I’ve put a lot of thought into trying to put my finger on the source of the light that shone from you and I think I’ve figured it out:
You knew how to listen to what people were really trying to say. You recognised people for who they were and always treated them with nothing but love, empathy and kindness.
You honed those skills as a wife whose husband was a prominent part of the community and could find out on Wednesday she is catering for 40 people on Saturday from the Rotary club and would put on a veritable feast. Ever the hostess, natural and easy, your guests always felt at home in your home.
You honed your listening ear even further as a mother to Paula and Vicki. As a mother of two young daughters myself, I know well how many words exit such small mouths so fast that you listen desperately, terrified you might miss the important messages in their endless youthful babble. But, listen well you did, guiding your two daughters through life, watching as they grew into two incredible women who have achieved incredible things.
You would hone them as a friend to many, but in particular as a friend to my dad first; celebrating his achievements and mourning his losses at every step of the way alongside him and supported him through the times of his life that caused him pain.
And my mum secondly. Recognising my mum in a way not many did, you connected immediately even if you seemed to be poles apart; you having settled down and had the whole 2.4 children, figure in society and my mum having worked and partied her way through the 60’s, 70’s and most of the 80’s by the skin of her teeth and having a blast while she did, you actually were both the same: two real class acts.
You gave my mum her first Delia cookbook, in fact you pretty much taught my mum to cook, though she would complain that you always managed to produce these incredible meals without breaking a sweat while she ended up a hot mess in the corner.
You stood by her when she had me and I was poorly, coming over to lend a hand and get stuck in. So, you see, you in all your glorious-ness have always been a force in my life. Always such a reliable force of literal joy in my life, steadfast through birthdays and Christmas’, year in and year out celebrating my achievements and my progress just as loud and as hard as my own parents did.
When I was small, I caught on quick that when you came to visit us you usually came with a treat or small gift for me. I used to get super excited for those gifts because they were always so brilliant. Not always big, but always full of thought. In fact, one of my most beloved childhood toys was my Teddy Ruxpin. You had caught onto my love of stories and so Teddy Ruxpin was the perfect gift for me; a teddy bear that told stories. He came everywhere with me telling me stories for longer than I probably would want to admit. In fact, I still have him, even though he stopped being able to tell stories a long time ago.
You had a way of holding the attention of whoever you were talking with, making them feel like they had your sole attention. As someone who experienced that with you, I can tell you that your sole attention was such a beautiful thing to have.
One of my favourite memories of you is the night before Paula and Matt’s wedding. I was staying the night before to attend to bridesmaid duties, Claire (with the hair) had come over to do our nails but came with a bottle of Crug champagne and there was plenty in anyway to celebrate. Everyone had a few, except me. I was allowed a small bit to toast to Paula and that was it, but you (slightly three sheets to the wind) made me promise never to tell my mum when you poured me a little more. I think the reason I love it so much is because you did something you wouldn’t usually do: got a little reckless with the champers, and my mum would have found it as funny as I did, of that, I am certain.
I know my mum always felt so secure when you had me, or Vicki did. That level of friendship was a new one in my mum’s life, her perpetually selfless friend, who not only rescued her from moments of anxiety but loved her daughter and her husband too. You had more than a friendship with my mum, you had a sister-ship.
As a child I would listen to the sound of you and my mum laughing, really laughing and find myself laughing right along with you both even though I had absolutely no idea why you were laughing. You’re laughter was as infectious as your spirit.
I only regret not making time to see more of you in the last few years. There was always something to stop us coming together and the last time I saw you it was my wedding day. You just looked at me and told me I looked “Stunning” and gave me a hug. It meant the world to me that you were there. That was five years ago, and while some may say I’m let off, that was far too long to let slide by into nothing.
The world seems to me to have just had a light go out, and a star start to shine a little more brightly above us. While I am so glad to know you are no longer in pain, I cannot say in words how much I will miss you, but I know that I am a better woman for having known you.
Rest well, now. You are already so missed.