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A tribute to...

Margaret Nicholas

Published: Mon 7th Sep 2020

"A eulogy to Margaret" spoken on the 15th August 2020 at Surfers Paradise Anglican Church.

- by Jenny Lawson, Margaret's daughter

Thank you all for being here today to celebrate Mum's life. I think we were all so shocked at her sudden passing, because even though she was 84, she wasn't your average 84 year old. She was so full of life and vitality right until the end.

Mum was a model of self discipline when it came to health and fitness. She exercised almost every day, did weights with me at the gym on Mondays and she swam twice a week. I will always remember her face lighting up when she saw me at the gym on the Monday before she died. She looked a picture of health and happiness. Just like everything in her life, she left us with no fuss.

It was only when I became a mother myself that I realised that all mothers are not created equally. I was very lucky and got a great one. Mum's dedication to Jeff, Julie and myself never faltered. As children, she drove us to every activity you could possibly imagine. As a physical education teacher herself prior to Jeff being born, she was always teaching us things, whether it be swimming, tennis, surfing, art, sewing or piano.

Mum was an only child. Her father was a Scottish accountant who grew up during the depression and her mum was a primary school teacher. Nothing was ever wasted or thrown out. If it was broken, you fixed it. She remained frugal her entire life because of her upbringing.

James and Rachel said they loved Mum's retro tracksuit that she wore to the gym. I then realised it was the tracksuit she had bought for her mother 30 years ago and Mum was still wearing it. Hence, my difficulty parting with clothes that are less than 20 years old.

Margaret with daughters Jenny and Julie.
Margaret with daughters Jenny and Julie.

The week before Mum died, Gabby and I did a wonderful watercolour lesson with her, which lasted over three hours. Mum didn't miss a beat. She shared so many skills with us and I'm so grateful for that precious day. That was the last time I saw her.

She pulled out a hairdryer to dry the paint. It was completely melted and burnt, but she was still using it because it worked. My response to her was, 84-year-old woman who survived breast cancer, a stroke, melanoma and COVID-19, but was electrocuted by a severely damaged hair dryer.

Mum did some form of art that was either painting or pottery for most of her life. it was only the last few years that I visited her at the Royal Queensland Art Society gallery in Broadbeach and saw her when she was working there. She was in her element and could talk to visitors about each of the artists and would enthuse about each of them. Her natural exuberance on a topic that she loved was delightful to watch.

As an only child, Mum was very good at amusing herself. She always enjoyed art and this gave her a sense of peace and satisfaction when she was by herself and happily painting away. Mum was a wonderful tennis player, and played fixtures until she had her stroke about 7 years ago. She also gained her letters in piano and we would listen to her playing her favourite, which was Beethoven's Fur Elise.

When Julie was about 15 and Mum had to drive her to Palm Beach from Southport for her ballet lessons, Mum decided to join in the class as well. She later joined the happy tappers performance group of mature age ladies who performed in the end of year concert that Jessica also performed in. It was such a thrill to see her on stage looking so poised and graceful.

Mum loved her classical music, ballets and musicals. She would take herself off to the lyric theatre and the Gold Coast Art Centre to see the shows. She loved to put music on at home and just dance around the house if she felt like it.

Three generations together - Margaret with her children and grandchildren
Three generations together - Margaret with her children and grandchildren

James recalls that as a young child, when he and Jess were staying at Mum's, she would always put on the Russian Ballet video for them to watch. She could teach the youth of today a thing about how to amuse themselves and not be bored. Mum never complained of boredom or loneliness.

At age 55 she decided to try snow skiing, and had a few trips in Australia and NZ. She never let fear get in the way of anything.

She was meticulous in her record keeping. She was the keeper of records of rainfall in Southport from around 1970. She was convinced that Southport missed out on rain when it fell on other parts of the coast. The weather was always a topic of conversation.

Even though she delighted in family gatherings she would never impose herself on us. She trod lightly on the earth. Completely selfless, never imposing herself on others always adding joy to a room full of people.

Grief is the price you pay for love. A mother's love is irreplaceable, which is why it is so painful. She is the person who was always there dedicating her life to making Jeff's, Julie's and my life the best that she possibly could. There is no price you can put on that. We are who we are because of her.

When I was a young girl of about 10, I bought this for mum from Price Rite in Sundale. She kept it and I only saw it last week in her art studio, and it reads:

"You can only have one mother- patient, kind and true
No other friend in all the world will be as true to you."

Mum, I will miss your joyous nature, your beautiful smile, your never-ending love and support.

You were simply THE BEST.

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