Sunday, December 30, 2007

Farewell To A Friend and A Discovery

I didn't get everything finished before Christmas Day as I felt so ill with this silly maybe-Fibromyalgia. Did complete an alpaca pendant on time and got alot of work done on one of the little cat paintings that were commissioned by Glenys. However she gave me a stern talking to about not pushing myself so I took her advice and slowed down.

Christmas Day was quiet but I spent a very enjoyable evening with my friends down the road. However the next morning Gine rang to tell me that Kate, my neighbour who had given me a lift to portraiture class a few times, had passed away Christmas Eve from the cancer she had been battling for three years. I felt incredibly saddened as she was such a lovely vital person with so much talent.

Her funeral was held on Thursday afternoon at Tikokino Village. Gaye, Rachel, the boys and I went together and although we went half an hour early the place was so packed we ended up sitting outside. At first we were right in the hot sun but some kind ladies lifted a small marquee over us so at least we were in the shade. There must have been over 100 people there, some even standing out on the footpath including one poor old man who collapsed in the heat.

I was ok until I saw the hearse pull up with her coffin inside. I couldn't believe such a sparkly lady was gone so had a few tears. Her son Gordon began playing the bagpipes before the family and close friends walked into the church. There was a speaker system set up so we could hear most of the service. The celebrant talked about all the activities Kate was involved with including the Otane painters and her book clubs. She also volunteered for several charities and clubs and was constantly helping and supporting her friends. Seven people spoke of the effect she had on their lives which was incredibly touching. All in all the service lasted an hour and was a beautiful celebration of Kate's life.

Afterwards we met up with some of the Otane painters who had turned up including Jacqueline, Glenys, and Betty and even our first nude model who had gone to see Kate in the hospice. She gave me a hug and I had to admit to her that I didn't recognise her with her clothes on! I finally got to meet Kate's lovely daughter and then her husband Spencer who gave me a big hug. Gaye and I signed the tribute book before we took Rachel and the boys home. Originally we were going to go to Kate's house afterwards but by 4pm I was beginning to feel the effects of the day (I had already been to Hastings early morning) and was just wanting to rest. For the remainder of the day I thought how important it was to live every day with no regrets and as if each could be your last. Kate had only just turned 54 which was too young to leave but she had packed in as much as she could into her life and left a legacy of friendship. That's how I would like to live my life as well.

To end on a positive note I am in love........with Rita Angus. After years of staring at one of her prints in my dentist's office I have finally realised what an amazingly talented artist she is. The reason for my conversion was watching "Lovely Rita" a documentary by Gaylene Preston which repeated this morning. Featuring interviews with family and friends as well as admirers it gave a great overview of her life and displayed a wonderful range of her work. I had no idea what a skillful watercolourist she was or how powerful her self portraits were (up there with Frida Kahlo in my humble opinion). And she's a Hawkes Bay girl too, born in Hastings in 1908 before she and her family moved to Palmerston North in 1921. I also learned that she had an affair with Douglas Lilburn (our most famous NZ composer) and miscarried a child he'd fathered.

To show how we still underrate her all of the 600 unsold works she still had at her Thorndon cottage when she died of cancer aged 62 are now in Te Papa Museum where they are rarely on display. Considering how everyone fawns over Colin Machon's work I think this is a travesty.

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