I have been reluctant to speak today. Grief is not something you usually want to share. However I will try to offer you something of Mum’s life, and of what I shared of Gavin’s.
My Mum met my father, Alan Thompson, at uni. Both had a strong sense of social justice, they knew many people and aimed to change the world in meaningful ways. They travelled the world together and, in 1975, I was born.
My father died when I was 4 years of age. However, what I remember was a very happy early childhood. Mum led a very active and full life, as she always would. I don’t think (as many of you may agree) that Mum knew how to ‘go slow’. She had a passion for life, for people and for the natural world. I remember having a lot of freedom to play, to have imaginative adventures, to climb up trees or on roofs, to hide under the house, to talk to adults, to chase chickens and to pull carrots.
Mum remarried when I was 7 years, to an East Timorese refugee. With Francisco came a large, generous and warm family.
When I was 9, my brother Nicolau was born and I loved him at least as much as anything before. He was a bright, loving and funny kid.
Then, when I was 12, my brother Alex was born. He would prove to be a kind, wise and accepting person, and these qualities, especially the last, would often support me when most needed.
Later, Ivan, Francisco’s son from a previous marriage, joined our family.
Mum dedicated her life to her children, ensuring we were physically healthy, well-educated and very well loved. My brothers grew into well behaved, kind and intelligent children. We were all raised with strong beliefs in our responsibility for justice owed to our earth and its people, our friends and family, our community and of the world in which we live.
In 2003 met Mum met Gavin. I remember meeting Mum at the Murdoch uni library café. We had had an argument the day before, which was unresolved. However when we met up, it was apparent that the argument was long forgotten by Mum and she was dying to tell me something. She had met this very lovely, intelligent and charming man. And that, I was to discover, was the beginning of something wonderful for Mum.
‘Us kids’ would find it difficult at times, to share our mother, who had seemed previously to have been there predominantly for us. However Gavin demonstrated a really strong commitment to sharing Mum’s great love – her children. This, I suspect, was not always easy for Gavin. We were all pretty much adults by the time Gavin knew us. But he willingly took on responsibility for us – with his time, his attention and his wallet. And I think that it was often the case that Gavin gave more than he got in return. It is of course, easier to see these things in hindsight. I think Gavin cared for Nic, Alex and I, but most of all, I think he gave (and gave) to us out of love for our Mum, because he really loved Mum.
Over time, it became apparent to ‘us kids’ that Mum and Gavin truly loved each others’ company, and had so much in common. These years that they had together would be the years when Mum really came into her own – she had found a companion with whom she could share her ideas, her passions, her loves.
In 2006, my son Reuben was born. Both Mum and Gavin embraced him, and committed to his life as his grandparents.
And they were great grandparents – and this is perhaps my greatest loss. For I had already foreseen that my child would have these great and important gifts in his life – in fact I had thoroughly counted on it. I expected that there would be many years in which my son would benefit from the love, generosity and wisdom of these people. It had felt like the beginning gift of the gifts they would make to Reuben and not anywhere close to the end.
I am so sorry that we have lost the years that I anticipated were ours. I had so many things that I expected we would be doing in the years to come, and many questions that would be able to ask of them.
And I am sorry that I got to know Gavin slowly. I feel that there was so so much about him that I did not yet know.
So, I will do our best to always remember them, and to honour their memory by being warm, being just, and committing to contribute beyond the cares of my own life.
And I do not know that without my mum, and without Gavin, that I can do these things but I undertake to try. And I will, always, love and miss them. But I am grateful to have been given what I have had.