09 Oct

Beth Lella

September 29, 2007

Peacefully at Kareena Private Hospital Caringbah, late of Sans Souci. Beloved wife of Robert (deceased). Much loved mother and mother-in-law of Robert, James and Jane. Adored “Dibby” of Max. Dear sister of Eric, Keith and Jean (all deceased), Neil and Fay, Roy and Kay. Loved and sadly missed by their families.

A dedicated Teacher and Headmistress of Milton, Mortdale, Sans Souci and Kogarah Infant Schools.

Aged 92 years

May she be remembered
for her dignity, grace,
laughter and love.

Beth’s family and friends are invited to attend her Funeral Service in the South Chapel, Woronora Crematorium, Linden Street, Sutherland on Monday (October 8, 2007) at 11am.

Unfortunately I only got this news this morning from my Uncle Roy. The notice had been in the Herald on October 3 — my brother’s birthday — but I missed it.

Much loved. Nee Beth Christison.


Yes, I would have gone to the funeral, but unfortunately my cousins only had my now defunct landline number and didn’t think to Google me. Anyway, they had enough on their minds. The uncle who rang me today has been very unwell himself, and again had enough on his mind. However, I was just now able to contact my cousin Robert, Beth’s son, and we had a good preliminary chat and will talk again later.

He reminded me that the unstoppable, until just the past year or two, Aunt Beth had taken herself off to London in 2004 to attend a wedding in of all places the Tower of London, where she stayed! She has a nephew by marriage who lives there.

She was a rather amazing woman, Aunt Beth. I just noted this in my mother’s story:

At the beginning of 1914 my father took up his duties at a small school at Felled Timber Creek out Yass way. It was eighteen miles from the nearest rail head at Gunning. I have vague recollections of arriving in the stillness of a January evening at this township where a horse coach took us the rest of the way to the lonely place that was to be home for the next two years…

The nearest hamlet was six miles distant with three creeks between. Father used to walk to town twice a week for supplies, wet weather or fine. The hot dusty gravel playground was surrounded by pine trees which when the west wind blew made a sound like a woman in labour. It was a funny little square house we had there, four rooms and the external verandah at the front. Some distance from the main house was a slab-built kitchen with a wide open fireplace. There was no bathroom or laundry and very little water. The washing was done with two kerosene buckets suspended the open fire or in an iron boiler over an open fire outside. Bathing was accomplished in an old iron tub in the kitchen. It was not bad either, especially in winter by the nice warm fire.

The small school was next door. Here about twenty young Australians at a time, children of small and not so small farmers, followed the course of learning.

Summers were hot and dry — and dusty. Somehow that dust always seemed to arrive in a dense cloud at meal times when the food would have to be quickly covered so everything would not taste of the good red earth…

The nearest neighbour was an old woman who lived by herself a mile up the track. She smoked a clay pipe and always had a pot of tea on the hob.

The only time my mother saw a car was when the doctor was visiting and that was most infrequent, for he had to come from Gunning. In this remote corner of NSW my sister Beth was born early in 1915. In that year also there was a very bad diphtheria outbreak. No immunisation was available that year. The Grim Reaper had a merry time taking a child from here and a child from there and sometimes the parents were left completely childless. The school had to close for several weeks. It must have been a worrying time for my parents in this lonely outpost of education, with two small children and a babe in arms.

At my own mother’s funeral in 1996 Aunt Beth made a special point of embracing M and making him welcome. I have never forgotten that.

If you followed the link in the earlier part of this entry you will know The Rabbit met her once. He wrote of her: “… one of the most remarkable women I’ll ever meet. I’d only considered abstractly the notion of the elderly as living treasures; after yesterday, I have a concrete example.” I won’t argue with that.

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Posted by on October 9, 2007 in Events, Personal


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2 responses to “Sad

  1. The Rabbit

    October 12, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I only just read this Neil and was sad to hear. I remember Beth very fondly.

  2. ninglun

    October 12, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks, Rabbit; your words I quote above are fondly remembered too and very apt.

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