Entered eternal life 16 January 2021
By John Brennan and Julie Brennan-Smith
We are here to celebrate Michele and her remarkable life. Her life is reflected in the many comforting messages of support that we have received since she passed away. Despite the many struggles she endured, Michele was deeply loved and supported by all her family and close friends.
When she was born she was very precious, as our parents had lost their first son Francis soon after birth. Shell was the miracle child and continued to be so all of her life. She went to St Bede’s Primary School, North Balwyn and later to Genazzano where she met Chris Wilson. Michele’s family is very grateful for the loyalty Chris and Richard showed to Michele.
Shell was a popular girl with good looks, a fun personality and a great sense of humour. She played tennis with determination and continued to play into her 50s. After finishing high school, she attended Swinburne and graduated as a Medical Laboratory Technologist and then worked at The Repatriation Hospital in Heidelberg.
All this came to an end when disaster struck her. At the age of 21, coming home one evening, the car was struck and Michele was terribly injured. She was in a coma for over a month and probably would never had recovered without Dad’s medical background and Mum’s tenacity which ensured she had the best care. Her recovery was long and slow. She had to learn to speak, read, and write. After such a massive brain injury she had to claw her way back but her success was remarkable. She worked again with Dad’s supervision at the VD clinic and with our parent’s help bought a unit in Clifton Hill and was independent. Mum and Dad spoke to her every day and she called on them for advice. They were her stalwarts. They took her on fabulous holidays to Merimbula and her much loved Magnetic Island. Dad would also take her to Moonee Valley and she was still a member there when she died.
Being part of a tennis family forged a bond, with Mum and Dad playing occasionally with her and she was a member of the Clifton Hill Club. One of her trophies is going with her along with one of the many rugs she crocheted beautifully. She was very disciplined. She would get up every morning religiously to swim at the local pool day in day out and kept up her walking to prevent her bad back flaring up.
Michele loved the community of Clifton Hill. She developed a real network of friends in the shops and cafés who all really liked her even though we would often cringe at the way she spoke to people. She made wonderful friends in Laurie, Tom and Diane, our cousin who was her friend throughout her life and Tom who has continued to visit her frequently.
Despite the difficulties she experienced, she was very generous with her time in visiting the lonely or sick. She kept in contact with her old primary school friend Gay Kent who now lives in England and would visit Gay’s mother Nell at least once or twice weekly which was a great comfort to Gay.
Shell also supported our father when he was struggling to live alone in his late eighties. We doubt he could have stayed at home without her regular visits. Once again it was no hardship for Shell to put herself out at all. They had a very close bond and enjoyed going to Maccas regularly. She was also very generous with her time in helping with looking after our children.
Shell had the love and support of all her family and as it grew, Chris and Leigh were there to support us and then Justine, Gabe, Elise, Stuart and Sienna became the children she had never had and more lately Harley and Rupert. She loved to have her whole family and friends together and looked forward to taking us all out to lunch, and we have had many fun days.
Shell’s independence was lost when she had a stroke in 2018 and was put in care, being confined to a wheelchair. She once again fought fiercely to gain back her independence, with physio and the determination to get better. She never gave up and rarely complained about her health and the many visits to hospital. She always said she was “pretty good” when asked but that she “just wanted to go home.”
John and I were a tag team managing her finances and advising her on fashion; supporting her through her medical issues, but we want to thank Chris and Leigh who supported us. We also want to thank Elise who took Shell to many appointments and had a real bond with her.
Thank you to the wonderful staff at Noble Park Uniting Aged Care who have been so dedicated in their care for Shell. Many have already said the place is so quiet without her and they genuinely enjoyed her fun personality and sense of humour and are really missing her.
We never really thought of her as being disabled, Shell just accepted her limitations and got on with it.
So, our hope is that people never remember her as someone we should pity because of the tragedy that beset her but as an extraordinarily courageous person who has enriched all our lives by knowing her.
Michele’s life was a very different one, but it was full and enveloped in love from her immediate and extended family and friends. Her life was everything our parents could have hoped for and much more.
Rest peacefully and farewell Shell.