Memorial Service in the Japanese Garden

Memorial Service for Hilda Martin

The Coffs Harbour Regional Botanic Garden

A magpie sat on the bench at the very back of the pagoda of the Japanese Garden. It moved its head from side to side as the family placed their mother’s box of ashes on the table. Two colourful and beautifully crafted bouquets sat at either side of the tablecloth bookending her stories: the photograph of a young girl, a teddy bear and a candle from the Cancer Council and a pastel coloured rug.

The duck pond, its waters dark and calm, edged with reeds and lily pads, and home to two ducks and the characteristic red bridge was a beautiful backdrop. The clouds circled around. Soft rain drifted in and out throughout the ceremony. Each time it rained large ripples on the surface of the pond reached out to touch the other circles, like the stories and tears that were being shared. Each story impacting other friends and family at the ceremony.

The youngest brother came forward and said he hadn’t known where to start when writing a tribute for his mum. He had googled and searched for ideas and yet they all seemed hollow to him. So, he had taken some notes and shared from his heart. He spoke slowly and clearly. He talked about her love of her four boys, her hardworking and passionate love to protect and raise a family with good morals and respect. He said his mum was still with him in his brothers. He saw her when his older brother was being stubborn, another brother when he was being angry, another brother when he wouldn’t communicate and in himself, when he was being unsure and wanted to be on his own. These were all traits of his mum. He loved his mum and his tribute was deeply moving.

The two daughter in laws shared reading her eulogy and there were more tributes written by her other two sons and a poem read by two of her granddaughters.

At the end of the ceremony they played Ed Sheehan’s song, Supermarket Flowers. A poignant song speaking to the love of a mum. The tears flowed as everyone looked out over the small lake with the rain drops reaching out.


I hope that I see the world as you did ’cause I know

A life with love is a life that’s been lived.


I’ll sing Hallelujah.

You were an angel in the shape of my mum

When I fell down you’d be there holding me up

Spread your wings as you go

When God takes you back

He’ll say, Hallelujah, you’re home.

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