10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
See a letter from Hazel to Joan, written a few days after Hazel’s fortieth birthday in May 1988 here.
Evening at "Burntwood", Sat., Feb. 24, ’90
As the sun slowly sinks, eager towards the Western seas, and the bright and radiant light dims, the day’s heat slowly gives way to the cooler evening. So Rudi and I sit curled and comfortable on the sun-warmed wood, gazing over the bush to the shining life of the ocean of Diamond Bay, glittering in the setting sun. Rudi, eyes shut once more, is at peace, but the odd twitch and squeak have connotations of bush activity (then all subside once more). The head slowly lifts and hot eyes dissect the slowly moving leaves, eager for a glimpse of life hopping and twittering amongst the tea-tree. In this quiet hour, the last moment of activity after a busy day, we are both too sun-saturated to take activity seriously.
I sip my orange juice at peace waiting for guests with all salads and sweets ready to serve, colourful and crisp in their bowls in the fridge. Jane is coming — we have once more picked up a warm friendship. Friendship, like the ocean, ebbs and flows like the tide, quiet and peaceful, active in interesting moments or wild and destructive as human folly, a cove in the rocks.
Jane and I hold few secrets — for many years we have trod the same path of marriage and motherhood, we were together during all family celebrations; our paths separated, we went down our own paths which inevitably eventually joined as our relationship did once more; an easy relationship without demands or unmet expectations.
So now I wait. All is ready to "break our bread together once more" — the chook is stuffed and roasted, the new potatoes boiled to be eaten either with butter or mayonnaise, the tomatoes, cucumbers, celery are blended into an appetizing crisp salad with vinegar and oil, with salt and pepper, all in a colourful and appetizing smorgasbord, cooling in the fridge. I finish writing; I pick up my book and refurbish my glass; I wait for my guest.
I have one sadness, that Bess is not joining us. She, like a fox bereft of its young ones, has gone to ground. A strep throat keeps her there in isolation. I would have enjoyed drinking with her and Jane together, all three warmed by the friendship, the setting sun, and warm breeze and the friendly drink together. But it is not to be. Not today. But in the future.
Although this memoir doesn’t mention Hazel — and Joan’s mind is too far gone to expect her memories of Hazel — I came across it in an exercise book down at Sorrento two weeks after Hazel died. They got on well.
Joan was Hazel’s mother-in-law. Visit Joan's funeral pages here.
Bess was Joan’s sister, Jane her sister-in-law, and Rudi her cat.