EDITH ANNE WATSON
Welcome. Thank you. And congratulations.
Mum kept a number of quotations in her contact book. One of these says: “Friends are the family you choose.”
By this measure mum had a very large and wonderful family indeed; she chose you. In a self centred world of “my-face”,
“my-bank”, “my-store”, even “my-RTA”, mum taught by example to be thankful of others.
Edith Anne Finlay was born at Randwick, the sixth child of Thomas Finlay and his wife Ethel Maud Finlay (nee Gill). With
a father born in Scotland and, on her Australian born mother's side a Welsh grandmother and a red-headed Irishman for a
grandfather, Mum was proud of her Celtic ancestry.
But by the time she was four, her sister Lillian had died of pneumonia and her mother from tetanus. Her eldest sister,
Ethel, would take on the role of substitute mother to the family.
As a child Mum would spend holidays at Katoomba with a family friend, Mrs Wheeler, who was associated with an Aboriginal
community in the area, a connection she would relate to throughout her life.
From school Mum joined the Sydney County Council in the QVB as a comptometer operator (a sort of mechanical computer).
Bunny Goodchild (now deceased) and Dell Marr (now restricted to a Beecroft nursing home) are two of Mum's lifelong
friends from this era.
Mum became a member of the Sydney Bush Walkers Club, a group that is still active today. One of her walking companions,
Dot English, often walked bare-foot. She passed away only a few months ago.
The Club was involved in efforts to save Blue Gum Forest from logging. Even in depression times Mum would contribute to
buying out the timber leases (something she always insisted gave her “special rights” to the place).
May 1938 Edith was introduced to Bill Watson at a ball organised by the Girls Fellowship Club at Randwick Presbyterian
Church. Over the next three years they would get to know each other, their families and the bush.
Bill was a bushwalker too. He belonged to the Rover Ramblers Club for men who had a background in the Scouting Movement.
At a Rover Rambler's barbecue at Warrimoo in September 1941, Mum fell off a log and injured her back. She was unable to
walk and was stretchered out to the railway station, then by train and ambulance to Sydney Hospital. Dad would have the
task of explaining to her father why Edith would not be home that night. This back injury would haunt her for the rest
of her life.
Four weeks later, Dad proposed and was accepted. On 10th October, 1942, they were married at Randwick Presbyterian
Church. The honeymoon was brief (wartime petrol rationing saw to that). Their two week journey to Nowra and back is
today considered something of a day trip.
They bought a house at 46 Paine Street, Maroubra, where they would live for 15 years. It became a well known venue to
local scout leaders, bushwalkers, and especially the Rover Ramblers and their families.
I was born in October, 1943, taking my middle name, Finlay, after my mother's maiden name. Keith was born June, 1946
with his middle name William after Dad.
Dad was working with Rheem who were moving their operations to Rydalmere. In December, 1957, the family moved to
Chatham Road, Denistone - The house with 59 steps (not a problem for bushwalkers). Mum and Dad would live here happily
for the next thirty years.
The family regularly took holidays together. Early trips we would stay in hotels and cabins, then with our own tent and
later we would go caravanning. There were five of us in the caravan, Mum, Dad, the two boys and “Muffin“.
Allan and I were privileged in these family adventures. We covered most of eastern Australia, as well as shorter trips
like to the Colo district during the orange season.
Easter 1951 was spent at Newnes, a place that has become a centre of interest in my life.
Dad joined Rydalmere Rotary while Mum became part of the Inner Wheel, serving in many capacities. New friendships were
formed in this period, including many overseas visitors.
In 1968, I married Nolene Schwartz. 1970 Mum's first grandchild was born, Brett Keith Watson. In 1972 her second, a
girl, Ilka Alexandra. Ilka married Mark Hornshaw in 1997. Mum would get to meet five great-grandchildren – Samuel,
Jarvis, Hugo, Kai and Renata.
Following Dad's early retirement from Rheem, Mum and Dad made several overseas trips to Europe, North America, Asia and
the Pacific. This would include a five-month “Round the World” trip in 1970 and a three-month “Round-Australia” odyssey
in 1975. On these trips they would visit and revisit friends met through Rotary and Inner Wheel.
One of Mum's more unusual activities was booking Qantas sightseeing flights to Antarctica. As someone who worked many
years in the travel industry, I believe Mum holds the world record for booking seats to Antarctica.
In 1987 they moved from the mountain in Chatham Road to a home unit at Ball Avenue, Eastwood. Mum and Dad would
participate in many of the activities of the Eastwood Probus Club. Trips around the country were still a favourite,
particularly as someone else was now doing the driving.
In October 1992 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with friends at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club. October
2002 was their 60th anniversary, which Carmen and I were privileged to host with friends at our house at Marsfield
(where you are invited today for light refreshments, after this service).
By 2006, Dad was suffering from growing dementia. He passed away two days before their 64th wedding anniversary. Mum
remained in the unit until the day she passed away, on Tuesday, 15th July, with her two sons by her side - just the way
she wanted it.
We are thankful that so many of Mum's friends are here today, but there are others who are with us today even though
they are unable to attend:
- John Blom, an old Rover Rambler, who died the same day as Mum.
- Dulcie Searle (nee Wright) a constant friend from childhood, who died late last year. Although many miles apart in
later years they were still two girls on the phone.
- and Allan Searle, her husband, who is now blind and totally housebound.
Always “Mum” to us, “Nana” to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, “Aunty Edith” or just “Edith” to her wider
family of friends. Farewell Mum. We are all the better off for having known you..