It was all I could do to get there before she took her last breath. I always called my mom on Sundays to exchange family news. Welcome to all of you. I realized as I set about this task, that a son sees his mother in a different context than those of you who are lifelong friends or professional colleagues. It is even difficult to speak on behalf of my siblings but I will try to represent the shared feelings of love, devotion and admiration we all felt towards our mother. My mother would be very pleased and honored to see that you all could make it here this morning to share in this with us, as it was her family and friends who were the most important focus of her life.
Maya Angelou | Poetry Foundation
It was also your continued support, well wishes and prayers which were so valuable to her in her final weeks. In addition to your presence here, we have received many, many expressions of condolence from among the thousands of people my mother touched over the years. Their and your words match those that echo in my head with examples of her tireless and determined support of her friends and family throughout her life. I could talk for hours and provide numerous examples demonstrating her remarkable independence, including, of course, her desire to live alone in the woods for so many years.
Her decisions to run for MPP, to restart her life in her mids and get into and complete law school as a single mother of four high-maintenance children were further evidence not only of her independence and determination, but also of her courage and willingness to tackle any challenge. Her generosity with her time, her energy, her advice, and in so many other ways provided invaluable support to a remarkable number of people.
The woman accepted the offer gladly. Such acts of spontaneous generosity were typical of my mother. Among the other words which come to mind to describe her character, her uncompromising integrity and honesty have proven to be among the most important guides for myself in my professional and personal life. Life forces us all into positions of compromise and presents challenges to our honesty and our integrity, and I observed my mother rise and meet those challenges one after the other throughout my life with courage and a toughness and a sense of right and wrong which was awe inspiring.
It was her values and her commitment to community and people which led her into politics and then law and which kept her involved in local politics and community service in all respects to the very last months of her life. Her sense of dignity was never so tested nor so well demonstrated as in the final weeks and days of her life. Even with a body riddled with cancer she still was not asking for the normal allotment of painkillers as she wished to maintain full control of her faculties and to preserve her lucidity and maximize her ability to interact with the family and friends showing up to visit.
Finally, and perhaps the key to her happiness, was her whimsical approach to life. She was always in pursuit of another experience, a little more fun or a new adventure. Her belief in fairies, her decisions at nearly 60 years old to take up roller blading or try skiing again after a 20 year absence, and her delight in her new bright red kitchen, reflected the child who still lived and breathed within my mother.
To her last day, she was always able to crack a joke and even more able to laugh at herself in ways which had so many of us laughing in stitches so much of the time we were around her. Her final months were focused on designing, building and moving into her new house. She moved in a week ago today and was so happy to be in her dream home in her final days. We are so grateful to all of those who helped make it possible: building, cleaning, packing and moving. Thank you so much for your efforts. My mother pursued a lifelong effort to build family connections and explore our genealogical roots.
She came to know so many people and has given us all an extraordinary collection of family knowledge. As a parent and friend, my mother had an extraordinary ability to make each of us feel stronger and more confident in our own identity, giving us our own sense of independence and mental toughness which, speaking for myself, has been such an asset in so many ways in my life.
My husband was such a wonderful man. Not only was he a wonderful husband, but a wonderful father, grandfather, best friend, colleague … and so much more. It has been nearly 40 years since we were first married and I look back over those years with so much happiness.
I remember the first time I saw him—I looked over the room at the dance hall on a Saturday night and saw this handsome young man. I was too shy initially to even hold his eye contact, but I did look out for him every Saturday night. Eventually he introduced himself to me; we danced, we laughed and we fell in love. Paul was always such a gentleman—well mannered and polite, but always quick with a witty remark. His joviality and good nature attracted people the moment he walked in the room, and no one could forget his raucous and contagious laugh.
In our early life together, we would jump in the caravan and spend weekends on the coast together. I remember the first fish he caught. Paul had been out all day after promising that he would bring home dinner that night. It was getting late and I started to worry, but the look on his face when he marched back and presented the catch of the day was priceless.
His face was glowing and he was grinning from ear to ear, despite the fact that it was dark and he was shivering with cold. Paul was a wonderful father to them and I would watch him take them to Sunday school and show them off to all the other parents. As they became teenagers, I saw how they always went to him for advice—even if they did run off and do the opposite, as teenagers do.
He was always there to pick up the pieces and sort things out.
They respected and loved him deeply. Paul was a hard working and giving man. Not only was he committed to his job—working long hours that would drive me insane—he was also committed to giving back to the community.
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He was my soul mate and my inspiration—my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin. We have work to do up here, too. He said it was easier to get enthusiastic about a ceremony one had an outside chance of eventually being involved in. In order to prepare this speech, I rang a few people to get a general picture of how Gareth was regarded by those who met him. But some of you have rung me and let me know that you loved him, which I know he would have been thrilled to hear.
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You remember his fabulous hospitality, his strange experimental cooking. Most of all, you tell me of his enormous capacity for joy. And, when joyful, for highly vocal drunkenness. The most splendid, replete, big-hearted—weak-hearted, as it turned out—and jolly bugger most of us ever met. Forgive me if I turn from my own feelings to the words of another splendid bugger, WH Auden.
Susan was a remarkable woman who always held her head high and gave endlessly to those around her. Susan had an interesting upbringing—born into a family with a long history of military service. Much of her early childhood was spent moving around with her family from one posting to another, and she saw much of Australia as a young girl. It was only by chance that first I met Susan a couple of weeks before they were due to be posted to Canberra. The moment I set eyes on her, I knew she was the one for me. She was the loveliest woman I had ever seen and reminded me of Greta Garbo from one of the old movies—her poise, her grace and her beauty.
Our courtship was difficult as we had to overcome distance, but I was determined to make her my wife. Susan and I came from different backgrounds: I was brought up in the city and had never ventured out into the country, while Susan had grown up with a military background, and had travelled to many places by the time she was After getting permission from her father, I proposed, she said yes eventually —and I was the happiest man alive.
Her big brown eyes and her cheeks flushed with excitement, her father beside her looking as proud as punch. It was only later that I found Susan shared my love of the old black and whites and when we were first married, spent many evenings watching and reciting lines from movies such as Casablanca and Camille, much to my delight. When we had Jenny, Susan was thrilled—we felt blessed.
She had longed to have a child of her own, but it had taken longer that we had hoped. Susan was tough but fair and when Susan got older, the two of them formed a special friendship that never faltered over the years. When Susan fell ill, we were all devastated. She was always fit and strong, and on the ball.