One of BGS’s beloved mums, Rose Voutsas-Mennie, passed away as a result of cancer on 1 November 2017, aged 49. Her two sons, Nicholas Mennie (Year 12) and Stephen Mennie (OB 2014) pay tribute.
I am very fortunate to have had the privilege of spending so much time with my mum. She always spoke to me about my capacity to achieve and do good in this world.
Mum always had a plan, not only for herself, but for each and every one of us. To use her words, she was “rude yet truthful” – whether it was telling me to get off my phone or asking me to help with the dishes.
This ability to be organised and, at times, brutally honest, really made Mum unique. No matter who you are or how you know Rose, she displayed her genuine self to each of us, and I think that’s pretty special.
I want Mum’s legacy and values to live on through our actions and decisions, to guide us in our everyday lives.
No doubt we each have our own ‘biased’ view of Mum, so we asked 22 friends, work colleagues and family to submit six words to best represent Mum – and this is what we found (see heart image). The bigger the word appears, the more responses that trait received in our ‘survey’.
These values display so much more than just who Mum was to us; they travel to the core of what Mum always wanted – to make this world a better place for everyone. I guess that’s why she loved teaching so much – it gave her the opportunity to enrich the next generation with her values and ideas. These words no longer just represent who we knew Rose to be, but instead symbolise what each and every one of us can take away from her life and her experiences. She will forever continue to make us better than we could ever believe.
I would like to share with you the first two characteristics that come to my mind when I think of Mum.
Mum is the strongest person I have ever known. Dealing with me (including my critical evaluation of her cooking during the infamous Master-Chef phase, and my ongoing desire to expose her as ticklish – she never cracked, despite my attempts over 20 years!), as well as Nicholas, is on its own a remarkable feat. But Mum, your battle with cancer makes us look like angels to deal with. This exposed the strongest side to a human being that I have ever encountered. Nothing could crush Mum’s spirit. Even when the doctors told us she was nearing the end, she was not afraid of what was to come. She embraced the end with her head held high, and left us so valiantly. Mum, cancer may have beaten your body, but it never, ever beat your spirit. And it never will.
In recent times, even through tremendous pain, Mum never wanted to be fussed over. She was more concerned about others and the problems they had. Even in her final days, as I sat beside her in hospital, she would be more interested in me, and making sure I was eating, sleeping and appropriately clothed for the weather. She would inquire into whether my uncle Marino had been given enough soap and supplies for his stay with us.
You have touched so many hearts, you are adored and loved by so many. A spirit as beautiful as yours will never truly be gone from our lives. Your legacy lives on. Forever.
The BGS community would like to get behind Rose, Brett, Stephen and Nicholas’s chosen charity, Love Your Sister, which aims to vanquish cancer. If you would like to donate, please go to www.loveyoursister.org and use deposit reference ‘ROSE’.