Kerrie Anne Yelds, of Merimbula, died in Bega Hospital on May 20, aged 62 years.
Her funeral service was held in the Merimbula Uniting Church on May 30, followed by her cremation at Clavering Park Crematorium, Wolumla.
Uniting Church Pastor, David Russell, officiated at both services.
Her two children, Sonya Yelds and Peter Yelds, along with her five grandchildren, attended the service.
The church was filled to capacity, with many older good friends of the district attending.
Sonya gave the following eulogy:
“Kerrie Anne Cowell (also affectionately known as Nanny Keg or Kegga) was born in Bombala on February 9, 1954. The first-born child of Rae and Marcie Cowell, sister to Richard and Janine.
Mum spent most of her adult life constantly being defined by her illness, however, she was so much more.
As a child mum spent a lot of time with her grandparents and uncles. If she wasn’t climbing fruit trees, getting into the sink to wash up or making jam drops with Nan Johnson, she was eating Nanny Cowell's Joe Cakes, sitting on the wood box with Poppy Cowell.
As a small child, mum wasn't a very good eater, so her precious Uncle Jerry would play trains with her to get her to eat. Kerrie loved school sports. Running and hockey were two of her favourites. I believe hockey got quite competitive at times. So much so, Mum actually had her front teeth knocked out with a hockey stick.
The other sports mum loved were tennis and basketball.
I remember spending many a night sleeping in the car at night tennis or basketball, whilst mum and dad played their sports. Some of Mum's other favourite pastimes in her younger life included playing the piano, fishing out at sea with her father, hay carting with her family, shooting and driving her father’s truck.
Mum loved her church, music, singing and dancing. I have heard many a story of the balls held in Bombala and how they would all dance until the sun came up.
Mum completed her schooling at Bombala Public School and from there went to Canberra to study.
She returned as a fully qualified stenographer.
Mum married our father Norman in 1971. They were high school sweethearts. I came into their world the following year and when I was just three months old mum got a virus and was diagnosed with Wieners Disease and Nephritis.
That set off the next 45 years of her life in ways no-one could ever imagine. Mum's kidneys had started to fail. Her lengthy hospital stays began and Mum was one very sick young lady.
Mum was able to live a reasonably normal life on 55 per cent kidney function. She was the town librarian, drove Pop’s truck, went to the bush with Dad on the weekends to bark logs and continued to play her beloved sport.
Mum was never meant to be able to have any more children, however, she defied the odds and gave birth to my brother, Pete, on March 3, 1977.
A few years passed before Mum and Dad decided to buy a business in Newcastle, so we all left our hometown for the new adventure. During this time, Mum's kidneys continued to give her grief, but it never stopped her.
After selling their shop and working for others for a while, they decided to purchase a removalist company and there she was, yet again driving trucks – sometimes even wearing high heels and stirring their employees up by showing them how it was done.
Unfortunately, Mum's health started deteriorating rapidly and after a biopsy it was discovered her kidneys were now down to 10 per cent function.
The decision was made to come back to this area so she could be near her family and specialists. Her dialysis journey began.
Over the next 30 years Mum was on haemodialysis, had her first transplant that only lasted 18 months. Then she was able to do peritoneal dialysis after that for a while.
Mum became extremely ill with peritonitis and many other major health issues and we thought that's it. Her life is over. But yet again mum fought for her life and against all odds pulled through.
Round two of haemodialysis commenced and during this time mum decided she would get involved with helping the youth of the area and her charity work began.
She opened an op shop, had a halfway house for a lot of the youth. Her door was always open to all and many a problem got solved over a cup of tea. Always teapot tea, never teabags.
In 1995, Mum got called up for another transplant. This kidney was a ripper and gave her 12 fabulous years of great health. In this time Mum became a grandmother to four of her grandchildren and an awesome step-grandmother to Christopher and Bradley.
Mum loved all her nieces and nephews equally and treated them all as if they were her own.
One of her biggest regrets was not being able to travel north to spend time with her sister’s children, Joshua and Anna Daveta, as her health always put limits on travel.
However, when she would receive news of them, her face would light up and she would have a warm smile on her face. Her nieces, Amelia and Kate, were extremely close to Mum.
Mum treated them more as daughters and loved them to the moon and back. As the girls got older, their dedication to our mother was so strong and they stood in for Peter and myself on many occasions, as did their mother and Mum's beloved friend and former sister-in-law, Joanne Brownlie.
Mum loved and appreciated all her gorgeous cousins so much and loved their visits whether at home or in hospital. Just when Kegga thought she would only ever have her four grandchildren, along came number five, Kierra Seaton, whom mum affectionately referred to as little britches.
Mum had spent her life constantly fighting to stay alive for her children and grandchildren.
We lost count over the years as to how many times we thought we were saying our last goodbyes to our precious Kegga.
Her strength, stubbornness, determination, love for us all and her relationship with God, is what pulled her through time and time again.
The day before Mum passed away, she was still putting up a fight and still wanting to "give it another go".
I was getting told, under no uncertain terms, that she was not ready to die. In true Kegga Style, Mum was telling the doctors and nurses how it was going to go.
We all knew this was the final part of her journey and what a journey it has been.
To all Mum's doctors and nurses, past and present, the wonderful staff from Building 5 in Canberra and the staff at the new Bega Hospital, Peter, myself and our families would like to thank you all so much for your dedication to our mother. Go peacefully now Mum. We love you.”
Kerrie’s sister Janine Daveta (nee Cowell), cousin Kate Watson (nee Cowell), son Peter Yelds and grandchildren Shaniya, Tiarni, Abbie and Jake, along with several school friends, gave heartfelt speeches about their fond memories of dear Keg.
After the service many attended a get-together in the Wolumla Hall.
Kerrie is survived by her daughter Sonya, son Peter, and grandchildren Shaniya Burridge, Tiarni Burridge, Kierra Seaton, Abbie Yelds, Jake Yelds, and Sonya’s partner Brett Seaton.
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