Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2021
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12 of 12, June 2019

The past month has been challenging and sad. My dear friend Lisa, who has been unwell for some time, passed away on Saturday 8 June, after being in hospital for nearly 3 weeks. The funeral was today, and I’m going to use part of this 12 of 12 to do a little reminiscing.

I only started to get to know Lisa 6 years ago, and it took a while for our friendship to develop. Over time, however, we became very close friends and a significant part of each other’s lives. I know she had faced some challenges in her life, and that there were things that were a struggle for her, but she was a strong, kind, determined, generous, smart, funny, and insightful person, and she is going to be missed.

Her favourite colour was purple and, although they’re a bit pink, we got a bunch of purple flowers for her funeral that reflected this. She also liked proteas and we managed to track down some flower heads to lay on the coffin too (unfortunately the lovely protea bush that Lisa had growing in her garden reached the end of its own life earlier this year).

Over the years we exchanged gifts at birthdays and Christmas, and she knew my interests well. I loved the spreadsheet t-shirt she got for me; she was amused by the fact that I have spreadsheets for a large number of different purposes. I actually wore it to the funeral.

Her most recent Christmas gift was a wonderful addition to my penguin collection (and reflected her own love of quirky timepieces),

And a couple of years ago she found a mathematical watch … and was really proud of herself when she figured out, ahead of me, what was going on with the 6 position (I kept reading the x as a multiplication sign; she realised — despite her own hesitations with matters algebraic — that it was actually the unknown pronumeral x and that you had to solve for it).

She also bought a pair of penguin necklaces: hers said “Best” and mine said “Friends”.

She loved elephants and had a huge collection. I’d carved an elephant thing for her for each of the last three Christmases, and I’ve kept my favourite of the three to remember her by. The other two were cremated with her today, along with her half of the penguin necklace pair.

The funeral went well, I think, though it was hard for everyone. Lisa’s Mum spoke about Lisa’s early life, I spoke about the last few years, and her two teenage children did a wonderful job when they concluded the eulogies. The children and I put together a photo montage, which my brother turned into a proper slideshow with music, which also included the theme song for her beloved Hawthorn football club.

During the afternoon tea following the service, one of my sisters gave me a little “pocket heart” which was a kind gesture I appreciated.

In the early evening I needed to go for a walk, for lots of reasons. There was a misty rain about, and the mountain was obscured, while the bridge is lit up in red as part of a winter arts festival.

Late in the evening, after Lisa’s two children and I had had a counter meal together at a nearby pub, and as I tidied up some bits and pieces that had accumulated in the last few weeks, I came across my copy of Rainbow Valley, bookmarked at the point that we’d reached when I used to read a chapter to Lisa on the phone each night. As Lisa’s illness worsened this ritual went by the wayside, and so it remains unfinished. Among many other things, our evening chapters will be missed.

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