Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lilyfield Life Eulogy for My Mum

I have had a lot of people ask to see what I wrote for the eulogy at mum's funeral last week. I thought I'd share it here with some photos.  I'm not a writer by any means (much more of a doer), but these words are from the heart. I am missing her very much but am feeling quite a bit of peace and acceptance of her death; and gratitude for her life.

The funeral was a beautiful day and a wonderful memorial to mum, I can only hope that somehow she experienced it also. So many people had travelled so far to farewell her; and her four kids were all there with their/our families and with so much love for her, for Max and for each other. What a legacy.

Mum and Max (my stepdad)
My eulogy

Jennifer Louat, Jennifer Gaven, Jenny Kuhnell, Mrs Toyworld

Jennifer, Jenny, Jen

and most importantly to me, Mum.

If I had to sum up her in one word it would be “capable”.

But today I don’t need to use just one word for her so I thought I’d share with you what she was to me.

Mum was capable, she was highly intelligent, practical and pragmatic, witty and articulate. She also had a wicked sense of humour. She lived by her strong values, could not tell a lie, unfortunately not even a white lie ... but she was kind, considerate and very giving. She read widely and was well educated. She was an interesting conversationalist and always made a great impression on whomever she was talking to. As you can imagine there were many a heated discussion over the dinner table growing up (even till recently). She taught us to have our own opinions but to be always able to back up our views with well constructed thought. Actually she just loved a good debate.

While Mum wasn’t sentimental and she didn’t like a fuss or to be fussed over, she was a very loving mother and friend. Together Mum and Max, (or as Paul and Rachael would say Dad and Jenny) created the most wonderful blended family and made a loving home for the 4 of us kids and later for our partners and children. There are so many wonderful memories and we’ve spent this week sharing them with much hilarity, laughter and red wine and a few tears.

We all had a very open and loving relationship with Mum. Sure there were frustrations at time but never any falling out. We always knew she would be there at the end of the phone to listen and love ...and provide her point of view of course.

It’s inconceivable to me that I will never pick up the phone again and say “hi Mum, it’s Fi”.

Mum loved being “Grandma”. She loved all her 9 grandchildren and was very interested in what they were doing. She loved spending time with them, teaching them things and having interesting conversations. The kids will remember her with much love.

Mum was a wonderful cook and many of you will have eaten her fare – either at the motel where she did an incredible job with no formal training or at home where she would whip up amazing meals. Many times we’d find the mushrooms or peas in the microwave still the next morning, forgotten and not needed amongst all the other beautiful food she served. But an evening of pickies followed by a big family dinner was the mainstay of our childhood.

You may have had her famous sausage rolls at Lioness catering events. Yesterday her grandchildren made a batch using her recipe as we couldn’t imagine her funeral without them… although I’m not sure we quite cooked them up to Grandmas exacting standard. We hope you enjoy them and the other food at the wake that has been kindly donated by her friends at the Eden Lioness Club.

Mum imparted her love of cooking to both, Sally and me. And we both loved having a long chat on the phone to mum while we pottered cooking in our respective kitchens. Many of her favourite recipes are our family favourites and I’ll miss having her as my first point of call when I need help with a recipe or dinner party menu.

Mum believed in being productive and encouraged us all to have productive hobbies. I loved sharing our creative endeavours together. She and I always had a show and tell session whenever we saw each other, showing off our latest creations. Mum was good at sewing and quilting, a passion she shared with her beloved sister, Rhonda and many of her lovely Eden friends. She had a great eye for colour and design. Even before she did her formal dress making qualification, she sewed beautiful clothes. Sally and I love looking at our childhood photos. We were always in cute little matching dresses. In the last 16 years she’s sewed beautiful pyjamas for all our kids. She has made many beautiful quilts that will continue to keep us warm and wrap us securely in love. She also was a beautiful embroiderer, knitter and tassel maker ...actually she was pretty perfect at whatever she put her hand to.

She was active in the local community and very good at organising and doing things for other people in need. So many of you have told me how much she meant to you and what a wonderful woman she was. I know she will be missed greatly in Eden.

So Mum had all these wonderful good qualities … and beautiful relationships with people but I think the thing that defined Mum most was her love for Max; and his love for her. She has really missed him these last 7 years (as we all have) and I’m glad to think of them together at last again. Their love lives on through our four families and I know they were very proud of all of us.

