I am finding it very difficult to believe you are gone because Anthony and I were just talking about you the other day, about your pink jacket, the fact that you made the effort to come 200 kilometers south for his 75th birthday even though you and your family had to go back to Perth that same night. You and Anthony sat next to each other all night and I was a teensy bit jealous!
And I remember your 90th – the joy of it, and your family, and your beautiful pink jacket, and how much you loved the photo I gave you of Anthony sitting on his motorbike with baby Ming. In amongst the food, frivolity, speeches and chitchat, you shone bright – always, always with a glint in your eyes, a mixture of wisdom and wit. And once again, you and Anthony sat next to each other.
The weekly phone-calls, before your hearing failed and Anthony had gone into the nursing home, were a highlight for us. Ming would answer the phone and yell “It’s Auntie Pat, you guys!”
I remember being a bit nervous of you when I married your little brother even though, at the time, he was 57 and you were the age he is now. It took you a little while to approve of me but, when you did, you gave me your full older-sister-approval and I learned how to answer you back!
Even though I never had a chance to tell you when you were still alive, I want you to know, Pat, that you taught me how to be assertive, how not to take nonsense, and how to love unconditionally. You also taught me the art of a brandy before salmon mornay – and the way you and John smiled at each other is an image that is imprinted on my mind forever.
I know, if I had tried to say these things to you in years gone by, you would probably have shrugged them off as sentimental because, like Anthony, you were/are pragmatic and that is one of your many legacies.
At your 90th, I was sitting next to Mary, the daughter who lived with you and she said, quietly, with her eyes full of tears, that it was a privilege to look after you. And, that day, seeing how much all of your children and grandchildren loved you, I wished for a moment that I had had more than one child.
One of the things I will miss most is those booming phone conversations you had with Ming, both of you shouting into the receiver so loudly that I could hear the whole thing. Your first question was always “How is Anthony?” and Ming and I would reassure you.
And remember that time you came to Glengarry Hospital, when Anthony was being assessed for a new medication regime? You created a bit of a scene with your “What are you doing with my brother?” The nursing staff loved you immediately!
I will miss you so much, Pat. And the first thing I am going to do, after your funeral, is to buy a pink jacket. My/our deepest sympathy to your beautiful children and grandchildren. You were – you ARE unforgettable.
Lots of love
Julie, Ants and Ming