Eulogy for Mum – Audrey Fay Auckland

My mother passed away on Saturday 7th February 2015 around 5:30am. With input and support from my brother Geoffrey I wrote the attached Eulogy delivered at Mum’s funeral on Friday 13th February 2015. Audrey in Paris EULOGY FOR AUDREY FAY AUCKLAND (NEE MARSHALL)
It is my honour today, representing our family, to share with you some reflections on Audrey’s extraordinary life. Audrey Fay Marshall was born here in Brisbane, on the 14th September 1930 to Tom Marshall and Dorothea O’Donnell, or Dot.

Mum was the baby of the family. She had two older sisters Thelma or Tup, and Gwen, and she had a brother Walter who was the second youngest. Her photo albums are filled with many happy times growing up with her beloved brother and sisters.

Mum’s early life was strongly influenced by the extraordinary hosts both her parents were and their open-house policy at their Lewis Street home in Eagle Junction, which they named ‘Myba Yamba’. Their Dining Room Table seemed to me, as a small boy, to be 30 foot long, and through all of Mum’s years at Eagle Junction, was always full of family, friends, Tom’s Colleagues, visiting scientists, and people Tom dragged in off the street.

A dear family friend Joan Swinchatt shared with me this week: “Your Mum was such a smart woman! You know she worked in the Actuarial Area of the bank don’t you, and only the very brightest worked there” I believe Mum’s intellect was strongly stimulated by sitting at that dinner table being both witness to and participant in fascinating conversations among all the interesting people Tom and Dot played host to.

The other influence from that table was the beautiful food that Audrey and her sisters would help Dot prepare. If it wasn’t lunch or dinner being laid on the table, it was Dot’s infamous afternoon teas or suppers of Sponge Cake, Pumpkin Scones, and Jam Slice accompanied by Sarsaparilla. From her mother, Audrey inherited a love of cooking, and over the years as well as using Dot’s favourite recipes, Mum developed her own trademark dishes, and most memorably her Baked Cheesecake, and the Yorkshire Pudding that she learned to make for Dad, and which is a recipe now precious in Geoff’s family.

The other passion that Mum developed in her early life was all things botanical. Tom and Dot both influential here. The family home had beautiful gardens taking in shrubs, trees and Dot’s annuals. Tom ever the scientist taught Mum all of the latin derived botanical names. All her life Mum would tell you the triple barrelled botanical name of any tree or shrub that called to her. Later in life her most favourite part of her garden was what we mortals called her Azalea Garden. She lived for its annual blooms.

The other passion developed in Mum’s early years was Music. Mum began learning the Piano at age 5. She studied it formally and went through all of the exams right through her schooling becoming a wonderful piano player. The ever so social Marshall Home gave mum the opportunity after dinner and conversations to bring everyone around the Piano where Mum would play and sing and the family and visitors would sing along. This tradition continued right through Mum’s life and Geoff and I have many memories of Mum creating a party around the piano, and occasionally Dad sharing the Piano stool with her and them doing a duet at the top and bottom ends of the piano.

One of Mum’s two strongest lifelong friendships began in her early childhood at Eagle Junction. The Marshall Family was very close to the Lawson Family who had two daughters Dell and Joy who were part of the close group of family and friends that often gathered around the Marshall Dining Table. Joy and Mum were the closest of friends from toddlers until Joy’s passing just last year. Joy married a young John Nash, and the Nash and Auckland families would go on to emulate the closeness that had existed between the Marshall and Lawson clans. We are joined today by John, and his sons Reg and David.

In 1935, Mum commenced her schooling at Eagle Junction State School. She was a bright student and began to demonstrate in her school work the diligence that would be one of her life long characteristics, earning a scholarship to Clayfield College where she completed Junior and Senior.

In 1948 Mum began her working life as a Dental Receptionist and learned typing at night. In 1949 she joined the Bank of Australasia that would later become the ANZ Bank. In 1951 a rather cheeky young Yorkshireman fresh off a boat from New Zealand joined the bank. His name was Peter Auckland.

The bank had a very active social club with a dramatic society and monthly dances. Through this naughty social club this young Yorkshireman 6 months younger than Audrey to the day, with a sense of humour that was legendary, began to woo the young Audrey. It was through this social club too that Audrey and Peter became the closest of friends with a young Englishman named Ted Young.

In 1954 when Mum and Dad were 23, Dad’s parents decided to move back to the UK. Dad was returning to England too, and they departed Brisbane on the SS Orsova , which arrived in the UK on 1st Jun 1954. Mum and Dad however hatched a plan, and Mum followed Dad and his family just three months later, and in probably the most audacious move of her life Mum sailed on the SS Stratheden to follow Dad to the UK leaving behind her birth family who had been such a precious part of her life.

Mum arrived in the UK on the 3rd Sep 1954. Mum and Dad were married a mere 16 days later on the 19th Sep 1954 in Whitstable Kent, where Dad’s parents had become licensees of the Bear and Key Hotel that featured in William Somerset Maugham’s writing.

