Friday, August 12, 2011

Hello Baby... Goodbye Jenni

Today The Age newspaper published an obituary for Jennifer Overend; Jenni was a children's author and poet, she died on July 16 from breast cancer.

Jenni's book Hello Baby is possibly the most read book I own. I have lent it to so many friends and every homebirthing family with older children that I have journeyed with, I have read it to my own children countless times, read it to myself in quite moments when I just happened to spy it near, I love it. It is honest and real, simple and beautiful. I get lost in the howling of the wind the roaring fire, the  family and the midwife. Illustrations by Julie Vivas are round and welcoming, soft but bold and beautiful...they too are real; a baby's head birthed between its mothers thighs, a placenta ~ healthy and teaming with blood filled veins but drawn so carefully it looks like the tree of life.

"After her death, Jenni's family were able to read her ponderings on life and death for the first time and her words were her final gifts of written wisdoms. One of her final poems reads:

If I noticed the warmth of the sun through the window
Or felt the cold of wattle blossom against my lips
Or kissed my husband, feeling the skin of his back under my hand
Or noticed the way the late sun glistened on the grass
Or the way new leaves sprouted from the stumps left by last summer's wildfire
Or heard how the blackbird's sweet voice filled the bottom of the garden
Would I then feel I was ready?
Ready to leave this world because I had drunk wholeheartedly of her richness
Loved her open mouthed
Drank deeply
Wept tears of unknown joy
Could I pass through that door blithely, knowing it was done? Completed?
I cannot tell, will not know, til that portal beckons me …
And even then …
Maybe not …

I am so sad that such a wise woman is gone.

The full obituary by Sunny Overend is here; it is worth reading, she was a wonderful woman


A mermaid in the attic said...

Shannon, your description of the book rang a bell and so I followed your link...and yes, I remember reading this years ago and loving it too. How very, very sad.

little gnome said...

Hello friend....I just bought this book to add to our collection and for a friend who has just had another little one. It is such a lovely book - which such lovely words and images. A wonderful lady indeed - may she be amongst the angels ......

anna said...

A sad loss of a truly wonderful woman.

My aunt, who was a children's writer, died quite a few years ago now (also of breast cancer) and I still have not read all of her books completely. I feel as if keeping some of them unread and working through them slowly gives me the chance to keep getting to know her.

Its such a special thing when a wise person leaves this kind of legacy behind them for the rest of us to gain from.

Anonymous said...

This was our favourite book when my kids were little and I was pregnant with my fourth... Had a glorious homebirth and Jenni's book helped get the kids in tune with birthing at home a lot. She has made life better for a lot of people in her own way.