Philomine de Rose

Ever kind and generous

The stage was dismantled and the final curtain was drawn on the life of dear aunty Philomine de Rose. Yes, she took her final bow on June 24, 2021 at the remarkable age of 98.

It was Thursday, June 24. Around 9 a.m., I heard my phone ringing and noted that it was my friend Maureen. When I answered, she said ‘I have some sad news for you’ and then broke the news about the demise of her dear mother that morning. I was so shaken up to hear this shocking news as it was only on June 19th I wished aunty on her 98th birthday and told her just in two years you will be celebrating 100 years. She thanked me for wishing and told me that I should visit her and I agreed to do so after the current pandemic situation improves. Sadly, I could not make it, and her words still keeps ringing in my ears.

I got to know aunty Philomine through Maureen, who was not only my class mate but also my travel partner. I used to admire aunty from my young days coming to Nirmala Church at Clifford Place. She was a fair beautiful lady: always well-dressed, smart, elegant, graceful, and ever with a smile. She was a soft-spoken, generous and kind-hearted lady. I am indeed privileged to have known her, and I am honoured to say that she was also the only 98-year-old I had met in my lifetime.

Born to Hearty and Manual Xavier Miranda, Aunty Philomine was educated at Holy Cross Convent in India. She got married to Charles de Rose at the age of 19 and moved to Sri Lanka. Of course, adjusting to a new environment at that tender age, playing the role of wife and mother was indeed a great challenge for her. All this she did with much ease. She was a talented lady with ability to multitask. After her four children Gerard, Maureen, Eugene, and Jerome started schooling, she felt she had ample time to venture into some new field.

She excelled in sewing, embroidery, crocheting, cooking, and painting. You name it, she is into it. I used to tell Maureen, who is equally competent in all these fields, that she has got all her mother’s talents. With all these talents, aunty thought she would try her luck with sewing first.

Her fist project was to supply bed linen to ‘J.L. Carwallio’, which was owned by her husband. As you may know ‘J.L. Carwallio’ was a popular shop on Main Street, Pettah, dealing with furnishing, mainly curtaining and bed linen. The bedsheets and pillowcases stitched by her became popular. This humble beginning later reached greater heights.

Aunty Philomine was a very pious, holy, generous and a kind-hearted lady. If I may say, she was a lady with a heart of gold. Her day never ended without attending the Holy Mass. Even during her latter stages, when she could not visit the church, she made it a point to watch the mass daily on TV. The Rosary and prayers were on her daily agenda. When she was young, she was actively engaged in the activities of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Lawrence’s Church. She never failed in her duties towards churches. Where financial assistance to churches were concerned, she always came forward to help, especially for the three parishes she belonged to: Nirmala (Clifford) Chapel, St. Lawrence’s Church, and St. Mary’s Church in Dehiwala, which was her last parish.

After she lost her husband, Aunty Philomine moved in with Maureen and, I must say, Maureen looked after her with much love and affection until she breathed her last. As one of her friends quite rightly said, Maureen looked after her like a queen. Aunty was devastated when she lost her son Eugene, and it took a while for her to get over it. She had a good, happy life and had the privilege of being with three generations: her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Finally, I like to share the feelings of Maureen, when she informed me of the sad news. She said, “When I took the coffee that morning to the room, she gave me the most beautiful smile that I had ever seen. Two hours later, when I went to the room, she said, ‘I am not feeling good. I think I am going.’”

With those touching words, God took her into his fold. She had a very peaceful, happy death, which proves her closeness to God; and with all the good deeds she did during her life, there is no doubt she is now in a special place with God.

Goodbye and farewell, aunty. May your soul rest in peace.

Those we love don’t go away

They walk beside us every day

Unseen, Unheard, but always near

So loved, so missed, so very dear

Years may pass and fade away

But memories of loved ones

Will ever stay




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