In Memoriam - Helen Gee
My editor and friend Helen Gee died on Wednesday of a tumour at the age of 62. Today I and about 200 other people celebrated her life.
Much has been and will be said about Helen – author, poet, teacher, farmer, social historian, musician, extreme bushwalker, environmental pioneer, long term activist, mother, land carer, wife, maker of walking tracks, supporter of the mentally ill, Co-founder of the Wilderness Society, painter, compatriot of Olegas Truchanas…
While Helen will be remembered for her achievements in public life, (of which there are many), I will remember her most for her mastery of the art of living. Helen did not define herself by the environmental cause. She was bigger than the cause, and her activism flowed naturally out of who she was, just as the rest of her life did. Saving the planet was as normal and interesting as cooking home grown food and making music around the fire.
Helen’s genuine warmth and empathy crossed many barriers, and while she remained quietly outraged at the abuse of things wild, beautiful and free, she continued to be positive, seeing opportunity in adversity.
Helen was humble and unafraid. Perhaps this was innate or perhaps it was learned in some of the most remote and rugged country on the planet. You could (metaphorically speaking) stand her up at the gates of hell and she would greet it with a warm and hopeful smile.
We talked once or twice about things eternal. Helen had a church upbringing and at one time contemplated becoming a missionary but chose a different path. It seems to me though that her life was a prayer; and there was a sense of vocation in her personal and public quest to place beauty and nature above human greed and above the economic model of ever increasing material consumption.
We fight on for what remains of Helen’s vision. In 1972 the wilderness of
compromised by roads, shrunk by logging, and its heart – Tasmania , was still intact. To the
end, Helen campaigned for the restoration of Lake
Pedder . Helen taught us many
things, but one thing surely is that friendship does not need a cause. Many who
visit our national parks this summer will enjoy, unknowingly, Helen’s
legacy. Others will remember. Lake
You’ll remember me when the west wind moves…