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
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 Five Quinn Sisters (c. 1917?) (including Anne, mother of Aisla)
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
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
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
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").
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.
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
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)
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
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
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 October 5, 2005 photos
November 27, 2008 Hemmant Cemetery - Dave & Aisla
"God was good in giving us, a mother as lovely as you"
Mum on very out of tune piano: