10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
Date: Thu, 04 Nov 1999 16:11:16 +1100
It’s a bit over a year now since Hazel died and I’ve wanted to write down, for some time now, some of my recollections and impressions of Hazel both for myself and also for Robert, Joshua and Zoë. I think one of the best indications of the type of person Hazel was was that, from my perspective of having known Robert for all of my life, I had never seen him so happy and in love as he was during his time with Hazel.
My relationship with Hazel was one where I felt accepted and in some ways admired. I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed when Hazel would ask for advice in matters regarding the garden or cooking, as I have some experience in these areas but felt I didn’t have to the extent with which she endowed me with. However, as I shared my thoughts and ideas with her and with her encouragement, I discovered I actually had a lot to contribute on the matter. I think now that this was one of Hazel’s greatest gifts to me and no doubt to many of her friends, that is she allowed others to contribute to her, to open herself to those close to her.
I recall once when visiting Robert and Hazel in Balmain deciding to run the Flymo electric mower over the back yard, which at the time was unlandscaped and somewhat overgrown. Hazel came out and we began a discussion which continued in small ways over a number of years about plantings and layout for the backyard. This space is now I think complete and I find it a very real expression of Hazel’s love of life and beauty, balance and tranquility.
Another memory I have which provokes a mixture of joy and sadness is when Hazel visited Alison, myself, and a four-hour-old Caitlin in St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne. Hazel had just finished a residential retreat for cancer sufferers at the Lawlers and her joy at seeing newborn Caitlin was palpable and infectious. The sadness I feel now on remembering this is that Caitlin will have no memories of her aunt and Hazel won’t see this niece grow to an adult. I know in talking to Robert that the idea of not seeing Joshua or Zoë grow to adulthood was the greatest source of grief as she confronted the consequences of her illness in its latter stages.
Thinking back now over the time I knew Hazel, it was altogether too short but in that time I met and came to know someone who was intensely interested in life and people and who genuinely listened. She was a woman of humility, integrity, love and compassion and I shall miss her not only in remembering our past but because she won’t be a part of our futures.
To end back where I began, I mostly feel for Robert’s loss who, after searching for his partner for so long and finally finding her, to lose her after so short a time together. I also hope these thoughts and reminiscences will help Zoë and Joshua, through knowing how others saw their mother, in time have a broader, deeper and richer appreciation and understanding of the very special person their mother was.
4th November, 1999
Andy is Robert’s brother.