While in the UK Dad was working in Banking, while Mum worked for the British Industries Fair. It was through this role that Mum got the opportunity to officially present flowers to a young Queen Elizabeth II. The photo capturing that memory was a prized possession for Mum.

Two years later on the 30th November 1956 (30 years to the day before their first grandchild Cameron would be born), Audrey and Peter are recorded embarking from Southhampton on the SS Moreton Bay headed for Sydney.

Meanwhile in Australia Mum and Dad’s dear friend Ted Young had met his intended, Bev Ryan. They were planning their wedding but Ted had told Bev that it could not go ahead until this mysterious important couple Peter and Audrey got back from the UK. When Mum and Dad arrived back in Australia and Bev and Mum met, a friendship ensued that would be the second lifelong important friendship in her life with Bev, which nicely complimented Dad’s close friendship with Ted. The Young and Auckland families too would grow very close over the years, with the next generation in both families very involved in the kinship too. Bev is with us today along with her children Gwen, Dan, Simon and Marg, but sadly Ted passed away around 10 years ago.

There were many great friendships in Mum’s life, many beginning around the Marshall Family Dining Room Table, a couple more important ones include Peter and Barbara Knol, and Joan and Patrick Swinchat. There are too many other people in Mum’s life to mention by name today, but needless to say her’s and our father’s lives were enriched by a great many more precious friendships.

Around 1960 Mum and Dad built their first home at 13 Bromich Street, in The Gap. The following year on November 15th, 1961, Mum brought me into the world, and then just over two years later my brother Geoffrey on January 3rd 1964. Geoffrey was on the cusp of being born on his Grandfather Tom Marshall’s birthday the 2nd January, but missed by only hours. The relationship between Geoff and his Capricorn grandfather became a special one, something that tickled Mum.

In early 1965 Mum and Dad were transferred to Melbourne with the Bank where we lived in Mt Waverley for a couple of years before Dad was approached to return to Queensland to take on the role of Administrator for QML. Mum was an extraordinary supporter of Dad’s career and hosted many events in the family home including childrens Xmas Parties, Lions Club events, Masonic events, and QML Social Club events to name a few.

Audrey was an extraordinarily devoted mother. She took a deep interest in Geoff’s and my lives and was always there for us after school for a debrief of the day, which would continue into the evening at the dinner table, and then over the washing up. Mum never had a dish washer, as to her the ritual of the family doing the kitchen clean up together was for bonding, communication and teaching responsibility.

Like her Mum, Audrey extended love to her family through cooking. Some of my fondest memories are of her Baked Cheesecake, Shrove Tuesday Crepes, and her uniquely delicious Spaghetti Bolognese.

Through the early family years, one of our joys were holidays and the venues for us were famous surfer Peter Troy’s Palm Tree Lodge in Noosaville, then in later years Lake Currimundi initially borrowing the lake home of the Wenck Family, and then in 1978 building our own Lakefront retreat.

Mum was also a very active member of the Ladies Auxilliary at both Aspley State School and St Pauls School and a reliable volunteer at Tuckshop. Mum was well known among the other school parents and had many friends around the Aspley area that made walking around in Aspley a social experience. She called Aspley her home for over 40 years.

During our school years, Mum developed an interest in Bridge playing with our neighbour Wendy Campbell, Helen Challinor and a few other regulars. Bridge became an enduring part of Mum’s life and an outlet for her intelligence and competitive spirit. As the years went on Mum joined the Northern Suburbs Bridge Club at Hendra, where she developed numerous great friendships.

The other marker of these times was Mum’s service to family. Mum was of extraordinary help to both her parents and Dads as they needed help with daily life and declining health. She also did a great deal of nursing for both her sisters Tup and Gwen through their battles with cancer.

I got married in 1984 to my first wife Janelle who remains a wonderful friend, and in November 1986 we gave Mum her first Grandchild Cameron. Mum and Dad spent lots of time with us enjoying Cameron and particularly at Lake Currimundi. In July 1987 Janelle and I moved to Sydney where I went to work for Jaguar Rover Australia. Then in October 1988, Janelle and I gave Mum her only grand daughter Ashleigh Jane. Mum loved no grandchild more or less than another, but I do know Mum appreciated a little girl joining her line, after being the only female in our family home.

Mum was a doting grandmother and she and Dad visited Sydney as much as they could, but I regret that my career and life choices put more distance between my children and Mum than I would have liked, both through the Sydney move, my move to Lismore for a couple of years in the mid-90s, and the extensive travel I undertook through much of my career.

Not long after my move to Sydney, Geoff married his love of some years Tess Pollard. I want to record my gratitude to Tess and Geoff. While my life and career choices meant I was not as close to Mum for significant periods, their life choices created a family home that was always a part of Mum’s life, and I will come back to this point.

