well. People who have been a strength and comfort to others, who have used their time constructively and usefully, these are the people who create meaning and quality in life.
Gytha North was such a person.
Christina Rossetti wrote,
Remember me when I'm gone away
Gone far away into the silent land,
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me our future that you planned,
Only remember me, you understand
It will be late to council then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while,
And afterwards remember, do not grieve.
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
That you should remember and be sad
We are all involved in the life and death of each other. Human life is built upon caring. It's the individual uniqueness of human life that is the basis of our grieving in bereavement. Search the world and you will not find anyone quite like Gytha.
Beside your sadness, each of you has had the joy of having known Gytha and feel enriched in some way as a result. By expressing and sharing our grief we can begin to come to terms with our loss.
Herbert Read explained it well when he wrote
The death of each of us is in the order of things
It follows life as surely as night follows day.
We can take the tree of life as a symbol
The human race is the trunk and branches of the tree
And individual men and women are the leaves, which appear
For a season, flourish for a summer, and then die
One day we will be torn off by storm or simply decay and fall to become part of the earth and roots. While we live we are conscious of the trees flowing sap and steadfast strength. Deep down in our consciousness is the consciousness of a collective life, a life of which we are all part and to which to which we all make minute contributions. When we die and fall the tree remains, nourished to some degree by our manifestation of life. When we die and fall the tree remains, nourished to some degree by our manifestation of life. Millions of leaves have preceded us and millions will follow, but the tree grows and endures.
Although I never net Gytha, I spent time with her family I feel sure she would have wished to be remembered with love and joy, not just tears, and her character and personality would never have wished today to be morbid, she lived her life with vibrancy and meaning and has left her legacy which will keep her bright in your memories.
The words of Henry Scott Holland
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
All remains as it was
I am I and you are you,
The life we lived so fondly together is unchanged
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the usual way that you used.
Put no difference in you tone
Wear no air of solemnity or sorrow,
Laugh as we always laughed at the jokes we enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me
Let my name be ever the household word it always was
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
All is well.
We recognise today our deep sadness at losing someone who was so vibrant and loved as Gytha, our hearts are with Richard and the many friends that she had who I know will feel a huge gap has appeared in their lives. And yet is she not proof that the quality of a life is never measured by its length.
Born in 1951 at Luton Gytha seldom spoke of her early life and as soon as she was able moved to Brighton as a teenager. She was married to both Brian and Steph but those unions ended.
It was when Paul was attending a meeting of the Guild of Warriors that Gytha was running that they first met and in true Gytha style she declared that there were already too many Paul’s and from that day Paul was known as Richard. That also marked the beginning of their love and they became a couple.
We remember and celebrate the love and happiness that Gytha knew in her life, the 21 years with Richard and the deep and meaningful love they shared, the move to Birmingham and then Kinghorn with Richards work meant that we here in Scotland were lucky enough to share in the life of this multi skilled and remarkable woman.
I want to ask Sue Mason to address us now SEE SEPARATE POST
And this from Laurie SEE SEPARATE POST
Friendships where so important to Gytha this from Radintragath Tagore
It was beautiful as long as it lasted
The journey of my life.
I have no regrets whatever
Save the pain I’ll leave behind
Those dear hearts who love and care
And the strings pulling at the heart and soul.
The strong arms that held me up
When my own strength let me down
At every turning of my life I came across good friends
Friends who stood by me, even when time passed me by.
Farewell my friends, I smile and bid you goodbye,
No, shed no tears for I need them not
All I need is your smile.
If you feel sad, do think of me
For that’s what I would like
When you live in the hearts of those you love,
Remember the, you never die………………………….
Let us now pause for a while and each of us remember Gytha’s life in our own private and personal way, those of you who have a religious belief might like to offer your own silent prayer.
Music played Cheerio by Jethro Tull
We have now reached the part of our ceremony where we commit Gytha’s body to be returned to the elements from which we all spring.
For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose here on Earth a time to be born and a time to die Gytha we are glad that you lived, that we saw your face, knew your friendship and courage and enjoyed your company. Now in peace and thoughtfulness we bid you farewell. Your companionship, your caring, your love and support we commit to our memories. Here in this last act in sadness but without fear, we commit your body to be transformed by fire and returned into the great cycle of nature.
