Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Tarzan Swimmers and the other slide show

Aren't they fetching?
I think this photo was taken on a family holiday at Brunswick Heads - not sure. Mum and Dad look like such a 'groovey' couple.

Below is the other slide-show from the wake which features all those photos from Mum's childhood and before she was born. I made this slide-show a couple of years ago when Margaret gave me all these old photos to scan and restore. The soundtrack is a bit dour. Get the wooden spoon out!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Message From the Fallen Angel

I made this blog so that we could have a place together, to memorialise mum. So if any family members want to contribute photos or text, I'll happily post anything you send me. If you want to leave a comment, you need to click the title of the section you are viewing to go to that section's page. If you scroll down, you will see a space to comment at the bottom of the post. Write your comment in the little message window, then click 'post'. Don't feel obliged to comment of course.

I am eventually going to post all the little snippets of stuff everyone gave me for the eulogy. Just so we know where it all is.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Family Snaps

The following slide show

of pictures from the funeral weekend is accompanied by an overly twee choice of soundtrack (one that rates a whopping 9.4 for overly-sentimental content. I tried Julie Andrews, but she just wasn't right for this one.)

To avoid potential weepy moments, family viewers are advised to repeatedly hit themselves round the legs with a wooden spoon (as a distraction) when viewing - or turn off the speakers.

Irene's War Service Record

This is a copy of Irene's war service record.
You may note that her birthdate is wrong. Her sister, Elaine, suspects that Irene may have lied about her age to get into the army.

"How do you solve a problem like young Irene...?"

Slideshow: Julie Andrews and Errol Flyn

These are some of the slide show materials

that were played at Irene's well attended, well lubricated, wake. Some people expressed a desire to see them again.

Clare and Matthew selected and scanned the images and I assembled them into a slide show. It's basic but effective. For those who didn't know - Mum could
really relate to "The Sound of Music" as she was almost a nun herself. Instead she had ten kids and a big full life. Make sure you have your speakers on!

Our Warmest Thanks

The extended Dunn family

would like to express their deepest thanks to all of their friends, especially the people of Glen Innes, for the warmth, kindness and generosity that has been shown to our family in our time of sorrow. Your expressions of sympathy and incredible, material generosity have been inspirational and very humbling. The beautiful food, the use of Ady's house, the support and friendship.

Please accept our warmest thanks.

Eulogy for Irene

A reading from the book of Shakespeare – Hamlet actually.

Though yet of Irene, our dear mothers death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted

To bear our hearts in grief and our whole family

Be contracted in one brow of woe;

Yet so far hath discretion tempered nature

That we with wisest sorrow, think on her

Together with remembrance of ourselves.

I think this is extremely pertinent to Irene’s life, as she is best remembered in each one of us, her family and her friends - those whom her generosity of spirit and indomitable patience have shaped, changed or touched.

Mum’s life was so incredibly full – it is impossible in the space of a few short minutes to summarise every element of what she is and what she has done.

At the core of her life, is her enduring faith. A faith that saw her leave the convent (Yes – the musical The Sound of Music had great significance for Irene – for a very good reason) and bring up 10 children (7 of them as a single parent). Morning mass and the rosary were obviously sources of strength and solace for Mum as they were mandatory articles of faith in our house. We always said the rosary when we went on a trip in the car, each sibling obliged to lead a decade of the rosary. Irene’s faith eventually led her to the catholic charismatic movement and in later years, she was a leader of the Joshua prayer group in Brisbane.

Service to her family, her community and her country was another of the core threads of Irene’s life. Irene was in the signal corp. during the second great war and it was during her army service, that she met our father, Jack Dunn. She embraced her destiny and ten children later, she was still the patient and generous woman she always had been. She was involved in many community and charitable organisations including being president of the Royal far West Children’s Health Scheme. Irene involved herself in local governance as well, serving as a councillor on Glen Innes Municipal Council for many years. She had many connections and was a key player in many organisations - way too many to list and wax lyrical about with any coherence today. More importantly, she was always there for her friends and family in good times and in times of crisis.

Like all of us, mum was a complex person and was not always the soul of patience. She was very protective of her family – particularly her 7 girls. Many a time Irene has bailed up an over- zealous suitor at the front door and given him his marching orders. Every partner of one of Irene’s brood has undergone her x-ray scrutiny.

Mum was also famous in our family for her instructive little sayings or epigrams. Who among us can forget the evergreen “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. Or, the perennial “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Michael, Mark and I all remember her popular admonishment “That’s a lazy mans load”. I’m sure many of the grandchildren and great grandchildren will be benefitting from Irene’s wisdom for years to come.

But I think the most lasting and quotable moment of mum’s was something she said to Paula, after she had disobeyed mum and had her ears pierced as a birthday gift from Clare. Having just had the procedure done, Paula’s ear lobes were glowing and pulsing with soreness while her new sleepers sparkled in the reflected glow. They were impossible to hide. Mum came home from a long day at work, took one look at Paula and said with disgust: “I hope they blow up and bust”.

Irene was especially good friends with Rita and Pat Timbs. Over the years, our two families have been very close – growing up together, socialising together and being there for each other. Rita and Pat’s friendship meant alot to mum and Pat reminded us last night of something Rita had said many years ago about friendship. She said “You know I really, dearly love Irene and I was so glad when she came to town and we became friends. I was just so glad that I finally had a friend whose bum was as big as mine.” Who can argue with friendship like that? I’m sure they’re both sitting up there with Saint Peter enjoying Rita’s joke.

Mum was a creative gardener and cook, a loving parent, wife, nanna and friend. She was a dutiful, novice, soldier, receptionist, local councillor and community leader. Her success in all these wonderfully varied aspects of her life is made all the more poignant by the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease which marked her final years. But in true Irene form, with strength of character and sharpness of will, she bore that cross with dignity and humility to the very end.

We should be so lucky! To finish - another quote from Hamlet:

“Good night sweet mother – may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”