Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This continues on from when mum was badly smashed up by a speeding car as she crossed the road towards her home.  Here, to begin with, she is still in the rehabilitation hospital.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 205-206)

"While I was in Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital my stepmother, *Mary Rockliff, came to Australia to visit relatives in the Eastern States, and continued on to Perth to see me. Unfortunately I was unable to entertain her, but she spent several afternoons in my hospital room talking to me while I was having physiotherapy,  It was pleasant getting to know her, and a bond of friendship was formed between Mary and our family which has continued through the years.

While Mary was with us we decided to take to the Avon Valley to see a little of the Western Australian countryside, and they permitted me to go out in the car,  At the time there was a severe drought, but we had thought that the Avon Valley would still be green.  It was a shock to Peg, Phil and me to find such a beautiful spot dried out, the sheep looking like skeletons with the skin over their bones, and I fear Mary still thinks of Western Australia as she saw it then, as she has referred to it in her letters from time to time.  We all four enjoyed a typical Australian meal (grilled steak and salad) at a nice little cafe in York and all in all it was a delightful outing.

When I was able to get about with elbow crutches my surgeon, **Mr Peter Cromack, asked if I had any steps at my home.  There were a few steps both front and back and he refused to allow me to leave the hospital until I found a place without steps, as he said they would always be a problem for me.

I started to study the "For Sale' notices and found a brand new duplex advertised in ***Innaloo on ground level.  Peg and Phiil took me to see it and I agreed to buy it and put my own home up for sale.

Mr friend and colleague, Miss Belle Gladstone, very kindly invited me to convalesce in her home for a month and, very gratefully, I accepted.  Belle was ****Perth's leading milliner, her sister Jessie was her partner, and they had a resident housekeeper, so I was waited on and thoroughly spoilt while I regained my feet.

Meantime my house had been sol and I was waiting for their buyer to arrange finance.  Suddenly he obtained the money and wanted to take possession, so I had to return to the house despite the steps in order to sell furniture which I should not require at the duplex.

It was during the school holidays, and my grandson Steven came to stay with me and help with packing up.  He was about twelve at the time, was good company and I could not have had a better helper.

In Innaloo the carpets had been laid, blinds were already up and when moving day came we only had to get the men to put the furniture in the right places and I was straight away settled in my my new home.  So now a chapter in my life was completed and another one was started.  The accident occurred on 3rd June, 1969, and it was March, 1970 before I could get around using my two walking sticks."

* Mum' father Percy Rockliff (PR) had married Mary in 1938 after his wife (mum's mother) had died.  Mary had been PR's secretary and I feel the two had been close for some years prior to their marriage.   If you remember back, when mum was still quite young, PR had removed his wife and two daughters from his home as they did not suit his lifestyle.  Mary was 3 years younger than mum and she was a most delightful person and we remained in constant touch by mail until her death in 1987 when she was 87.  She had no children but two nieces of whom she was very fond.  The niece that lived in England contacted me and asked if I would like to have PR's OBE medal.  I of course said I would so she mailed it to her sister in Tasmania (about as far from Perth as you can get) thinking it would be safer that way.  It eventually arrived and along with it was PR's seal complete with a piece of red sealing wax.  It was a lovely surprise.

**Mr Cromack was a wonderful doctor.  Shortly after mum was injured he telephoned me to say he couldn't guarantee that mum would live (it was touch and go for quite a while) and even, if she did, he doubted she would ever walk again.  Her right hip was so badly damaged it was impossible to do a hip replacement, nor could it be put back together even after three attempts to do so.  It remained in pieces for the rest of her days.

***People who live in that suburb are often made of fun of when people tease them about 'living in a loo"!!

****Belle Gladstone was a lovely lady and I always remember the slogan of her millinery shop was "Above all the right hat!".  She was wonderful to mum and I was so grateful to her as I was working full time and also had Phil and two children to care for and there were steps where we were living which would have been impossible for mum to negotiate at that time.

OK so we have mum out of hospital and living in her new home.  From now on she goes to talk about getting back into harness and having a rather heated discussion with the Council of Social Service about the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Scheme.


  1. Hari OM
    ....ohh.... (giggles).. can you believe i was waiting for the 'fight' in this one!!! Tenterhooks.... But oh what a time it must have been. All that moving and selling and such is stressful enough in younger years, but in age and with disability.... amazing. Help or now help, it took stamina. YAM xx

    1. Yamini I can tell you are really enjoying mum's story....the tale of a woman who never gives up (on anything or anyone).
      I was amazed at her stamina at the time and looking back on it, so many years later, I still have that admiration for her I had then.
      Believe you me, she's not finished yet. xx

  2. Nothing slowed her down did it?

    1. Nothing slowed her down for any length of time. Recovery this time took a while but she was soon up and at 'em.

  3. This has been so interesting to read. Such trials and tribulations! I may have said this before but your mother was an amazing lady. Thank you for sharing her story Mimsie.

    1. I am glad you are enjoying the saga of mum's life Denise.
      Yes, I think you probably said before she is amazing but it can never be said enough....she WAS amazing.

  4. Nice that your mum met and got on well with her step mother.
    Sad though to read her hip could not be repaired, it must have been painful to live with 'bits and pieces' for the rest of her life.

    1. Mary was a lovely person River. I had wondered if there would be some resentment on mum's part after the way her father had treated her mother but Mary was such a delight one could never feel anything but love for her.
      That hip certainly caused problems with her right leg becoming about 3 inches shorter than the left. She had to have her shoes built up and the whole of her right side was a mess for the rest of her life. How she got around like she did I have no idea...sheer grit and determination would about cover it.