Having spoken of Gytha in life I would wish to finish by recognising the void that will be in the lives of many here as a result of her death. There is such a void when any person dies but it is the greater when they are as loved as she was.
I dedicate this verse from Gytha to all of you who loved her.
I give you this last thought to keep
I’m with you still I do not sleep
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on the snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumns rain
When you awaken in the mornings hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not think of me as gone
I’m with you still in each new dawn
Thanks and wake arrangements.
And Finally for Gytha
Let her be safe in sleep
As leaves folded together
As young birds under wings
As the unopened flower
Let her be free in sleep
As the flowing tides of the sea
As the travelling wind on the moor
As the journeying starts in space
Let her be healed in sleep
In the quiet waters of the night
In the mirroring pool of dreams
Where the troubled spirit grows wise
And the heart is comforted
Leaving music Pastime with good company by Gryphon
Below are the words spoken at Gytha's Funeral by Sue Mason. I hope you will find them uplifting as did we.
Where do I start?
How on earth can I sum Gytha up in five minutes? In five hours? Ten?
I met her at my first convention in 1982, we stayed up all night in the ball room of a hotel drinking a barrel of home brewed mead and singing bawdy songs with about 20 big hairy Vikings. It was quite an introduction for a 19 year old, still living at home with a drab and boring life. Gytha, I realised, was what I wanted to be when I grew up.
There are words to describe her
But those words can describe lots of people, lots of people in the world, lots of people in this room right now with her.
She was a fabulous cook, from a three course meal to a medieval banquet to an impromptu vegan dinner for unexpected guests.
She was a gifted seamstress, whether you wanted fine detailed needlepoint for a museum or authentic costume for the SCA or scummy Viking kirtles. For scummy Vikings, of course. Except for Richard who wanted pristine white and became known as The Persil Paladin.
She was a swordswoman, an actress, an MC. She was carried on to Viking battlefields on a shield as a Valkerie and she stood behind the microphone narrating the show for the general public. I didn't realise before I met Gytha that Valkeries wore stockings and suspenders.
She could organise a Science fiction Convention, or a Star Trek Convention or an Insulae Draconis event or a Viking battle. Or she'd just be the first person up in the morning and do your washing up for you.
She single headedly started Filking (Science fiction folk music) in Britain, which in turn spread out across Germany and Europe. So it's all Gytha's fault.
She would set the ball rolling and encourage it to gain momentum - she bullied, sorry persuaded myself and some friends to run the fourth British filkcon in 1992 which lead to us running the Eastercon in 1995 which lead us to starting a fanzine in 1996 which lead us to winning The Hugo in 2005. All Gytha's fault.
And then there was Richard, he's all Gytha's fault too. And Richard made Gytha a better person because she wasn't a saint and she wasn't perfect and she knew it. He supported her, loved her and stuck by her from day one of their relationship to the vert end and she adored him for his unconditional love.
The thing about Gytha was that she wasn't just good at things but that she got others to do things too.
And of course, her name will now be around for as long as there is a Terry Pratchett book in print as he named one of his principal characters after her.
She organised people. She organised amongst others, SF fans and flikers and re-enactors, which is a bit like saying she herded cats, She was very good at it.
She brought out the best in people, she encouraged, supported, helped and even bullied if that was the best tactic.
She organised me, which is no mean feat. She had me standing up in front of 5 thousand fans at a Worldcon to MC a masquerade for four hours, so standing here talking to her friends and family should be easy, But it isn't, it's very hard because she's not here with us.
Except in our memories, in our love of her.
I didn't become Gytha when I grew up, I became me but when I look round at you all, I know that, like me, you realise that knowing Gytha made you a better person, made you try things you hadn't considered before she pushed you, made you open yourself up to a new, or an old idea. We've lost Gytha but we haven't lost what she gave to all of us.
Let's go to the hotel and celebrate a strong, beautiful woman who made all our lives richer, let's raise a glass of vodka and coke or cointau and ice or a horn of mead to a fabulous person taken from us too soon but who we will never forget. Let's tell each other stories and share memories.