How does one summarise the life and personality of my wonderful mother in a few short minutes?
Mum was someone who touched people’s lives. Each of you have chosen to come and remember her today because she touched your life. The many many wonderful and supportive messages that we have received have borne articulate testimony to what she meant to so many.
She was always a lady, even before she became a lady in title
The nurses at the hospital told us in tears how much she had impressed and inspired them. And she was truly inspiring. She was brave. She was determined. She was kind. She was thoughtful. She was a total perfectionist. Whenever I went to see her in the hospital in the last few weeks, I knew she was OK when she greeted me with a gentle wave at my untucked shirt or my lopsided tie. Her house was always immaculate. She was always elegant and serene. She was always a lady, even before she became a lady in title.
In 1964 she took the brave and determined step of sailing across the world, leaving behind in Australia her very special parents and brother, Gus, Hilde and Jack, her own wonderful Granny and her Grandma, and her much loved cousins Norman, Marjan, Helga and Hetty and all her many many friends to make a new life in England. She met Dad and within 10 days they were engaged and the next chapter of her life began.
She faced the considerable challenges of her life since motor neurone disease and then with cancer, with total fortitude. She lived life. She craved life. She valued life. Even in the hospital a few days before she slipped into unconsciousness she would punch the air, and mouth that she was going to get better. She was going to fight it.
The testimony to mum’s indomitable personality is that when told that her chemotherapy had failed and that she was no longer in remission, she did not simply give up and wait for death. She researched on the internet tirelessly for any medical advance and, with the help of Paul Zimmet and her Australian medical friends she found a new drug and was the first person in the UK to try this new medicine. But more than that, she wrote the book of her early life. She organised her files. She organised her affairs with meticulous detail. She even set up all her electronic birthday cards in advance. Be warned, you may still get an ecard from the grave!
But Mum was about more than overcoming adversity. Tanya and I have been truly blessed to have had the childhoods that we did. Mum and Dad were superlative parents. Mum treasured us and our close knit family. She was loving and encouraging and supportive. She was always there for us in every way. We have been blessed to have her as the granny of 6 grandchildren – all of whose lives she has enriched with love, thoughtfulness and inspiration. The holidays she took the children on, the activities she lovingly thought up. The trips to the opera and the ballet. The teas and parties. All organised perfectly and with love. She loved Sarah and Victor and she was a huge and positive presence in all our own family lives, with a gentle suggestion or thoughtful comment to guide us. She has been a real role model for us in so many ways.
In the final 4 days and 4 nights that we sat by her bedside as she grew slowly weaker, we were able to tell her how much we loved her, and she was able to squeeze our hands and to point to her heart to say that she did too. We knew that her love for Tanya and I and for her daughter-in-law and son-in-law and for her grandchildren was true and strong and real.
I was so happy and so lucky to have Judy as my wife
There was a love and a rock that underlay my mother throughout her life, and that was the true and lifelong partnership that she had with Dad. These past days have been tough, but by far the hardest challenge my wonderful sister Tanya and I have faced was going to tell our much loved father. His pain and sadness were total. He insisted on coming from the care home today to be here to say goodbye. If I may I would like to speak for him in the words that he used when we sat with him on Tuesday. He said “I have had 50 years of perfect marriage. I was so happy and so lucky to have Judy as my wife”. And then, with his characteristic stoicism he listened to all that we had done together with mum to try and fight the cancer and simply said “everyone has to die at some point”. But his love for mum was and will always be endless.
We will all leave this cemetery with our own memories of mum. Let them be positive and inspiring memories. The most poignant way of summing up mum came from the mouth of our lovely son Sam. When I explained to him that Granny would not want him to see her ill in the hospital because she would not want him to be sad, he looked at me with his big eyes and simply said “The only memories I have of her are good memories”. May each of us leave today with our own good memories of Judy Callman. She enriched all our lives. I will miss her beyond all words.
Mum loved life, embraced life and lived life to the full.
Indeed as we all know, she loved life so much, she did not want it to end.
Many of us will always remember Mum for her courage and bravery, her dignity and her perseverance in the face of adversity.
She was uniquely positive and never wanted to dwell on her trials or difficulties. Instead, she always focused on trying to make the lives of others happier and enriched.
A medical social worker, antiques broker, company director, Chair of the Gamete Donation Trust, Honorary Fellow of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, London agent of her family’s meat broking business, devoted wife and daughter, amazing mum and incredible granny
When she arrived at hospital, one of the nurses greeted her with “Oh so lovely to see you again – you’re one of my favourite patients. I remember you from nursing you several months ago. You’re the lady with the wonderful caramel waffle biscuits.”.I said to the nurse. “What do you mean?” and she said “your mother used to have these beautiful caramel waffle biscuits in her room and because I liked them so much she especially arranged for me to have my own packet and I’ve never forgotten that, and now I always buy them.”
