These are my notes that I put together before Mum’s Memorial. Since there was only me speaking, with a little help from Tony, I needed to have it all thought out and plenty to say. Also wanted to be able to hand it over to Tony if I found I couldn’t manage it, but it was all good and went just as I wanted. Lots of laughs. Johnnie and even Phil chipped in a couple of times too which was great.
I didn’t read from it at all as I had thought it all through ( can’t read from notes when I’m trying to talk anyway) but the bold printed words were a good prompt as I went along.
1. Mum used to tell me stories about growing up in her large family. She always told me about her grandfather Heritage who she loved. When he called in to see the family he would take her around in his horse and cart. He used to call her “Babs”.
She fondly remembered her time with her brothers and sisters and the fun they used to have and how she would wash the floor only for a troop of boys with dirty feet to run across it and how she would chase them down the yard.
Mum used to tell me lots of stories about how she and Aunty Bell used to look after the twins, Marie and Phil. She was very proud of these babies and thought they were so beautiful so one day she and Aunty Bell loaded them into the pram – both together because they were still quite small, but must have been at least sitting up I think – and then set off on the long walk to show the babies off to the Nuns. They trundled off along the train track but kept hitting bumps (possibly the sleepers !!) which would tip the babies out of the pram onto the ground.
They were then bundled up and put back into the pram and off they would go again! Heavens knows what condition these babies were in by the time they reached the Nuns ! Mum used to laugh and laugh when she told this story.
2. Mum always had a very strong connection to all of her family. This meant that our house became a gathering point and we always had someone visiting from out of town. Uncle Joe and his four kids regularly visited our place in Taringa as well us Uncle Len, Aunty Bell with Tim and Felicity, and she even managed to organise a great reunion with Uncle Cyril who had been living in the USA for more than 15 years !
Some years later Cyril asked Mum to step in and become Guardian to Debbie as his wife was ill, so Deb, at 14, came out to Australia, attending Ipswich girls Grammar as a boarder.
Mum used to set off on a yearly pilgrimage to visit her brothers and sisters - one year after she had recently obtained her driver’s licence she loaded Bruce and I into the car and we set off for Sydney to visit Aunty Haze, travelling along the New England highway. A lone woman back in the 1950s who hardly knew the back of the car from the front travelling all that way on her own with two kids! She was so game !
Of course, along the way we had car problems. The engine overheated and the red light came on. Well, you know how scary it is when those darn red lights come on. So we pulled over to the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and somehow managed to lift the hood to observe the steam coming from the radiator. I foolishly managed to unscrew the radiator cap releasing an explosion of boiling water and steam but luckily escaping it landing on any of us.
Now we were in worse trouble as the radiator had NO WATER in it at all and we didn’t have any with us either! Ever resourceful, Bruce scrambled down the embankment on the side of the road and filled a container he found there – an old can I think - from a large puddle of muddy water and we poured it into the radiator and off we went again! I never heard of any ill effects on the car from this rough treatment !
Most years Mum’s yearly trips took her north to visit Grandma. These trips continued after Grandma died- Uncle Bill in Gladstone, then Denise and her family, Uncle Len and his family, Aunty Mavis, Uncle Noel, Uncle Joe and Keith and any others who were still living around Rockhampton.
She and Dad also travelled overseas to visit Wo and her growing tribe in Michigan, Debbie in Texas, and Elaine and Felicity in the UK. Many of the photos in the slide show that we will show you later were taken on those visits.
3. Mum loved dancing. She told me about how she would dance the Sailors Hornpipe and other dances, having been taught lots of these dances by the Nuns at school and could still skip around doing the remembered steps well into her older years ! She had lots of stories of going off to dances around the district with Grandpop from quite a young age – 8 or 9 I think but maybe younger –
Grandma was left at home to mind the kids. I think Grandma must have sent her along to keep Grandpop on the straight and narrow !
Luckily Dad was a great dancer and they very much enjoyed taking to the dance floor to strut their stuff.
4. Mum loved music of all kinds…just ask her neighbours ! I guess that came from the family singalongs where Grandpop or Uncle Joe or Wally played the piano accordion.
Growing up we listened to and sang along with songs like A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation as well as all the old Irish songs learnt from Grandma.
In later years a lovely neighbour from Fraser Shores recorded music onto an ipod for her and these blasted out from her stereo for all the street to hear. This continued at The Waterford. Though she eventually had trouble stringing words together she could still sometimes join in with the singalongs of all the old songs.
5. Mum was a great sewer – an ability probably developed out of necessity. Growing up there was always mending and alterations to do for the family and if you wanted new clothes they had to be handmade. In the hard times she talked about making clothes from flower bags which apparently were printed with pretty patterns especially for this reason in the years of the Depression.
As I remember, most of my clothes growing up were made by Mum and even in her later years where she would buy ready made dresses, they were always taken apart and modified – darts put in the right places, too long sleeves shortened ( a problem I have myself !!), 6 inches or so off the bottom because they were too long and that material fashioned into frills around the neckline or belts to go around the waistline.
Dad was never safe from her mending either and I remember the laughs we had when we saw his rear view as he went off to bed in pyjama pants with a large v shape piece of material added to the backside to give him a bit more room !
6. Mum was always busy and never sat down without something in her hands to work on.
- She crocheted rugs and each grandchild was gifted one of these. I know Sally for one, still has hers today.
– She learnt to work with beads while she lived at Fraser shores and I have a range of necklaces and bracelets which she churned out at a great rate using all sorts of intricate patterns and colours. Then she moved on to making tiny bells for Christmas decorations which she then gave away so there are lots of them amongst the family both here and overseas. I have half a dozen of them to go on my tree every year along with the little angel she made and decorated out of cardboard and tinsel.
- When Mum was in her late 30 to 40s she took up painting which she really enjoyed and which she shared with my cousin Judy Hall who was then only a youngster with lots of talent. They used to set up out the back and paint together every week.
- and if she wasn’t making something, she loved to do word puzzles and finished every puzzle in her weekly copy of That’s Life magazine until she was about 93.
7. Another of Mum’s interests was horse racing. Mum had a good dose of the Hall’s love of gambling ! She loved the horse races and Saturday mornings were taken up getting the scratchings from the radio.
It was no good trying to hold a conversation with her on a Saturday, her mind was elsewhere : ringing through to put her $1 bets on with the TAB, working out her quinellas, trifectors and eachway bets. She had her favourite horses (Tullock was one I remember) and jockeys. Her bets were never large and on the whole neither were her wins but every now and then we would celebrate one with dinner from the take away Chinese at Auchenflower that we would collect in a saucepan.
She also loved the Pokies and would happily set off for a day playing the machines as well as Keno at least once a week at the Casino at the Gold Coast or the RSL in Hervey Bay, often accompanied by Phil and sometimes Carmie too but happily on her own. Dad would often pick her up, sometimes having a meal there with her before they came home. She was well known to the bus drivers from the RSL who looked after her and saw she got home safely in her later years
8. Finally, Mum loved pretty colours.
She dressed in them - and everything always matched. Purple was a particular favourite.
She decorated her house in them – who could forget the bright aqua posts at the front of their house at Fraser shores !
She loved pretty flowers and though she was never a gardener she always had a vase of flowers from Dad’s garden on her dining table.
** Mum had a great 100th birthday. She looked terrific in her new outfit and with her hair done by the hairdresser who came in to The Waterford specially to do it and she loved all the attention.
She received a birthday greeting from the Queen, Governor-General and the Premier as well as a lovely letter from the Dept of Veteran Affairs.
After such a long life Mum leaves behind lots of memories for all of us.