To The POINT
with GRAEME CORDINER
ONE HUNDRED people farewelled my mother Jean Cordiner in the Hunters Hill Congregational Church on November 1 – the church that she had last attended.
She was aged 90 and with her passing it seems like not just a personal loss, but the passing of an era.
Her presence in Ryde dates back to the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Unable to find work her father went prospecting for gold, putting all their possessions in storage.
He never did strike gold and missing one repayment they forfeited it all including personal effects.
My grandfather finally got work with the Council spraying weeds, seriously affecting his health.
My mother Jean attended Riverside Girls High School, went on to become a prefect and is on the Honours Board.
She wanted to continue, but had to go out and work.
Up until her death she loved reading.
* * *
SHE MET my father as President of the Eureka Youth League, a communist movement.
That sounds strange these days, but after years of Hitler it had appeal.
They met above what is now Seymours Hardware in Gladesville. They raised money for troops fighting overseas, and ran such successful social programs that Ryde councillors went to their meetings to thank them.
The mayor was so impressed he hired my mother.
When she married she had to leave as married women were not acceptable.
She then worked for Halvorsens in Putney, before finally working as a receptionist in Gladesville.
Jean lived in the same house in Beach Street Tennyson Point for 65 years
When they bought bushland on the water, friends told them they were crazy as they had to walk up to Victoria Road to catch the tram. They began by erecting a shed for a family of four, my brother and I as toddlers sleeping in a washbasin or wheelbarrow.
There was only a stand up water tap outside and no electricity, using kerosene lamps.
Jean was widowed for 21 years. There was no-one else in her life.
My dad’s local footprint is seen in the Putney Public School crest and the turn left sign at the top of Charles Street.
She kept contact with the Bennelong Residents for Reconciliation.
She always said yes to life right to the end.
Once she was told after months in hospital she would never walk again. Three days later she emerged with her walker from the room, the nursing station giving her a standing ovation.
* * *
JEAN’S legacy was seen at the funeral in her ten grandchildren’s tributes, who without exception loved her dearly.
Her passing took away some of my own fear of death.
A sceptic by nature, her Christian faith became intimately real for her through failing health.
In asking for help in situations beyond her ability to control or manage she found reassurance to her deepest fears.
The undeniable evidence of a loving Higher Presence meant a peaceful passing.
Her death then is not a fullstop, but a comma in a story whose next chapters are now being written.
Will the family presence continue in Gladesville?
My brother and sister-in-law and my wife and I live near Beach Street, enabling my mother to stay in her own home to the end.
We would like to continue living here, but the Gladesville I knew and that my mother represented is rapidly passing away, becoming a higher density revolving door lifestyle.
A cherry on the cake after the funeral was when TWT’s Greg Turner asked if he could photograph the family.
My mother never sought the limelight and would be chuffed, especially as our family were impressed by The Weekly Times taking on forced amalgamations.
It is still a mystery how TWT found out.
GRAEME CORDINER is a long time Gladesville resident.