Everyday Obituaries: Patricia (Pat) Collins

This eulogy was delivered by Anthony W. Collins (who comments on our site as ‘Mulcaster’) to honour his mother at her funeral in Toowoomba.

 

Pat Collins on her 90th birthday.

 

Patricia Mary Collins was born on 8 September 1925 and died on 4 January 2018.

 

She lived for 92 years. She was the second child of Patrick and Margaret Brennan.

 

She was fond of flowers and had a wonderful sense of colour, liked and, apparently, was liked by dogs.

 

She was extremely fond of pavlova.

 

She married to William Timothy Collins on 22 July 1950.

 

She was a devoted and loving wife and mother.

 

She had a deep, unquestioning and ultimately beautiful faith.

 

These facts are easily said and could be recited by anyone… however… although those statements are true … they are shallow and inadequate to paint the true picture of who our mother was, what motivated her, what she achieved and what her life meant for my sisters and I.

 

I could share humorous anecdotes which would show her devotion such as the “triple Bill” … whenever there was an emergency our mother would yell Bill, Bill, Bill… the triple Bill … and he didn’t even have to be there for her to resort to the triple Bill. One famous occasion when he wasn’t there was when we were living in a farmhouse outside of Sarina. A snake had taken refuge in in the only dry and warm place it could find … the dog kennel. She picked up an axe swung it around furiously to protect me and our dog while yelling the triple Bill.

 

I am pleased to report that neither I, Alex the dog, the snake nor our mother was injured.

 

Such anecdotes show her devotion and protective nature…but do not demonstrate who she really was.

 

When I set out upon this task it was my desire to attempt to articulate what our mother’s life was all about and to pay tribute to her and to share her achievements.

 

The one word which immediately came forth was “love”… yet that word is utterly inadequate.

 

The word love is greatly misused, often conflated with romance or dare it be said with intimate encounters.

 

The word is overused to the point where it is difficult to define what it means.

 

How many times in any given day do we utter or hear the word?

 

In my opening remarks I said that our mother was fond of dogs and extremely fond of pavlova… I could have said that she loved both … we often use the word love to describe something that we like.

 

I am usually taken back when called ‘lovie’ by a waitress or a barmaid … somewhat more so when by a waiter or a barman.

 

But then again our mother was given to calling people ‘lovie’.

 

My point is that the use of the word in that familiar way does not reflect the meaning of the word. Any more than popular television shows such as “the Bachelor or Bachelorette”, which conflate the meaning of the word with romance.

 

Probably the greatest misuse of the word involves intimate encounters… such as in the expression a “love affair”.

 

It is axiomatic that there can be love without sex and very obviously sex without love … the terms are not synonymous.

 

I am sure we are all familiar with the mantra “Love is Love” … but that expression does little to explain what love is.

 

What is love? And what do I mean when I say that it is the word which defined our mother?

 

Love is something which is easier to recognise than it is to define.

 

In my opinion to love …is to give,

 

… and the capacity to give is the measure of love  and the depth of love can be immeasurable.

 

In the Gospel according to John 15:13, scripture tells us  “Greater love hath no man than this… that a man lay down his life for another.”

 

What more can anyone give than to give their life to another such as Pat and Bill did in their constant devotion to each other.

 

The first reading today which my cousin Michael Collins will read tells how Saint Paul described the features of love.

 

Anyone who really knew our mother knew a person with a gentle calmness who gave so much.

 

I am not speaking of giving in a material sense… as in money or gifts, but rather being there and being constant.

 

An adult who cares for a parent or relative without complaint for years is probably the greatest illustration of what love truly is.

 

The giving does not have to be difficult or a chore…as a child I remember coming home from school and our mother would be sitting on the top stairs with a cup of tea, patting the inevitable dog and we would run to her.

 

Her support was constant and unswerving. She gave us a loving home, she fed us and cared for us.

 

In the giving which is the act of love others will receive.

 

And isn’t it true that proof of the end of love is when the giving ceases.

 

If love is to be properly described as the act of giving then the opposite of love cannot be hate… rather I would contend that the antithesis of love is greed.

 

Our mother gave without demanding anything in return.

 

Our mother loved her family and that love gave her life meaning.

