We had much that was similar – Christine and myself. We both had caring parents and warm relationships with them; wonderful fathers who, each in their own spheres, were achievers. Our fathers cultivated in both of us, Christine and myself, a love for the scenes and facets, the people and heritage of this island – in its jungles and the mountains, the lovely beaches that encase our shores and the off-the-beaten-tracks and little villages.
We both were fortunate to have had a good education and were reared to appreciate books and the arts, things cultural. And then both Christine and I took up our pens and wrote. Curiously our fathers, both Spittel and Brohier bore the same initials “RL” and were close friends. Being the younger, my father would often spend long evenings at “Wycherly”, the Spittel residence.
Both of them served in the committees of the Dutch Burgher Union and were in their own time, Presidents of the DBU.I got to know Christine on radio when serving as I did at one time, in Radio Ceylon – SLBC’s Spoken Word programmes. And there followed over the years many social occasions. I got to know Christine more closely as we both grew older and Alistair came into her life. They “made a good team” was an apt phrase Alistair himself expressed to her and she recorded it in her autobiography.
He a robust Scotsman with a strong Highlander’s accent and humour, she, every inch the lady so gentle and soft in tone of voice – and wise. Yes, Christine had a depth of wisdom and I shall never forget when once I was having a rough period in my life, she said: “Pick up the phone my dear and talk to me – even if it is midnight”.
Christine ended the journey of her life almost reaching 98 years. There was still much that she filled her life with – varied and interesting occupations they were to the end. Her pen laid aside, she took up brush and paint on canvas and ceramic. In December last year a foreign couple came here to make a film on the Burgher heritage. A few of us in this dwindling community were approached.
Christine asked me to be with her when she was being interviewed. It was a very long session and tiring for her. She rambled on, her eyes shone and face was alight as memories criss-crossed in her mind: her treks in the jungles with her father and of the Veddhas, her sojourn in Kenya, of her dogs and pets, the garden and the flowers she loved. Christine was a serious person, but in a flash there came a sense of humour.
Her home that she came back to with Alistair to end their days was overlooked by the old family mansion where she had spent the greater part of her life. It breathed a tranquil atmosphere, was charming, neat and lovely. It reflected the personality of Christine.
Alistair no longer with her from a few years back, life was, as she sometimes shyly confided, lonely. But here she felt was-home. She would have wished also that here was the best place to end her long journey.