My father J. E. (Mervyn) Abeyratne was born in Baddegama, a hamlet in the Galle district, to a family of seven (two boys and five girls), and was educated at St. Aloysius College, Galle. He came to Colombo to work at the then Chartered Bank, and subsequently joined the People’s Bank, at the time of its inception.
Dad had originally wanted to join the Police, but fell short of the minimum height requirement, so he chose the bank.
This may have been one reason he enthusiastically backed me when I joined the Police, and encouraged me in my work all along, up to the very end. On the day he passed away, a few hours before his death, he called to tell me to submit my thesis in time.
Dad’s tour of duty took him to Ambalangoda, Chilaw, Talawakelle, Ratmalana and finally Colombo, where he was assigned to the People’s Bank headquarters.
The family, with two boys and three girls, settled down in College Street, Kotahena.
This is how my brother and I came to be students of St. Benedict’s College, and my three sisters students of Good Shepherd Convent. We later moved to Hendala.
My Dad’s bank career was no bed of roses. He faced many challenges and experienced many ups and downs. As a devout Christian, he trusted in the Lord. Wherever he was stationed, he involved himself in church activities.
Dad’s strength, courage and wisdom supported us in all our family affairs, and accompanied us all the way, from our kindergarten years until we reached adulthood. This is expected of a father, of course, in any normal family, but what matters here is that Dad never left us, even when we set out on our own in our respective careers, and settled down to married life.
Dad stood by us, but never interfered. Instead, he supported us with his moral strength and guidance.
Whenever we had exams in our professional life, Dad would buy textbooks related to our subjects, read up and advise us on what he thought were the important areas to focus on for the exams. He would do the same with his grandchildren.
He was always ready to help when we needed his help. This aspect of his character was especially evident in the way he helped relations and friends, when he was at the peak of his career.
Dad was a fun, happy-go-lucky person. He was content with what he had. He was always thoughtful about the future and about his responsibilities. He never neglected any of us.
A nature lover, Dad would take us to famous and scenic locations during our school holidays.
He was also a committed physical culturist, training regularly to keep fit. Even late in life, he would follow an exercise regimen in keeping with his age (he lived to be 78).
Dad, you did so much for us, far beyond what is expected of a father. Not a day passes that we do not remember you. You taught us to think for ourselves and to hold our heads high, whatever troubles we may face in life.
Your sudden demise was difficult for us. For your last rites, we did everything we could, in the best manner possible, to show our respect and gratitude to you.
May you rest in peace with the Lord until we all meet in Heaven one day.
June 1 would have been your 79th birthday, and June 3 marked the third month since you left us to be with the Lord.
We are with you in prayer, and we give alms in your memory.
Thank you, Dad, for all you did for us.
Be assured that we will live up to your expectations, in true Christian spirit.