Nan - because of you, we can, we have and we will.Grandson Rob Waters
MUCH-loved Gomeroi elder Aunty Pearl Trindall had a way of making every person she spoke with feel special, one speaker said at her funeral.
There were 300 seats at the service on Friday, and they filled up quickly.
And people continued to pour in, as about 600 to 700 people gathered, sitting and standing, near the river behind Jack Woolaston Oval.
It was the same place late husband of 66 years, Joe, was farewelled in 2012.
Each of them had a special place in their heart for Aunty Pearl.
She touched many lives through her remarkable 92 years, through tireless advocacy, seemingly endless time, compassion and interest for others, and love for her family.
She had care to give from a young age, her family said.
"Where she lived, growing up in Bellata, she was a schoolgirl champion for athletics," youngest daughter Cathy Trindall told the Leader earlier this week.
"She won a bursary to go to Moree and she would have to go by train to do her leaving certificate.
"She didn't go - she stayed home with Nan and helped with the other kids."
Kids - it was evident they and their education were Aunty Pearl's passion.
Seeing a need in the community for childcare - particularly for single mums - she got in a car, picked up the kids and started a playgroup.
The seed was planted and from it grew the Birrelee preschool, which celebrated its 30th anniversary a few years ago.
Birrelee was closed on Friday out of respect and so its staff could attend the funeral.
They stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service staff.
Aunty Pearl and Uncle Joe played an instrumental role in its establishment as well.
They're just two huge legacies that will continue to help lives in the community for years to come.
"You have to have an education" - it was an inherent right, she would say.
"You got to have health."
Part of the dividend of Aunty Pearl's work was the vast amount of love of support shown on Friday.
But she never did it for thanks.
"The amount of flowers, the amount of love and support - everything that has been thrown at us has come back to Mum," Ms Trindall said.
"Mum would be saying 'daught, I don't want the fuss'.
"She was an incredible woman."
The only thing she'd ask for was a cuppa, Ms Trindall said.
She was a "quiet achiever", but her achievements were made in the fight for human rights and equity.
The fight went on and her efforts hardly waned throughout the years.
'Because of her'
Ms Trindall said her mother's drive to improve things came from "growing up in the Depression; growing up having to fight for human rights".
"She thought she was going to make life better for her children," she said.
Aunty Pearl was recognised as elder of the year, aged 91, in Tamworth's 2018 NAIDOC awards.
It was a timely honour, grandson Rob Waters said in his eulogy.
The theme for NAIDOC Week that year was "Because of her, we can".
"Nan - because of you, we can, we have and we will," he said.
She was a giver and a carer, but relatives described her as staunch, sharp and - like a kangaroo or an emu - never taking a backwards step.
"She believed very strongly that our story and the true story of this country had to be told," Ms Trindall said.
"It's important we educate other people and they can learn from those mistakes.
"She wasn't bitter in any way.
"She valued education, life, being able to have a voice and doing it respectfully.
"But she would tell you straight up."
A keen and canny card player as well, the great-great-grandmother had a fitting sign-off printed on the service pamphlet: "Finally euchred."
"That's what she wanted," Ms Trindall said.
When it wasn't family, community, kids and education, she had another passion.
"Poor old Parramatta," Ms Trindall said.
They were going to come good, she would say, it was just they had taken all of their good players: Mick Cronin, Peter Sterling, Ray Price et al.
The Trindall elders' legacy lives on in Tamworth through the buildings and services they helped establish.
Rachael Phillips, current director and one-time student of Birrelee, said every step forward came back to the vision of the service.
"While we might look at delivering multi-functional services, we will never forget where we came from," she said.
Ms Phillips said the loss was felt by everyone at the preschool.
"It still all comes back to where it came from," she said.
"It comes back to history and why we are here and what the vision was 30 years ago.
"That is the core of any decision-making."
While it was hard for Ms Phillips to put Aunty Pearl's "strength, passion and values" into words, she explained the elder's presence and ongoing influence at the Coledale preschool.
"When I explain Aunty Pearl to people, I say she was a woman who never demanded respect or demanded to be leader, she just was; she had the presence," she said.
"She was humble and so welcoming."
And she is never far from their thoughts as a trailblazer, tireless advocate and educator.
"Being around her, you were warm and you felt her presence - and being the director of a service she started, everything I think is hard now is nothing compared to what she did to get it up and running," she said.
"On days when I think things are tough and hard and 'How am I going to do this?' I think, 'Imagine if I had to start it' and I think back to Aunty Pearl."
But to her family, Pearl will be remembered as a mum.
A mum with pearls of wisdom, insight.
"Don't stress about anything; what will be, will be," Ms Trindall said.
"Just take the day as it comes and just breathe."
But there was one pearl for her youngest daughter that stood out in recent days.
"She had a beautiful saying - that life was like the weather: it was unpredictable and things could change in an instant," Ms Trindall said.
"You only get one life. Make it a good life and if you're not happy, change it.