Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dr Sally Masheder

A few days ago we heard from her husband Mike that Sally had died in a Bristol hospice, having decided not to continue with treatment for her cancer, which was terminally advanced. Mike told us that "Sally retained her equanimity and command of the situation, and it was all done as beautifully as it could have been. This was all helped by the really remarkably wonderful care delivered by the hospice." Dr Mike Masheder and their childen were present when Sally died.

Readers will probably know that Sally Masheder was Honorary Secretary to the Network of Buddhist Organisations, having been a founding member since 1993, and a leading member and former secretary of the Western Chan Fellowship in Bristol. Sally was a practising doctor in General Practice at Templemeads, Bristol.

I knew Sally slightly through my involvement with the NBO but my few encounters with her impressed me very much with her great human warmth, shrewd judgement, dry humour as well as generous solicitude for me and for the Buddhist Hospice Trust. No doubt Sally's engagement with the Dharma and her spiritual practice was profound, but she bore this very lightly. Everyone's experience of her was, I feel sure, that she was a wonderfully wise and compassionate human being, who embraced us with kindness, and knew us and our needs better than we did ourselves.

It was as a result of Sally's several approaches to us that we agreed to join the Network of Buddhist Organisations in 2008 as a full member organisation, and Sally arranged an unsolicited donation to our funds by the NBO, having learned that the level of subscriptions to the Trust was low. Sally also invited me to apply to join her on the NBO's Health Advisory Panel of its Activities Committee, which I did shortly after we joined.

In 2008 I visited Bristol at Sally's invitation to participate in their annual conference which was themed on Death and Dying. I delivered a talk on the Buddhist Hospice Trust and Ananda Network, and joined with Ken Jones in delivering a workshop on "Being with the Dying" to delegates. Tired but fulfilled at the end of the busy weekend, I said my Farewells to Sally with a characteristically fulsome (but sincerely meant) tribute, "Sally, you have looked after me like a mother!" Sally responded dryly with a quizzical sidelong look, "I'm not old enough to be your mother, Peter!" A Zen-like moment of satori (or maybe kensho) ensued for me. Sally is reputedly famous for this variety of upaya.

Details of Sally's funeral are still in abeyance, but donations in tribute to her life and in memoriam can be made to her husband Dr M R W Masheder, 6 Tyne Road, Bishopston, Bristol, BS7 8EE for distribution to or amongst charities chosen by Sally, including St Peter's Hospice (where she was cared for until she died), CaRe appeal for the Bristol Haematology and Oncology centre, and One2Five, a charity with which Sally was associated run by the Sisters of the Church to support the street women of St Pauls, Bristol.

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