Robert Wood’s Eulogy for Hazel

Thoughts on Hazel

I FIRST MET HAZEL when she was building the house at 6 Vincent Street that became the home for her and Bob and later for Josh and Zoë. For a time, I lived with Hazel and Bob in the newly built house, and many of my most vivid memories of Hazel are from round that time.

Robert Wood Many of us here today will remember meals around the kitchen table, sometimes moved out into the sunlight on the patio. There was little other furniture at that time but there were piles of books and music from Bob’s reel-to-reel tape machine. There were long discussions about what could be done with the garden, what furniture or art might work in different rooms. There was even some action. I well remember the first result of many planning sessions over many months was the wooden blinds. Over the years, Hazel and Bob gradually filled the house with things that mattered to them and to Josh and Zoë.

Last Sunday, when I saw Hazel lying in her bed in the front room, surrounded by the books, the piano and the paintings, I realised that this was exactly where she would want to be.

With Hazel, the first impression was a true and lasting one. Her warm smile, her intelligence and her wry sense of humor captured you from the first meeting. In big and small issues, Hazel focused on the things that mattered and was not distracted by convention or what others might think. I always loved the way that Hazel would ignore conventions and, if challenged, would simply respond, “Yes, I don’t worry about that.”

I always thought of Hazel as a beautiful, stylish woman who was totally disinterested in fashion. Her tall, elegant frame and natural beauty made any adornment unnecessary. For Hazel, fashion was simply one of those things that did not matter.

Without ever intending to, Hazel taught us to slow down and appreciate life. Even in the depths of her illness, Hazel’s gentle calm and inner strength provided comfort for friends who were at a loss to know what to do for her. Hazel was a caring and compassionate person but unsentimental in a practical way. Her request that we not adorn the church with flowers today but make donations to charities that will benefit the needy is typical of her.

Robert Wood Like others among Hazel’s many friends who met her though Bob, I saw how happy she made him and how happy they made each other. I remember not long after first meeting Hazel, we were sitting at the kitchen table in 6 Vincent Street, chatting about Bob’s rich knowledge and his great capacity for rational analysis. Hazel, with a grin, commented, “Gosh, I feel a bit like Mr Spock’s soulmate.”

I also remember Hazel and Bob’s joy at the birth of Josh and then Zoë. Their love and enthusiam for these Josh and Zoë makes our reason for our being here today all that more unfair. Parts of Hazel’s character and her talents are already evident in Josh and Zoë. It is my hope that Hazel and Bob’s rich and diverse network friends who are spread to all parts of the worl will become a source of support and memories of their Mum for Josh and Zoë as they grow older.

Bob’s deep love and support for Hazel was evident to those of us among their worldwide ring of friends who were fortunate enough to be receiving Bob’s emails regarding Hazel’s health and other issues during the last few months. These notes kept us in touch and informed during a time when we were unsure about how to help and did not wish to intrude. In these short notes, Bob conveyed so much about Hazel and his loving support for her to their friends.

Robert Wood Pat has been a true sister to Hazel. At a time of need Pat has come to provide love and very practical support for Hazel and Bob, especially around Josh and Zoë. I sense many of Hazel’s characteristics in Pat. Her quite manner, her smile and her warmth are like Hazel in many ways.

Josh and Zoë, your mum was loved by her many friends here today and by many more, all around the world, who were unable to make it today. For us all your mum was an unparalleled loss.

— Robert Wood, 21 September 1998