The only person who would be interested to know that Scout's pineapple cutting had borne fruit, that our fence was finally complete, that the barn owls had returned, and who would remember to ring for Finn's 16th birthday died in February, the day after her 70th birthday.
There was no funeral, as she donated her body to science, and wouldn't have wanted the fuss anyway (except secretly)
In Adelaide, her close friends and family farewelled her over lunch. We planted hippiastrums. If the super special hybrid which Cliff gave us survives, FJ would have appreciated that more than anyone else.
For over a decade she was in a battle with her muscles, which were degenerating due to some auto-immune disease the doctors never got to the bottom of. So she would garden like a mad thing for a few days, then lie on the couch in agony for a few more. And repeat. and repeat. and repeat.
Her bellingen friends will remember her heading off for new adventures in "happy", the bus. She didnt get far before her muscles weren't able to turn the wheel hard enough, or push on the accelerator long enough. So she ended up mostly at her brothers' house on the Murray, and left behind a quartre acre of vegetables and natives for whoever was lucky enough to buy the house next- tickled out of the near sterile sand by sheer will and love. The blue wrens will miss her as much as she missed them.
It wasn't the mucles that did her in, but a brain tumour of all things, after six months of fits and recoveries. So the kids and I got to say our goodbyes, and goodbyes, and goodbyes again. As she confronted head on a reality where every conversation could be her last.
Though she'd probably have preferred the first attack to herald her last breath, she grabbed the borrowed time to create the means for Finn to get to the UK to take up his invitation to play double bass with the Sydney Youth Orchestra, and to bond with her only grand-daughter and sneak in the Christmas Jewlery Scout coveted but didn't imagine would be possible.
Having sworn she'd end her life rather than end up in a nursing home, she found herself unable to make that final decision, instead dependent on the doctor who did all he could to rescue her from her pain and dependency, without offending the sensibilities of an institution which had recently purchased one of the remaining public palliative hospices and which, despite being shown in a Royal Commission to be completely untrustworthy when it came to our early years, nonetheless was given power over our final ones.
We saw more of each other in the six months since her first attack than we had in years, so her death when it finally came was surreal. A relief. A nothing almost.
But now, whenever a new flower blooms, or a new bird arrives, or the seeds of the nastertiums I took from her garden poke through the soil, or our kids show their amazingness in some new way, the lack of anyone to call to share it with cuts deep.
Rest in peace you stubborn, ferocious, resilient, loving woman. Mother, grandmother, friend.