Charmaine Pryke has lovingly shared details of her daughter's life, following her tragic death last week.
Charmaine Pryke has lovingly shared details of her daughter's life, following her tragic death last week.

Heartbroken mum shares beautiful memories of daughter’s life

THE heartbroken mother of Redland Bay woman Melissa Pryke has shared the most beautiful details of her daughter's life.

Charmaine Pryke bravely spoke with Redlands Community News this week, mere days after the tragic death of her only daughter Melissa. Melissa died after what suffering is believed to have been a seizure while on her way home from Westfield Carindale.

Melissa's body was found a week ago today near a creek in Redland Bay, it is believed she had fallen down an embankment.

Melissa Pryke with her mother Charmaine before seeing the play Les Miserables.
Melissa Pryke with her mother Charmaine before seeing the play Les Miserables.

The grieving mother beamed as she spoke of her girl's happy childhood, artistic flare and rare ability to see hidden beauty in the smallest things.

"Her music, her woodwork - she was very creative in a lot of different ways," Mrs Pryke said.

"She loved Powder Finger. But she liked all sorts of music, she loved Dean Martin, she loved Frank Sinatra, she'd sing blues... she just loved it all.

"She used to sing in a choir and she did try out for a couple of little parts at (Manly-based musical theatre) Savoyards.

"She would have liked to have made (woodworking) into a business... she used to make commissions for people, she'd make beds and buffets and kitchen blocks, she made chairs, all sorts of stuff.

"It was all recycled timber. She's got two doors there at home with red glass in that came out of the Myer Centre.

"She knew the history of every piece that she picked up."

Melissa Pryke (second from right) with her family: father Perry, mother Charmaine and brother Ben.
Melissa Pryke (second from right) with her family: father Perry, mother Charmaine and brother Ben.

Woodwork was a passion that grew while Melissa worked at timber recycling and reclaiming organisation the Big Red Shed north of Brisbane.

"So she got to know a lot of the guys in the trade and she started collecting her own bits and pieces.

"She'd go with the guys... she did what the boys did. She loved it, absolutely loved it.

"She had her girl tools before any of it became fashionable."

Her creativity extended to music, singing and even a touch of acting but most memorably it translated to a stunning sense of style which saw the tall brunette beauty turn many heads.

"She was a girly girl... there is Calvin Klein, Kitten D'Amour, she had the corsets, the beautiful shoes, the hats.

Melissa Pryke will be remembered for her classy sense of style.
Melissa Pryke will be remembered for her classy sense of style.

"She was quite happy to slop around in jeans and a t-shirt but when she got dressed up, she got dressed up.

"Her wedding shoes... were absolutely stunning.

"They were all sequins, this apricot colour... I don't know how she walked in them ... and they've got a satin bow across with a big nice diamante buckle, just gorgeous.

"She had some really, really lovely shoes.

"So when we have the (funeral) service, she's having black patent stilettos, I've got black fishnet stockings, her red Calvin Klein, I've got some black satin gloves that were her grandmother's... and she's got the most kick-ass gorgeous big black hat with a big red bow on it!

"And a (black) handbag, it's satin with all feathers... so I decided... she's going in black and red."

The beautiful ensemble will pay homage to Melissa's love of fashion, and ability find a hidden gem.

Mrs Pryke said the pair spent hours filtering through op-shops, their most recent trip was just the week before Melissa passed away.

"(She) loved op shops, and in fact the jacket she had on on Friday (when she passed away) she had only bought the Saturday before. It was a lovely little jacket.

"She used to collect Murano Glass as well, and any odd shaped glass as well, that she liked. It didn't matter whether it was $2 or if it was 40, if she liked the shape and the colour, she bought it."

Melissa Pryke with her father Perry at her Year 12 formal at Coorparoo State High School.
Melissa Pryke with her father Perry at her Year 12 formal at Coorparoo State High School.

When Charmaine, her husband Perry and their son Ben farewell their beautiful daughter and sister after June 12 - when Covid-19 restrictions for funeral relax to allow 50 attendees - they will farewell not only a glamour but an intelligent woman with lightning-fast wit.

"She was full of cheek," Mrs Pryke said

"She'd tell you what she thought.

"She was very direct, (you) couldn't put anything past her - extremely intelligent... nothing got past her.

"When she turned six, and Benny turned two, we went up the Great Barrier Reef for 13 weeks on our boat.

"And I said to the grade one teacher, 'I've got to have some work for Melissa'.

"And she said: 'here it is but you won't need it'."

It was a rough voyage, Mrs Pryke recalled, but a family trip of a lifetime.

"It was really, really rough, and she used to sleep on the bottom bed under the stairs and it was so rough bloody she learnt to sleep on her side with her arm touching the bunk above so she wouldn't roll out of bed.

"She was a good kid, she was a great teenager.

"I could put her on the floor as a two-year-old and have a sleep with one eye open, how mothers do sometimes, and she'd still be sitting there playing with her blocks or colouring."

Now, Melissa's torn family remains unsure of what life without their 'Flossy' will look like.

"We're a bit raw," Mrs Pryke said.

"I don't know what we're going to do without her."

Last Saturday had been a normal day for the Prykes before a visit from police changed their family forever.

"I was supposed to be going to get groceries for mum," Mrs Pryke said.

"My sister Jo comes down every Thursday and if mum needs anything, I usually ring her.

"And she said 'I need a loaf of white bread'.

"I was outside locking up and I heard bang, bang, bang on the door.

"I knew something was wrong, you don't get three policemen come to the front door at 9.30 on a Saturday morning.

"I didn't know it was Melissa - Perry had gone to the boat and I knew Benny was working - but I knew something was wrong."

 

Melissa Pryke (centre) with her grandparents Lexia and Ron McKell at their 50th wedding anniversary.
Melissa Pryke (centre) with her grandparents Lexia and Ron McKell at their 50th wedding anniversary.

 

She said an outpouring of support from loved ones had been a heart-warming help in the family's time of need.

"It has been (helpful), but with every message I cry.

"With every bunch of flowers I cry, with every care package I cry.

"I got two yesterday... one from my cousin in Canberra... (she) has a bit of a sense of humour.

"She said 'I included everything but the rum'.

"So I've got six boxes of tissues, I got a big box of Twinings tea bags, two lots of camomile, lots of chocolate... she actually sent me Abbot's white bread, which is what I was supposed to buy on Saturday for mum.

"She made my cry rivers but she made me laugh."

Originally published as Heartbroken mum shares beautiful memories of daughter's life



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