My Aunty Josephine died on the weekend. It was sudden, and terribly sad, but not unexpected.
I have many memories of Josephine and her rambling old house on Sydney Harbour, the site of frequent childhood gatherings and masses. My cousins and I would run around, inventing games and interrupting the gossip of the adults, before escaping down rickety stairs to the foreshore to have adventures in the lush greenery and secret tiny beaches of McMahon's Point.
But my most enduring memory is much more recent, and it has made me smile many time over the last few days. When my cousin Kate, Josephine's youngest daughter, got married a couple of years ago, Josephine preceded the bride down the aisle. In a flowing red gown, accompanied by rousing classical music, Josephine danced down the centre of the church, waving regally and beaming with joy.
The word 'eccentric' seems insufficient to describe the powerful life-force of a woman like Josephine. She wore so many hats. Mother of six, fiercely devoted wife to Bill, staunch Catholic matriarch, and sharp legal mind, Josephine created her own style of living, and attacked life with vigour. She was a lover of children and of literature and of a laugh. Grieving for her are six children, two grandchildren, seven siblings and countless nieces, nephews and friends. The world is a less colourful place this week without Josephine.
May she rest in peace.