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10 years ago

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Wallace Bridge
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Wallace Bridge
10 years ago

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Wallace Bridge
10 years ago

Betty Bridge eulogy 22 November 2011 Mum! Betty Bridge – what can we can say? She had a good life, dying in her 85th year. She and dad did it all. Poor dad – such a devoted and passionate man – a father to be proud of. But .. he’s devastated. His love for mum never wavered. He never gave up hope that one day she would recover. If she just hung in there long enough then modern medicine would surely come to the rescue. When she died last Wednesday it was not a relief for him, it was a catastrophe. Alzheimer’s disease what a cruel way to finish your life. Just when you are ready to kick back and reflect on a life well spent you are brutally robbed one-by-one of your memories until they are all gone. The last 2 years or so of mum’s life were horrible but the preceding 82 were full of achievement and I hope happiness. So, who was Betty Bridge? Betty was a country girl who grew up in Walcha with her younger sister Joyce who is here with us today. After leaving school she joined her dad working the land through her late teens through to her mid twenties – she was paid in property and cattle. Her parents had divorced when she was 4 years old and her dad eventually remarried and began a new family of which her brother Lindsay is also here today. Anyway, mum had learnt to cook her meals and boil her billy on an open fire and to get around by horse. In another world, my Dad had grown up in Bellevue Hill with the help of a nanny and he got about by chauffeur. How did these two distinct worlds meet? Well - in the mid 50’s, dad ended up in Tamworth for work and one night went to a local dance with a friend. At the dance, dad pointed out to his friend a girl with black hair and blue eyes. His friend knew this beautiful girl and later introduced my dad to my mum. They were married in Walcha on the 31st March 1956. By November 1959, they had three boys within 18 months of age; myself and my twin brothers Lawrence and Stephen. Mum’s life had changed dramatically and I am sure at times when she was buried in nappies that she thought perhaps she had made a very big mistake going to that dance. In 1961, we moved to Sydney, ultimately settling in Deakin St, Forestville. From bush to suburbia in just 6 years! In 1964, one more son was added with the arrival of James. We stayed in Deakin St until 1970, when we moved to Cook St. Throughout the 70’s our family continued to grow, with my parents taking in foundlings like Ian and Mark, who are here today, and many others over the years who came to consider our house their home and Betty as their other mother. Mum and dad never drove but we had the best holidays because of Dad’s job with Qantas. Usually, one of them would take two of us to New Zealand or the south pacific, with Fiji’s Beachcomber Island being a regular favourite – and every couple of years they would head off by themselves for their own personal adventures. In the mid 70’s they helped found the Qantas Adventure Club and it was through this that mum rediscovered her love of the high country. Over the next 10 years or so she climbed either to the top or to the base camps of Mt Snowden, Mt Shuksan, Mt Baker, Mt Everest and many others. As is the nature of this pastime, some climbs were cancelled due to poor weather and one up Mt Kenya was cancelled due to a plague of lions. Before long, her long list of exploits became well known and she became a regular guest speaker at VIEW club functions aimed at motivating women to get the most out of life. In 1982, the Women Weekly featured a centre page spread on mum’s mountain climbing accomplishments. Mum and dad travelled so much, I expect it would be much easier to list the countries they haven’t visited rather that those they have. But mum’s number 1 passion was music, she was gifted and could play any instrument by ear –sadly something I failed to inherit – thanks to my tone deaf dad! Mum loved to compose, and every day she would sing and play her favourite instruments- the accordion, mouth organ, mandolin, and violin. As kids, she would sit on the front porch, play a song and we would dance. Edelweiss which we have been listening to today was one of her favourites and the “Sound of Music” was the first movie mum took us to and she loved it so much that she and dad visited the Salzburg estate the following year in 1966. When we had all left school she took advantage of the spare time and became a regular performer for 15 years or so in the Willoughby Musical Society. She loved the costumes, being on stage, and the applause. Mum may have been a country girl at heart but she loved to dress and she dressed well. For mum, the more colour the better and if it involved a hat then she was all the more happy. But family isn’t everything – you have to have friends and mum certainly had her share. Her best mate was Joan Roach from across the road in Deakin St. In later years, Joan joined mum and dad on many of their jaunts around the world and Joan’s tales of the adventures of this trio could reduce you to stitches. Both Joan and her husband John were solid friends to mum right up until the end. When dad was away, Joan visited mum every day and fed her – which could take hours just for a tub of yoghurt – she not only did this for mum, she did it for dad so he could rest easy while he was away. John, the unsung hero would drive dad up to the nursing home and would take mum and dad to a shopping centre for coffee if Dad requested- which he usually did. John continued to do this long after I said it was too hard. In the final months, John would wait patiently for dad to finish his visit and he never complained and never made excuses. They are two lovely people – thank you very much for what you have done for my parents with your friendship. Finally on behalf of my brothers, our dad, our wives and our children, I would like to thank you all for coming here today to farewell our much loved mum, wife, sister, friend and nanna. Wallace

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