When Mum died on 9 November 2009 -she was 95 yrs old -she was mother to six children, Mama to 13 grandchildren and now a great mama to 25 great grandchildren. Mum’s heritage was Irish – her grandfather Robert and Maria (Mulhill) Carroll came out from Ireland around 1880 and in 1885 purchased crown land in Burramine. Mum’s parents were Bill and Bridget Carroll. Given this strong Irish link meant the Carroll family (eight girls and two boys) all grew up with a strong love and respect of all things to do with Ireland – including the Catholic faith. Growing up on a farm provided Mum with endless stories -stories about milking their cows by hand – how she used the separator to separate the milk from the cream, driving the horse and gig into a dance and or Mass. Stories of the depression and how her mother always had food for the one who came looking for a meal and or work. These stories were told with love and admiration for both of her parents.
During Mum’s 95 years she saw many changes, from the horse and gig to the motor car, the wood burning stove, to an electric stove, from the copper to instant hot water – but the one change she referred to often, was the invention of the ‘flush toilet’ and I think electricity came in at a close second.
It is not until it is too late that you regret not having asked more questions or listened more intently to the many stories we were told.Mum and Dad married during the war in 1941, they had six children and on a low income, Mum managed all the finances and provided for all the needs of her family. Without a vehicle or public transport, Mum walked everywhere, ‘going up the street’ to do the shopping, cooking all meals on a wood burning stove and ensuring school, church and sporting commitments were met. Along with being a wife and mother, volunteering and contributing to community was a normal part of her day. Mum’s welcoming smile endeared her to everyone; she was both an ordinary and an extraordinary woman. A life filled with many challenges, with sadness, with love, laughter, storytelling, poetry, creativity, lots of hard work and of course lots of cups of tea.
The following are reflections from her grandchildren. W. Somerset Maugham wrote in the play The Circle “when you have loved as she has loved, you grow old beautifully”
“My fondest memories of Mama are from the Lynch Street kitchen where Mama would make breakfast an event to bound out of bed and be part of. Mama would not have trendy breakfast cereals or TV’s playing,but could make a different coloured bowl a treat and a black handled spoon a thing to look forward to. She would mix the meal with endless poems, games and rhymes that are still implanted in our brains today. (See below). Mama would love to dance and sing – her infectious laugh and squeal of delight as we would all sing and dance about her. Whether it was a version of ‘Wash the dishes, dry the dishes, turn the dishes over’, Here is an old lady from Botany Bay and what are you going to give her today or ‘If I had a donkey and he wouldn’t go’.Mama didn’t need computer games – we were entertained for days on end”.
(Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see, you are, too wise for me)
11 was a race horse
22 was one two
11 won one race
22 won one two
One-one was a race horse.
Two-two was one too.
One-one won one race.
Two-two won one too
Contributor: Mary Dykes, daughter