Today has been a good day. It certainly could have been awful & tragic, but it wasn't, due in part to the fabulously kind & considerate people that I work with, but I feel that it is mostly is due to the wonderful memories that I have of my lovely mum, who as I have previously mentioned, passed away 1 year ago today. Mum instilled me a very strong instinct to survive, rise above the unhappy things in life, & deal with things in a positive way. She was very much an "accept the things that can't be changed & change the things that can be changed" person: I am eternally grateful that she passed this on. She has left such big shoes to fill..........
To celebrate her life, I have decided to share with you the eulogy that I gave at her funeral last year. Upon re-reading, it appears to be rather long, although it didn't appear so on the day. To spare your time & tushes, I have decided to publish it in a couple of installments.
I hope that you enjoy getting to know a little bit of Sadie. It is my greatest wish that you had been able to know her in the flesh. I realise that I am a little biased, but to know her was to love her.
Sadie’s EulogyMy mother, Sadie June McMillan, arrived into the world on Jan 23, 1936 at Toronto West, NSW. The first child of Sarah (known as Sadie) & Moe, her delivery by Nurse Bules was greeted with much celebration, particularly by her father, who continued to celebrate for a prolonged period of time. This resulted in the Sadie’s registration by the nurse, who was sure the baby was to be named after her mother. So, Sarah Jane, as she supposed to be named, became the unique woman that we came to know as Sadie June.
14th April, 2008.
14th April, 2008.
Sadie was quickly followed by her siblings, Alan, Helen & Harry. The family lived in Carrington, where Sadie was educated in the local school. She attended Hunter Girl’s High School until around the age of 12, when she had to leave to commence work to support the family. Her school reports state Sadie was a quiet & studious young lady with a higher than average IQ, who always did her best. Mum was justifiably proud of the fact that she achieved her Intermediate Certificate before leaving school, which placed her 2 years ahead of schedule. Life wasn’t easy, but Mum never really shared much of these darker times, but was instead more inclined to share the colourful details of the many & varied things that happen when you are part of a big, extended family, with lots & lots & lots of children. Such as the fact that there was a bed at The Royal Newcastle Hospital with ‘McMillan’ written on the nameboard above it as there was always 1 child or another in it as a result of their escapades or accidents... such as the time Sadie burned her feet & suffered quite a long while in hospital & numerous surgeries, only to have sister Helen accidentally stick a pitchfork through her foot not too long afterwards.
Even during the tough times in the aftermath of the depression, young Sadie secured work in a number of places, settling into a job at the Co-Op Store in Newcastle. Sadie never complained about her short childhood, just accepting her lot as she continued to do throughout her life, rolling with whatever came her way.
Her childhood & teen years are full of stories, mostly about kids who were a bunch of larrikins who had very little, but had a great time with each other. Mum’s good times seem to relate mostly back to the time spent with her family in Toronto, some of which have been shared, but a lot of which I’ve been told are a bit naughty, so I’m not allowed to share them. Mum did tell me though, that she used to enjoy swimming in the creek wearing only the boy’s hankies tied together as swimmers. Were hankies bigger back in those days? It’s a good thing that tissues weren’t invented way back then........
Let’s skip forward to the early 1950’s. While living in Denison St, Hamilton, the lovely teenaged Sadie regularly attended the local dances. It was often said that she & her mother looked more like sisters than mother & daughter, which was a good thing for one of her brother's mates, who didn’t attend the dances. Instead, he spent these evenings at home polishing the silver with Sadie Snr while Sadie Jnr went out & had fun. But this time & polishing paid off for young Ken Thornton, who worked his way into young Sadie’s heart, until they were married in August 1955. Baby Glen arrived, followed by Cynthia (moi).
Ken & Sadie lived in Orange then Tamworth as Ken pursued his career as an aircraft engineer & motor mechanic before settling into their present home at Belmont North, collecting friends along the way. Sadie was the perfect partner for Ken in their membership of the Newcastle Aeroclub, even though she really didn’t like to fly. Transportation, before Cynthia arrived, was a motorcycle & sidecar, Sadie in pillion position behind Ken, with baby Glen tucked snugly into the sidecar.
Their life together moved in a new direction when Ken re-established his connection in the motorcycling world with their involvement in the Mayfield, then Belmont District Motorcycle clubs Scrambles & motocross became part of the daily life in the Thornton family. Meetings, working-bees & lap-scoring beside dusty motocross tracks became an integral part of Sadie’s life. She was unfailingly supportive of Ken’s endeavours & achievements in this sport; quietly supporting him & opening the family home to motorcycling enthusiasts from Australia & the world as motocross was entered onto the Australian motorsport map from within a loungeroom in suburban Belmont North.
Later on, the pair became keen members of the Newcastle Vintage motorcycling club, & were part of just a handful of members to actually ride their vintage AJS motorcycle to the Gold Coast in 1987. Most other folk towed their bikes in a trailer, enjoying all the creature comforts of their car.........
Siblings; Sadie, Helen & Alan
Tune in for a wee bit more tomorrow.... have a good Good Friday.