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Christine’s Eulogy

Church of Christ, Victor Harbor, Thursday 24th April 2014

Rodney Burton

Christine’s impact on the Burton family has been profound. At first it was long distance. I was greatly intrigued as we caravanned through Tasmania in late 1961 why the oldest brother was hiving off to the Post Office in the towns we visited. It had to be before 5 pm. He was collecting letters from his girlfriend (and posting those air mail flimsies as well). No one confides in a 13 year old youngest brother so I was unaware the correspondent was the girl he first held hands with on Anzac day that year on a hike in the Adelaide Hills.

Back in South Australia Christine in person was a breath of fresh air. Our family was pretty male-dominated at this time, despite the best efforts of Marj, as the two girls were already married and had young families of their own. The unseen force evident in Tasmania was slim, dark, vivacious, smartly attired and well coiffured. She spoke Australian and had a sense of humour to match. Graham and Christine were an item and the courtship was building a head of steam.

The Burtons loved the outdoors and travelling. Holidays were treasured. Parents Frank and Marj camped, toured and caravanned with their brothers and sisters; the Burton grandparents had taken their children by horse and cart to camp in the sandhills at Semaphore; and before them, the intrepid George Burton hawked cherries in summer to the campers in the sandhills of Glenelg. Obviously Christine would have to serve some form of apprenticeship. Or would it be trial by ordeal? The caravanning trip to Sydney in 1963 provided the first challenge. We have photographic evidence of her majesty arriving at 44 Manuel Avenue in high heels accompanied by her suite of luggage and vanity cases. Obviously space wasn’t an issue.

The joys of touring were soon apparent. Collaborative navigation for example. Just follow the map and my suggestions and we’ll be right. If we aren’t and everyone is waving at us as they stream past in the opposite direction, then you’ve made a mistake Frank, Graham, Geoffrey or Rodney. Then there’d be some excited shouting. Driving was so easy with loads of expert driving tips. Everything from gear changes to backing up because you didn’t stop on a threepence when first told. More excited shouting. But frankly, the young lovers only had thoughts for each other and with Christine’s well developed sense of fun, the novice passed with honours.

Graham and Christine or now more affectionately Doov and Min, dreamed, planned and organised their lives and future. Saving, studying, working and having fun. There followed Christine’s 21st in the big shed at 44 where they announced their engagement (an event fondly recalled by a then 5 year old nephew) and a wonderful wedding at Kilburn Blair Athol Methodist Church and reception at the Enfield Civic Centre.

I clearly recall the early Saturday morning drive to Port Augusta with Frank and Marj to see the first Burton baby in the family. Brother Geoffrey from the West Coast happened to be on hand when the baby announced it wanted out. Quick, out of bed, into Geoff’s Cortina, don’t mind the gun case on the back seat Min, run the railway crossing stop signs and off to the hospital. Everyone was well pleased with the result, one Kym Graham Burton. Perhaps the happiest photo of my father was taken at this time standing outside in his flannelette pyjamas, missing a coat button and sporting a Roosters pompom hat. Two more boys, David and Matthew, followed by which time the family was settled in Woodville.

The tradition of camping, touring and caravanning was continued and thrived under Christine and Graham’s drive. Not only were the boys treated to Australia’ delights and attractions but often the good times were shared with the wider family and friends. One example was a Liba Liba houseboat holiday one Christmas out of Renmark. With two boats it was quite the fleet. Audrey Warner and Marj Burton paraded on deck in their petticoats muttering about the mysterious bangs emanating from the sewage system on Graham’s boat. We were so grateful it was Doov and Min’s boat. But what hilarious adventures and what bizarre manoeuvres you can perform with a houseboat when you have half a mind for it.

Christine and Graham’s horizons expanded exponentially when the boys found roosts of their own and Graham had taken early retirement. With hindsight how prescient was that move? We ceased to be surprised at the increasingly exotic destinations and itineraries. The couple has visited the seven continents, all tropic and temperate zones and both polar circles. For 50 years, travelling and the beloved caravanning was in the blood. Only a few short weeks ago you could have found Christine and Graham in their van at Barmera.

Christine was a dedicated photographer, a passion fired by her father Norm. The range and volume of photos were amazing. A Min and Doov slideshow was a formidable event. Christine believed that each moment was unique, was precious. No matter how ordinary an event might appear, it was worth recording. She loved landscapes, scenery, gardens and flowers. She was an enthusiastic gardener. But equally, if not more so, she photographed people: her family, the wider family and friends, often at family or social occasions.

Christine was an avid fan of Barbra Streisand. There is a song from Funny Girl called People, People who need People, are the luckiest People in the world. Christine was a gifted facilitator of friendship. People appreciated her honest, straight talking about herself, her experiences and her family; they heard good things in her sending up or poking fun at people’s sillinesses, their pretensions or pomposities; and felt confident they were being listened to when they responded to her queries and concerns. Nieces fondly recall Aunty Christine in a caravan at Victor always armed with goodies of cake or biscuits or slice; recall her laugh, wit and spirit and remember her asking how they were going when she herself was very ill. Christine was an activist who set an example of pitching in and helping out, accompanied by a joke or funny anecdote. Christine could talk, oh my how she could talk, but she was also an astute listener, a sharer and a loyal friend. There were no hidden agenda, no ambushes, though no doubt she demonstrated handy interrogation techniques as she wielded the wooden spoon among the three rascals of Hughes Street, Woodville.

Christine needed people, but people, us, needed Christine. We are the better for her life well lived. Now, I think of Christine some way ahead of us on a bushwalk. She’s sitting on a big rock in a yellow jumper. When we at last catch up she’ll ask us with a grin, “Where the hell have you been? I’ve got some great shots.”

Christine's Eulogy

Eulogy for Christine BURTON delivered by her brother-in-law Rodney BURTON.

Owner/SourceRodney BURTON
Linked toChristine WARNER

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