February 25, 1934 – June 1, 2023
In Loving Memory ~
Jennifer Lynn Craig (nee Rice), died on June 1 (she hated the euphemism “passed”). Born in England to Leonard Rice and Elfrida (nee Bottone), she grew up with her prankster brother Nigel in wartime England, and her 15-years-younger baby brother Anthony.
Jenny should have died many times over in her 89 years, but her determination, fighting spirit, dry humour, and outright stubbornness to refuse to let death win pulled her through. Jenny beautifully described her childhood and young adult years in her memoirs Thank you, Sister and Yes Sister, No Sister.
Jenny and former husband, Thomas Craig, had two children, Stewart and Juliet. She was far from a model stay-at-home mother but rather focused on fostering our education and reminding us of the only household rule: “don’t bleed on the carpet”.
Being her children included cringing embarrassment, immense pride, unbelievable frustration (“I’m not deaf, you’re just not enunciating”), lots of laughter, crazy adventures (her latest trips included a stroke, tracheotomy, and medevac flight), admiration, and always love.
Our mum made headline news when she went back to school as a “mature student” and eventually earned her doctorate at the age of 50. Her career took many turns over the years. She was a consultant in her fifties, a homeopath in her sixties, and a published author in her seventies and eighties.
She climbed mountains, performed in a panto, taught aerobics, mastered knitting, starred in a one-person play, and in 2018 won the Leacock Medal for Humour for her novel Gone to Pot. She succeeded at anything she put her mind to, never judged a book by its cover, constantly pursued learning, drove like a banshee, and always (much to our chagrin) spoke her mind.
She was part of many community groups over the years, including the Company of Older Women and her beloved writing group.
She became a legend in Nelson and a typical letter to the editor began with “If you had any neurons firing between your ear holes . . . “. Tact was not her strength and she burned many bridges, especially once her undiagnosed dementia began.
Agree with her or not, one had to admire her strength of conviction and fiery spirit, and those who knew her best saw the compassion, generosity, and kindness under her abrasive exterior.
“Amma” was proud of her grandchildren: Sam, Max, Oliver, Leanne, Benjamin and Amelia; her endlessly patient in-laws Rebekkah Edwards and Thomas Stewart; her brothers Nigel Rice (Doreen) and Anthony Rice (Anna), and all their offspring, affectionately known collectively as the Rice “Puddings”.
At 89 years old, Jenny was still living independently with her dog Mylie, with thanks to Kari Thomson and the caregiving team, neighbor Val Semeniuk, her patient (most of the time) kids, and astonishing determination.
Her dementia had progressed significantly, and we tried to find the humour in this devastating condition that left her confused about how appliances worked, convinced she’d had a nighttime visit from Bill Gates, and constantly receiving Amazon packages that she “didn’t order”.
She would rather have died than go into a care home, and even the universe knew better than to disrespect her wishes. After suffering a heart attack, she had the ending she wished for, with her two children by her side, exiting the world peacefully in her sleep.
A Celebration of Life will be announced at a future date.Obituary
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