A ‘spe­cial spot’ to re­mem­ber Mum

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE -

On a quiet au­tum­nal day at the base of the Wither Hills, Cara Joseph sits with her daugh­ter Ana­hera-Anne Joseph among the sunny golds and browns.

Her baby daugh­ter waves and of­fers sim­ple ver­bal ges­tures to jog­gers as they swoop by the clear­ing along the well-trod­den dirt path.

They are both seated on a park bench that was erected in mem­ory of Joseph’s mother. It’s a fit­ting lo­ca­tion for the mem­ory of Ch­eryl-Anne Thomp­son; a mother, a wife, a close friend to many, and a Wither Hills reg­u­lar.

‘‘Mum loved walk­ing the Wither Hills,’’ Joseph said. ‘‘Es­pe­cially the loop track, up to the tri­an­gle. Then along to the wa­ter tanks and down around the quail stream. Mum took my brother Amon and I up there as chil­dren at least twice a week, we would walk up to the tri­an­gle and back while mum ran around the loop.’’

Joseph re­mem­bers those days be­ing dragged up the hill with stiff en­cour­age­ment from her mum.

‘‘At the time, it wasn’t al­ways en­joy­able but look­ing back ... I love that she took us up here, and made us get some fresh air and ex­er­cise in the sun­shine. Our love of the out­doors grew out of that time, I think.

‘‘It’s some­thing I now en­joy tor­tur­ing my own chil­dren with.’’

Thomp­son died of breast can­cer at the age of 39 in Au­gust 2004, after fight­ing the dis­ease for five years. The seat was do­nated by her work col­leagues at the Marl­bor­ough Ex­press to re­mem­ber her.

‘‘Even when she got sick she would still come walk­ing up here. Re­gard­less of her health con­di­tion.’’

‘‘I re­mem­ber mum as al­ways be­ing fun, and sup­port­ive, calm and col­lected and so de­ter­mined to en­joy ev­ery sec­ond. An ab­sol- ute in­spi­ra­tion. I only wish my chil­dren could have got to meet mum and en­joy her love for life. She loved her fam­ily and dog­gies, and was de­ter­mined to live life to the fullest re­gard­less of how her health was fail­ing.’’

Joseph re­mem­bered her mum as some­one who was a leader in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I think she was just an in­spi­ra­tion to peo­ple around her, for ex­am­ple the year be­fore mum passed away we com­peted to­gether in the Marl­bor­ough Women’s Triathlon, de­spite her be­ing in hospi­tal the night be­fore with breath­ing trou­bles.

‘‘We do­nated a tro­phy to the Women’s Tri and now it is awarded ev­ery year to the per­son that has against all odds still par­tic­i­pated in the event.’’

For Joseph, the park bench was a way to re­mem­ber her mother. But it was also a place to come and share sto­ries about her life with fam­ily mem­bers.

‘‘We do of­ten visit mum’s seat and just sit for amo­ment, al­ways on her birth­day, Mother’s Day and the an­niver­sary of her pass­ing. Some­times we will leave a daf­fodil or bal­loon. It’s nice to have a spe­cial spot where mum can still be thought of and re­mem­bered by all those that loved her.’’

Hav­ing a park bench com­mem­o­ra­tion so close to home, meant Joseph took no­tice of the other lives etched in brass on seats around Marl­bor­ough.

‘‘I do think [the park benches] are im­por­tant, and a beau­ti­ful way to re­mem­ber loved ones and what they loved. I en­joy see­ing the park benches around Marl­bor­ough and al­ways stop to read the plaque and won­der why they have cho­sen that spe­cific place to put their seat.’’

PHOTO: DAVID JAMES/STUFF

Cara Joseph sits with daugh­ter Ana­hera-Anne Joseph at her mother Ch­eryl-Anne Thomp­son’s bench at the base of the Wither Hills.

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