On behalf of Julie Hart’s family I’d like to thank the people from your club who attended her memorial on Friday 21 June, who spoke on her behalf and who were her constant support during these last years. She valued your community very highly and after meeting many of you I understand why. I will attach the eulogy I gave at that gathering.
Many thanks for your long support of her. She had many happy times at your club.
Margaret (Hart) Hilly
Julie Christine Hart
I’m going to tell you a story about Julie. Of course it’s not the story. I don’t think anyone could do that – not only because everyone has their own version but because Julie is an enigma – (baffling perplexing, indecipherable so the definition goes). My story comes from knowing Julie in fragments. From her arrival – the beautiful baby sister with a film star’s name – not a saint’s – through childhood and again for these last five years. The main part of her story I’ve heard second hand from her, other people and through chance encounters during the busy time or our lives. She is our memory and in losing her we lose part of ourselves.
I think of her story in terms of themes of spontaneity, compassion, recklessness and strength.
She was born in 1955 – the fifth of seven children. A middle child, a middle girl in the middle of the little kids – someone easily overlooked you might think. But everyone remembered Julie. The rest of us merged into a mass of sameness. She shone as different:
Vibrant, beautiful, charismatic, artistic, musical. But she was frustrating
She was unconstrained by other’s expectations. She attended St Mary’s primary school in Crookwell and OLMC in Goulburn as a boarder. The nuns despaired when Julie refused to conform to their sombre routines and in the year that our father died, when she was 14 she and the nuns parted company. In the more liberated environment of Crookwell High School she shone and in her final year was school captain.
After school Julie studied nursing in Sydney but again, while she loved the patients, the regimentation of training didn’t suit her. She spent the next few years living on the edge, exploring the freedoms that the 1970s offered, trying new cities, jobs and making new friends.
In the early eighties she married Russel Smith – the love of her life – a surfie and a chief. He gave her the life she wanted. Together they travelled Australia on a huge surfing safari – running restaurants in Western Australia, Victoria and at Caloundra Racecourse. They had an entourage of young surfies in tow and Julie revelled in looking after them and sorting out their problems.
They always had an open house and during this period her other great love, Jana aged 2, , came into her life. Julie was a mother to Jana and later helped Jana raise her daughter Codie – A story that’s Jana’s to tell.
Julie’s strength, compassion and resilience knew no bounds when Russel was injured in a car accident while they were working in Margaret River. Although Russel had a severe head injury with little speech or mobility Julie refused to see a different person from the one she’d married. Recently while I was pushing her wheelchair she told me how happy she was with Russel: how they laughed, how she piled Codie on top of him and pushed them both around. She bought Russel back from Margaret River: buying a house at Glenville on the internet; having Russel forklifted onto the plane to get him home. She was his sole carer for 8 years and was devastated when he died.
She studied counselling and worked in a voluntary capacity until her health started to deteriorate – although as everyone here knows she never ceased being a councillor at every opportunity.
Julie was obsessed with her project of Heart for Hope, endlessly crocheting poppies, canvassing for donations, determined that she could make a difference: that she could raise funds for cancer research. She confronted her own death with enormous strength. She was thankful for the life she had and showed us all how to die well.
Right to the end of her life Julie recklessly pursued her independence: doing laps of the carpark to keep her legs working; pushing her wheelchair to the shops for cigarettes even two weeks ago. She insisted on decorating her room like a gypsy cave with scalfs, paintings, mirrors – her musical instruments, electronic devices and every piece of furniture she could jam in. It was a tripping hazards that eventually resulted in a broken hip but also a move to a room with a balcony. She smoked in a non-smoking establishment and she died as she planned – without mourners wondering how long it would take – by herself with a cigarette in her hand.
It’s not what people do that defines them but who they are.
Julie is the noise of: laughter, music, a barrage of words; a flicking rubber band; a rattle of bracelets.
She is the movement of: knitting, painting, bowling, walking laps of the suburb or car park.
She is the smell of: sea salt, cigarettes, garlic and onions.
Julie is beauty: blue-black hair; layers of textures and colours, sparkling bling.
She is emotion: exasperation, admiration, love, tenderness, astonishment.
In her own words she is gravel in ice cream – an enigma you can never define. Only continue to love.