16 September 2013, Brighton, Melbourne, Australia
Thank you all for coming today to celebrate the life of my mother. Today is a very difficult day but we must fill it with happy memories and love for a wonderful woman, my mother, Margaret.
My Mum was graceful, eloquent, intelligent, selfless, kind, caring and quick-witted. On 20 June 2013, Mum wrote down and sent to us, her sons, her wishes, which commenced with:
“I am not afraid for myself. I actually feel strangely calm about it all. I’m just worried about Dad.”
Worried about Dad. Worried about everyone she loved, rather than herself. That was Mum.
When her sister Rosalyn was ill, Mum thought not of her own health challenges but of the need to ensure Rosalyn was surrounded with love. When her brother Warren was ill, Mum became the family glue to bring us all together and ensure Warren too was surrounded with love. When her mother was ill, Mum became the family guardian to take the brunt of Gran’s illness and ensure that Gran passed with dignity and love. Recently, when I accompanied Mum to her medical appointments and certain treatments were suggested, Mum was very clear that it was not an option if there was a possibility of them reducing her capacity to care for Dad. Such was Mum’s devotion to Dad and such was their bond. On 17 August, Dad passed away holding Mum’s hand. When that happened, there is no question that a light went out inside Mum. Thanks to Bethlehem Hospital, both of these beautiful lives ended with an abundance of love and dignity.
But our family is devastated by the recent passing of Margaret and Robert. We take some solace in the precious moments Mum and Dad enjoyed over the past year.
- Kate and I getting married
- Their first grandson Tom arriving and the mutual adoration that quickly developed
- The last few Sunday lunches we enjoyed together at their home with the immediate and extended family
- Calista and Matt’s relationship developing into their recent marriage
Being a mother of four rambunctious boys – with us fighting on the back seat between games of “spotto on the road signs” - Mum had her work cut out and, as a highly-skilled educator, it is little wonder that she adopted a rather authoritarian, teacher-like approach to our home environment. That had varying success as we each rebelled at various junctures but we all understood that her iron rule came from a place of love and pragmatism. When we spent six months in 1979 travelling as a family together around England, Scotland and the European continent, Mum regularly received thanks and congratulations from other tourists about the excellent behaviour of her four boys; such tourists being blissfully unaware of the fact that we were all simply petrified of transgressing the daily maternal regulations.
Back then, the softness in Mum was evident in her enjoyment of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rogers & Hammerstein musicals – the key songs from which she would regularly recite reasonably accurately on her treasured piano organ - and also evident in her adoption of as many feline friends as possible to offset the testosterone overload in our house.
More recently, Mum has become such a great friend to us boys. Mum was an avid social media participant, with record time responses with likes and comments to even our most trifling Facebook posts. Mum was also highly proficient at quick-fire family SMS news updates, efficiently and officially announcing the details of birthday dinners, Christmas gatherings and our first Sunday of the month family dinners. It is quite shocking that only around 5 months ago we had our final family dinner in St Kilda, which included much pizza and red wine, the gargling of 4 month-old Tom and the roundtable confirmation of our respective fine health. Unbelievably, the very next day, Mum commenced a battery of x-rays and scans to determine the ominous cause of her side pain. Only a week or so later, Dad began to confront his own challenges. Just unbelievable.
After summarily dispensing with breast cancer in 2002, I guess to some extent we took for granted that Mum would be with us for many years to come, so it is heart-wrenching that our dear friend and the family glue has passed. But I am confident that her efforts will mean the family gathered here today will continue to come together for many years to come and pass this McGregor and Fry family stickiness through to future generations.
Mum’s final wishes extended to her two new daughters, Kate and Calista, receiving some of her most treasured pieces of jewellery. I have them here and Matt and I want to give them to you two beautiful daughters-in-law of Mum.
Finally, Mum didn’t like the idea of people being glum about her passing. Mum wanted this day to be graceful like her and for us to be inspired by her memory. Here is a message to us that I think she would have agreed with.
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Tim's older brother Rohan 'Macca' McGregor followed with a 'Song of Memory'
The Song of Memory
When someone we love
passes on beyond life
in the world that we know
and is gone,
A beautiful sense of their presence,
like music remembered by heart,
When someone we love
is no longer with us
but their presence sometimes we can feel,
Our memories can be
Like a song in the heart
With the power to comfort and heal
· Mum was my best friend
· Mum was someone I loved
· Mum taught me how to grow as an eldest son
· Mum was there when we needed help
· My Mum and Dad were the best parents a son could have
· Mum loved her four boys
· Mum taught me what life is all about so I would cope in the real world
· Mum showed me how to treat people with respect and how to treat people properly
Tim McGregor's eulogy for his father, Robert McGregor, is also on Speakola.