Andy Marks’s Eulogy for His Mother

Andy's Eulogy - Mum's Funeral, 6/3/2003

MUM WAS A REMARKABLE PERSON. I don't think I realized just how remarkable until I was an adult.

As the youngest in the family, I have experiences of Mum that I only recently realized were different from Robert and Judy's. I was born in 1958 and so grew up in the 'sixties, a time when Mum, I think, began to rediscover many interests that had been on hold since her childhood and she often involved me in these. I learnt copper enamelling with her at evening classes, went gem-stone collecting with her and her sister Bess all around Victoria and went on many field trips with the Bird Observers Club.

Mum was passionate about life and she imbued me with some of this. It's not uncommon for children to care for sick or injured animals found in the garden and so it was for me. Mum had an incredibly strong sense of justice and would fight to protect the underdog. I have an especially strong memory of a baby possum I found in the front garden at 3 Warida, which Mum took in to care for. Its mother had been killed and we bottle fed this baby whom we named Zooey. My 15 minutes of fame came at the hands of the Age newspaper whom Mum invited to write a story about how our native wildlife was being decimated by cats, dogs and foxes. The story appeared the following week with a photo of Zooey sitting on my head.

I realize talking to many of you -- Mum's nieces, nephews, in-laws and grandchildren -- what an important part of your lives she was. In many ways, to be Mum's son meant sharing her with not only the wider family, but with many parts of society. She had so much to give, she needed a larger canvas than her immediate family. And yet I have gained so much from her generosity of spirit.

Mum had a very strong set of values that came from within, not from others or the society she lived in. She was often unconventional and at odds with the values of the time and her own generation. I remember in 1969, Mum taking me to see the musical Hair. Those who remember will recall the controversy surrounding the show at the time, predominantly because it contained nudity. I was all of 11 years old but she took me, I believe, because she wanted me to be able to make my own judgement based on experience. This was typical of her attitude to education -- "Learn to think for yourself. Where you can, experience life directly." I remember her comment when we came out of the theatre, "Well, I don't know what all the fuss was about," she said, "but why did they have to swear so much?" She was profoundly a person of peace.

There's one last memory I want to share with you. When I was about five, Mum began taking Judy and me on skiing trips to Mt. Buller. I think for her this fulfilled a long-held wish to learn to ski and probably more importantly to her, provided Judy and me the opportunity to experience new people and a new activity. One late afternoon Mum said to me that she wanted to go up to the summit and watch the sunset. We caught the lift as far as we could, then walked the rest. We sat there in silence, and to me it seemed like we were on top of the world. We looked out across the Howqua valley as the sun set, lighting up the clouds in a spectacular display of oranges, pinks and mauves, all being reflected off the pristine snow. I remember looking at Mum as she gazed out on the glorious view and I knew her attention was directed both outwardly and deep within herself. She looked completely at peace. Remembering that moment now, I realise it was then that I first had a sense of the depths of Mum's spirit. Now, all these years later, I can begin to appreciate the gift of her spirit that she gave to me.

Mum, you're at peace now but I will miss you greatly.

Andy March 2003

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