Memorial Service for Yvonne on 4 November 2011.
Yvonne’s heart failed suddenly last Saturday. At 29, she shocked us with her early departure, just as she surprised us with her early arrival back in 1982.
In life, Yvonne had more than her fair share of challenges. From birth she was diagnosed with a narrowing of the aorta of her heart, which was surgically corrected when she was five.
She was of a short stature and had a youthful appearance that led her to be treated as younger than she really was. This had often caused her distress, even though we told her we would prefer to be in her position. She was highly introverted and had no patience for social niceties.
Nevertheless Yvonne went on to do well in primary and high schools. At school and university, she showed her mathematical inclinations: she was able to whiz through complex calculations when others slaved on them; understandably, she went on to major in Statistics.
Yvonne did not have high aspirations; she just wanted to be like everybody else. She had difficulties impressing job interviewers, but in the few jobs she had, she enjoyed - especially the one-year stint in Singapore in 2006.
Despite the rejections, Yvonne harboured few fears. She did not shy away from many activities that others perceived as risky or unsafe, such as riding on the Sydney public transport at night or walking around Harlem on her own. She had taken part in activities that many would avoid, like riding on a hot air balloon in the Grand Canyon and hanging on a paraglider in New Zealand.
Her pet city was New York, and when we showed little interest in taking her, she made the first trip all by herself some years ago. She sought to live her life to the fullest in her own quiet way.
Yvonne detested comments about her still living at home at 29, implying that she was a dependent, somewhat like a child. In reality, Yvonne had for years been fiercely pursuing an independent life, within a cooperative household. She insisted on preparing and having her meals separate from us and only joined us on our invitation for conversations. She performed her own household chores like washing and caring for her cat Gilly. And, although she led a quiet social life, she went out periodically on her own without telling us where she went.
Earlier, she was frustrated when she failed to pass her driving tests after several attempts. When she failed again for driving too slowly, she angrily refused to sit for further tests. Two years ago she relented and passed at the first new attempt. She had been enjoying the freedom of a small car since.
Yvonne died while listening to music, one of her passions. She played the piano as well as a range of special recorders. She enjoyed a wide range of music types and her audio CD collection could make a library proud.
She enjoyed travels and over the past two decades, she had visited many places in Asia, Europe and North America, sometimes on her own. While travelling, she exhausted her companions by packing in as many activities, events and sights as possible. It was as though she knew her time was limited. In retrospect, that might be why she never bothered to shut cupboard doors.
She had a passion for food too, ranging from her own creations in the kitchen to good restaurants in town. In the past year, she found the discipline to enjoy food in moderation. She altered her lifestyle and dramatically trimmed back her weight to no more than that of the average person. She gained much fitness through diligent participation at Jazzercise and long walks.
Music, travel and food were Yvonne’s passions and she was engaged in all of them during the last three weeks of her life. She had also just completed her Master of Applied Finance degree for which she scored either distinction or high distinction in every single subject and earned mention in the Dean’s Merit List.
She was looking forward to her graduation in December.
We could truly say the past three weeks was a high point in her life.
It seemed to us that God had intended to lend Yvonne to us for less than thirty years, and had taken her back after giving her one last treat.
We miss you Yvonne.