Rocky mum given special farewell thanks to good Samaritan
FLOATING between Kemp Beach and Bluff Rock last Saturday, Jenny Dunham's family said one last goodbye to the woman who had been a mother to everyone she met.
It was the Rockhampton woman's final wish, for her ashes to be spread off the beach she loved and visited often.
As the family sprinkled her ashes and rose petals into the calm water on the "perfect day", they felt incredibly close to her.
"You can feel her around you, especially in moments like that," her daughter Allira said.
Jenny was a prankster, loving, fun-loving and a beautiful soul, who cared for everybody and was the person to go to for advice, support and a hug.
She worked at Cranston's Pies - her favourite pies - from 1976-1977 and was a stewardess for Rockhampton Railway from 1977-81.
It was at the railway station where she met the love of her life, construction worker Lindsay, who she would spend the next 41 years of her life with.
"She was a mum to everyone," Allira said.
"She didn't want anyone to worry about her. Her spirits were high."
A couple of months ago, Allira reached out on the Facebook page Yeppoon Families, seeking a charter business to take the family out to scatter Jenny's ashes.
A few businesses reached out, some with expensive prices.
But for the family, there would be no expense spared in giving Jenny the send-off she deserved.
However, it was when Yeppoon charter business, In Ya Dreams Charters, reached out to the family, that the spirit of giving touched them.
"Digger's (owner of In Ya Dreams) wife Merilyn messaged her and said they'd love to do it for a minimum cost. All they asked for was fuel money which would cost $150," Allira said.
When the family insisted on paying more, the good-hearted Samaritan insisted.
"He said 'no, I want to do this out of the goodness of my heart'," Allira said.
"Dad broke down. It was an amazing thing to do. Dad gave him more. He was such a nice bloke.
"He always kept in contact (leading up to the day) about the weather and which day would suit. He wanted to make it perfect.
"It blew my mind how people can come together in such tragic circumstances to help people they don't know.
"Mum paid it forward, and Digger paid it forward."
Determined to not make it a sad day, but a celebration of Jenny's life and a memory for her grandchildren, the family spent the day together at Keppel Island, cruising the islands, with her favourite songs - including a few of Alan Jackson's hits - playing.
"My sister said a beautiful poem as we scattered the rose petals," Allira said.
"(A few days later) she went to Kemp Beach and the rose petals were there on the beach."
The family still has hard days, but the loss of their beloved matriarch has brought them closer than ever.
Jenny fell ill in January, due to complications with diabetes, and spent seven and a half weeks in hospital.
She was told she would need her leg amputated due to infection, but the next day doctors refused, saying due to emphysema she would not survive the operation.
She was given days, maybe weeks, to live. Her family was devastated.
However, Allira decided to make the last moments count, and reached out to family and friends to hold a wake for her mother while she was still alive.
With the help of the hospital's nursing staff, crowds of loved ones poured into the hospital's medical ward lounge.
"People travelled from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Emerald, Mackay. I had to stop people coming because there wasn't enough room," Allira said.
"It was getting to say goodbye. I think that's why she didn't pass so soon. She finally felt at peace and had said goodbye."
Nearly 50 people fit into the room around Jenny's bed, with more pouring out into the corridor. The overwhelming impact Jenny had on peoples' lives was clear.
"Mum asked everybody to write down a memory of her with them and we buried mum with them," Allira said.
During her final days, local singer Amanda Sealey came to the hospital to sing Jenny's favourite song 'Remember When' by Alan Jackson to her and her loved ones.
"Mum was her biggest fan," Allira said.
On March 27, on her granddaughter Jazmin's 14th birthday, Jenny passed away, surrounded by her children and husband, and having said her last goodbyes to her grandbabies.
"She was very close to my daughter," Allira said.
Although Jenny didn't want to pass on her beloved granddaughter's birthday, Allira reminded her of the significance of their bond.
"I said 'you're her guardian angel, you need to look after her'," she said.
At 2pm, Jenny mumbled the words 'I love you' and at 3.37pm, she passed.
Jenny's funeral was held on her favourite day of the year - April Fool's Day.
"She was a prankster. Every year she had something up her sleeve," Allira said.
"She put flour on top of the fan and told Dad to walk in, she put Vegemite under my door handle, she put a For Sale sign on my car, cling wrap on the toilet seat, and she told us there was a polar bear in the Fitzroy River."
Jenny's final surprise was a poem left in her barbecue that her family found after her wake.
The poem was written from the point of view of someone having lost someone they loved.
For the family, it was a healing.
She was still there. She was still taking care of them.
The family would like to thank Rockhampton Base Hospital for taking such good care of Jenny during her final days.