48 hrs ago we lost our Mum
That is the only time I can ever say that.
There is only ever the one Mum and there are no second times. It’s a strange concept and feeling that began in our case in 1923 when Mum’s life first began. In that time since, she has seen the effects of the Great Depression, the rise and fall of the hundreds of local Dairy Factories across New Zealand, the demise of steam trains and the rise of diesel and electric versions, the disappearance of trams, the popularity of international air travel, TV both black and white and colour, Kindergartens, draining of swamp land for farming and the return of same to wetlands, wars in Europe and
Asia and the absolute freedom to visit both (a trip to China with Pukeiti members), the fun of US Soldiers on Furlough in NZ and herself being able to travel there and to Canada, paper and paper-bags for everything then to plastic and back to paper. I could go further....but you get the idea.
In 93 years Mum covered a lot of ground. From humble beginnings in Ness Valley, South East Auckland and Waharoa, Waikato to a young employee in The Post Office at Waiuku. Meeting a young soldier Ross Payne from Palmerston North who was still on active service. Being Mum to 4 boys and 2 girls can’t have been easy. I was there!
Yet she still had time for us all at and about school, Scouts and Guides, sports etc. Time for active involvement in The Free Kindergarten Assn for many years including representing NZ at International Conferences. Time for the Clerical Workers Union....meetings in Wellington. Secretary at Papakura East School followed by similar at Auckland University where she typed theses for a young Peter Sharples who became Dr Pita Sharples among many others no doubt. A stray kitten found at the said University House on Alten Rd was dopted and lived with Mum for many years, known as Alten....there’s a picture of him in the lounge!
During this time there Mum gained her Bachelor of Arts Degree at age 63. This followed passing her drivers licence a couple of years earlier. Age was no barrier. By now she was a member of The Auckland Entymological Society, Railways Enthusiasts, Forest & Bird (gained the “Old Blue” Award here), Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust, Ducks Unlimited and a supporter of a number of charities. With Ducks Unlimited Mum took a trip to North America/Canada...who are these people you ask? A fabulous group of people who are active conservationists...check them out! The Leprosy Mission also received her support.
By now she is living in Howick and actively involved with the Elim Church. Here she completed a three year course in religious studies.
After an incident in a 4wd on a trip in Northland, she suffered from an uncontrolled head shake and her health was average. After starting the best nutritional supplement programme on the planet this disappeared and her health improved. She demanded these right till the end, knowing her eyesight degradation had stabilised as well.
Over a period of 25 years or more, she organised and ran day trips and major tours around NZ for the Forest & Bird Auckland Branch. These often required complete traverse (by car) to plan and book accommodation and highlights for the attendees. Mum’s friend Rose, whose eyesight was very poor, would accompany her while sorting out these trips. Steve and Christine were the bus driving couple on most of these trips and became lifelong friends. In latter times Mum would phone Rose and read her the newspaper as Rose could no longer do so.
We suggested Mum come to Taranaki with us where we could give closer support and there were now more family members. So at age 89 she moved to New Plymouth spending six months with us while she purchased her house in Fitzroy and redecorated it. Selling Pinewood Grove, Howick, was interesting. Sold by auction, it created huge interest and sold at well over expected price. She didn’t believe me when I told her the price and several neighbours instantly threatened that they also were going to sell!
Not content to do nothing, Mum went on a train trip of the North Island, attended two national AGM’s of the Ducks nlimited, Taupo and Martinborough, joined the Knox Presbyterian Church at Fitzroy and a few Pukeiti and Forest & Bird meetings in that time.
While it sounds as though all of these things are a singular effort, of course this is not so. In every case there were always other people who made Mum’s life what it has become. To all those people we say “thanks”. Not just for the big obvious things but many times those small unseen, unnoticed things that make up the matrix of life. For example the ladies who form the immediate neighbourhood... took out the rubbish, who would drop in for no reason, who noticed if the curtains remained drawn when they should be open....thank you. For the staff at Sporty’s who would walk Mum across the road or deliver the hot meal if it was raining. These are the things that make a life.
To the grandchildren and great grand-children who would drop in and visit.
The last group of people who deserve great thanks are those staff of the Taranaki Base Hospital and Tainui Palliative care. From the Ambos, to cleaners, to the Doctors, to the nurses to everyone who showed such great care, a real salute and thanks.
And so a circle of life closes...
And so more begin. Children, a posse of Grand-children and a growing number of Great-grand-children are here because...
Mum has left a legacy of which she can be truly proud. Did she do it on her own? Of course not. But she did enough to make a difference and that truly constitutes a legacy of which I am very proud.
David Payne with thanks to Sheryl PS. of course it is more than 48hrs ago....but that is when I started the story.
Since I wrote this initially we have held the Funeral for Mum. It was a really nice event of which she is most proud, I am sure. Friends and family came from all over. John Cheyne as President of Ducks Unlimited came and spoke. A wee touch noted by many was that he left a DU cap on the casket which Mum is wearing now. Mum was laid to rest in Inglewood Cemetery beside her Grand-father. Forty mainly family members attended the graveside ceremony.
A sub-note....Mum had a penchant for the understatement. Having been aware of her membership of Ducks Unlimited for many years, we thought it this obscure group with connections to Canada who shot ducks! In taking Mum to the last three DU Annual Conferences I learned the truth. It is way bigger and such a great group of people. As a consequence of John C. coming to the funeral, Dr George Mason wishes to liaise with DU with a view to co-operating on a research project he is funding!!