Bennendine Woods

My first memory of Heather is from the perspective of a two year old. I toddled out to the washing line in Fraser to grab the legs of the tall skinny lady with long blonde hair, thinking it was mum. Instead I discovered ANOTHER hippy girl with the same smile but more than a little bit of mischief in her eyes.

From then on Heather (never "Auntie Heather") was a fixture, one day bringing over a happy faced man with the same mischevieous look, who very soon became part of the family, and always answered the phone with "Hi, how's your body?"

I never knew from one month to the next when we'd see them, as they were off having madcap adventures and sending brightly coloured presents from their travels. I particularly remember Heather bringing us Happy coats, in red, yellow and blue, we wore them till they fell apart.

For a while in Darwin Heather became the babysitter for five kids under 10, but it didn't seem to be a scary concept for her. I'm not sure who had the most fun! The small unit in Nightcliff was just big enough to completely dismantle, I remember making cubby houses all through the wardrobe and one day finding a special "one finger neck massager" which for some reason made mum laugh hysterically when she came to pick us up. It wasn't for another decade that I figured that one out!

Visits to Adelaide were always little adventures, from discovering the spa bath with a view to piggybacking a tiny Dylan around the zoo to dicussing the best ways to get temporary tattoos and hair colour to freak out parents on returning home. Along the way I learned that just because you are responsible adult with a job and family you never have to let go of the ability to see the world in all it's silliness and glory, and I thank both Heather and Roy from the bottom of my heart for that lesson.

Though distance and study and work meant I saw Heather less over the years it never made it difficult to communicate, a chat after 10 months apart was the same as one after 10 hours apart, she could always make anyone comfortable- unless of course she'd decided not to! Being dubbed an honorary "little bit(ch)" was a proud moment for me! And the pranks- dare we mention the mysterious bottle of vodka? The last time I saw her we spent several hours over coffee in Fortitude Valley, home to hippies, punks and backpackers, and people who just wanted to be themselves. Heather fitted right in, always supremely comfortable to be herself, as hard as possible.

I will miss having a phd bitching buddy, a loving aunt, a cheeky pixie and a globetrotting woman of adventure to tell her stories and play her pranks, to show me true love in her partnership with Roy and her mothering of Dylan and Serena, but will wrap up in memories like a brightly coloured happy coat from childhood and know she's just gone exploring a little way ahead.

I love you Heather, thankyou for being you