Our lives, when reduced to statistics, create an outline of who we are. Outlines are fine, but rarely provide an accurate depiction.
Teresa Blake was only 58, when she passed away.
Cancer had taken its toll after one and a half years.
She was a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mother and a grandmother.
She emigrated from New Zealand to Altona, 35 years ago – forever torn between the love of her homeland and the new life she created in Australia.
This is the outline of Teresa Blake, but it barely scratches the surface.
She was so much more than a few facts on paper….
Memories shared provide colour. Teresa’s spirit was kaleidoscopic!
The stories told by loved ones – the recollections they share – create an image so vibrant. Her soul painted richly, by the telling and re-telling of days gone by.
As a young woman, Teresa sang in a band. The Shondals offered a platform for Teresa’s love of music – a love she maintained over the years. Her singing provided a soundtrack to the lives of her children – a sound they will no doubt miss.
Teresa’s daughter, Natarsha, remembers with great fondness, the unwavering love she witnessed from her mother, time and time again:
“When I was a little girl, my father used to travel interstate as a truck driver. . . We would say our goodbyes, watch him jump into his jigga, (the name dad gave all his trucks) and he would take off. Mum would stand in the middle of the road, without a care in the world what people passing by thought, and she would say her prayer…. ‘Saint Cristopher, watch over my hun, and keep him safe from harm, guide him safely to his destination and safely back again to his family. This I ask, through all lords and Jesus Christ – Amen. Thank you Lord and thank you Saint Cristopher – Amen’ My mother would say that prayer for anyone leaving her house….”
Teresa’s generosity and warmth were unparalleled, touched upon again and again, by all who knew her. Her sister-in-law, Miriam recalls, having met Teresa for the first time, how graciously she accepted her into her home. “There was an air of calm and mystic and she made me feel very special and welcomed to the family.”
Though separated by time and distance, Teresa maintained a special bond with the family she left behind in New Zealand – she was never far from their hearts. Miriam was devastated to learn of Teresa’s diagnosis, but was not surprised by the way Teresa handled herself throughout, “She really shone, giving all of those around her strength to get through, while carrying herself graciously. Not allowing the terrible disease to win, fighting with great courage, through the painful treatments – all the while keeping positive.”
Positivity in the face of difficulty, was something Teresa was famous for. Like the time, she broke her ankle at her friend, Amanda’s 40th. Toots and Moo Moo, as they liked to call themselves, were inseparable throughout the years – so much more than co-workers. So, when Toots broke her ankle at Moo Moo’s party, there was no way she was going to stop dancing. “She would not sit and rest . . . I felt terrible. I took her to the hospital and sat around until she got her plaster on.”
Teresa’s love was boundless, as attested to by her friend of 23 years, Tracy, “Teresa always had an open door, an open heart and loads of love to share. Over the past year, she faced so many fears with grace and dignity. There is no one that can ever fill the space she’s left.”
Memories allow us to reconnect at will – choosing to celebrate a life well lived, rather than lament the painful loss. Teresa Blake, was all bright eyes and big smiles. Smiles that, according to her friend Liz, “would light up the room. She would always make you feel so special and when we spoke it was like you were the only person in the room.”
With so many beautiful stories to come back to, Teresa Blake will never be remembered in statistics and outlines of black and white. She will be remembered in a rainbow of hues and tones – the colours of Teresa Blake – a beautiful life.
Gone, but not forgotten.
*This article will feature in Around Point Cook, Issue #105