|Mum dressed up as she was want to do for some family occasion. |
She always had a way of making things fun and special.
Valerie was an extremely benevolent person and had a great passion to help people in whatever way she could. Growing up I remember my sister and I giving up our beds on more than one occasion to accommodate a poor homeless person, or a battered wife, or an abandoned child, or some other poor soul that was down at heel so they could have a home cooked meal and a bed for the night. However, this act of kindness was not always met with the usual thankfulness.
I remember once a very large man who was having trouble finding somewhere to stay came for the night and left again in the early hours of the morning with quite a few of our valuables in tow. Mum just took things like that in her stride. She wasn’t someone who was attached to her possessions and was always glad to give something away if it helped someone else.
With a love for music, Valerie taught herself to play the piano, as her mother would not allow her to have lessons. She became very accomplished at playing by ear. She was a real larrikin and loved to act and sing and dance and play the piano or the squeeze box.
When I was a child, many a night was spent sitting around in the lounge room singing together with Dad on his harmonica and Mum on the piano. For many years she led a Choir of ladies who would present concerts at Senior Citizen Centres and Nursing Homes. My sister and I were usually scripted into these performances. We didn’t mind at all as it often meant a day off school.
Mum loved to talk, as any one in my family can attest to. No matter what the occasion, Mum would always hold court somewhere in the room. I’m sure that whoever coined the phrase ‘talk the leg off an iron pot’ had Mum in mind when they said it.
But the thing is, she was really interesting to listen to and never ceased to amaze me with the topics she was versed in. Hence, she was a sought after Public Speaker.
|Mum mucking around whilst having her picture taken before|
heading out to a Public Speaking Engagement
Mum loved to read, three and four books at a time, on any topic so she had varying degrees of information and knowledge on just about any topic you could imagine.
Mind you, sometimes you just wanted her to stop talking. I remember times when she would ring me at home and launch into a long conversation about something or other. I could actually put the phone down, go and check on the dinner, see what the kids were doing and have a glass of water before heading back to pick up the phone and Mum would never miss a beat, not even realising I’d put the phone down.
I could regale you for hours with stories about Valerie and the many things she was involved in. Suffice it to say, she had an extremely interesting life. We were all very proud of her and her death through Bone Cancer in 2001 left a huge hole in our lives, but she left an amazing legacy and example for her children and grandchildren.
This Blog is, in part, a dedication to Valerie as well as a history for the family, those who knew her and anyone who is interested in the many things that made up the life of Valerie Hazel Torning. Keep your eyes open in ‘Valerie’s Gallery’ for some of Valerie’s poems, stories, anecdotes and other writings as well as more of the interesting endeavours in the life and times of Valerie Torning.