It is my sad task to announce that our friend Rosemary I passed away recently.
Most of you did not know Rosemary much more than her name, which you would’ve seen here every week for the last two years and a bit.
Please allow me to tell you a little bit of her story, partly because she was much too reticent to ever do that and, partly, because she meant so much to me.
Rosemary was one of my dearest friends and, particularly in the last 12 months, an absolute rock to me. She was actually a life coach to me and my closest confidante.
When she came aboard this Battleship, I didn’t even know it was her at first.
No fanfare. She just saw a post I’d put on Facebook, inviting people here, and jumped on.
(Incidentally, the l in her moniker is actually a lower case L for anyone who’s ever wondered.)
She grew up here in Brisbane a ‘70s child on a diet of the Bay City Rollers, Status Quo, Kiss and Leif Garrett. And she still listened to them!
But she became a dedicated supporter of the Battle and would vote every week, without fail.
Rosemary was a quiet lady but she was intelligent, quick-witted, had a great sense of humour and was a very caring, generous and beautiful soul.
We would speak on the phone virtually every day and regularly for hours at a time.
A typical night would entail her ‘coming’ to the gym with me, jotting down my weight, and then taking my call afterwards, noting my new weight, ‘accompanying’ me on the walk home, ‘sharing’ my protein drink with me, ‘watching’ TV with me for a bit, then ‘sitting’ with me whilst I checked the Battle and e-mails, etc; all the time sharing jokes and anecdotes about Battle songs including the ones she hated(!), other songs, our lives, etc, etc.
Our relationship was such that we wouldn’t even necessarily talk for several minutes at a time during these calls; just keep each other company.
I could ring her any time of the day or night.
If I was troubled and we’d had a marathon call, at the end I would thank her wholeheartedly for her help.
Her reply was always the same. “What for, Sweetie? I didn’t do anything.” But, of course, she had.
She was just in her early fifties and much like an older sister to me; a slightly older sister, I’m sure she would emphasise!
Unfortunately, she'd broken an ankle a while back. It never healed and became infected. As a diabetic, she had no feeling in her ankle to notice the difference.
She was house-bound as a consequence and would spend her days knitting ‘trauma teddies’ for families who had lost young children.
But she made, what I realise now, a huge effort to come out and support me at my shows.
Only a couple of months ago, I told her I wanted to learn how to waltz.
So, as a professional dancer in her younger days, she took it upon herself to stay after a solo gig one day, threw off the crutches, and spent the next two hours trying to teach me to waltz!
Nothing was too much for her.
We never had a single cross word in the nearly 15 years I knew her.
I was very happy to take her to see Love and Mercy in the cinema (with another good friend) last July so she could learn more about the music legend whose website she visited most days.
Life was not fair to Rosemary.
She had struggled free from an abusive marriage and had been single, with two children, for many years.
She had other setbacks in her life but never complained.
She’d also lost both her parents.
Her health was obviously an issue but, again, she did not complain. She was always positive and funny.
She surprised me at Christmas with a book on The Seekers that she’d ordered from Melbourne for me. The book alone would’ve cost $50. I’d mentioned it in passing one time in October and was amazed she’d gone to such an effort. That’s the kind of person she was.
The last show she came to was my NYE one. I was thrilled she’d come, driven by our other good friend.
I rang her afterwards – past 2:00am – and we talked for the customary hour plus.
We spoke in the early hours of Sunday 17th for over an hour.
It was the last conversation we would ever have.
Bedridden, she had a stroke a couple of days later and was induced into a coma. Her infected leg was amputated.
She never regained consciousness. Her son and daughter and close friends kept a bedside vigil for days.
But I did observe her acknowledging her daughter’s voice and questions which I wouldn’t have believed otherwise.
Rosemary passed away on Thursday, January 28th; much too soon.
She had no funeral. Typically, it was her wish. No fanfare.
I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never speak with her again. At least not in this lifetime.
She is greatly missed by all those who loved her.