In my heart I’ll always think of you: A Eulogy for my mother…

Yvonne Valerie Patel – 14th February 1931 ~ 29th August 2018


Mum – you were a force to be reckoned with and what a powerful spirit has blown out of the world…

but this we will remember…

Your huge heart and lavish generosity. Why make one cake when two will do? Why use a saucepan when we can cook in a cauldron?

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Your appetite which was prodigious and astonishing for a very small woman…

Your delicious cooking – as my friend Shoba said recently – Aunty Yvonne was the most fantastic cook – she could cook any cuisine perfectly…

Your talent for creating beauty and your profound enjoyment of small moments – deft brushstrokes, a trowel dipped in soil, flowers in a vase, the way you would move an ornament, a fruit, a leaf, a petal so it was just right…

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Your penchant for scribbling in notebooks and folders, the neat way that you could make a pencil mark or erase one…your messy, unreadable handwriting…

Your courage and resilience – bringing up two small children in 1960s London and taking them across Europe on your own…then embarking on the adventure of migration to an unknown country to give your family opportunities.

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Your determination to bring your culture into the most insular suburb of this new country. Who else would think that an Asian fashion show or a curry stall would be a success in 1970s Cronulla? And who could deliver so spectacularly on that success but you?

Your love of literature – from the canon – the poets that we shared – I will miss talking about our old friends Hopkins, Yeats, Donne, Herbert, Lawrence, Keats and your favourite Australian poet, Judith Wright…

Your ferocious ability to argue and debate any topic…

And your passion as a teacher – thank you for that gift…

Your face when you held a baby…

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Your deep love of nature especially trees and plants…from hibiscus and coconut palms to English hedgerows to the fabulous flora of your new country – eucalypts, wattle, banksias – you got so much joy from the Australian bush…

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Your memories of your homeland…all those stories…



I will always see you in my mind’s eye watering your garden, stirring a pot, feeding a family, arranging flowers in a vase, painting a canvas, organising a party, sweeping and tidying and talking – of course talking…

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In Broome recently I heard Indigenous musicians play a song in Malay and English that was sung by our Eurasian relatives in Malaysia. I played it to you when I got back and it was one of the last truly beautiful moments that we shared together – singing in our two languages in your kitchen…

Selamat tinggal my nona manis
Don’t forget, Jangan lupa kepada saya
For in my heart I’ll always think of you
Saya mau mimpi kepada sayang…
Forget not me…
I’ll come home to you from the Arafura Sea

Before I finish I would like to recite one of your favourite poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins – like Hopkins you relished every stitch in the glorious tapestry of this world…

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.

Selamat jalan Mum, safe travels –
in our hearts we will always think of you…

© Anita Patel, 2018

6 thoughts on “In my heart I’ll always think of you: A Eulogy for my mother…

  1. Wow, Anita. This is a stunning and heart warming tribute to your Mum. She will be such a loss to her family and friends. Sending my love xxxx


  2. Most beautiful pretty woman was my aunt (mammy) Yvonne . Really Anita whatever you wrote for Aunty is 100% correct. To lost mumma Aunt and wife like this is very sad. We all have to remember her good deeds work extra. When I came there to visit her and mamma we had great time with her and she has given me a beautiful plate to serve fish in it. She knew I love seafood. I am using it for along time and now I will preserve it forever. Love my aunt. Thank you for posting her beautiful pictures I am going to show my mum soon when I will visit her place.


  3. Ah, now I think I understand the poem you’ve just posted. I’m very sorry to hear about your mother’s death. She sounds like a special woman. (My Mum, born 1929, is still here – and we share many similar things – though in literature, it’s more Jane Austen than poets.)

    I love that you ended with GMH. Hopkins is one of my very favourite poets, and the one I tend to first think of with I think favourite poems. He has so many great lines that pop into the head out of the blue, such wonderfully complex but beautiful imagery. The one that often turn to is Spring and Fall. It’s not so picturesque as Pied Beauty or that wonderful As kingfishers catch fire, but its melancholic truths always move me.

    Anyhow, just letting you know that I’m sorry you’ve lost your mum.


    1. Thanks so much for your lovely message. It’s unexpectedly difficult to lose a mum especially one who shares a love of the same literature as you. Your mum sound like a special woman and one to cherish. My mum and I loved Jane Austen as well. Thanks again for your kind words and have a wonderful festive season with your family.


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