When most people hear my name, they think of me as a Queensland rugby league legend and immortal. However, when I look back at my life and consider what I want to be remembered for at my funeral, I think of family and helping people.
Although, many may not want to think about their final farewell, planning your funeral allows you to create a last connection to your loved ones by choosing the service and messages you want them to experience. It also allows you to ease the stress on family and friends, as the entire event can be pre-planned and pre-paid.
How I’d like to be remembered is as a good ‘father’ and ‘grandad’. My own dad was a huge part of my life and I hope I’ve lived up to that example. I remember I cried with joy at the birth of my three children, Mitchell, Lincoln and Jamie-Lee and to then become a grandfather, well, that’s really what’s important to me. There’s nothing I love more than having them all over for a BBQ, or game of touch rugby, and those are the memories I want them to keep of me.
I also want my loved ones to know how my daughter, Jamie-Lee, helped me find one of my greatest passions, charity work. I remember when my wife, Jackie, and I found out that Jamie-Lee was hearing impaired. We felt lost and couldn’t find the support we needed to understand the condition.
This was the start of my involvement with hearing impairment charity, Hear and Say Foundation for Deaf Children. I was so thankful to founder, Dimity Dornan, for taking on Jamie-Lee and I wanted to make sure that other families had the same opportunity. So, I held an exhibition game with as many celebrities and sportspeople as I could, with all ticket sales going to the charity. I’ll never forget that match and the good it did and I hope my loved ones look back on it with happiness when they think of me.
I’d also like my final farewell to talk about my personal struggle with epilepsy and work in raising awareness of the condition. I struggled with epilepsy for many years. It took having a seizure on national television to make me confront it, and while I wouldn’t call that a highlight of my life, it did change me forever. I became involved with Epilepsy QLD, who helped me to understand my condition and realise I wasn’t alone. I’ve worked with them ever since to raise awareness, so others don’t have to face the same stigma and lack of understanding that I did.
I think at heart, we’re all the same, we all have our own challenges. The thing I’ve learnt is that all you have to do, is ask for help and the community will rally around you. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of opportunities open up for me and now I’m able to do what anyone else would do, give back.
At the moment, I’m not too preoccupied with the end of my life, I have too much to do, but I have discussed my final wishes with my family.
Wally Lewis – George Hartnett Metropolitan Brand Ambassador
Prepaying a funeral with George Hartnett Metropolitan, gives you: