Annette Viner-Melnic  07.10.28 – 30.04.20

Annette’s daughter, Tamara, lives in Kansas, and delivered the following tribute via zoom at the funeral, Bushey New Cemetery.

A year and a half ago we were celebrating Mum’s 90th birthday surrounded by wonderful family and friends.  And what made it truly special was that both her grandsons Benjamin and Marc were there to celebrate with her.    I made a speech then, which I feel is still appropriate for today.   Some of you may already have heard this at the funeral on Friday.    However, since Friday I have received the most wonderful condolences from around the world as to how my mother affected people’s lives in her quiet way.   Mum, I hope to be able to follow in your shoes although they will be very large shoes to fill.

My mother was an incredible woman.   Caring, loyal and extremely determined.

Let’s start with caring and loyal.   She was caring until her very last breathe giving Anne lists of people to call and thank for all the kind things they have done for her during this tough time.  Mum loved going to St. John’s Wood Shul on Shabbat and was very sad not to have been able to go this past year. When I would visit, from America, she would proudly introduce me to everyone and in return, everyone would say how wonderful and caring she was.   During one of our many phone calls during the past week, she told me I was to make sure everyone at St. Johns Wood shul was thanked.  She also enjoyed the Tuesday luncheons especially when she got to help out.  She always felt like one of the youngsters.

Another story. However difficult she managed to get on a bus and go anywhere especially if it means visiting the people who she cared about.  I remember the years of her visiting Abrasha daily in the Star and Garter and this was usually after a day of working, whole Sundays visiting her sister Rose in Nightingale, and even jumping on a bus to check up on Margaret, her younger sister.  She was also devoted to her brothers Harold and Arthur.  She was also loyal to her friends and her childhood friend Sheilah was able to celebrate mum’s 90th birthday, along with Myra who made daily telephone calls to each other to make sure they were both OK.  Along with many other friends.

Mum is definitely a people person and is well known for talking to people wherever she went, whether it was the bus stop, hospital waiting room, or shul.  She is not one for small talk but she definitely wants to get to know you. I would like to mention a very special family she referred to as her French family with two lovely parents and adorable girls, Judith and Salome.  When the shul launched a new initiative to engage members to sponsor Kiddushim on Shabbat to celebrate big occasions and small Judith asked her family to sponsor a Kiddush in honour of my Mum – an 8-year-old girl and an 88-year-old lady. What a lovely relationship it was.   Mum made friends young, old and everything in between.

Determined – that’s an understatement – When Mum put her mind to doing something, she did it.  One thing she did was raise me as a single parent and never complaining as to how hard it was.   We were both lucky in respect to family we had the love and support of her siblings, and Mum and Dad.  I have lots of cousins who are more like brothers and sisters to me.

In one of our last conversations she said to me, I had to promise we would all stay in touch despite the physical distance between us.   Well Mum yesterday ALL the cousins and their spouses and some of their children got together on that new thing called Zoom….   You did say that we were to keep in touch using whatever new technology method we could.

Then there are her two grandsons Benjamin and Marc who she was immensely proud of and loved dearly even though she only saw them once a year when she was able to travel to Kansas.  Benjamin was fortunate enough to spend several years in London and would visit often spending many an afternoon watching quiz shows.  It became a competition between them to see who could answer the most questions.

Marc would FaceTime along with Savannah so my mum could see her great granddaughter who knows her as Gigi.  Having a family so far apart is very hard, and again, not once did she complain about us not being nearer.  She only ever wanted the best for me.

In closing, I want to thank Delia, Mum’s caregiver who made Mum’s last few weeks as pleasant and calm as could be. And Anne, who I don’t know what I would have done without.  Anne, you are my rock.   Thank you from the bottom of my heart.