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Monday, 15 September 2014

A Tribute to my Mother Jean

                                                            


                                           



                                           


My dear mother Jean Margaret Cruickshank passed away on 19 August 2014, after about a year of rapidly deteriorating health. She has featured quite frequently in my blog posts here, because she was the instigator and owner of many photograph albums and scrapbooks documenting her life from childhood onwards. I'm very lucky to now have these albums and have included many of the old family photographs from these collections in my blog over the last twelve months or so. It's great to be able to give them an 'airing' after all these years of being filed neatly away.

Jean was born Jean Margaret Morrison on 21 September 1926, the third child of John Morrison and Mona Forbes. As well as her older sister Pat and older brother Ken, three more sons would be born to John and Mona. Four of the six children including Jean were born at the Morrison family home at 2 Aylmer St, Christchurch NZ. They were a close and happy family, although that happiness was marred by the death of son and brother Ken in World War 2. Jean was the last surviving member of the family.

Young Jean did well at school, coming Dux of her class in her final year, as did her older sister Pat. Their father John was a lawyer who had educated himself at night school after leaving school aged 14, and he greatly encouraged his two daughters in their academic achievement. Jean subsequently obtained a degree in teaching and completed a course in speech therapy. She  then worked with deaf children in Christchurch for some time before marrying Ian Cruickshank in 1950. Jean and Ian spent a year in England where Ian had a research fellowship, and then when he obtained a position as a research scientist in Canberra, they moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1956, with their small daughter and baby son. Another daughter was born in Canberra.

After working for 26 years as a teacher and speech therapist in Canberra at Koomarri School, a special school for developmentally disadvantaged children, Jean retired with Ian to the Central Coast of New South Wales in the early 1990s. The weather there was much milder than Canberra in both summer and winter, and they were able to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle, make new friends and have fun with visiting grandchildren, while still keeping in regular touch with many old friends from Canberra and NZ, incuding several whom Jean had known since beginning high school and others whom she had met at college. Over the years Jean had also became life-long friends with a lady who was one of her original students when she first began teaching teaching deaf children in Christchurch in 1948.

Jean was a keen cook and her children and grandchildren always looked forward to her special treats, especially at Christmas time, when she made her signature dishes, such as bacon and egg pie and grasshopper pie, together with large batches of NZ favourites, for example kiwi crisps, Afghan biscuits, gingerbread, shortbread, chocolate fudge cake, brandy snaps, bumblebees and meringues, to name just a few.They also liked having fish and chips and feeding the pelicans with Nan at The Entrance, and the fact that she always carried a bag with peppermints which she called pep pills for car journeys with her grandchildren. Claire her oldest grandchild has fond memories of 'Nan's fabulous yellow Daihatsu Charade', which became Claire's first car after Jean upgraded to a newer model.

 After Ian passed away in 2000, Jean set up an annual science prize in his name at his old high school in Rangiora NZ, where he had originally been inspired by his science master to pursue a career in scientific research. She continued to enjoy life and to participate fully in lots of local activities, such as croquet, ten pin bowling, and various groups at her local church. She was a committed member of a Central Coast peace group. She attended computer class and learnt to email, Skype and text and was thus able to share photos and keep in regular and instant communication with her wide-spread circle of family and friends, now distributed over several continents. She also travelled overseas quite regularly.  We lived about an hour away in Sydney, and virtually needed to make an appointment if we wanted to catch her at home for a visit! Sadly her health began to decline however, and in April last year she moved down to Melbourne to a nursing home near where we now live, because she was no longer able to look after herself independently.

 I've posted about Jean's childhood, for example here and here, about her siblings Pat, Ken and Graeme. about her college days and past boyfriends and about her wedding, honeymoon, early married lifeexcursions and celebrations with friends. I've also written several times about the year my parents and I spent in Cambridge from late 1953, for example  here and here , and about our early family life in Canberra, ACT, here and here. If Jean didn't feature in a family photograph, it was probably because she was behind the lens taking the shot.




