While I was trawling through some old emails, looking for a picture of Robbie’s Jeep (to update his birthday story), I found these thoughts – which we read aloud at Annette’s funeral. If you have a child, scrawl down some thoughts of your own and then share them now, before it’s too late to tell them what you think and how you feel.
Annette – I have always loved you.
Annette – at school – bright, bubbly, always with friends. I never think of her as a lonely child at school. She was popular, good at her work and loved to play and perform.
Because I had to work, in the school holidays she and the two boys would stay with other families. Annette was so popular; she would be ‘booked up’ in advance by friends who wanted her with them. I can see her still, getting on the Prospector to go to Kalgoorlie to stay with Grandma – one other time, holding her new, white stuffed cat, getting on the bus to go to Lake Grace.
Her best friend in South Perth was Anne Marie Hall. Anne Marie’s Dad owned a Rolls Royce and was Secretary or President of the Rolls Royce Club. Annette was often going off with Anne Marie and her family to picnics and outings, chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce – as if born to it.
She learned to play the piano – although not very well. We didn’t have one of our own and it was hard for her practice much and eventually she gave it up.
Annette helped me plan and carry out a surprise birthday party for Warren’s 18th at the South Perth Chinese Restaurant. I still have the place card with her name on it. Annette H. She was fantastic and didn’t give the plot away, once.
Christmas Day was always spent with her Dad (Doug) and most years she would come and spend Boxing Day with me for my birthday.
Annette loved Jade and Robert. I have a photo of her, when Jade was small and Robert was not yet born – proudly showing off her round, eight month pregnant tummy – with Robert still to come.
After Bob’s daughter, Karen, passed away, we were surprised to learn that Annette and Karen were very, very close. They visited, babysat each other’s children, went shopping together and undoubtedly swapped unflattering stories about their respective parents. They were great friends – the two young mothers together. Jade and Jessica are only six months apart in age – Jade is the older.
We were surprised, because they never mentioned it to us, the mother of one and the father of the other. Once Karen did ask me if Annette was her real sister, but she was not. Annette was already more than twelve months old before I met Karen’s father.
These two beautiful daughters – both have been taken from us so young, and with so much life to live.
Alistair loved Annette and we are so proud of the way he took care of her and Jade and Robert. She was just too young – by age seventeen, Annette was already a mother and a wife.
When I close my eyes and think of my daughter, what do I see?
- a pretty little blonde with long hair in a red check poncho and white stockings, running through the park in Guildford with the two boys
- a baby, whom I was allowed to visit, but not often enough when she first lived with her Dad
- Annette, as a ‘little green teapot’ in the end of year concert and prancing about in her gym tunic
- lying on the back lawn, with Tiger the cat, in the morning sun in South Perth
- walking down the hill, in 4th Ave, with WACL our black Labrador and Anne Marie, going to school
- taking home a ‘doggy bag’ of Bob’s ravioli – he always makes extra, just for her
- helping me and my Dad, just a couple of weeks ago, with Gordon, to take all the old boxes out of my new office and telling me how she hoped Lisa wasn’t upset that she had gotten a call back for A Chorus Line
- she and I searching for my new pendant, when I had drunk too much champagne on my birthday
- laughing as we drove away from Ryrie Ave, saying to each other “washhouse, what washhouse?”
- playing an old crone, in Jack The Ripper, coming right up to the edge of the stage to show off to us
- walking with me, by the river in South Perth, checking out all the old piles of seaweed from the prawn fishermen of the night before
- taking me to lunch at the Karalee Tavern, to tell me how much she loved me, that she was truly sorry she did not ask me to her wedding when she married Gordon and promising we would always be friends in the future.
- the last time we saw her – when she came unexpectedly to visit Bob and me. On her own, happy, bubbling, talking about her home, her job, her children, her husband, and her brothers – so full of life. She hugged us both – and left us.
Are these enough memories of Annette? These are nothing – I cannot begin to tell you all the things I remember, all the things we shared and all the things we missed.
So, what are my gifts to her, this day?
My black silk stockings, which she loved and which I promised to give to her for one of her sexy plays
Her special perfume, which we brought back from Bali but she didn’t come to visit – and then it somehow got packed away again
My gold ingot, from a time so many years ago when we four were all there was in the world.
My black velvet evening bag, for a girl who loved the stage and the paparazzi
A small packet of tissues, in case we both cry
Above all, my gift is my love and memories that last forever.
29th October, 2001.