21 January 2022

Bush family farewells matriarch Pat, 'keeper of memories'

| Sally Hopman
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Pat Bush

Bush family matriarch Pat Bush died on January 9, aged almost 92. She is holding one of her favourite photos, taken with her beloved husband Noel. Photo: Ray McJannett.

Pat Bush was the sort of country woman everyone knew or had heard of. Her stomping ground was Jerrawa, Dalton, Gunning and Yass, but she was known further afield as a woman of her time: strong, kind, compassionate and with a wicked sense of humour. She also, family lore has it, cheated at cards.

This mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother, was also a “keeper of memories” with her remarkable recollection of names, stories and places.

The matriarch of the vast Bush family, Pat died on 9 January, 2022, just days short of her 92nd birthday.

She was the 10th generation of a family descended from brothers Arthur and Jeremiah Bush who arrived in NSW from Norfolk, England. Arthur came as a free settler in 1835 while Jeremiah had arrived as a convict two years earlier.

In a show of how connected Pat was to folk young and old, tributes flooded social media following her death.

Most of them saying how she was the first to welcome people when they moved to Jerrawa, or her kindness to people she barely knew. “Such a lovely lady,” said one, “always enjoyed a chat.” “RIP beautiful lady, ‘keeper of memories, a good title to hold – never to be forgotten’,” and “Pat will be dearly missed but not forgotten and may I say she made the best relish around”.

Born Patricia Joy, she was a member of the equally well-known Merriman family. Both families, today, have thousands of descendants across the country, particularly in the Southern Tablelands region of NSW as well as in the ACT.

Mother of three, grandmother of eight, great grandmother of 17 and great great grandmother of four, Pat Bush was the sort of woman everyone respected.

Her family came first, but her friends and her community came a close second – as did perfect strangers who were in need of help, according to her son Bruce. Like visiting inmates in Goulburn Gaol, according to Bruce where Pat would “take in books … and love”.

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“Her message to them was always that there are people out there who do love you.”

“Everyone loved her,” he said. “Most people treated her as if she were their mother – even if she wasn’t. She’d be the first in to help if someone was going off the rails.”

Bruce recalled an incident some years back when a young member of the family was in trouble with the law.

He said when she and her husband Noel heard that the youngster was in trouble, they jumped in the car drove up to North Queensland where he was and paid his fine so he could leave jail.

“They rounded him up and brought him home and, after that, made sure he stuck to the straight and narrow.”

Closer to home, Pat and Noel would drive miles out to Gunning to pick up the community car so they could take seniors to their medical appointments.

Their community involvement knew few bounds – Pat was active in everything from the Jerrawa Rural Bushfire Brigade to playing the organ at the Uniting Church, from the Jerrawa Show Society to the CWA and the Bush Family Society which regularly organised family reunions.

“Nothing was ever too much trouble. That’s why everyone loved her. Every day of my mother’s life I reckoned she helped someone.

“I remember saying to her a few years ago, ‘you know what makes me sad Mum? You’ve looked after your husband, your parents, his parents and everyone else all your life, who is going to look after you’?”

Turns out her family and friends were only too happy to help.

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Her granddaughter Christina, who wrote the eulogy, said: “I will always remember my grandmother as a wonderful human being and aspire to live my life in a way that she would be proud of. She has a special place in everyone’s heart and has left a beautiful impression on this world.”

But she could also be cheeky, Christina said. Her grandmother often took her to her a workshop at Jerrawa to learn how to sew, crochet and knit.

“Grandma and I would secretly refer to this group as the ‘Stitch and B—- Group.”

Christina also spoke of watching her mother Cheryl and Pat play cards.

“Although she’d have a hard time trying to beat my mother in a game of cribbage, I’d also witness her cheating antics with her friends who would pop over for a cup of tea … you could always tell she won by her cheeky little cackle whilst waving her fingers in your face.”

Patricia Joy Merriman was born to Amelia May and Ernest Clyde Merriman at Gunning on February 1, 1930. As a young girl with her brother Walter, the family lived at Batemans Bay before moving to a property called Chippendale, at Jerrawa.

She met and married Noel Bush at the Yass Methodist Church in 1951, a match, according to her son Bruce, “made in heaven”.

“They had a long, happy marriage, right to the end. They were the best of mates.”

Noel died in 2002.

Pat spent her final days at the Thomas Eccles Gardens Nursing Home in Yass, visited regularly by family and friends. At her funeral, special mention was made of her sister-in-law, Margaret Bush, who provided Pat, during that time, with “great comfort, untold love and caring”.

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Jennifer Therese9:48 pm 23 Jan 22

Chippendale is still a place that eminates a feeling of love legacy. Sure believe that the yardstick set lives long and strong like Pat and family.

McJannett Ray McJannett5:24 pm 23 Jan 22

Really well written Sally. I have some very fond memories of Pat. We were good mates.

Sally Hopman10:59 am 25 Jan 22

Thanks Ray. Can you email me at [email protected] when you have a moment?

This death is sad, as are most. This lady took with her, things that will be lost forever.
It makes one think of one’s own life, and eventual inevitable parting. A person can feel so helpless, and useless. What do we leave behind ?
May it be, when we leave, that others can see the love that we earned, and that we gave.
Rest peacefully now Pat.
Wagga Wagga
0432 665 912

Sally Hopman2:24 pm 24 Jan 22

Lovely words, thank you.

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