Toddler Jean with her big sister Pat and older brother Ken who is wearing a sailor suit, c. 1927
(Note the connection to this week's prompt)




Jean  in Christchurch with her father John Morrison and baby daughter, 1953.



Jean reading to six of her nine grandchildren, March 1988


Gingerbread baking with NZ granddaughter Velella, Xmas 2010





Jean enjoying a family lunch with four of those same grandchildren from the previous photo, together with a couple of their spouses, and mine. Former baby Laura who was sitting on her Nan's knee above is next to yours truly, 4th from left. October 2013


We are planning a memorial service for Jean next month, to be held at the church she regularly attended on the NSW Central Coast, and I'll be including some of these photos in a reflective presentation on her life. 

This coming weekend on Sunday 21 September in London proud new parents Claire and Jonny are having a naming ceremony for Jean's little namesake, her second great granddaughter Isabelle Jean, and I'm lucky enough to be able to go over there and take part, together with our other daughter (the baby in red), aka Aunty Laura. Sadly Jean did not get to meet either of her two great granddaughters, born in 2013 and 2014 and who live far away in Canada and England respectively, but it seems fitting that the chosen date for Isabelle's naming ceremony is also Jean's birthday, on which she would have turned 88. 

Here is a selection of photos of Jean that have previously featured in this blog. 


Thank you for everything Mum.

Much loved and greatly missed by all her family and friends.





Forget-me-not photo, taken by Jean's daughter Louisa, in her garden


Vale Jean


18 comments:

  1. A lovely tribute to your mother, Jean. She was and attractive lady with drive and adventure in her life. It is great that she enjoyed photos and made albums documenting her life for you to enjoy.

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  2. Thank you for sharing Jean's story Jo. Your mother sounds like a remarkable lady who will be missed by many.

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  3. Obviously your mother lived a full, rewarding, and beloved life. A true "Good woman." Thanks for sharing the story of her inspiring spirit.

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  4. Thank you for sharing Jean with us; I’m sure she’ll feature in many more posts in the future too. What shines out of all those photographs is her sunny smile. I hope you enjoy your get-together with the family next week.

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  5. Nobody names their child for someone unworthy. I'm sure the naming ceremony is going to be joyous with lots of sharing of stories and memories and probably some tears. Even when you're prepared, it's hard losing a mother. What a beautiful legacy Jean has left though.

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  6. Lovely Story Jo thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories. How wonderful to have so many photos to cherish.

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  7. So nice, Jo! Such a rich life she had -- and you've presented it beautifully. Somehow I'm certain you'll continue the tradition...

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  8. That's a nice tribute to your mother. You are lucky she saved her old albums and you have them now.

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  9. Dear Jo...what a beautiful tribute to your mother. I love photo collages and the one you have done is a beauty. Makes me want to create some of my own. Thank you for this post. Very inspiring.

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  10. Jo, a delightful tribute to a much-loved mother. The memories and the photos will be an ongoing legacy of Jean and Ian.

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  11. A beautiful tribute to your mother. Thanks for sharing her with us.

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  12. A most lovely tribute for your mum, and lovely photos to treasure forever too.

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  13. A loving eulogy to a much loved lady.

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  14. So sorry, Jo, but a beautiful post in her memory. A few of the pictures that you've used of her in the past linger in my memory. She looked so nice. Much happiness to the new generation.

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  15. Very well written and a lovely tribute. It made me feel emotional to read that Isabelle's naming day is on Jean's birthday. What a thoughtful thing to do.

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  16. Beautiful recognition of a woman who led a rich life filled with people who loved her.

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  17. So sad for your loss. Lovely words to remember her by. And nothing beats the memory of a mother who loved to cook. You had me at shortbread.

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  18. A lovely blog Jo about your Mum. So sorry to hear about her passing.

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