As you know she was born in England, emigrated to Australia with her husband and step-son, and spent 17 years working very hard on farms near Albany. (Mum and dad in Narrikup).
Her ill health forced us to move to the city just before I turned 6 and for some years mum and dad went without so much so I could have a good education. I have always been very grateful to both of them as they were wonderful parents to me. They loved me and I loved them, it was as simple as that. No conditions on either side. (Mum and me in 1939):
After their separation mum really got involved in a lot of social welfare work and was Secretary of the Womens Service Guilds for many years working alongside Bessie Rischbieth. Mum then went on to begin the Citizens Advice Bureau, help establish the Slow Learning Children's Group, begin the Perth Emergency Housekeeping Service and the Children's Holiday Scheme. There were many other organisations with whom she was also actively involved. (Standing in for Lady Gairdner at a debutante ball).
In May, 1969, mum was hit by a speeding car when crossing the road to her home and, as a result, she spent 7 months in hospital and more time convalescing. She was rather disabled afterwards and, when in public, she would use two walking sticks but, in the house, she managed without one. She had a beautiful recliner chair and one of the organisations made her a stand for it to raise it off the floor which made it easier for her to get up from the chair. The shattered hip they tried to set three times but there were not sufficient pieces to do so nor could they do a hip replacement and therefore her right leg was about 3 inches shorter than her good leg and she had shoes specially built up so she could at least stand up reasonably straight.
You will recall she once again got into harness and became involved in social welfare work and her final big challenge was travelling to Sydney to gather information about Beehive in that city and then return to Perth and face the challenge of setting up Beehive Industries here. I am glad to report that Beehive Industries is still thriving and in 1986 Phil and I were delighted to receive this invitation:
To know that mum's hard work had been recognised by the naming of the new headquarters of Beehive Industries after her was quite overwhelming. We of course were happy to attend and our daughter Karen also attended this opening with us. It was very well done and afterwards we were taken to look over the activities taking place in the workshop. This was 15 months after mum's death and we only wished she had survived to know of the honour she had received. Not everyone has a building named after them.
When mum finally retired she went on a well deserved holiday, a bus tour through central Australia northward to Darwin. She unfortunately became very ill during that trip ending up having emergency surgery in Darwin Hospital. We were glad to have her home safely after that ordeal and for the next seven and a half years she kept herself involved with the Soroptimists and other organisations and generally made herself useful as a J.P. and as she said "the local C.A.B at the Joondanna Village where she lived.
We didn't see her as much as we would have liked but she would telephone me very Sunday morning and we would have a long chat (Phil in those days was usually playing golf on Sunday mornings). I would often 'phone and suggest we pay her a visit but she would say no need to. I often felt she just wasn't up to sitting up and having visitors, even family members. It was her choice but we were still very close. Phil would sometimes pick her up and drive her to our place so she could enjoy time with her growing family, taking her home afterwards.
I was always glad she had Silver Chain and others to help with her many needs....medical if necessary, cleaning and cooking as well. She was well cared for and was still able to get around reasonably well but I do know she tired easily and loved nothing better than to sit in her lovely cosy dressing gown in her recliner rocker and read a good book or watch television.
Towards the end of 1984 she became quite ill and I felt her doctor rather let her down. I am sure that there are times when medical people more or less give up on the over *80's and I felt this was the case with mum's doctor. She finally ended up in hospital with a bleeding ulcer and had an emergency operation. One of the nursing staff told mum that she wouldn't be well enough to return to her unit and she would probably have to go into the hospital section of Joondanna Village. Mum was a very independent person and I am sure (and so is my daughter) that mum decided that was not the future she saw for herself. The doctor warned me that it would be touch and go after the operation and I am sure mum had made up her mind it was time to call it a day. I received a 'phone call at work on 7th January, 1985 asking me to come to Royal Perth Hospital as they feared mum would not last the day. I telephoned Phil and Karen and we all went into see mum who was barely conscious, if at all. We said our goodbyes and went to wait outside. A short time after that the doctor came to tell us that mum had passed away.
The day before mum's death Dianne and Steve called in to see her (they had been married the day before) and Dianne gave mum her bride's bouquet and mum fortunately was well enough to enjoy their visit and Diann's thoughtfulness with the flowers.
We arranged a simple funeral as that was mum's choice. She always said she thought people were taken advantage of when feeling at their lowest after losing a loved one and she was determined that would not happen in her case. She had told me that on the inside of her wardrobe door were the instructions regarding the funeral directors she wished to have conduct her funeral service. She had spoken to me about her strong feeling in this regard so I followed her instructions to the letter. She had chosen a reusable coffin covered with royal blue velvet and a reusable wreath of red roses. The funeral cars were dark blue (which I felt were much nicer than the black normally used in those days). In her funeral notice I asked donations be made to a charity of choice rather then sending flowers. A minister from the Church of Christ lead the service. I approached her old friend and colleague Professor Eric Saint and asked him if he would read the eulogy and he accepted without hesitation. I will include that eulogy in my next post as I think it covers mum's life very well. There is really nothing I can add to the Professor's words. (This is a photo of mum at a function of some kind. The gentleman in the centre is Professor Eric Saint).
*Just to give an idea about doctors and the elderly. Only today Phil rang his gastroenterologist's rooms to see if he needed further investigations only to be told "Dr Evans doesn't bother contacting people over 80 now. If you think you have any problems the best thing is to have a test and then ask your GP to refer you."