In the days before her death a frail Vera Rodgers still held out out hope that her only son, who had been missing for 23 years, was happy somewhere.
"She said before she passed: 'I want to say goodbye to Grant.' It was really, really sad to hear," daughter Jane Neville said yesterday.
"Perhaps she and dad and Grant are all together now."
In 1989 the Rodgers family was dealt a massive blow when Grant's four-wheel drive was discovered at Mt Kembla without any trace of him.
The 29 year old had left his Albion Park Rail home for work in Thirroul on October 26 but never arrived.
"It was particularly hard for mum and dad as his parents, something I didn't fully appreciate until I became a parent," Mrs Neville said from her home in country Victoria.
"Much of mum and dad's last years together before dad passed away in 1999 were spent searching for Grant. They never gave up hope."
Each year Mrs Rodgers contacted the Illawarra Mercury around the time of Missing Persons Week, desperate for any leads from the public.
After a few years of no news, the couple packed up and left the Illawarra region to run a post office in central Victoria.
"That was 20 odd years ago, they had a ball running that. But they were never the same," Mrs Neville recalled.
"After Grant went missing they became really unsettled, so they moved quite a bit.
"Mum and dad loved living in country Victoria for much of the final phase of their lives together: gold panning, birdwatching, bushwalking."
Mrs Neville had feared her mother would not cope without the companionship of her husband but, after his death, she picked herself up and got on with life.
She loved getting letters from her sister Wilma who "wrote to mum every week, entertaining her with tales of Wollongong and the beauty of her garden".
Mrs Neville said her mother had been an inspiration, who showed incredible strength when dealt life's worst cards.
"Mum never, ever lost hope. She just thought Grant was out there somewhere, she had faith he was happy," Mrs Neville said.
"She always felt Grant would come back."
Today, Mrs Neville carries the torch for her mother's lost son and her dear brother.
"It was all so strange. But, like mum said, there is always a chance he is out there somewhere. We've put notices in national papers about mum's death, just in case."
Despite suffering the worst pain any mother could imagine, she leaves her loving daughter filled with fond memories.
"Mum was lovely. She was very pretty, full of life and, despite the sadness and distress of Grant's disappearance, still took pleasure and interest in everything and everyone around her."
A funeral service for Mrs Rodgers, who died on Friday, will be held at St Andrew's Uniting Church in Maryborough, Victoria today.