That summed up Mum – she always went the extra mile.
Another nurse who was involved with mum’s regular chemotherapy treatments as an outpatient, formed a particularly close bond with Mum. When it was clear that Mum’s medical condition had deteriorated dramatically, this nurse came in especially on her day off, effectively to say goodbye to Mum before the nurse was due to go away to a conference in India. Again, most patients would have spent that visit saying to the nurse “Why me?” – but not Mum. Instead she held the nurse’s hand and struggled to say , “Tell me about the conference…you’re going to be amazing giving your first full presentation…. come back and tell me all about it and come and have tea with me in my garden in the Spring.”
Growing up, Mum’s positive energy imbued everything. Jeremy and I were so fortunate to grow up within such a warm and loving family. She and Dad were what he always called a “true love match”. As many of you will know, when Mum knew that her leukaemia had worsened, she sat down at the computer and wrote solidly her early life story in one week without stopping.
The inscription says “I dedicate this book to my beloved Clive who has given me my life”.
a true love match
She ends the book by saying, “In Clive I found my soulmate, my partner and my refuge within an absolutely idyllic marriage. We had the most extraordinary partnership based on like minds, respect, admiration and love…I shall carry my 50 years of my unequalled and exceptional life with Clive with me forever.”
Mum taught me so many little things which I value every day- from insights into human nature, to practical wisdom, even to the lullabies I sing to my children at night.
She was a role model for us: A medical social worker, antiques broker, company director, Chair of the Gamete Donation Trust, Honorary Fellow of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, London agent of her family’s meat broking business, devoted wife and daughter, amazing mum and incredible granny.
She also taught us how to cook and how to mend a fuse!
Her six grandchildren adored her not only for the warm and loving person that she was but for many fun and creative things that they did with her.
It’s not surprising there are so many people here today (and also gathering from all across Australia at another event in Melbourne) and we have been overwhelmed by the messages of love from everybody whose lives she touched.
Jeremy and I would particularly like to acknowledge the wonderful support she received in recent years from Mark, her PA and right-hand man who was by her side every step of the journey. Fatima, her wonderful housekeeper who looked after her so beautifully for so many years and the team of amazing carers who showed Mum so much love and devotion: Diana, Thelma, Cyndi, Lucy, Maricel, and Joanna.
Mum… you never really wanted to go ….and perhaps your wish has been granted because none of us will ever forget you.
At the funeral today both Tanya and I spoke about Mum. Tonight I will say a few further words and at the shiva on Sunday, Tanya will speak.
Today at the funeral the sun shone for Mum. Throughout her life she loved sitting in her beautiful garden, surrounded by flowers and trees and sunshine. And that is how we left her today. Mum would have been so pleased that the sun shone so bright.
She totally loved life
In this house today there is another warmth which is even more beautiful, and that is the genuine and deep love for Mum. As I said at the funeral, she touched people’s lives. People who met Mum, never forgot her. She was brave and she was determined. She was positive and she was warm. She was loving and she was always there for us.
Today our wonderful father came to the cemetery. It was his firm wish to say goodbye. He did so with his incredible calm and stoical strength. They celebrated 50 years of marriage in January at his care home, surrounded by their much much loved grandchildren. Theirs was a marriage of true and deep love and partnership.
In the past very difficult days, before Mum slipped into unconsciousness last Friday evening, we were blessed with the opportunity to say so many things to Mum and she responded with hand squeezes and pointing at her heart. She was so determined to keep on living. She totally loved life. She fought her illnesses of motor neurones disease and cancer with determination and bravery. One of my lasting memories of Mum lying in the hospital last week as she fought her final infection, was her punching the air with determination and mouthing that “she would beat it”.
She did everything perfectly
But she lived her life with equal determination. She did everything perfectly. She was a total perfectionist. Her house was a thing of genuine beauty. She was always elegant and ever the Lady in every sense. She planned everything. She left clear instructions to cover ill health, and as ever she covered every eventuality. She directed the colour of the flowers for the funeral. She even said that at her shiva she wanted and I quote: “flowers on the table, best china used and non-kosher fabulous patisseries served”. Mum we have obeyed you to the letter, except that the wonderful Sarah managed to find fabulous kosher patisseries!
Her life was most of all her family and friends. She loved them all – you all – so very much. First and foremost she was eternally bonded to Dad. When she was told that her chemotherapy had failed and she was no longer in remission, in typical ‘mum style’ she sat at her desk and in a week wrote the book of her early life. She dedicated that book with the beautiful words “to my beloved husband Clive who has given me my life”. I asked my father today what he felt and what he wanted to say to Mum, and he simply replied ,“I adored her and I loved her”.
