10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
Dear Josh and Zoë,
I would like to write about some of my recollections of a remarkable person — your mother, Hazel. Some of her remarkable qualities stem from her way of making me and others feel relaxed and accepted being around her. Hazel’s warmth, ready smile and laugh, and her ability to see the humour and absurdity in life made it fun and comfortable to be with her. Maybe part of this comes from her acceptance of herself and others, which is a rare thing.
When I first met Hazel, her remarks, witty retorts, and insightful observations about life showed a thoughtful and sharp mind. It was some time later (at Barrington, perhaps) after I asked about her occupation that she told me she was an attorney for the Commonwealth. I thought at the time, "Isn’t it refreshing to meet someone who isn’t defined by their work— no matter how responsible or big a job it is."
Josh, soon after you were born, Hazel being proud of her new son, invited me over to see you and the pictures from hospital. Kate, who was seven, came too. You, of course, were a wonderful miracle (sleeping at the time but we got a good look). Expecting to see the usual photos of Mum & Dad holding baby in hospital or even Josh on Hazel’s stomach fresh from the womb, Hazel presented us with detailed photos of the actual birth — Josh’s crowning head and nothing left to the imagination! This gave Kate a wonderful education about birth! Hazel relished my surprised reaction and explained with that slight tongue in cheek that after all sense of modesty and privacy were denied a woman in labour, she had shed her inhibitions! I could relate to that.
A lasting image of Hazel is from over 2 years ago when she had come back from her trip to England to celebrate Ada’s 80th birthday and to visit her sisters, other relatives and friends. On this particular day Hazel went sailing with me and Ruth Burnett on Sydney Harbour. To me, Hazel has always had a natural style and grace and she looked like she was still feeling post-holiday glow. She looked especially stylish in a jaunty hat and a blue-and-white striped sailor’s shirt. She recounted her first sailing experience in England with a male friend (harrowing) and spoke about the good times she had while visiting in England. She spoke about Josh & Zoë’s unfolding personalities and Rob’s wizardry research on the Net. We had some good wind early on, but at lunchtime we were becalmed. Hazel is sitting in an uncomfortable, glorified dinghy, and as we unpacked our gourmet lunch she quips, "This is like a Balmain coffee shop on water!" I can see Hazel on that day, blue water at the back of her, blue sky above and her beautiful face in the sun.
As Rob has said, Hazel lives on in you.
Sharon was a friend of Hazel’s and mine.