Name: Agnes Ethel PORTER
Birth: 26 JUN 1907 in Pymble, NSW
Burial: 05 NOV 2006 Coonabaraban, NSW
Death: 01 OCT 2006 in Bellhaven Nursing Home,Wellington, NSW
A Tribute to Agnes Ethel Sutton our mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
It's wonderful to look around the congregation and see so many here, including some 60 or so members of the Sutton family. Mum lived a long, long, life and I guess we all hope to have a similar innings with the robust health that she enjoyed for all but the last few years.
For robust health was one of her defining physical attributes. She wouldn't let a pill pass her lips and would resist any treatment right up till the last. Liquid panadol and morphine patches were only an unknowing concession to medical assistance.
This resistance was an indicator of her other major defining quality which was her determination. She was by any standard, a strong character.
These qualities, her natural physical fitness and strong personality, equipped her well for a long and productive life.
Psychologists today talk about tough love - well our mother invented it. Discipline, which she pronounced DscIpline was an important ingredient of a good character and she expected it of her children and practiced it in her own life. This attitude undoubtedly grew out of her childhood background for her parents were, what we call today, battlers. She was one of ten children and she is the last survivor. Many of them too lived into their nineties as did her mother Margaret Porter, who lived to 98. Like others of her generation, she lived through the great depression and saw poverty and despair and the need to help each other and be frugal.
I remember as a young boy Mum, who together, with Dad raised nine children on a single income, cutting the butter into small portions so that we would not use too much, or doling out the jam into a little dish so that there was no temptation to be extravagant with it. I remember Bob getting into trouble for taking two portions at a time To us children, it seemed over the top, but it must have been a strain on the purse strings for them to keep us fed and clothed and educated.
For Mum and Dad, the Catholic faith and a good education were the two major goals they sought for all their children. It really is incredible what they achieved and it would be almost unthinkable today to be able to raise nine children on a single income.
But achieve it they did with the assistance of the Srs. of St. Joseph and later on Bob went off to Holy Cross Ryde, Margaret to Brigidine convent Cowra, Paticia to St Mary's, Bathurst, Agnes and Rosemary to St Joseph's Perthville and Harold and I went to Stannies, Bathurst. Therese stayed home to pursue music to a high level coached by Mum who herself was a qualified Music teacher. Lois worked in Permewans and ultimately obtained her University degree to become a teacher.
In all the years we were away as children and in educational institutions, Mum faithfully kept up her letter writing to us all. She loved to get our letters and treasured them. I was surprised to be given, by Lois, all my letters from Rome which Mum had kept. But then she never did throw anything out. We had a paper cupboard and a string tin in the old house at 17 Knight St. These items were kept just in case you might need them.
Mum and Dad came to Coonabarabran in 1943. Agnes was a babe in arms. Mum probably would never have dreamed that she would live in this community for the remainder of her life, 63 years. Her involvement in the community and in particular the Catholic community was significant, despite her full time duties on the home front. Coonabarabran came to be her second place of identity along with Moree St Gordon. She contributed greatly to the community and in return received the recognition and support from the Coonabarabran people at significant times in her life and the life of her family. We, her family are very grateful to the people of Coonabarabran who accepted Mum and us as one of their own.
I'm sure there are many of you here today who coughed up your two shillings for Fr. White. Mum collected for the Indian Missions for years. If she believed in a cause she pursued it with a passion. She taught catechism at the State Schools for over thirty years. She belonged to the Legion of Mary and visited many homes to pray the rosary. A prayer that was especially close to her heart and which Lois said with her in her dying moments on Sunday morning.
She had a passion for music which has inspired a love of music in her children and their children. She would be delighted I'm sure to hear Stew Kirwan play trumpet or Bec sing. Mum played the organ in St. Lawrence's till well into her eighties and organized Christmas and Easter choirs.
She handed out how to vote cards for Fred Nile's election campaigns and was a true political activist. She, like many Catholics of her time, moved her political allegiance from the traditional catholic party, the Labor Party, to the conservative side of politics via the DLP after the 1956 Labor Party Split. Dad, on the other hand remained a labor loyalist declaring famously that he would "change my skin before I stopped voting Labor" Mum's politics were greatly influenced by her abhorrence of abortion. She greatly loved children and would light up in the presence of children. Even in her dying days the presence of Monny and Mat's children brought that beautiful smile to her face.
And she was concerned too that her grandchildren were well looked after by their parents. She often castigated Harold for spending too much time away from Diane and his boys with his involvement in Football. Perhaps it was significant that she died on Grand Final day robbing Harold of the opportunity to use the best seats he had ever obtained for the Grand Final. In Harold's words "She got me there". After hearing some of Harold's stories as we talked about old times on Tues night, of his youthful exploits with some of his mates around Coonabarabran, I think she let him off lightly.
Even in her old age her determination and self reliance shone through. While in her eighties she was badly bitten on the leg by a dog. She walked back home and rang Harold who came to find her leg bleeding badly with a hug piece of flesh torn out of her calf. He immediately wrapped it tightly and wanted take her to the doctor. She told him not to fuss and she would put iodine on it. He eventually got her to treatment. Agnes rang her one day and she didn't answer the phone. She later called Ag back to tell her that she was up the Plum tree on a ladder cutting down some of the higher branches.
Mum lived 99 years, a Bradman average. She spent 30 of those years married to Dad who predeceased her by some 34 years, but the person who shared the most time with Mum was our sister and Aunty, Lois. Counting her childhood, I reckon Lois lived with Mum for about 45 years. Lois cared for Mum in a way that was truly exceptional. We, her brothers and sisters are forever in her debt for the practical love that she showed to Mum for all that time. I was so happy that it was she who was able to be with Mum to share that special time of her dying. Lois we thank you.
Harold and Diane and Gerard and Bernard and Chris, were also special. They lived close by and supported Mum and Lois in very many ways. Shopping, fixing the plumbing, cutting down trees and granny minding on the part of the boys. Thank you from the rest of us.
Finally thanks to all of you here today who have come to share our grief and celebrate Mum's long life. Many have traveled great distances and it is of great comfort to know you care.
A special thank you to Fr. Laurie, our celebrant and to all the Priests of the Disocese who have ministered to Mum over the years.
Mum commanded great respect and love from many people and her treatment by staff at Bellhaven Nursing Home Wellington where Mum spent the last three years of her life was exceptional. The staff on duty when she died tended to her in a loving way and formed a guard of honor to farewell her as Steve our undertaker took her body for the final journey back to Coonabarabran and home.
Father: Thomas E PORTER
Mother: Margaret E STEIN
Allen Douglas SUTTON b: 31 MAY 1902 in .
11 SEP 1942
in OLPS Walgett, NSW
- Living SUTTON
- Living SUTTON
- Living SUTTON
- Living SUTTON