After two years that seemed to fly by like two weeks, I lost my Mother to what we originally suspected was Lymphatic Cancer aka Lymphoma. However after many months waiting on autopsy results, it was revealed she died of an adenocarcinoma. This is the most common type of cancer and is normally described in a simpler fashion, for example, breast cancer, bowel cancer etc. Trust her to give me a brain teaser on her way out the door!
What was deceptive about her condition, was that she died of an unknown primary. Meaning, the original tumour was never found. Fortunately, the cancer did not spread to her brain as she was very much in control of her own death. So from that point of view, it can be referred to as a good death.
My Mum was, and still is, the reason for my success and for the choice I made to pursue a career in music. She was also instrumental in allowing me to form my own opinions about how I want to live my life. But let’s not sugar coat it. She was way out of her depth at times and made some far from enlightened choices.
Mum was a teacher, artist, writer, musician and more importantly, a person of integrity and spirituality. She was simply world class as a pianist, but very happy to be unknown. She saw the erroneous nature of many things, but never dwelt on them, preferring to live life on her terms.
She created her own reality, aside from the one society attempts to sell us, which made her an invaluable mentor. She gave me a fantastic grounding in the arts, rather than a distilled, watered down “McDonalds” education, that sadly appears to focus more on those running the curriculum and the success of the school, rather than individual qualities.
My Mother is one of the main reasons for my decision to record and release two classical piano albums, with a third in production. For such a vast repertoire, she left the world, having made only a handful of recordings. With newer technology, it afforded me the wonderful opportunity to document my piano performances.
Through great literature and our shared love of music, came a large part of the inspiration to become a teacher. Aside from theoretical aspects, she demonstrated in considerable depth, how to love each person for who they are and see their unique qualities.
Aside from her brilliant musicianship, she enjoyed painting, beginning with the brush in 1995, studying with well known local artist, Bob Booth. Her acrylic paintings, all originals, are for sale, so please take a look (when they are posted) and register your interest through the address provided. They are authentically signed with some already hanging in various Perth council chambers and others residing in family homes around the state of Western Australia.
My Mother was relatively under appreciated commensurate with her musical gifts. She never wanted or looked for praise, preferring to live up to her own set of high standards. She was highly intelligent, well read, elegant and idealistic to a fault. Often, she would see the good in people to the point of being childlike. She rarely uttered a word in anger and hardly cursed or swore, although I vividly recall a time when she did. It was the day I sat in amazement, watching her play Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.3 from beginning to end, free of error, without any preparation or practice. “Why don’t you want to be a concert pianist,” I exclaimed! She simply paused, smiled uneasily and said, “I don’t like the bullshit.” Who does right?
She was contracted regularly as a broadcaster with the ABC to present piano works live around Australia, won the local concerto competition twice and performed piano recitals in all corners of Western Australia. As an english, maths and history teacher, she was employed at just about every school around the Perth metro area. And just for fun, she was an accomplished singer, composer, organist and violinist.
Her funeral was attended by a large amount of her former students. It was a beautiful day. She intimated to me a year before she passed, that she always wanted to pass on to me the gifts she had been given. She overwhelmingly succeeded. My teaching and love for education is a living tribute to generations of our family. Their connection to all genres of music dates back further than my Great Grandfathers, Charles John Rooney and Edgar Sanders. Uncles, Syd and Jack played in both the Melbourne and West Australian symphony orchestra as teenagers. In the studio, hang various awards and antiques from the past, acquired throughout the last century. Music has been the lifeblood of our family.