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19th April 1980 was a pretty good day for a wedding, if a little warm to be wearing a suit. Humid too … later that evening the thunderstorm would flood the streets, drive the reception indoors and thoroughly drench the singing telegram guy.

That’s my bride Cheryl (wedding gown glowingly over-exposed!) in the middle, flanked by Ruth and Lee. They were already her best friends, and have been ever since.

We had a holiday to Perth and Margaret River in March: Ruth and her husband Nigel, Lee, Cheryl and myself. I’m glad we did … a week or so after we got back Ruth was diagnosed with very aggressive lung cancer, and she died on 23 June.

For Ruth, the kitchen was the heart of the home, and love was measured out in meals. For some of us, Ruth was the heart of the family; and for all her friends she was a bright thread in the tapestry of our lives. She had an almost infinite capacity for acceptance, and could find something to love in anybody (even a reprobate like me!). “Family” was a very wide perimeter for Ruth, and once accepted, she would keep you in the circle. Special occasions like birthdays and Christmas just got bigger – sit down dinner for 60-70 family on Christmas Eve (with 20 or so left over for breakfast!) was commonplace. Up-front and larger-than-life, she leaves an enormous hole in our lives.

Lee was a different person – not as boisterous, but just as much fun (especially around a good bottle of red). Lee was passionate and beautiful, and had been successfully fighting cancer for a few years. Unfortunately, in an immuno-suppressed condition, she fell victim to an infection, and died on 21 July – four weeks after Ruth.

Both Ruth and Lee left behind families and friends who are devastated, not least because there was a considerable overlap in the two circles – Ruth and Lee were friends, and had many friends in common, and for those of us in the overlap it was hard work backing up to a second friend’s funeral so soon after the first. For Cheryl it is particularly difficult – these two were her closest confidantes and collaborators, and she will miss them terribly.

So forgive my indulgence, but I needed to salute absent friends, and wish happier times for those they left. Normal transmission will resume soon.