I am changing the format somewhat as a number of events occurred during the 1970s and I am trying to get them in some sort of chronological order so please bear with me. As you know this story is as much for me and my family as it is to share so if I am somewhat self-indulgent at times then please be patient.
On 12 June, 1971 my dad died, he was 85. I am telling this story, bones and all, as I loved this man dearly and still miss him so much to this very day. Hard to believe he would now 128 years old.
He had been born Henry Thomas Ruston on 8th October, 1885. His father, Joseph Ruston, was a wheelwright and employed several men in his business and I believe the family were quite well off.
Dad married Nora Johnson in the Registry Office in Hackney, London, on 8th March, 1911 and his son, Len, was born on 17th March, 1911. Yes, you did the maths correctly. No error there. Len's mother became very ill and died of her illness in 1916 when she was only 32, and Len was 5. We understand it was a serious kidney problem that had developed over some time which lead to her death. After his mother's died, Len was cared for by two of his aunts (presumably his mother's sisters).
Dad and mum were both working at the Sugar Commission when they met and he wooed her quite seriously and they finally became engaged, and were married in the Woodberry Down Church, Edmonton, London, on 22 December, 1917 during WW2 (dad was 32 and mum was 20). For some reason dad was estranged from his entire family and not one of them attended this wedding. Even his best friend changed his mind about being dad's best man at the last minute. I never did find out why this occurred but often wondered if it had something to do with dad's first marriage and the delay in it taking place. You don't ask questions when you are young so this will remain and big secret forever more. He had no contact with his family from that day on. Did they perhaps consider him their black sheep?
Dad became very ill with the Spanish flu following the cessation of hostilities in 1918 and the doctor was very concerned for dad's health and recommend him emigrating to warmer climes. The decision was made to go to Western Australia and start a farming life which was rather ambitious for two people who had clerical positions all their working lives and had been brought up in quite large houses possibly with at least a housekeeper. I know mum and dad had a housekeeper when they married and mum's mother and father had a housekeeper and a gardener in their 3-storey home.
Mum and dad arrived in Albany Harbour, Western Australia on 9th May, 1920 and during their farming lives lived in Chorkerup, Redmond and Narrikup. Mum was seriously ill after a major operation and they were forced to leave their farm at the end of 1937, with almost no possessions. If you have followed my story at you will know that for some reason they were unable to have children so they adopted me in 1932; they were wonderful parents and I shall always be grateful for their love and care of me.
They separated in 1954 when I had only been married a short time and I saw little of my dad for some years. I did pay him a visit for his birthday on one occasion but shortly afterwards mum said she had received a noted from dad asking me not to visit him again. I found this very strange as during that visit I was made to feel most welcome but I had to take mum's word at face value. I have often regretted I didn't challenge what I was told but in those days you always trusted your elders.
I am not sure when, but my brother and his wife decided dad should go into a nursing home and they chose Braemer in East Fremantle. At that time Dad still had his Morris 8 tourer but my sister-in-law told him he wouldn't be able to keep it and if he gave it to her she would trade it and her old car in for a better one and then she would be able to take him (and her mother who was also resident at Braemar) for a drive occasionally. Dad told me sometimes later that the matron of the nursing home told him he could have kept his car as there was provision for parking for residents.
One Christmas, A few years prior to dad's death, we were going to Len and Jean's place for tea. I received a call from Len saying dad wanted to see me and could Phil please bring me over after they'd had lunch so we could have a chat. Phil agreed, and dad and I had a lovely long chat during which time I discovered he had partly blamed me for mum wanting a separation from him. I quickly explained to him what had happened and he realised mum had made it appear I had been spying on dad which was absolutely untrue but I put two and two together and realised she had used something I had told her as part of her reason for wanting them to separate. Len took dad back to Braemar and Phil returned later with mum so we could have tea with Len and Jean and their family.
From then on we visited dad regularly at Braemar where he shared a very nice room and bathroom with another gentleman and we occasionally took dad for a drive as well. It was great that my two children got to know him although not all that well, and I regretted all the years they had missed seeing him when they were younger as he was a wonderful grandfather to Len's two girls (my nieces). This is the only photo I have of my children with their 'grandipops'. It was taken in the garden of Braemar. I think dad would have been about 83 when this photo was taken.
We were holidaying in Denmark (W.A.) when I received a telegram from mum telling me that dad had had a stroke. She said there was no point in us rushing home as he was being well cared for in the hospital section of Braemar but she thought I should know what had happened. I appreciated that she had let me know what had happened.
As soon as we arrived home we paid dad a visit to find him in bed and the stroke had rendered him virtually unable to walk so he was more or less bedridden although he could be taken out of bed so he could sit in a chair in his room, which he shared with another patient. I think dad lasted for about one year after the stroke and during that time his inability to walk really upset him. One of the nurses told me confidentially that he had one day asked if he could go to the bathroom. They assisted him out of bed but it apparently took him about 15 minutes to get there and then there was the journey back to his room. The staff of course just didn't have this amount of time to devote to each patient which dad was back to being bedridden again. Dad had always been a very private man and being dependent on the nursing staff for all his personal needs must have upset him terribly. I somehow feel he made up his mind that this was it for him. Why bother going on? For a man who had been a goalie for Tottenham Hotspurs soccer club as a young man and had farmed for 17 years it must have been very demoralising to now be so weak. He faded very quickly and one day Len rang for me to come to Braemar quickly. I arrived to find dad looking as I'd never seen anyone look beforeand I thought he had already died. Len said dad didn''t recognise anyone but when I took dad's hand and spoke to him, he opened his mind and tried to smile. Even remembering that now brings tears to my eyes. Dad passed away the next day and Len and Jean arranged his cremation and his ashes were placed in the Rose Garden at Karrakatta Cemetery. RIP Dad.
P.S. Dad was awarded the MBE for work he performed during WW2. I remember mum telling me how they went to Buckingham Palace where dad was presented with the medal by King George V. One day I may try to find out for what reason he was awarded the MBE.