Aisla Anne Wotherspoon (nee Hamill) 

 - Born May 8, 1911 Bourke, N.S.W. -  Died October 4, 2005 Southport, Qld

 These memories are based mainly on notes for sermon at Mum's funeral
 at Guardian Angels Church, Wynnum  October 5,  2005


 Mum belonged to the Faith & Family First Party....most important for her was her family and her Irish faith.  Her mother was an Irish immigrant, her father was the son of Irish immigrants

1875 Bridget Kelly & husband James Quinn Snr, grandparents of Aisla 

19-06-1907 Marriage Certificate & photo of John Moffat Hamill & Anne Marie Quinn, parents of Aisla 

30-11-1912 Death Certificate of John Hammil, son of John Hammil & Ann Moffet, grandfather of Aisla Mum was born on May 8,  1911 at Bourke Hospital in NSW

 Her father was an engineer in a wool shearing shed. He  was a widower and had a previous child before Mum and her older sister Patty.....a Maudy who became Maudy Michael??? whom I never met but  who had some connection at one stage with Hemmant Hotel and a hotel at Ormiston, Cleveland

 A few days after her birth, Mum was baptized  at  St Ignatius Church, Bourke by Fr J. Peifer S.J.

When Mum was a little child,  her family moved to Toowoomba where her parents had been married and where many relatives lived....especially the Cronin and Carter families

Mum went to Holy Name School in Toowoomba....and one of her classmates was Molly Finigan, mother of Pat Gerard here today at the funeral  (...and Pat's children attended Iona College...) 

1917 Aisla & Patricia Hamill

1917  Five Quinn Sisters (c. 1917?) (including Anne, mother of Aisla)

1920's  Patricia & Aisla Hamill

c. 1930(?) Aisla Anne & Patricia Grace Hamill 

c.1936? Aisla

1944(?) Aisla?/Patty?/John? Hamill in Toowoomba

Mum attended school until Grade 8...and during her school years learnt to play the piano and organ....later becoming an organist at Holy Name.  All her life she loved music & singing.  The family piano came to our home after Aunt Pat's death in 1962...and Mum loved playing it.  She played only by reading the music sheets...and could not play by ear.  She could play anything at first sight.  She had a large collection of favourite music sheets and especially loved songs from the great musicals like "South Pacific", "Sound of Music" etc

Her family moved a number of times in Toowoomba....see photos in link below (Back to Bourke tour)

When Mum was about 14 (?) she went to work as an accountant in the office at Piggott's department store  in Toowoomba (where Nell Cronin also worked)

Mum & Patty's father John died in 1944:     09-11-1944 Death Certificate of John Moffatt Hamill, husband of Anne Marie Quinn  

Towards the end of World War 2, Dad was repatriated to Toowoomba and met Mum at "CUSA", Catholic United Services Auxilary, that provided social care for returned soldiers  (see this link) 

Mum said that on Victory in the Pacific day, August 15,  1945.....Dad was extra happy after a few drinks...and was up a ladder...and Mum told him to get down (or helped him down?)

Mum and Dad were married on Wednesday January 16,  1946 at Holy Name Church in Toowoomba  by Fr Frank McMorrow  who received Dad into the church  two days earlier on January 14        16-01-1946  Marriage Certificate & photos of David John Wotherspoon &  Aisla Hamill

* When very young,  Mum contracted polio in her right  leg ....which eventually caused her painful back problems in old age
Photo of 1946  shows right leg smaller than left

Mum & Dad took the train to Brisbane for their honeymoon....staying at the former George Hotel in George Street....then moving to Doon Flats in West End (opposite Musgrave Park) and near St Mary's Church.   Mum's faith saw to it that all through her life her home was not far from a church.....no  home was suitable if it was too far from a church
1946 South Brisbane: Doon Flats where Dave & Aisla Wotherspoon lived, and St Mary's Church, where John David Wotherspoon was baptised
  

Some time after I was born and baptised (end of 1946) Mum and Dad moved to Blenheim,  a tiny dot on the map near the small town of Laidley about two hours (now) from Brisbane.  At Blenheim Mum & Dad's house was also the local store with a post office store  (...an army friend with post office connections helped get this job...and next job at post office in Manly, Brisbane)
1946 - c. 1950 Dave, Aisla, John, Peter Wotherspoon - at Bleinhem/Laidley, Q
December 1947 (Blenheim Q?): Till, Joyce & Bob Taylor; Aisla & John Wotherspoon

