Eulogy at Mum’s celebration:
I would like to acknowledge that we are celebrating Mum’s life on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, and pay my respect to elders both past and present. The first time I ever heard an Acknowledgement of Country, I was with Mum at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Mum leant over and whispered to me: “They should start saying this at the Australian Club”.
This is one of the many times Mum reminded me about her awareness of privilege and commitment to social justice. She encouraged me to read widely so that I could gain insights into the lives of other people, including those who choose to be members of the Australian Club. She told me that reading had helped her to live a better life.
Mum had so much love in her heart. She was kind, honest and generous. She was also courageous. Her children and grand children are so lucky to have had Mum as a mentor and role model.
I chose to spend a lot of time with Mum during the last few years. She was such an amazing older woman and we had so much fun together – whether it was playing bridge with Etta (the 96 year old x state bridge champion); playing rummy tiles or scrabble with Mrs Adler (who Mum sometimes called Mrs Chocolate Box) or doing The Age crossword with Lorraine, Kay, Marie, Berys, Frank and David. These older people had such an amazing knowledge of synonyms – they completely left me for dead. On the rare occasion when they got stuck, they asked me to “pull out my gadget”, referring to the oracle of all wisdom, my iPhone.
I have so many fantastic memories of Mum at Victoria by the Park, though my favourite memories are when I took her out. Wheeling Mum around Elsternwick listening to her hilarious social commentary, sitting in the car at St Kilda pier with Mum eating McDonalds or an Almond Magnum, or both, with me reading her the newspaper (again with Mum’s social commentary) or Mum giving Maggie and me gardening instructions at Mt Martha whilst she sat on the deck drinking a ginger beer.
Where ever we were, or what ever we did, Mum invariably made me laugh.
As Mum became physically frail, she kept her sparkle, smile, compassion, intelligence and wit. She made an impact on all of us who were lucky to know and love her, including many people she met during the last year or so of her life, some of whom are here today.
I have received so many cards from Mum’s old friends. I had hoped that I might be able to say a collective “thank you” for all the kind and loving memories they shared about Mum as a younger woman, long before I knew her. Sadly, many of Mum’s old friends are not able to be here today. It is also sad that my brother David chose not to be here to celebrate his mothers’ life.
I am grateful for everything that Mum taught me, her friendship and for her unfailing support. When I was at kindergarten, Mum told me that little girls should be seen AND heard. Like many women of her generation and class, Mum played her feminist cards close to her chest, however she told me how proud she was whenever I put my cards on the table.
Mum I love you, and I will miss you.