I have interviewed three of my sisters Noeleen Macintosh, Gwen Svensson and Kellie Purdy about their memories of our mum as a tribute for Mothers Day. Once the memories started rolling in it became evident that we would have to break the interview into three sections. So, here goes – in memory of Madeleine Ines Di Salvia nee: Bailey – Happy Mother’s Day Mum.
What is your fondest/happiest memory of Mum?
You know, mum used to make me laugh sometimes and sometimes she didn’t. Some of the “made me laugh” times was when she would sit having dinner and would go to sleep mid-way of putting a spoon full of food in her mouth (literally, her mouth would be open). Would tell her in a louder voice, “MUM wake up, your still eating”. She’d wake up then the whole thing would repeat itself. Another time was with her remote controlled chair
– I used to say to her don’t get out too quick the chair might flick you across the room (like being catapulted). We’d both have a laugh.
Mum would drive me crazy sometimes and she did mellow in her older years. She helped me so much, especially with Adena, which I am forever grateful. Thanks mum.
This is one very fond memory that I have of Mum: It was 1959 and the end of my final year in the Women’s Handicrafts Certificate Course at East Sydney Technical College. I had received a Traineeship in 1957 along with 2 other girls and the three of us were at the end of having to complete the 4 year course in 3 years. Our final year subjects included Ladies Tailoring II and Millinery III as well as some elective subjects, theory subjects and subjects for Teacher’s College. Always being such a perfectionist (as Mum had taught me to be from early childhood) I was running behind with the garments and hats that had to be submitted for the practical part our final examinations in Ladies’ Tailoring and Millinery. For Tailoring we had to submit a two-piece tailored suit, a dress and a coat; for Millinery we had to submit a straw hat, a felt hat and a fabric covered hat as well as what was called a “manufacturer’s model” which was an uncovered shape made from “willow” (a somewhat difficult to handle foundation material made from a grass fibre with a cotton gauze covering on one side).
I had 3 days left till the deadline and still had heaps to do. I found myself sitting up all night on Monday night, went to bed on Tuesday night. I then stayed up all night again on the Wednesday night trying to get things finished. Mum sat up with me well into the wee hours on those nights – threading needles, making a hot drink, just keeping me company, anything she could to help – and occasionally falling asleep with her head on the table! I appreciated what she did at the time, but when I think back, I don’t know that I appreciated her help as much as I should have. And yes, thanks to Mum’s help and encouragement, I got a good pass!
From Gwen: I think I must have been about 10 and as usual I went off to school for the day. Came home and there was this woman at home waiting for us that wasn’t my mum. At least that is how I felt at the time. Maybe it was her birthday I don’t really remember that part for sure but that is how I like to remember it. I feel it was her 40th Birthday and dad shouted her a hairdo, which was a haircut and perm but mum decided to add a little extra – a colour. Now mum had white hair all her life as far as I was concerned, but now there was a woman with dark brown hair living in our home – that wasn’t my mother.
We all hated this new colour, including mum. Well that resulted in all sorts of colour arrangements but grow out it did eventually and mum came back to live with us.