submitted by John Diacopoulos on 02.11.2007
Mary’s story is not unusual or unique.
However it is a story that will soon have its roots in history rather than the recent past, as she was one of a generation of migrant women who married and then came to Australia as brides before the 2nd World War when Australia and especially country Australia was very much a different place.
Not only was Australia a different place; the life in Australia that Mary came to, was almost the antithesis of what her life in Kythera had been.
Not that life in Kythera was in any way sophisticated, far from it; but the sprawl and hustle and bustle of an urban community as distinct from the atmosphere of a quiet rural village, coupled with a complete lack of language, a somewhat different cuisine and no like minded women of her age to communicate with, would have been a difficult experience, especially when a whole new extended family and unheard of relatives were thrown into the equation.
Having left her family home at 22, Mary was 40 before she had the opportunity to visit her parents with her husband and offspring, only to find on arrival after 5 weeks at sea, that her father had died some 14 days beforehand.
There was also a bright side to life and she revelled in it.
She loved her shopping sprees with her sister Poppy when they would take themselves off to Sydney together, going back to Gosford and Quirindi, respectively, laden with the latest available fashions of the late 1940s and 1950s.
Family life was important. Picnics at Terrigal, Ettalong and Toowoon Bay or down to Bobbin Head with brothers in law and sister in law Maria and their children; visits to Narrabri and Quirindi to visit brothers and sisters and ensuring that the children had a rapport with their cousins. All of those little things that bind families and extended family and friends, were important to her.
She enjoyed having young people at her home and encouraged an open house at Gosford and Kings Road, Vaucluse. The family home was always available for “Younger Set” functions including the Younger Set of this Parish.
Being the Granddaughter of a Priest, Mary believed that the Church was an important element of any community and the family was one of the early members of this Parish.
In her later years, much of her time was taken up caring for an older husband and at times an older brother and brother in law with a few overseas trips in between.
Still later Mary moved to Potts Point and discovered the delight of being waited on by others as she sipped cappuccinos and ate chocolate cake and other delights. She became a regular sight at Toby’s and Zinc in the company of her daughter in law Elenie, or her carer, Alma; always with an impish smile and a healthy appetite.
A far cry from the Gosford of the early 50's when she was serving the cappuccinos from Gosford’s first Espresso Machine.
It was also a far cry from her life behind the counter dealing with the public and the demands of long hours, washing dishes and preparing the shop for the next day’s trade all of which was a tough apprenticeship that translated into a certain toughness, fortitude and determination that she carried through into her personal life.
At the same time it is also is fair to say that Mary always maintained that she had enjoyed a good and happy life and that she had lived to see her children become adults and even her Grandchildren become adults and that it was foolish to wish for more than that.
May she rest in peace.
Opps agers. M
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