Siblings set the record straight about sister
WILLIE Nelson's soulful song Always On My Mind sounded from the church as friends and family bid an emotional farewell to Nicole Ryan just over a year ago.
Her sister Sue Hutchison said it was a fitting tribute for a loving woman who was constantly thinking about her three sons.
"Her boys were always on her mind," Sue said from her Rockhampton home.
"Whenever Nikki rang she was always asking, 'Have you seen my boys? Tell them I love them' and things like that.
"She didn't want anything... just for her boys to be happy."
It is understandable, then, that Sue and her brother David Ryan were horrified when they read a court report which said Nicole had denigrated her eldest son Nicholas and he had had a horrific upbringing.
Nicholas William Ryan pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court this week to one charge of assault causing bodily harm.
During the case, the court was told his birth mother had repeatedly told him he was "a mistake" and he grew up believing that his grandmother was his mother.
"That really hurt me, what was said there," Sue said. "We want to set the record straight. We want to put it right.
"He knows - and everyone else knows - that she loved him.
"Nicholas was loved and there is no way in the world that Nikki would have said he was a mistake.
"She loved that kid. She loved him."
Sue said Nikki was born with a disability that affected muscle development in her arms.
The family was shocked when, at the age of 14, she told them she was pregnant.
Despite her young age and her obvious physical challenges, Nikki was determined to have the baby.
"She didn't want an abortion. She wanted this child," Sue said.
"Because she couldn't do the normal things like other mothers, like changing nappies and dressing the baby, everyone helped.
"We were a big family so we did everything we could to help out.
"But if Nikki could do it she would, no matter what."
Nikki and her partner were living in Mt Isa, where she had two other sons.
She suffered complications from diabetes and was on dialysis for three years before her death in Townsville at age 48.
"We want people to know she was a loving, beautiful girl. She was a mother, an aunty, a cousin, a sister and most of all a best friend," said Sue, gently stroking Nikki's face in the framed photograph.
"We love her with all our hearts... darling, sweetheart."