A year or two after my brother Peter was born at Laidley in 1949  our family moved to Manly in Brisbane...where Mum ran the Corner House post office while  Dad  worked at Hargreaves  (later Edgell's) fruit & vegetable factory. The post office was the front of our home.  I can remember we went to Guardian Angels Church in Wynnum each Sunday morning for Mass

Not long before I began school (1952) at Guardian Angels,  our family moved to 348 Tingal Road Wynnum North...again not far from shops/train/bus...and church

c.1952 - c.1959 - Wynnum, Q. - Dave, Aisla, John & Peter Wotherspoon

Mum faithfully visited her own mother in hospital, somewhere near the Brisbane General Hospital, until her mother died in 1954
12-08-1954 Death Certif &  Card of Anne Marie Hamill (nee Quinn), mother of Patricia & Aisla
  

Both Mum and Dad were on the volunteer committees at Guardian Angels....in fact till the end of their days, both of them were most generous in attending working bees, fetes etc to support church/schools

When Pete began school at Guardian Angels, Mum went back to full time work - first at T.C. Bierne's in The Valley in Brisbane, then  at the Queensland Bacon factory at Murrarie,  then finally at the Cistern Manufacturing Company at the Gabba  ....all jobs in the office accounting section

Mum was an expert touch typist...she even developed her own system (which I still use) for people with big fingers:
left middle finger doing  "d" + "e" ;  right middle finger doing "k" & "i"...and two fingers either side of   middle fingers doing everything else....so only three fingers on each hand being used  (+ thumb for space bar)

One day in 1963 or 1964 (my last two years at school)  Mum stayed home from work .....a really bad headache/flu I think.
I got permission to go home and see her during school lunch time.  I later learnt that that day was her first  first day to miss work since leaving Toowoomba...& .her first day in bed since Pete was born

Having grown up in the Depression years, Mum followed a simple and frugal life style....never wasting anything....left overs became part of next meal....always turning off lights when no one was in the room.....saving every cent to support the family and pay for our school fees.
I heard once from a cousin (Tessie Gilmore) how Mum would buy Pete and me an ice cream when she took us shopping, but would not buy one for herself because she was saving up to buy a washing machine, then a fridge etc

Mum's routine was the same each week:
6am Mass for the family on Sunday morning, followed by a cereal +  bacon and egg breakfast  (b & e only on Sundays...other days boiled eggs or left overs)
Then cooking Sunday baked dinner + cakes/biscuits for the week  (+ ironing if not finished on Sat afternoon/night because of rain)...a rest after lunch...then the flower garden at side and front of house.
She loved flowers, and was an expert gardener - as was Dad who had a wonderful fruit and vegetable garden at the back of the house.
Monday to Friday....breakfast for the family + cutting our lunches for school , then to work about 7.15am in her little car  (a Hillman Mynx  NCJ644, then a Datsun PES454, then a Hillman Imp....)....arriving home
about 4.20 to prepare the evening meal...followed by dishes + listening to radio (until we got tv about 1961)...if no sox/clothing needed mending.
Not forgetting that every night after our meal we had the family rosary...kneeling down around Mum & Dad's bed....preceded/followed by Mum privately saying her Legion of Mary prayers......except on Friday night when we attended the Novena at Guardian Angels Church

When I went to the seminary, Mum bravely thrice ventured to Melbourne in 1966, 1970 and again in 1973

1966 & 1970 in Geelong (St Joseph's Novitiate) & Melbourne (St Mary's Seminary)

1970's: Tingal Road, Wynnum, Brisbane 

During Dad's time of illness  Mum loyally visited and helped him all the time...as can be seen from Dad's own words in his letter of June 22, 1972 to John where he said "I hope and pray
that Mum sees me out........I just couldn't cope without her...I would be as a babe in the woods, helpless and hopeless"
(letter where Dad says "I don't know what I'd do without her....I hope she sees me out").
See also:

June 25, 1972: Letter to son John in Melbourne

On the Sunday Dad died, Mum Pete & Yve & local parish priest Fr Andrew spent many long hours by Dad's bedside until he breathed his last around 7pm

September 14, 1972: Mum's beautiful letter to Dave's sisters four days after Dave's death 

Mum's heart was full of joy at the wedding of Pete and Yve in 1973.