My fantastic sister Tanya and I were so very lucky to have Mum and Dad as our parents. Mum had the most beautiful and genuine friendship with and love for my gorgeous wife Sarah. She adored Victor. And then the grandchildren: Benji, Tammy, Sam, Joe, Nura and Ariella. You lit up her life in every way. You completed her. The holidays we went on with Granny were some of the most beautiful memories our children have.
She thought of everything….. faultlessly and with total love
The care and thought that went into everything Mum did for the children was beyond beautiful. She loved nothing more than to play scrabble with Benji, to go to the ballet with Tammy, to take Sam for a snowboarding lesson or to go with Joe to the opera. She treasured her many amazing and fun outings with Nura and Ariella. She planned meticulously the children’s’ birthday teas. She organised entertainers and magicians. She thought of everything. It wasn’t just that she did all this. She did it faultlessly and with total love. Because she loved all of you 6 wonderful grandchildren so much. And we know how much you loved her.
I also want to thank very publicly those who have helped support Mum over these past years. Who have themselves done so with real love and affection. Mark, her PA was devoted to Mum as she was to him. Fatima, her incredible housekeeper who looked after her so beautifully for over 14 years. The team of really special carers who showed Mum so much genuine love until the very end: Diana, Thelma, Cyndi, Lucy, Maricel, and Joanna. We were blessed to have your support, as Mum was blessed.
She will leave a huge hole in many lives. There are so many of Mum’s friends here tonight. She genuinely loved you and treasured you.
It is very special that our Uncle Jack (represented today at the funeral by his son James) will on Sunday be holding a shiva in Melbourne so that her loving family and many friends on the other side of the world can say good bye. Among those gathered in Australia will be her very much loved cousin Norman and his wonderful wife Carol (represented here today by their daughter Tracey – whose very special husband Rabbi Michael leads today’s prayers – for which we are hugely grateful). Mum had a very special bond with Norman and it was beautiful that he chose, through Tracey to say goodbye with his own words. I know also that Roger, Norman’s son, who spent many special hours with Mum over the past few months, is here in thoughts. At the Australian shiva on Sunday will also be Mum’s wonderful and adored cousins Marjan, Helga and Hetty and her many treasured friends Sylvia, Paul and many many more. Her childhood friend Peter has flown to join us today.
The messages of love and support Tanya, Sarah, Victor and I have received from all our friends (and I include in the word ‘friends’ our Rabbis and Rebbitzens) and the fact that so many of you are here for us as well as for Mum is hugely special and hugely appreciated.
Mum lived a life which was full of bravery. Of positive energy. She loved life. We are blessed to have had her in all our lives.
I would like to share some memories of Mum with you tonight. Jeremy and I were both privileged to have spoken at Mum’s funeral and Jeremy also spoke at the shiva at his house on Thursday night, which Michael led so beautifully.
At Mum’s funeral, the sun shone. She requested that her coffin be strewn with white, pink and purple flowers. We therefore dropped beautiful long-stemmed roses into the ground with her coffin whilst so many gathered with us to say goodbye to such a wonderful and inspirational person.
We spoke at the funeral of how Mum’s courage, bravery, perseverance and determination inspired so many people.
She so loved life and she so wanted to keep on living.
Even the nurses on the specialist ward dealing with terminally ill patients had formed such a strong relationship with Mum, that in Mum’s final weeks, many of them steeled themselves before entering her room, for fear that she would see them crying .
We all know how passionately interested Mum was in other people
But I wanted to tell you tonight a little bit more about some of the other things I’m going to miss about Mum. We were in contact every day – often several times a day – about everything from the little things, to the big questions in life.
I would consult the person I called “The Oracle”, on everything from how long to cook the roast beef for, to big ethical dilemmas. We discussed human nature and she relished seeing all the children’s’ activities and photographs of their sports days, concerts and events. She taught me so much about life, the world, people and how to be a mum.
Mum was a true role model for us: A medical social worker, antiques broker, company director, Chair of the Gamete Donation Trust, Honorary Fellow of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, London agent of her family’s meat broking business, devoted wife and daughter, amazing mum and incredible granny.
She seized every day, filling it full of beauty, music, friends, family, parties, opera and culture
But it’s the little phrases I wanted to share with you today- as Mum was full of clever insights.
She would say to us “When you feel down, do something with your hands, for example, if you’re at a party, get up and pass round the sandwiches”.
Or “If someone is unkind to you, don’t take it personally, it’s often more about what may be going on in their lives than yours”.
We all know how passionately interested Mum was in other people. No matter how difficult her own life became, she would never say “Why me?” Instead, when people were with her, she would always say “Tell me about you”.
