10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
6 Grove St., Birchgrove, NSW 2041
September 15, 1998
Dear Joshua and Zoë,
The only thing I regret (and it is a selfish regret) about knowing your mother is that I did not get to know her better. I thought about this a few months ago when I realised that your Mum probably would not get better, but decided that she would probably prefer to make the most of her strongest relationships, especially with you, in her remaining time.
I first became aware of your Mum a few years ago as she waited in the School yard for you to finish School each afternoon. Then later, I noticed that she was one of reading tutors, giving some help to those kids who were a bit behind in their reading skills. Like me (and Robbie Fotheringham), she seemed to believe that reading ability was primary to a child’s happiness in working at School, and it wasn’t fair that those kids who just needed a bit of help, wouldn’t otherwise be getting it. Your Mum also strongly believed in the value of learning other languages, and I remember her speaking to the cause at School P&C meetings. Unfortunately, as is often the case, there were not enough resources at the School to support that good cause. I am not totally confident of this memory, but knowing your Mum it rings true: I have a memory of reading in the School newspaper about the success of the "buy a new piano" fund, and it being greatly helped by your Mum canvassing local businesses for their support. In short, your Mum was an ardent and selfless supporter of causes that she knew would help you and other children.
I got to know your Mum better when Joshua and Caillan became better friends. Whenever I went to pick up Caillan or Josh at your house, your Mum was always very welcoming, wondering if I would like a cup of tea. Sometimes, I had time, and it was always enjoyable to talk with your Mum. She always had a healthy concern for you — worried about you, but also confident that you would be okay, because she knew that you are both good kids. Well, we know that Mums are always positively biased about their kids, but we can attest that there was something to her feelings of confidence in you! She had a great sense of humour, a liberal dose of fairness, and lacked pretension. All qualities I greatly admire.
As the last bout of illness progressed, your mother’s sense of humour became more important. I remember her joking about having made it to her 50th birthday. We’ll all especially remember her on Mother’s Day. I also remember, as she lost her hair again, her joking about that and her hats. I assured her that it did not matter, as her beautiful face, with that wonderful bone structure and strong character shining through, did not need any adornments.
As the years go by, your immediate memory of her may fade. You may sometimes be angry that she left you so early in your life. Other times you will be terribly sad. But there will be two lasting legacies. One will be all the materials that your Mum and Dad have so thoughtfully and lovingly constructed for you. The other, of course, is yourselves. As they say, your parents live on in you, and so there is much good in you, because there is much good in your Mum and Dad.
There will never be any substitute for your Mum. But that does not mean that you cannot make the most of all those people around you, who love you. Give them the love that your mother has nurtured in you.
With love and fondness,
Jackie is the mother of Joshua’s schoolfriend, Caillan.