NOOSA - Ingrid’s mum Libby died early this afternoon.
Libby was 94, a venerable age, and had been in pretty good health until a fall, two broken vertebrae and great pain compromised that about three weeks ago.
She was born in Prague in 1925, where her parents owned restaurants and lived a reasonably comfortable life until the Communists took over Czechoslovakia after World War II.
Her marriage to Henry, 20 years her senior, was arranged and Libby pulled some smart tricks to escape the Czech bureaucracy and flee to Tasmania to marry him.
Henry himself, being half Jewish, had an ugly war. His father and that side of the family were interned by the Germans to disappear forever. We know that his father was murdered in Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Henry ended up in a labour ‘camp’.
After the war, Henry, a mathematics professor, found himself proscribed by the Czechs because of his German heritage (he'd been born in Prague of German parents). For several years unable to find work in his field of expertise, he finally found a post with the University of Tasmania and left his Czechoslovak homeland forever.
Libby joined Henry in Hobart, where they wed in 1949, Ingrid being born three years later.
When Henry was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Alberta, Libby and the family moved to Canada. She came back to Australia to be near Ingrid after Henry died.
Libby was a strong and determined woman who thought little of those Czechs who caved in to Nazism and Communism; so little that she never deigned to return to the land of her birth.
I always got on well with Libby and we particularly enjoyed this time of year when I would ceremonially present her with an art diary for the year to come which she would meticulously notate almost on the spot.
The 2020 diary sits on my desk now. Never presented.
We will miss Libby, the last of her generation in our family. Ingrid will miss their conversations in Czech and Ben will miss the regular grandmother-grandson lunches.
And I’ll miss this straight talking matriarch who appreciated life’s good things, who was always grateful for the little things and who had shown her mettle as a 24 year old by escaping tyranny to find a better life for herself and the family she would build.
So at this moment we grieve for Libby, who lived a good life and a full one.