A ‘special spot’ to remember Mum
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.’’
Cara Joseph sits with daughter Anahera-Anne Joseph at her mother Cheryl-Anne Thompson’s bench at the base of the Wither Hills.