Tribute: My father had many facets, not many faces | Daily News

Tribute: My father had many facets, not many faces

One year ago on this date, Ravi Jayewardene, only son of late President J. R. Jayewardene passed away. Among his many achievements, Ravi Jayewardene was a lifelong Buddhist meditator. In acknowledgement of his life and legacy, his son Rukshan Jayewardene, Conservationist, shares his personal tribute, as spoken at the funeral on behalf of the family, shortly before his father’s cremation on April 06, 2017.

Funeral Speech by Rukshan Jayewardene, his second son.

Today, we are gathered here to witness the cremation of my beloved father Ravi Jayewardene.

This is a day I have dreaded since the age of 16, when I shook hands with him and became reacquainted after a separation of nearly 6 years. Our father-son relationship was re-established. That day, I decided to grab hold of this man who was like quicksilver and never let go. Like most books are judged by their cover, people judge others by externalities. My father had many facets, not many faces. So many people knew him in many different areas of his life and at many different times during his 80 years of existence on this earth.

One thing everybody knew about Ravi Jayewardene that was unchanging, was his simple, straight-forward compassionate self. Unfortunately, he was much misunderstood in his lifetime but simple folk in faraway places knew him best. He was not the perfect father, but who is? He was not the perfect husband, but who is? And who are we to judge? In this worldly existence, there is no absolute perfection. Only in relative terms is there something approaching it. Within that framework, he was a perfectionist. He was a fierce patriot, but was loved by people of all ethnic groups within this island of ours and beyond.

During his lifetime, he never received the respect and honour he deserved, due to his reticent nature. Others however took advantage of his noble qualities. Anyway, at least in this last hour of his corporeal remains on earth, the force he created and gifted to this nation has taken upon itself to give this man his due.

In 1982, I was down in the Welikanda area, involved with a census and assessment of the elephant population of the Eastern Province. I was the most junior member of the team. One member was an old friend of my father and we got talking. In my youthful enthusiasm, I blurted out that I considered my father to be a greater man than my grandfather (although I loved both very much and owed the former far more than my own father). This friend of my father scolded me severely for making such a statement. Chastised, I fell silent, although I never changed my mind.

Today, I have the strength of my convictions that transcend mere mundane considerations and the satisfaction and lack of regret of a son who has done his duty by his father, as much as is humanly possible. Life often doesn’t give us these second chances.

May he attain the Nibbana that he so richly deserves.

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