Today we celebrated the life of my mother-in-law, Mary, who almost made it to 101 and sadly passed away last Friday. There were tears of loss but also joy as we heard stories shared of a life well lived. A wonderful reminder to do everything that brings you joy and that life is one big adventure with no limits.

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” was her song of choice, and it immediately lifted our energy, a fitting tribute to a woman who spent her life nurturing others. Mary was in her early 70s when I was first introduced, a retired teacher who was very active in her community, I was always greeted with a smile and shared a love of craft, food and flowers. A strong matriarch of the Galea clan who always had a positive attitude and a cheeky sense of humour.

It was lovely to learn new stories of her time as a nurse in Charring Cross station, 1940. At 18 years old, she used leeches to heal, and stories were shared of her nervously administering the first doses of penicillin! They worked 12 hr shifts, 6 days a week helping those injured in the war!

This poem is Fred and Mary’s meeting poem written in 1943. AI Art created in #AdobePhotoshop #AdobeExpress

Mary travelled the world with her husband, Fred. On their honeymoon, they rode bikes around Switzerland, conquering the Alps with 4 children while most Brits holidayed in Bournemouth. They explored so many countries before settling in Hope, NZ—a place I imagine Mary felt was the perfect name for new beginnings.

From nurse to primary school teacher she became headmistress at multiple schools. Her students never forgotten, sending handmade cards with messages beautifully scripted, to us and her former students until she could no longer write a few years ago.

A life in full bloom, or a Bloomin’ full life!

The choice is yours

I knew she created beautiful gardens, always growing flowers and delicious fruits. She never said no to a picnic, and always had her cakes and biscuits to share. I hadn’t realised that she sold her flowers and foliage to local florist to top up her teaching wage and pay for the ‘little extras’ she gifted to so many.

I also learned how she nurtured people, starting multiple clubs and building communities. In the 1950s, she founded a ‘young wives’ club that lasted several decades in her small English village.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting her first home in the UK, and it’s still like going back in time. I’m a London girl originally, and it was worlds apart from my family’s origins in Covent Garden – It’s a proper English countryside! They grew Christmas trees and sold honey for their summer holidays; to help your imagination it’s only 9 minutes from the famous Hertford House in Downton Abbey.

I laughed at her 7 attempts at getting a driver’s license in the 1960s, but eventually she made it and she drove until she was 91! Hearing about her adventures was a gift.

Make Moments Matter

Mary’s life reminded me that change is the only constant we have. Just as she thrived through the many transitions of the last century, we can also thrive in the unknown ahead. When you focus on nurturing everything around you, life blooms like Mary’s beautiful gardens; stepping up to lead and care for others is a life strategy that leads to success.

Rest in Peace, Mary. You will never be forgotten.