10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
Dear Rob, Pat, Joshua and Zoë,
This is a note to record my appreciation of Hazel’s friendship, and express empathy with your sorrow.
In recent times, despite a period of years since having seen her last, I have thought of her every day, and the suffering she endured that seemed to be so counter to her naturally buoyant personality and searching interest in life.
Rob, you asked me to give some recollections that may be of assistance to the children. As one who lost my own mother at the age of seven, I would suggest that Joshua and Zoë commit to their own memory some recollections of special moments with their mother, as written recollections may after a time become ‘second hand’ or quite abstract.
No matter what happens in their lives, knowing they were "tops" in their mother’s eyes will carry them through.
The children certainly gave her a lot of fun, prompting her to describe them as being somewhat like "little clowns." I certainly had a plenty of fun with them during my visit a few years ago, and can still recall Hazel ducking upstairs to tuck them in for the night.
In my mind I see Zoë with her doll, and a special quietness about her, and Joshua who always seemed to be busy and keen to be getting on with things. I think Zoë will be an artist.
I first met Hazel when I went to Canberra to work for Rex Patterson during the years of the Whitlam government, and shared a house there.
At that time she was studying for her law degree.
When I came back to Mackay she made a couple of visits. She was always intrigued by the seeming ‘laid back’ lifestyle of people she met in the north — a situation what has changed somewhat in the times of economic rationalism.
On one holiday we took as far as Cairns, including a trip to the reef, we tossed a lot of ideas around in a way that females do — nothing rigid or hard line — on many social and personal topics. Hazel used to joke that she was rather impressionable, but I see that as the mark of a person receptive to new ideas.
She was always sharp and keenly observant. She was sometimes surprised by what came out of the "mud" of my own brain — our different backgrounds and thought patterns were the basis of our friendship.
She cared about elderly people, and had an excellent rapport with them. One one occasion when I was in Sydney we made a long winding visit to a northern beachside suburb to visit one of her older friends.
We shared a love of art. I was impressed that in the midst of a busy lifestyle she found time to take up piano lessons, and play music so well.
As you know, her painting lessons were taken up during the period of her life-threatening illness. How much lighter and brighter her palette would have become if the anxiety could have gone from her life, but it was not to be so.
Pat and Rob, she spoke so fondly of you.
In her memory I will send a donation to Amnesty International.
Take good care of yourselves,
Raye was a friend of Hazel’s.