Anna. My courageous, compassionate, humorous and all round simply amazing friend is with us no more. I received this news on Friday afternoon here in Ecija. The message pinged onto my phone as I was waiting for my class of students to arrive so I really didn’t have the opportunity to properly absorb the news. I was shocked and the next 4 hours of my classes passed in a kind of blur.
Anna had been on my mind a lot lately and it was only last week that I emailed saying I hoped she was well and not laid up in hospital with some ailment or other.
You see Anna has had all kinds of issues with her health but she never let them stop her doing what she wanted – at least not until more recently.
Anna used to tell me her ailments were a result of a ‘life well lived’ – she had a great sense of adventure and was game for almost anything. Anna was resilient and always bounced back from whatever ailed her.
Anna was a do-er and could get almost anything done. She had the great knack of being able to charm people and gently persuade them to do things they perhaps had not exactly planned to do. A case in point being that very first Field of Women that was planted in Canberra back in 1998 and then the establishment of Dragons Abreast ACT a year later.
Anna and I shared many memorable moments and experiences together over the years. We laughed and we cried together many times over the last 16 years – mostly we laughed.
Some of my standout memories are the trip to Niagra on the Lake where we stayed in a little B &B and sat out in the garden with a picnic and squirrels scampering around us as we dreamt of bringing the story of Dragons Abreast into print, of Anna tearing her hair out in Caloundra as she (wo)manned the phones and coordinated buses for 2000 pink paddlers.
My most recent memory was a visit to Canberra when I was there for the Lifeline Conference earlier this year. I had very limited time so asked Anna if she would like to perhaps meet for breakfast at my hotel. In response, I received an email saying she’d love breakfast but was in hospital so could I go there instead.
So at 7 am on a cold, wet Canberra morning, when it was really a bit too early for visitors, Anna and I sat in the hospital corridor and exchanged news for an hour and a half before I had to dash away for the start of the conference. That was the last time I would see my dear friend.
Anna was one of a kind. She always had a twinkle in her eye, was big of heart, wonderful with words, a diplomat and an inspiration to all who knew her. Anna never complained instead she just rolled up her sleeves, stuck her tongue out to one side if she was concentrating, grabbed her walking stick and off she went!
I am so privileged to have been able to call her my friend. I am better person for having known Anna – she was one of very special lady and there are no words that can adequately describe this amazing woman who was a wife, a mother, an advocate for causes she believed in, a gentle guiding hand, a wise counsellor, and an inspiration to many and an all-round incredible, irreplaceable, fantastic person who enjoyed a glass of red wine.
Anna, rest in peace now. Thank you for friendship, inspiration and support – you’ll live in my heart forever.