It is Anne Elliot’s funeral on Monday morning at Middlemarch Community Hall.
The energising, intellectual and thoughtful Anne, and her community minded salt-of-the-earth husband Bales Elliot, have been my good friends and associates since Stop The Stadium committee days. Anne was one of the troopers, someone who wrote to the Otago Daily Times protesting the stadium build, and commenting at What if? Dunedin with gravitas.
It has been a ‘country treat’, over recent years, to turn up in the company of friends to Larchgrove Farm – to enjoy the friendship and hospitality of Anne, Bales and son Scott at their historic farmstead. Joining their wider friendship circle in chatter, laughs and broad conversation – with sumptuous farm catering supported by foodie ‘bring a plates’ – to co-celebrate family occasions and milestones. The country life.
Anne hails from Denmark. She grew up in a town nearly 100 km from Copenhagen. A blessed area of the world which seemed to deeply inflect her love of design, exactnesses, and particularity of choice in most aspects of life and enquiry.
Bales and Anne travelled extensively overseas together. Their horizons at all times broad and robust. More recently Anne was happy to chance travel through remote parts to reach family and friends in Scandinavia, by strategic pathmaking and self monitoring.
I deeply admired Anne’s ability to challenge herself in the attempt to stay ahead of medical issues as they presented. She grilled health practitioners. She trawled the net sagely. Although, when last I saw Anne at Otago Hospice and told her she looked remarkably bright (she was), she said she felt better for taking her medications! (Ah-ha, I thought). She enjoyed her short stays for respite care at the Hospice, typically texting a couple of days before her arrival in Dunedin to invite me along for “one of our long chats”. Shortness of breath meant we carefully paced wide-ranging discussion with small snacks and the odd glass of Church Road, one of Anne’s favourite drinkables.
I really loved Anne’s bravery and determination. These qualities, of course, were present in abundance from the time she and I first met – way before oxygen became short. I liked how she made everyone welcome; she was discerning when people acted stupidly and unfairly. Anne was analytical, busy/razor minded, forward thinking, entrepreneurial, and a follower and buyer of latest things ‘Apple’. She was always well turned out. Poised. An in-joke between us, she often lamented she wasn’t learned in budgeting or finance, or didn’t quite know committee business procedure. She would rack my brains! Anne knew to involve fellow conspirators. I’ve been useful here and there when Anne was pushing achievements for her district – or lacked immediate connection with experts of various kinds locally and nationally.
Anne was ‘antistadium’. But more so, she was a kind-hearted, infectious, observant woman and gifted scholar. After all, god loves a plotter and a schemer! A bee in the bonnet…
Tomorrow morning I meet with Anne’s family and friends to say goodbye at Middlemarch in this chilly late part of autumn. 1100 hours.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr