Topic: Heather Beth Hume (nee Mair) (1915-2006)
Heather Beth Hume (nee Mair) was the wife of Major Keith Hamilton Hume (1912-1995).
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The following was read out by Heather's daughter Rosemary at her funeral.
Mum you have had a long and eventful life.
Heather was born in 1915 in Hamilton, the second daughter of Rose and Gilbert Mair Her father was a bank officer with the BNZ and was moved around from agency to agency, so after she was born he worked in Hamilton, Cambridge and Thames. By the time Mum was school age he was working in Auckland and the family had settled on the North Shore. I remember her sister, Keitha, telling me that she was very excited when told that she was going to have a playmate, that to a 5 year old meant she was literally going to get someone to play with so when Heather arrived, Keitha was not impressed with this helpless baby. The age gap between the 2 girls meant that Mum was often lonely and wished she had other siblings nearer in age to her.
Her parents were good parents, but her Mother was very strict and didn't have time to play with the girls. Children were brought up to be " seen and not heard", to "not contradict" and only "speak when spoken to". Heather loved animals and she had kittens, dogs and calves to play with and later a pony , which she rode to school, as they lived on what would now be called a "lifestyle" block between Milford and Takapuna. She had 2 pet ducks called Necklace and John, she would catch them and garland them with flowers before putting them in her dolls pram and wheeling them down to the Black Rock pools for a swim.
Primary schooling in those days was all about the 3 Rs, reading and writing she enjoyed and excelled in but she couldn't do sums, so she came to dread Fridays as that was test day and anyone who got less than 50% was given the cane.
She went on to secondary school, being one of the foundation pupils at Takapuna Grammar, both she and her sister had secondary educations which wasn't that common in those days for girls but their parents saw the value in education and were able to afford it. At college she enjoyed school plays and concerts more than sports as she loved to sing and act.
On leaving school she worked for a year at Mt Pleasant hospital as a probationer nurse as she couldn't start her nurse training until she was 19. She did 3 years training at New Plymouth Base Hospital and then went to Wellington Hospital for a years Maternity training.
When war broke out Mum enlisted in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and sailed for the Middle East at the beginning of 1941. It was all a great adventure, being one of only 52 sisters amongst 3000 troops sailing with the Aquitania and the Mauretania to Suez. Then began 4 years service with the 3 General Hospital, 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force, following the troops from Egypt, through Syria, Libya and Italy. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for you, nursing behind the front line, there must have been many horrific and scary times. You and Dad never spoke of your war experiences, maybe you should have, as it took a great toll on your lives. After the war you put your name forward and was chosen to be a NZ representative at the Victory parade held in London in 1946. What an honour that was and what fun you had at the British Governments expense. (Being given 3 weeks free transport any where throughout the British Isles.)
You saw the sights of London, went down to Cornwall where your ancestors had originally come from. Then you had a trip around Ireland, where you suddenly became 2 sizes larger when it came time to return to England having wrapped the Irish Linen you had bought around your waist so you didn't have to pay customs on it.
Upon returning to NZ you took up nursing once again but this time as a District Nurse. You did many relieving positions around the North Island and then became the District Nurse for Ruatoria. That was quite an experience especially as your government car could only manage 4 miles to the gallon, and most of your patients lived out of the little settlement. In 1948 after nursing for 15 years, you married your childhood sweetheart, Dad took an awfully long time to propose, but you were absolutely thrilled. So you began 48 years of marriage, living most of that time in Wellington before retiring out here to Raumati.
A great sadness for you and Dad was your inability to have children, so you decided to have a family through adoption. What a change, to suddenly become a Mum overnight. You did things by the book and I became a good advertisement for a Glaxo baby. You were a good mother, providing a safe and secure home for us to grow up in, and like your mother you didn't spend much time playing with us, there was always jobs to be done. You hated sewing but I can remember you making us dresses, not enjoying it much and getting exasperated when the pattern didn't exactly fit our body shapes - mine in particular. We as children certainly led you a merry dance as most children do and no doubt gave you a few premature gray hairs.