Typical Mum was the time when my whole family came down with a nasty virus one half term. Mum arranged for a parcel to be dropped off at our house. Inside there was a beautifully wrapped hairband for each of our girls, with a card typed in her famous purple squirly font, which the girls still have. It read “To my darling Nura and Ariella, to cheer you up after your bad half term! With all my love Granny”
Her thoughtfulness and kindness towards others was incredible and perhaps it’s no wonder that in turn she generated such feelings in response towards her. One of her favourite sayings was a translation from a German phrase “ how you shout into the forest, is how it echoes back at you.*”
Mum’s motto which she shared with Dad about “life being for living” truly encapsulated the way she lived her life.
She seized every day, filling it full of beauty, music, friends, family, parties, opera and culture. When Jeremy and I shared that last intense period with Mum at hospital, we played opera continuously. Indeed, her favourite opera La Traviata was playing when she passed. There was lavender fragrance in her hospital room.
how you shout into the forest, is how it echoes back at you
Mum’s love for Dad was unequalled. We spoke at the funeral of how, when Mum knew that her medical situation had deteriorated, she sat down at the computer and wrote solidly for one week her early life story. The inscription in the book reads “I dedicate this book to my beloved Clive who has given me my life”.
Mum once described love to me as follows “ You will know it’s real love when you want to put that person before yourself”. Indeed, despite the many health challenges Mum faced, first with her motor neurone disease and then her leukaemia, Jeremy and I feel that the hardest thing she ever had to deal with was our father’s advancing dementia. It meant so much that Dad was able to be at her funeral to say his goodbyes and reflect yet again on how much he loved his Judy with whom he shared 50 wonderful years.
On Sunday night over 50 people gathered in Melbourne to remember Mum. It is deeply moving to us that people flew in from across Australia to be there and shortly you will be hearing words from her much loved cousin Norman with whom she had a special bond, together with his wife Carol. We also know how much her cousins Marjan, Helga and Hetty meant to her as well as Roger, Tracey and their families, and friends Sylvia, Paul and Vivian, gathered with her brother Jack to remember Mum.
Mum adored her 6 grandchildren and we know how much each one of them is missing her.
It’s a tribute to Mum how, despite the fact that her voice was so compromised through most of their lives, she developed such an incredible and unique bond with each and every one of her grandchildren. She never treated them as a “job lot”, but rather as unique individuals whom she got to know personally and intimately.
With each one she encouraged what they loved, Benji his love of architecture, Nura her love of reading, Tammy her love of cooking, Sam his love of people, Ariella her love of flowers, and Joe his love of astronomy. Of course they all love lots of other things too!
She arranged so many fun and exciting outings for them, ranging from children’s driving lessons, to sky diving and horse riding. And she came to watch them. She organised parties at her house with old-fashioned games like beat the pot, she took them to the opera and ballet and she gave them creative presents and thoughtfully made cards for each child.
We know each one of you, her grandchildren, will remember Granny with happiness and good memories, just as she wanted you to. Hopefully some of the wonderful ways in which she lived her life will inspire you in your own lives.
Mum had a special bond with Sarah and spent many happy times with Jeremy and Sarah and their families in their home and elsewhere. She loved Victor and loved how much he adores our girls and we all enjoyed so many wonderful family holidays to exotic and far-flung flung destinations with her and Dad, which Mum always made exciting and different.
she specified that at her shiva she would like flowers on the table, fine china to be used and exquisite patisseries to be served
Finally, I would just like to acknowledge the wonderful support Mum received in recent years from Mark, her PA and right-hand man who was by her side every step of the journey. Fatima, her wonderful housekeeper who looked after her so beautifully for so many years and the team of amazing carers who showed Mum so much love and devotion: the incredible Diana, Thelma, Cyndi, Lucy, Maricel, and Joanna.
Victor, thank you for being my rock and by my side throughout. I so appreciate it.
Sarah, thank you for being so incredible.
Jeremy, my wonderful brother with whom I have shared not only such a happy childhood but such a close bond as our parents’ age and illness increased. I couldn’t have managed without you Jem.
Tonight we hope to pay tribute to Mum the way she wanted. In her inimitable style in her written letter of wishes to Jeremy and I, she specified that at her shiva she would like flowers on the table, fine china to be used and exquisite patisseries to be served! With this in mind, I contacted her favourite company who helped her to plan many of her parties and we chose some of mum’s favourite nibbles for you to enjoy with your tea afterwards. Please don’t feel bad but please do stay and have some tea and share your memories of Mum.
We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for Mum from so many people. Thank you. It’s comforting to know that Mum touched so many lives.
I am proud to be her daughter.
*Hesped Team: Wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so shallt es heraus. This saying reflects the idea that “what goes around, comes around.”