 

Although I was born five years after my sister Jennifer, our father Bill was kind enough to tell me that I was not what is sometimes referred to as an accident.

 

…Although I have vague memories of both of my sisters trying to convince me that I was in fact an unfortunate accident.

 

It is difficult to speak of our mother without reference to Bill. It would be a mistake to think that our mother was subsumed by his personality. Most of their decisions were joint.

 

However… my coming into the world was not.

 

I said to him, words to the effect that “It must have been a shock when mum fell pregnant with me” his reply was “No … it was all you mother’s idea”, she wanted another child and that she wanted a boy. He said that he was happy with his two daughters because they were perfect.

 

He didn’t say that I was perfect …. And there’d be a reason for that!

 

My sisters and I were privileged that we were wanted and loved by both our parents.

 

Our mother did not often speak of her own childhood but it is my belief that she had  a hard childhood. It is not hard to imagine … the great depression, long term unemployment followed by war, it could not have been easy. She was the second daughter followed by twin brothers, doubtless she had a double dose of the middle child syndrome.

 

I was too young to have made a proper assessment but there are things which draw me to the conclusion that my sisters, Robyn and Jennifer and I had a vastly different relationship with our mother than she had with hers.

 

As I said she rarely made any adverse comment about her own upbringing. However, there was one occasion after Bill died when she said to me that she was pleased that she allowed my sisters and I to love our father in a way in which she was prevented from loving hers.

 

If that was one of her goals in life she succeeded magnificently.

 

And we had much to love in both our parents.

 

When my sister Robyn had a workplace accident, Pat and Bill jumped in the Corolla and took off to Adelaide to be parents again.

 

Being loving parents is what they did best.

 

Not only did she love but she was loved in return.

 

It would be wrong of me to not pay tribute to my sister Jennifer and the constant care she gave to both our parents. It is a clear and unequivocal demonstration of love.

 

Since her retirement Robyn too has lovingly thrown herself into the care of our mother.

 

Our mother’s example shines through to her grand-daughters Alison and Philippa who have benefited from her parenting style which Jan and I have sought to emulate.

 

When I was growing up there were no favourites in our home and we were all treated equally and that is the rule in our house.

 

Our mother was accepting and let us lead our own lives… even when one of us strayed off the straight and narrow.

 

Our mother’s love as Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians is a love “… which does not come to an end.”

 

Ladies and Gentlemen on behalf of my sisters, my wife and daughters I thank you for paying tribute to Pat. May she rest in peace.

 

Anthony Willian Collins
11 January 2018

 

 

 

 

About Anthony W Collins

A northerner with a mild distrust of anyone from south of St Lawrence.

Comments

  1. Nice words Gulbo, sorry for your loss mate
    TG

  2. Yvette Wroby says:

    She’d be very proud of you. This speech is beautiful. Condolences to you all. She will always be with you in your hearts.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Condolences to you and yours, Anthony. Wonderful tribute. Pat would have much to be proud of reading these words. Bless

  4. Anthony W Collins says:

    Brett, Phil, Yvette and the Prince …AKA Mr Harms … thank you for your kindness, it is greatly appreciated.
    Last weekend I spent time in Brisbane sorting through my parents’ chattels with my sisters. It was an occasion for reminiscence and occasional learning.
    I thought the following anecdote might help to give some further insight into my parents. In retirement, my parents were active in “Meals on Wheels”, a charity in Queensland which takes meals to ill, elderly and people who were not able to support themselves in their homes.
    Like Batman and Robin in their corolla they beetled from house to house in the vain hope that the meals would not go cold.
    I have sister who was a district nurse back when the AIDS scare hit the streets. Grim Reaper … bowling balls etc …There were a number of AIDS sufferers living independently … but there was an issue as to how they could be fed. MY sister’s employer was engaged in home nursing and treating many patients including people dying from AIDS.My sister asked our parents if “Meals on Wheels could help?” She explained the medical issues and the the fact that the patients usually male were usually emaciated and weak.
    After a moment my father looked at our mother without saying a word… she nodded and he said “Are they hungry?”… “If they’re hungry We’ll feed ’em …won’t we Mum”.

    And that was that.

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