June 1989 brought the tragic early passing of our father Peter from our lives and left Audrey without her life partner and best friend, just 18 months before his planned retirement which was to be the point from which many exciting retirement plans were to unfold. The first year was a very difficult one for Mum. Through this time Janelle and I and our children moved back to Brisbane to be closer for her with Geoff and Tess. After some months however with the support of many family and wonderful friends, Mum began the building of a new life.

Grandchildren would forever be an important part of Mum’s renewal and ongoing passion, and she also took up Lawn Bowls and furthered her Bridge playing, and was an active committee member in both past times too.

One of the highlights of Mum’s annual calendar in later years was travelling to Toowoomba to enjoy the Annual Carnival of Flowers with Ted and Bev Young. When Ted passed away, Mum and Bev became such great supports for one another, two beautiful strong women, now widowed, and able to enjoy one another’s company as women and share family stories of grand-children. Their journey together included two trips to the beautiful Norfolk Island (one with Ted) which were highlights of Mum’s life.

I said I would come back to Tess and Geoff. In June 1994 their first son Thomas was born and was followed by Andrew in June 1996, and Simon in November 1997. All were little blondies, and in many ways were reminiscent of Audrey’s beloved Peter. As Tess and Geoff’s boys came along, Mum began a tradition of coming to their place every Saturday. She would have a meal with them and spend time with the boys, and join in with whatever activities were going on. Mum drover her trusty Subaru there every Saturday for as long as she could drive, then Geoff and in later years Thomas would be Grandma’s Taxi. Tess and Geoff through their union made a strong contribution to Audrey’s life, creating at Inverness Court Albany Creek, the replacement to Terrence Street Aspley, which for Mum had replaced Lewis Street Eagle Junction as a place that could be the spiritual home where the clan would gather. I thank you both for welcoming me and my family into that family hearth always at Christmas Time and on other special occasions.

The other acknowledgment I would like to make of Geoff, is the strong role he played for Mum after Dad’s passing in helping Mum manage her administrative affairs. Mum was a great manager of the family affairs all her life. She was careful with money, efficient, and a great organiser. Geoffrey at first gave mum support, and then in recent years took on full responsibility to carry on the management of Mum’s affairs, maintaining her high standards. Thank you Geoff for carrying out that responsibility and shouldering that load, which I know you always did with love and grace.

In 2005 Mum was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease. Mum brought the same diligence and intelligence to managing this condition as she did with everything else in her life. She researched it, she made the best choices for her body, and she took her tablets carefully, precisely on time, and in appropriate relation to her meals. Mum’s diligence enabled her to stave off the declines that can sometimes occur quite quickly, and enjoyed a good quality of life for all the years since, but the last two.

In 2005 the other milestone was my marriage to my second wife Kim, who is also here today. I’m not sure Mum really knew how to compute the ‘age of divorces and multiple marriages’. Mum had a 34 year marriage ended only by the passing of my father, and her parents made it to 54 years. I have had the joy of three beautiful marriages to three beautiful women Janelle, Kim, and as of October last year in Egypt my wife Pj. I am proud and grateful that these three beautiful souls can cohabit this space today with only love and compassion for the loss we all share in today.

Mum played Step Grandma to Kim’s children Madelen, Zach and Scarlet and did the best she knew how to execute that role with love for some years building relationships with each of them. I met Pj in 2012, and she and her children Chelsea and Christian did manage to meet Audrey and build a connection when she was still in her Independent Living Unit and somewhat in her prime, but have shared with me and Geoff’s family the witnessing of Audrey’s health leaving her over the last two years.

My life path and my choices, which are my responsibility alone, brought many occasions where I was in need of emotional and practical support. Our Mum Audrey was there for me always and went above and beyond in so many ways. Mum enriched my life and that of my brother Geoff and our families in different ways, because we are different people, but she was loving always.

As such a wise woman she was perhaps for my stubborn pride, too right, too often, in observations she would share. The thing that brings me great joy is that while Geoffrey was a stronger support for Mum more consistently through her life, I have reached a place in the last several years where I was able to deepen my connection with Mum and slay any illusions I had that there needed to be any other emotion between us but love. These last couple of years she allowed me to hold her hand, as she lay confined to bed, in a body that was failing her, unsure when the end was coming, and what that would look like, and as I told her that I loved her, she would tell me she loved me too.

Audrey, our mother was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, a strong and responsible woman, a woman with a wonderful sense of humour, a woman who would giggle as she allowed herself a little treat like a Chocolate Ginger or a Cheese Burger, she was a great friend, a loyal wife, a giving and loving daughter, and a doting grandmother. But most importantly Audrey was a beautiful soul who now moves on to whatever lies ahead for her beyond this life where she touched so many other lives powerfully, lovingly and generously.

Mum, your legacy can fill you with pride!

Ura P Auckland
13th Feb 2015


Image Attribution:

  1. Audrey Auckland in Paris from our family photo collection

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