Jenny’s life exudes grace, courage, elegance:

Best friend Jenny turns 70 today and threw  her own elegant afternoon tea for 70 guests at her home yesterday.  Jenny has always loved beautiful things and her home was so pretty and colourful with floral decorations that I thought I would share them with you as a wonderful statement of style.  Despite the bitter cold and light drizzle, large heaters warmed the patio here we were served champagne and delicious finger savouries which would rival a Royal garden party. Jenny and her daughter,
Elizabeth made them all – Thai chicken rolls, goat  curd and pesto pastries, crab and asparagus vol-au-vents, blinis with  smoked salmon and cream cheese, and gourmet sandwiches.

“I wanted an elegant afternoon with my  family and friends,’’ Jenny told us and we all would agreed she certainly delivered a delightful day. After speeches and the birthday toast, we all lined up for tea, coffee and plates of lovely cakes – pink cream lamingtons, jelly cakes, petite patty cakes and cupcakes finished with swirls of chocolate icing. There were long plates of her signature dish – small French pastries filled with lemon curd.

Her life-long friendship has been a warm, nurturing relationship rock throughout  my sometimes turbulent life and we have shared disappointments, traumas and tragedies as well as many, many happy hours together.

It occurred to me that our  lives have run full circle from very young women with  small daughters to older women, and we have been there for each other along our respective pathways. Through children’s weddings, illness, moving house, my divorce and the deaths of loved ones.

We met the day her daughter Elizabeth, aged two and a half, wandered across the road to play with my own young daughters
and curled up in the porch and fell asleep when we weren’t at home.  When I returned Jenny, she invited me to join her for afternoon tea. That was 40 years ago at a low point of my life and her kindness has never waned.

And here we are celebrating another glorious afternoon tea on the cusp of older age.

Jenny has suffered huge losses in her life and some extraordinary blessings.  Her only son was gravely injured in a road accident and spent three years in Julia Farr Centre in a comatose state. She visited him every day until he died in his early 30’s.   Three months later, her beloved husband, died suddenly in Queensland while they were on holiday.  I wrote both eulogies and delivered them.  She mourned for a very long time.

But there was work to be done because her entrepreneurial husband had a successful business, having recycled disused
buildings at the Julia Farr Centre into student accommodation. Overnight, Jenny, who had been a home-maker, became a businesswoman, bravely taking over the business which she ran for almost a decade until the buildings, leased from the
Julia Farr Centre, were sold by the organisation. For all that time, she was “mother’’ to hundreds of mainly Asian students, although students from 27 countries stayed there.

So Jenny lost her  business and it  saddened her immensely. But she turned her attention to a community life, volunteering for Meals on Wheels each Thursday morning and becoming treasurer for Walkerville Probus club. She became a world traveller
and went to China with an Asian business women’s organisation.

However, Jenny’s great love has been always her gracious home, which her husband had built for her, and since his death,
her beautiful courtyard garden. Her life’s raison d’etre has always been wife, mother and home-maker and her home always been immaculate. Wherever she goes, Jenny is always immaculately dressed reflecting sublime taste in accessories.  She sews
and loves reading romance novels. She is a superb hostess with her L’art de la table matched only by the quality and presentation of her foods.

Life has slowed a little since she developed thyroid cancer two years ago and her great love of travel has been curtailed. She has made a full recovery from cancer, but  has residual breathlessness, which she finds debilitating.

I could write a book about my quiet, reserved, gracious friend, but for now I want to say “Happy 70th birthday Jenny, and many happy, healthy returns’’.








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