Gratitude – Ester Wimborne

When I was about 15, we had a very special guest from Australia come stay with us in Temiang, Seremban.

She was considerate to a fault, and wrote us a detailed, thank you letter on the day she left to return home. It was lengthy, and it mentioned every person who had helped make her stay comfortable , even in the most negligible ways.

I read and translated it for my parents, and was annoyed by the end of it. Why? Because it didn’t mention ME. Unbeknownst to her, my stepmom had made me give up my third blanket for her before she arrived – we had been short on blankets, and I had three.

Three layers of blankets in non-air conditioned, tropical Malaysia is ridiculous overkill – it wasn’t like I was at risk of catching pneumonia by being deprived of one of them for a week or two. Fully aware that there was no way she could’ve known about it, the unintentional slight was nonetheless a big deal to my self-absorbed, chip-on-the-shoulder, teenaged self.

Why am I bringing this up? Because for the longest time, I’d been meaning to write a post mentioning all the acts of kindness I’ve encountered over the last 2 years in relation to baby Noah. I wanted to name names but was a little paranoid about unintentionally missing out on some people in the process, the way our Seremban guest had done. Clearly most people aren’t the self-absorbed, immature teenager that I once was, and would probably give me a pass, but my attempt at diligence (assisted by a healthy dose of procrastination) meant I kept putting it off. I wish I hadn’t.

I’m splitting this post into two parts because I want to give special mention to Ester Wimborne. Ester, a fellow market stallholder and Country Valley Dairy distributor, was one of the first people to reach out to me via Twitter even before Noah was born. I had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and was required to test my blood sugar levels after every meal.

I found that the chocolate mousse carried by Country Valley Dairy was one product that tested within the “safe” blood sugar range post-consumption, so I ate it with abandon during my pregnancy. I ordered them week-in week-out from Ester’s Sunday stall and asked her to pass them onto my Marrickville staff since I was (and continue to be) rarely there in person. She often gave me extra free samples of other products and always heavily discounted everything.

Our communications continued when Noah arrived – Ester was one of many people who compassionately messaged me online when I first revealed Noah’s condition. She was one of those who continued to show an interest even after he left hospital – regularly checking in via Twitter to see how we were doing, despite fighting her own since-diagnosed life-threatening illness.

We always meant to catch up one day but because we both ran market stalls at different locations, we never got around to it. Amidst my conflicted feelings about social media and my cynicism about some of its participants, Ester stood out as someone who was both genuine and generous in spirit – to me, she represented the best of cyberspace.

I’ve always thanked Ester on Twitter in response to her follow-ups on Noah; I’ve never thanked her in person.  In fact, in the hustle and bustle of running my own market stall it occurred to me a few weeks ago that the friendly woman I had served minutes earlier at Orange Grove Farmers’ Market might have been Ester – based on what I’d seen of her in pictures. And then I promptly thought no more of it, figuring I’d catch up with her another time at another market, when we both had more time to chat.

Ester was killed in an accident on the way to her Sunday Marrickville stall two days ago. The scenario resonates as a food producer and fellow market stallholder. I understand the early starts on weekends, the long hours and the “jumping in at a moment’s notice” nature of running your own business – heck, she wasn’t even supposed to have been working that day.

I wish I’d thanked her more fully, beyond my glib Twitter replies; I wish I had taken time to finally meet up with her in person.  Ester was an absolutely beautiful, larger-than-life, generous, kind-hearted spirit and my life is richer for having known her, even if it was only in cyberspace. I thank you for the love you showed, Ester, and I look forward to telling Noah about you one day.


18 thoughts on “Gratitude – Ester Wimborne

  1. I so sorry that you have lost a friend who has been so kind to you. From your description of this person, I felt that she will know and understand. Sometimes gratitude in the heart needs no words to express.

    Bless you Jackie and Baby Noah

  2. Beautiful post Jackie. I have lovely photos of Ester with Noah at the goat curry cook-off last year. Ester and I made it our mission to sell all your cookbooks!

    • Thanks Kirsty, and thanks for reminding me Ester was at the goat curry cook-off. I think I might’ve been vaguely aware of the fact at the time but as is often the case I struggle to connect people in real life with their online personas. You’re one of the few people I don’t have that problem with 🙂

  3. Jackie, this is such a lovely tribute to Ester… she was such a beautiful person… thank you for the kind acknowledgement of the photo, though there was no need… it was one that Ester herself had given to me. Our lives were truly made richer by Ester’s presence and she will be deeply missed.

  4. absolutely beautiful miss jacks and ever so true. she was SO supportive of many things (the number of emails she and i exchanged when i was incapacitated last year was phenomenal) and a worthy adversary. david and i got to know each other and then when ester came in to the twitter-frame then email and then finally in person: the world has lost a true true advocate of all things fair, right and dairy

  5. Oh such a lovely bad sad story Jackie 😦
    Such is the bitter sweetness of life ♡
    Why do we always forget how short life really is?
    I have loved following your food, your momebts with Noah, the sad times of your father’s passing… we may never meet but none the less I want to say a big thank you for being you and sharing a bit of your giant heart to the world.
    Love Naomi

    • Thank you for the kind comments Naomi; I often spread myself a bit too thin to interact online with any great depth, to my own detriment. I do appreciate your friendship so thank you 🙂

      • Just keep on inspiring others – you don’t have to be personally interacting with each and every one of us to be able to send out the postive vibes you give out – and that your audience embraces! x

  6. I can’t believe that Ester is going – she was just such a loving, generous, courageous lady who we’d all been looking forward to sharing many years of friendships with. Louise

  7. Hi Jackie, this is probably a stab in the dark for me over in Perth. After reading your memoirs, I do remember my good friend and form mate MengLee from the Flats. If my memory is still intact, your family lived on the 11th floor, she came up one day after F5 and told me she was going to Syd for nursing. We corresponded for a while then lost touch. I still have a photo of her leaning against a tree in the Botanical Gdns Syd.
    Please pm me her address and phone contact. I do go over to Syd often enough..

    Thank you
    YokeLeng Fong

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