The favourite tea cup of my mother

Donated by M.Ann Shevill

What would my mother, Margaret Gibson, born in 1901, have been thinking when in Sydney as a teenager she sipped tea with my grandmother, who was drinking from her favourite tea cup?

"Shall I be able to play tennis this afternoon with my school friends?"

After Grandmother died at an early age, her favourite tea cup was set aside.

Margaret thought:
"Mother's special tea cup will be safe even when I am away from home, visiting my elder brother, who is far away on a station property near Winton - wherever that is in Central Western Queensland."

During 1924, Margaret was thinking about a darling lady who had befriended her:
"I am so happy that Mrs Brabazon asked me to stay with her husband Charles and family of seven young adult children, rather than at the bachelor establishment on my brother's property. Such a gracious lady – she has lovely tea cups like my mother - and such a happy active young family – especially that handsome Tony – why didn't I meet him in Sydney when he was a boarder at The Kings School and I was at Abbotsleigh Girls School?"

Having become engaged to be married in a year or so to that handsome ex WWI soldier Tony, when travelling by boat back to Sydney, my mother heard that her father had been killed in a Sydney city accident. Tony rushed to Sydney to suggest that they marry immediately so she could return with him to Kalkadoon, a sheep property a couple of hours drive from Winton.

Margaret did not take many sips from the favourite tea cup to decide:
"That is the right decision to take, so we will be wed at St James Church Sydney, in this year 1925 and I will become Mrs A G Brabazon."

At Kalkadoon, sitting on the veranda of the lonesome homestead, looking out to the desolate drought-stricken plains and the dry bed of the Diamantina River, Margaret was drinking from the favourite tea cup. It had such fond memories for her as she pondered her new situation; true love can be blind to the difficult changes of lifestyle and to some discomfits and serious financial concerns.

"It shall be sad to have to leave Kalkadoon, because drought and recession necessitate the move, but Tony says that we will have a nice house in Winton, so I shall still be able to enjoy special possessions such as my favourite tea cup. There are sure to be enjoyable tea parties with friends and members of Tony's extended family."

Following the twin Brabazon girls who were born to Margaret and Tony in a Winton nursing home in 1927, there was not much time to sit and sip tea, but when she was able to do so, Margaret thought:
"How my mother would have loved to have known these two baby girls: Patricia, strong and dark-haired, Ann, frail and fair-haired."

Patricia was destined to die when seven weeks old, but Ann survived with difficulty and much tender loving care by parents, family friends and the local doctor.

Years passed. In 1982, aged 81, Margaret returned from the funeral service for her beloved Tony; she sat with Ann and drank from the favourite tea cup and reminisced:
"Tony and I had 57 years of marriage with the inevitable ups and downs. My small Gibson family was compensated by Tony's quite large family and we always had lots of loving friends. People helped each other through rough, tough times. We have been blessed. Ann, you must always remember us and your grandparents, especially when in the future you drink from this favourite tea cup."

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