Mums whole life changed and she more or less became a solo parent when our father had a brain tumour. That was particularly hard for Mum as not only did she have to nurse and care for Dad and look after we 2 girls, but she had to make all the decisions about the care and maintenance of the property, which was something she hated doing, and was completely foreign to her.
By the time we were teenagers Mum was doing a lot of voluntary work, which gave her much pleasure., there was 'meals on wheels' once a week , 'pink ladies' at the hospital, Save the Children Fund, Red Cross and the Returned Services. She tried and quite often succeeded to rope us in to help - I have many memories of climbing up steep Wellington paths to deliver a meal, and standing on the corner of Willis Street outside the St George Hotel rattling the box and handing out poppies for ANZAC day.
You were proud of your heritage and the fact that you were a member of the Founders Society of NZ. Your great grandfather had the first trading station in the Bay of Islands and your relations were at Waitangi to witness the Signing of the Treaty. You used to give Melissa and I potted history lessons every time we went on holiday. .. sorry Mum but 2 children sitting in the back seat of a hot and dusty car (no air conditioning then and a lot of metal roads) were bored out of their brains and the last thing they wanted was a history lesson ...an ice-cream would have been better!!!
You had a kind and gentle nature, always welcoming people into your home, interested in every ones news and goings on. (That aspect was not appreciated when we were teenagers growing up and experimenting with life).
Although you were always so welcoming on the outside I know you struggled inside, always worried and anxious that you were doing the right and proper thing. You presented to the world a caring and altogether woman which must a times have taken a lot of effort. I remember the time when I was about to go back to boarding school, we were having dinner and suddenly you let out a scream and there stuck in the corn cob you were eating was your front tooth. Well that was the end of any idea that you would drive me back to school. There was no way you were going to be seen with a gappy smile so off I went back to school on the train and you scuttled off to the dentist to get fixed up.
Gardening was your passion, you spent many happy ours in your garden and loved seeing what was in other peoples gardens. I must say Mum, none of your gardens are what I would call formal and tidy but more like a conglomeration producing a riot of colour and textures. I'm sorry I wasn't able to really share in your passion but I know you got real pleasure from Melissa's interest in plants and you two had many long discussions together. Your other great love, just like your father, was music, especially opera. The radio was always on in the kitchen, mainly tuned to the National programme, except in the morning when you were listening to Aunt Daisys show. You tried hard to get us to enjoy your kind of music but we weren't interested while we were growing up. But it has rubbed off as I now get a lot of pleasure listening to classical music and going to the opera, so thankyou Mum.
Church also played a large part in your life, your faith gave you great support especially in times of need, calm and inner strength. I remember you used to be on the flowers and linen rosters, when it was your turn to wash, starch and iron the alter linen you did it with so much care but woe be tied if we came anywhere near the laundry or touched it.
Retiring out to Raumati was a big wrench, although you soon came to enjoy the life and friendships you made out here. The soil was so much easier to work for the garden you created and then there was the beach close by. You loved to take walks along the beach, finding a place to sit and watch the waves and the sunsets, gaining some momentary peace within you. When your grandchildren came along you took great interest in their lives and wished you lived closer so that you could have seen more of them. You were very proud that all 4 granddaughters did well in their education, each gaining degrees in their chosen fields.
In the last few years, life has become a struggle, there was nothing wrong with your brain always up to date with world and local news, (must have been the crossword you did each day for so many years) but the body started to wear out which was very frustrating especially not being able to have proper phone conversations.
Well Mum it is time to say good bye. You have had a full life, struggling at times, but always doing the very best you could.
You were a kind and loving wife, mother and grandmother. You did OK.
Go well and thankyou for all that you were. You have been and will continue to be a big part of our lives. We Love You.
This page archived at Perma CC in March of 2017: https://perma.cc/3XRC-LGGU