Dear Mum,

The last few years have been difficult for you and we draw some comfort from the knowledge that you are finally at peace.

The family has also drawn a lot of comfort from the deluge of cards, letters, e-mails and even facebook messages we have received.

These also helped me prepare today’s words. Indeed, I’m probably a little biased in talking about you here, after all you are my mum! But I have read countless accounts of your kindness, generosity of spirit, compassion and wit. So clearly, I’m not the only one who things you rock!

It’s hard of course to separate how much of what I learned is from you, rather than from Dad, as you were a tight-knit team! So I guess the life lessons I have had are as much a testament to Dad as they are to you.

Lesson 1

Never stop learning.

You had an insatiable curiosity about different cultures, faiths, and let’s not forget cooking! In all seriousness, you approached all with an open mind, and had an uncanny ability to relate to people from all walks of life.

Lesson 2

Fight for what you believe in.

I can still remember how you walked along us as children at an anti-racism march, how you worked with AIDS charities when many were still confused and scared about the new disease, how you worked with asylum seekers, and of course, how you were (not so secretly) proud of my propensity to sit-in, speak up and protest.

Lesson 3

Nurture your friendships.

One only has to see your christmas card list to bear witness on this one! I think my phone will never recover from the seemingly endless calls dad had to make to announce your passing.

Lesson 4

Enduring love.

Well yes, you always moaned about how much Dad shifted around, or when he snored; but you could never sleep well when he was away.

Lesson 5


This one I have been on the receiving end of. It should not really be a surprise that two relatively head-strong people would have head-strong children, who may at times been a little rebellious. But your love was all-forgiving, and you trusted that we would come through in the end (even though one of us still dyes her hair pink and wears ridiculous clothes).

Lesson 6

Delight in the small things.

Whether belting out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in the car, belly dancing in the lounge (or on the table at weddings), tackling your food nemesis – the hot cross bun - or enjoying each new smile of your granddaughter that appeared on flickr, you knew how to have fun.

Lesson 7

Make the most of your situation

Not everyone here will know that you wanted to be a doctor, and that life took you in another direction. But you definitely made the most of that. You were a great wife, mother, friend and a doting gran. You took in all the “strays”, whether those who were alone at Christmas or friends of your teenage kids. You changed many a life for the better, and I believe that I am not alone in having learnt so much from you. And I guess that’s the best anyone can ever hope for at the end of the road.

Finally mum, I would like to share my favourite poem with you, as I feel it reflects not only my path, but yours, and that of most of the family!

Robert Frost – The road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.