Kathleen Watt, as she was then, became a part of our family at a time when we needed a bit of help. Our mother had died at a young age, 37. She left behind three very young boys and a husband who was trying to earn a living running a business.
It soon became obvious that running a business and bringing up three young boys just wasn't working; things became a bit chaotic, a grandmother arrived to help and finished up staying some years. This lady was a bit of a sergeant major. She rolled in with all her authority, imposed order and discipline into the house but little in the way of love and affection. And my two younger brothers were so very young,
So, life ground on in this way for two or three years until Kath and Dad decided to marry. Fortunately, Kath was well known to us boys since she had always worked in our father's business.
But Kath was a 27-year-old marrying a 40-year-old with a family. It was never going to be an easy transition. She was an only child and had always lived in a sheltered environment, still in her parents' house. Kath had a tough time for quite a while but gradually the family grew together. Kath had a good sense of humour and that endeared her to us.
Through all this, Kath continued to work. In total she ran the post office for 70 years. She retired a little over two years ago at 87 when her health began to fail. She loved it because she loved the people, and this was the key to Kath's contentment in life, especially after our father's death in 1971.
Kath considered herself blessed because she had lived her entire life on the Mid North Coast. She saw the Hastings Valley as the land of milk and honey, and the people who chose to live there reflected unconditional kindness to her. Kath's life was littered with the many kindnesses of friends and neighbours.
There was companionship and pleasure with the church group and their social outings and the happy group of ladies at the Long Flat hair salon. There was a special family in Kath's life, Sandra and Noel Newham. They meant so much to Kath. This lovely family adopted Kath in a sense, watched over her and always included her in their social occasions and celebrations.
Amazingly, Kath's humour and dry wit were still with her close to the end. In her final days she had just two requests, firstly that someone would look after her cat, Merry, and I understand a lovely lady visited the hospital to assure her that would be done.
The final request was that she be buried in the General section of Wauchope cemetery. "That's where my people are", she said.
Chris Carey, Kath's stepson
It's so hard to capture in a few short words what a blessing Kath was to all who knew her. For us, Kath was nothing short of family. A grandma figure for our kids, and great grandma to our grandkids. She sat around our dining table for every family gathering, joining in on every joke with her wonderful sense of humour.
You would think from looking at her that she was just a quiet old lady, but she was never afraid to speak her mind, or jovially make a witty retort where necessary. Nathan will never live down how poorly he once cut a cake in Kath's presence.
If you were stuck trying to think of something, Kath was always able to fill in the detail: whether it be a name, a date or some other nugget of history. She knew everyone and everything going on, and could have easily written several novels with her anecdotal stories but she was never a gossip.
She could always be trusted that things would go no further than her. She never cast judgement, but took people as they were.
Kath was a wonderful gardener, but she absolutely hated ants. She set her mower to the lowest setting and flattened all the ant hills in her yard. The battle would continue almost daily, as they attempted to rebuild their homes and Kath would again show them how unwelcome they were with the wrath of her old Victor's blades. Noel would regularly have to service the mower in order to clean out all the remnants of the foray.
She was a terrific gardener, and many a resident has smelt the beautiful perfumes of her famous rose garden on their way to pick up the mail. We were lucky enough to sometimes have some of her blooms to take home and admire.
She was a terrifically hard worker, and it is remarkable that she managed all those parcels every Christmas, stacked higher than her and hedging her in around her little office, and indeed, all around her home. If she could have still lifted those parcels, she probably still would have been sorting the mail up until last week.
She was always so generous, with her words and deeds, and made sure that if you did something for her, she would find some way to show her appreciation. Her kindness overflowed, along with gentleness, taking in her cat, Bella, when she hitched a ride under a bonnet, and had no other home.
The love Kath had for Bella was gorgeous to watch, and she loved being around her and doting on her. Bella's ashes have been placed in with Kath, so they will rest together.
It's hard to think that a lady so alive and spirited is no longer with us. Our family will miss her tremendously, for her love, friendship and company.
The Newham family
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