Later  in 1973 Mum moved to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.....to "Leilani Court", only a few blocks from....the local church.
She commuted by bus each day to work in Brisbane, until the happy day when her first grandchild, Natalie was born in July 1974.....then she retired at the age of 63....after some 47 years of work

In her retirement she attended daily Mass and also regularly helped with St Vincent de Paul work.  Her interests were reading (she loved novels), cryptic crossword puzzles (she was an expert), cooking (the best cook I've ever known - baked dinners her specialty), a glass of beer before midday and evening meals, cards (Patience, Euchre), Scrabble, TV news in evening,  Rosary in morning and evening. Before retirement Mum also attended Daily Mass on family anniversaries

When Pete and Yve and family moved to the Gold Coast, Mum was often a baby sitter for Natalie, Louisa and Paul.

1984-05-21 At Iona College in Brisbane (last two photos)

07-1984 Aisla Wotherspoon: Back to Bourke/Toowoomba Tour

1984-1993  Leilani Court, Gold Coast with Thelma & Bill, Bro Scho, HK visitors

14-01-1985 Brisbane Airport:

1987 group photos

1987: Maura Toomey, Aisla Wotherspoon, Natalie Wotherspoon, Viola Lynch, Gilmore family

January 1988? : Gold Coast with good friend Glad Freeman

July 12, 1991  Aisla Wotherspoon with her favourite song

December 1994: with visitors from Hong Kong & China

Mum kept on driving her little brown Datsun PES454 until her eyesight made it too dangerous to drive ...when she was about 81 years old.  
She then moved into Pete & Yve's granny flat for several years before spending the final few years at Leamington Nursing Home in Southport.
While at Leamington she had the special joy of becoming a great-grandmother when Katie was born

22-11-2003 Aisla Wotherspoon (nee Hamill) and Pam Hudson at wedding of Louisa Maree Wotherspoon & John Dunlop

2004 - With Hazel and "Jock" Cooper from UK

2004-05-22 At wedding of grand-daughter Natalie and Dan

2004-08-11 Gold Coast, Australia - Southport foreshore - daily walk - Aisla & John

2005-05-08 Aisla Wotherspoon (nee Hamill) and great grand daughter Katie

2005-08-17 Southport, Gold Coast: Aisla Wotherspoon at Leamington Nursing Home

At Leamington the Rosary was Mum's companion morning and night....prayed as she always had, for her family.  Pete, Yve and family visited her regularly....Pete virtually every day she was there.
Mum always attended the monthly nursing home Mass....and each week received Communion from a special minister. In the three weeks I was back each year I gave her Communion each day, previously having said Mass with her each day at Pete & Yve's home....joined sometimes by "the choir" (as she called the cheery birds on lawn outside kitchen table). In my holiday time I also tried to take Mum "for a walk" in her wheelchair....to the beach which she loved so dearly....sometimes past the Del Plaza Hotel where she and her sister and their mother stayed on holidays from Toowoomba....a few times as far as Australia Fair shopping center

In July-August 2005 I spent almost every day of my holiday at Pete & Yve's so that I could spend time with Mum each day....each morning and each afternoon...one day saying the whole Rosary, all 15 decades + other prayers for the dying...with her ....and recording it for her to listen to after I left Australia.  Her condition deteriorated at the end of September, so I went back to Australia during the October Golden Week holidays in China, Oct 1-7....arriving on Gold Coast on Oct 1....spending many hours with Mum on Oct 1,2 & 3.....giving her Communion each day.
About 12.30am on Oct 4, the nursing home phoned to say Mum was close to the end... Pete, Yve and I then went to the home and shared a last sacred half hour with Mum before she went home to Heaven at 1.20am on Oct 4, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron on Wynnun Parish.   Mum was not conscious her last few hours.... not in any pain...she went very peacefully.
Many thanks indeed to Leamington Nursing Home staff for all their kindness and care those last few years.

Through the prompt co-operation of a local undertaker's company + Wynnum parish, Mum's funeral was able to be arranged for the following day Oct 5 - see links below.
And I was able to use my Oct 6  Qantas ticket back to HK where I stayed overnight, before returning to Zhaoqing on Oct 7  in time for school on Oct 8 ....Mum's  timing was just perfect 


October 5, 2005 funeral service words        2005-10-05cmail.JPG (20184 bytes)         October 5, 2005 photos

November 27,  2008  Hemmant Cemetery - Dave & Aisla  

"God was good in giving us,   a mother as lovely as you"


1984:  Mum on very out of tune piano:
Piano 1
Piano 2
Piano 3