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My mother passed away on the 5th of January 2015. We had the funeral on Monday 12th and I thought I’d share the eulogy I did for my mum. This is a close up of my mum when she was 19 on her wedding day. She’s looking at my dad.

MUM AND DAD WEDDING 19540001

Eulogy for Cynthia Zaman

By Donna Maree Hanson

My mother was born Cynthia Eileen Cora McCrudden.

Cynthia was the youngest of six children. She was born late in her mother’s life and her father died when she was two.

She told me she used to say that he had ‘gone to the moon’.

Her mother Ada struggled as a war widow to bring up my mother and her brother John. The Great Depression gave way to World War 11, both times of change and hardship.

Cynthia was the baby of the family. Her nickname was ‘Miss Fluffy’ and she was doted on and spoiled. My mother was very close to Ada. Despite being poor my mother learned the piano at St Anne’s in Rose Bay. She grew up near Bondi and always loved the sea.

Sadly, Ada died when mum was 15 years old. They were on their way to visit relatives when Ada collapsed with a stroke. Cynthia never really recovered from the loss. Because of her age, she wasn’t permitted to go to the funeral. She never got to say goodbye.

After the death of her mother, she lived with her sister, Lucy, and her family for a short time. Then she moved out with some cousins. She was introduced to her first husband, Raymond Hanson, my dad, through her brother John. They were in the army together. My parents were planning to get married, but I understand they eloped and caused a bit of a stir. They were married in Maroubra in 1954. She was 19 and dad was 22.

Mum was a Catholic; from a long line of Catholics. While they loved each other at first, the marriage was not a happy one. Unfortunately, Dad’s drinking habit and abusive nature made the marriage hell for her and for us children.

This was during an age where the police did not take away the abusive husband or the drunken father. There was limited support available for a woman to leave her husband, other than her family taking her in. My mother often left and went to stay with her brother Reg but came back to try again. Over and over this happened.

As she was Catholic could not divorce easily. Around 1971, there were changes in society and government policy. Bill Hayden introduced a pension for women who left their husbands, which assisted women and later the government also introduced the no fault divorce. It’s only in more recent times that responses to domestic violence have been more pro-active. With police taking action and the press taking notice.

After the divorce, Cynthia went out into the world but was divided from her religion. She became devoted to the study of comparative religion, being a member of the Theosophical Society for a very long time. She read widely she was a very early ‘ new ager’. She was cooking pumpkin soup and doing foot massage well before it was trendy to do so.

Throughout her life she is had to deal with a number of things. In 1970, before the divorce, she had six children, two jobs, an abusive husband, and then our house was burnt down. After the divorce I think she went a little bit off the rails for a while, wanting to be with her family but finding it hard at times. She was quirky and sometimes weird, but she was never boring.

Cynthia suffered migraines throughout her life and with the menopause the migraines finally lessened and she was looking forward to an improved quality of life. When she was around 60 and staying with me, she experienced a migraine. But this was not an ordinary migraine.

She had bleeding on the brain form arteriovenous malformation, sort of like an aneurysm where the blood vessels were tangled together and bleeding. One blood vessel had grown very large and was leaking.

We were seeking treatment for this when she had a massive haemorrhage. We managed to get a hospital but that was a precursor to another major bleed. During emergency surgery, she had further complications but she had an amazing constitution. The surgeon told me that the damage to her brain was so bad that if she survived she’d be a vegetable and never walk again. If her heart had stopped he wouldn’t have tried to revive her. Everything after that time was a gift to us. To everyone’s surprise she did walk again and she did pull itself back from that abyss. She wasn’t the same, but she was still Cynthia. This was where we started losing our mother in bits and pieces.

She was in a nursing home for a while and then ‘broke out ‘ managing to secure a housing commission place in Canberra. She lived independently for around 10 years and that was an amazing achievement. I was awed and surprised by her determination. I believe that working hard to achieve independent living gave her good quality of life. She battled her disabilities; sometimes single-mindedly.

As she was stroke affected on the left side, and being left handed, she had to learn write again with her right hand.

It was only in last four years that she wasn’t able to live at home with confidence. She started having some falls and moved to Queanbeyan Nursing Home. She wasn’t exactly happy to be in a nursing home. She complained a lot about the food both the quality and the quantity. She used to tell me they were starving her but she put on weight. The staff there took very good care of her. She used to tell me about them and was very interested in their lives.

One day her blood chemistry went out of sync and she fell and struck her head. Further serious brain damage occurred. This was a pivotal point in her life as it robbed her of her mobility, took away a lot of her personality, and left her bedridden.

Although the doctors predicted she would die within a week of being discharged from hospital, she lived another three years. Those were sad days for her, where she lingered and her quality of life declined. There were other incidents where she would have a stroke and would be unconscious, like at Easter last year, where she was out for four days. A bit like Lazarus mum came fourth and said ‘hello beanie’ to my daughter and sat up and started eating and drinking and talking and again.

It was hard to see my mother fade over the years. She didn’t complain about the lack of quality of life. She was grateful to be alive. I thought it was unfair for her to suffer so, after the life she had had. Her life had never been easy, but she would just shoulder on. It was hard to see fade, harder for her to bear.

On Monday I came to see her a little bit earlier than I expected to. Just as I arrived, she suffered a massive stroke. I was there to say goodbye and am grateful for this because she wasn’t alone. I was there holding her hand, being with her. She was at peace finally. Her suffering had ended.

I wonder at the legacy she left behind. My mother gave me a love of discovery of things unknown and a desire to experience things beyond my normal life. She made me curious about other cultures and other people’s beliefs. She was interested in many things during her life. I believe she also instilled in me a love of food and cooking and for that I’m grateful.

I will miss her. I will think of her daily.

I would like to thank the staff at Queanbeyan Nursing Home who are here today to wish my mother a goodbye. Thank you for the care of our mother. The photo below is Cynthia in her late 50s before her health issues.

mum6This is a photo of mum after her first massive brain bleed.

mum1And this is mum just before she went into the nursing home aged around 72.

mum2And this last photo was the Christmas before her the fall that left her bedridden aged around 75.

mum 21

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