Thinking of my Mother

My mother died last year, in her 98th year.  If she had lived until yesterday we would have been celebrating her 100 th birthday.

Today, as I have not only the last few days, but since her death, I reflect on her life.  She was born in a little place called Wistow, just out of Mt Barker, in the Adelaide Hills.  Her father was Alfred John Ragless and her mother Irene (nee Pobjoy).  Two sisters were born later.  See Ancestry entry.

My sister and I never visited Wistow, and my sister did not know of its existence, until Mum's later years and we didn't visit it until after her death when we scattered her ashes in a park there.

Mum and Dad were quite strict.  Mum was a staunch Anglican all her life as her mother's brother was the minister of the St Mary's Church of England Church, as it was called in those days.  My grandmother was a very strict Christian, and even walked several miles to church on her own, in her later years.  We went to Sunday School every Sunday, but at the Methodist church as there was not a Church of England church near where we lived at Ballara Park (now called Warradale), until 1956, when St Elizabeth's opened.  (I see it is now called St Elizabeths of Hungary!)

I remember going to church at St Elizabeth's with the family.  Dad was a Methodist, but he came with us sometimes.

I joined what was then called the Girl Guide movement (now they have dropped the "Girl") when I was about 10 years old (as a Brownie), and went on to Guides, and later Rangers. Mum started as a Brown Owl, (leader of the Brownies)
and went on to become the Commissioner - I think District only.

Mum didn't have a car.  I remember her learning to drive when I was about 17 years old, but she never had a car to drive.  Dad had a car, but would never let Mum drive it as I recall.  If she had had a car I am sure she would have gone on further in the movement.

I left home when I was 18, to go nursing in Mt Gambier, and apart from a short period in 1967, I never lived with my parents again.  

My parents and I spoke on the phone every week.  One week it was their turn and the next it was mine.  They came to visit our family in Warrnambool, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and we went to visit them in Adelaide when we could.  

I remember the long drives from Brisbane - with the two children in the back of the car - starting the "Are we there yet?" before we had crossed the Queensland/New South Wales border!!  How many games of I Spy did we play?  How many toilet stops did we have to make?

One thing that stands out in my memory is the time Dad was very ill.  He had a cancer of the bowel, and had it removed.  The bad bit cut out and he recovered very well, so it seemed.  A few weeks after he returned home, the "anastomosis" broke.  He had an infection and the area where the join in the bowel was, broke, spilling blood and contents into his abdominal cavity and brought on septicaemia.  One Tuesday morning I had a phone call from my mother to say that he only had hours to live.  I cancelled all my business appointments and rushed to Adelaide, arriving around 5 pm. 

At the hospital Mum and my sister had arranged for me to meet with the surgeon who explained Dad's predicament.  After that meeting I went to see him in Intensive Care where he was hooked up to a series of machines.  He was glad to see me, and I told him that he was in a bad way and that the doctor had suggested further surgery, but it would not be a guaranteed postive outcome.  Dad promised "to fight like hell" which he did and lived on another 12 years or so and was very healthy until his demise.  He died about 3 years before Mum, but had been her carer for a long time before she was admitted to a nursing home.  She had some sort of dementia.

Mum's last years in the nursing home were distressing for us all.  While often she was very happy and had conjured up some amazing stories to explain why she was there, her short term memory was awful, but she could be quite "on the ball" with things.

Sadly she passed away as I was returning from China in 2014, and I didn't get a "good" goodbye with her.  

She did want to make it to 100 years, but passed away just 18 months short of her goal.

Mum and Dad, September 2003