Charlie Pahlman Memorial
Andrew's Eulogy - Charlie's early days
Dear Family and Friends of Charlie
Charlie was a content and happy baby with an infectious smile who hardly ever
cried. With such a good baby my parents’ social lives hardly missed a beat.
They would put him in a straw box and check him at the hotel cloak room and then
go dining and dancing (photo on page 3 of booklet). They mistakenly put his good
behaviour down to
As it turned out it was one of the few times in life you could put Charlie in a box. He became such a wonderful “out-of-the-box” person.
As a young boy Charlie grew up in the Nordic weather of Sweden where the
Viking inspired custom was to cut a hole in the ice to swim in or roll in the
snow after a sauna. Throughout life Charlie loved the water and would strip off
and go swimming even in the middle of winter. Perhaps it all seemed warm
compared to those early Nordic
“Gosta och Anders” (Charlie & Andrew) was his response when asked his
name at 4 years old. I was his 2.5 year old brother and we were one. Our young
lives were full of change. We moved across the world. We did 8 schools together
in 12 years. He waited for me to catch up and in the final years of high school
we were in the same
Charlie was very advanced and had his mid-life crisis in his early 20s, while studying Agricultural Science at Hawkesbury Ag College (now University of Western Sydney). This was a terrible time. He was depressed, slept a lot, and felt that life and the world were quite irrelevant. From this darkness came his transformation. He left his studies after the first year, and started to roam and explore the world and himself. He farmed avocados on the NSW north coast. He was a stock rider on a mega huge cattle station in northern Queensland. I remember some great letters from that time.
They would ride around the massive cattle station for weeks on end, working
with the cattle and sleeping under the stars in their swags. This was a rough
environment and, while Charlie was an excellent horseman who could hold his own
in the saddle, he was clearly quite different from the bunch. They called him
“the Professor” because he was
He later went to Sweden and looked after his grandparents (mormor and
morfar). My grandfather (morfar) was sick in hospital and Charlie stayed with
mormor for 6 months and took her to the hospital every day to see morfar.
Charlie was there when morfar died and said that he felt the strength of his
spirit in the room after he died.
During this time Charlie with some friends ran a vegetarian restaurant on the Hawkesbury called Curlys Café. With great food, live music and a wonderful atmosphere Curlys Cafe drew a cult following and provided support for a women’s shelter on top of the restaurant. Charlie lived at Wheeney Creek in an idyllic bush cabin which was self-sufficient with natural water, solar power and a wood stove. I never quite got used to cold showers in winter so Charlie used to heat a bucket for me. Wheeny Creek was a place for contemplation, friendships, music, ideas, debate usually accompanied by great vegetarian food and red wine.
Through this time his I saw transformation. He found his inner strength, his vision and his spirit. It charted his life and he never looked back. He became committed to helping others and making the world a better place, not because he thought he “should”, but because it was everything he wanted.
Charlie travelled extensively throughout the world and loved exploring, meeting people and learning about cultures and languages. He liked to meet up with friends on his travels. Mum still talks fondly about the special time he took her hiking in Kashmir and their visit to the Taj Mahal.
In the mid-80s he was travelling through Asia when he met the head of CUSO (a
Canadian development organisation) in Thailand. They hit it off and found a
shared view of the world and of development. He asked Charlie to work for CUSO
in Northern Thailand. This began Charlie’s love affair with the Mekong region
and the people of
Charlie was an amazing brother. I feel so lucky, so privileged and so proud to be his brother. We were so different in many ways and yet so close. He gave me a fresh perspective and helped make sense of the world. He had energy, enthusiasm and amazing generosity. He always greeted me with that great playful bear hug, with the warmth, the smile and the infectious laugh.
His death has been devastating for the whole family and all his friends. It has been hard to be the bearer of bad news. Every call has been heart wrenching but also very touching - the depth of feeling, the depth of sorrow, the depth of love. How can someone inspire so much love in so many people?
We’ve been overwhelmed by the huge wave of support, warmth, love and practical assistance from everywhere. It is very comforting to know that Charlie was so loved by so many in his life. I thank you all for being there for Charlie in his life, and for being here with us today.
I’ll finish with a quote from Ted Kennedy at his brother, Robert’s
We will now see some pictures from Charlie’s life accompanied by a song called “I hope you dance” by Ronan Keating. Charlie’s good friend Felicity heard this song on the radio after hearing of his death and was struck by the relevance of the lyrics. This could be Charlie’s song to us.