Thank you all for being here today to celebrate her life.

So with much love and sadness, my Mummy, farewell and two squeezes*.

~~~~~~~
* Mum always used to say two squeezes meant "I love you". When we were at boarding school she always signed her letters off with Two squeezes, Mummy. I still use this with my kids today. Giving their hands two little squeezes as we walk along together.

I look a lot like my mum did at the same age. To honour her, I wore my hair in a french roll (like she used to when she was young) to the funeral. Check out these photos for similarity. It's amazing how close we look isn't it.

We didn't quite get the angle right to recreate the photo but you get the idea.  I just noticed that we've even got the exact same little cowlick in our hair.

Putting the order of service together we found lots of great old photos of mum. She was quite groovy back in the 1970s!  I love this photo of her and me. I'd come home from school upset about something. (I'm aged 5 and a half, mum is about 34).


I have had such lovely messages and support from you all. Thank you! And a special thank you to April, who I met through our blogs and then became friends with on facebook. She travelled 2 hours to come to mum's funeral and we finally met for the first time face to face. I love this iphone "selfie" we took.  What a special person she is.


After the funeral and morning tea, but before the big evening wake, the men all went to the pub, and my sisters and I were all back at our house sitting around chatting. My sister Rachael said she felt like a coke so I offered to go next door to the servo (service or gas station for you non-Aussies) to get some. The whole servo fridge was full of these!  Every single one of them said Mum (actually I lie, except for one "Prancer" obviously left over from last Christmas). I have never even seen a Mum one before. 


D'ya think she's watching over us?

Fiona xx

11 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post Fiona! Your mum sounds like she will be missed by all who knew her. I though in the first pic that you resembled your mum, and then seeing those photos at the end (with your hair in the French roll) I cannot believe it - you're almost identical! 2 beautiful ladies! Yep, those Coke cans are definitely a sign........ x

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  2. <3 You made me cry . Much Love xx

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  3. What a beautiful post Fiona, your mum would have been so proud of you. She has left an amazing legacy in her children and grandchildren. I have been a little under the weather lately and I somehow missed the fact that your mum had passed away, I'm so sorry. Today, the 8th of the 8th marks the anniversary of my dad's passing so I feel your pain. xToni

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  4. What a beautiful eulogy Fiona. How hard must be to stand up there and get through it, don't know if I could! Parts of it made me well up with tears and other parts made me smile...my mum is renowned for leaving veges in the microwave too, so funny!

    My kids and I have our own little hand squeeze language too :)

    I didn't realise you and April weren't already real life friends, that is so sweet of her to come to support you. As I said when she posted that photo, I love her taste in bags, I have the same one practically permanently attached to my shoulder!

    I am shopping this morning, then packing, in the hope that I will be all organised today for the weekend and I will be able to squeeze some more painting tomorrow :)

    xx Karen

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  5. I'm deeply moved by your beautiful words, what a lovely tribute to your mum! The likeness is uncanny and I bet you also mirror some of those wonderful qualities that your mum lived by. I guess thats how we all are able to carry on the legacy that our parents leave behind, we learn to live and die by the morals, values and virtues that our parents instil in us. Thinking of you at this time. LOve G.x

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  6. that was just beautiful.... and it is eerie how much you look like your mom!

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  7. she is watching over you, she is! beautiful eulogy for your mum. xo

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  8. That first paragraph gives such a poignant description of your mum - it's beautiful. I'm glad you had special people there to support you on the day, and for those after.

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  9. Wow, beautiful eulogy!

    Cannot get over the likeness too. And the coke cans!

    xx

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  10. That was one of the best posts I have ever read. and you are a good writer.....very good.

    It was lovely to learn more about you and your mummy. That you went to boarding school and how her letters to you were signed. So very lovely.

    Your bloggy mate was a doll for coming to support you and as for the coke....I think it was a sign that she was watching over you in a big way...... and maybe Prancer was Max. Who knows.
    I hope you are OK at this time
    Carolyn

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  11. Oh I've just read this from today's post received. It is so very sad to lose a parent, as I lost my dear dad last year to Parkinsons. Yes, you do look so amazingly like her. (I look like my dad). You wrote a beautiful "farewell" and should be very proud of it. Thanks for sharing.

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