Catherine recorded the memoir of her mother-in-law, Ina Titasey, nee Mills, in Ina’s Story, which includes sixteen pages of fascinating photographs. She took six months off her teaching studies to “interrogate” Ina who, at times, was pushed to try and remember things she hadn’t thought about for 80 years.
Twins, Ina and Cessa lived an idyllic semi-subsistence life on Naghir Island in the Torres Strait with their extended family. They spent their days fishing, gardening, doing chores as well as playing with their siblings and cousins until they were five years old. One day Ina and Cessa found themselves on Thursday Island, confined by the walls of the convent and bound by rules of the nuns. Her father had told them they were to get an “ed-yoo-cay-shun”. The twins struggled with feelings of abandonment, bed bugs, starvation, and what today would be considered child labour.
Fortunately for Ina, World War Two affected the Torres Strait nine years later and she was able to return to her beloved Naghir. That was where she received her real education, about life and death and she learned that things don’t always turn out for the best.
She married Henry Titasey but three years later he was diagnosed with TB and quarantined in hospital for several years.
Without an income and three children to support, Ina was destitute and sought assistance from the Department of Native Affairs - without success.
Later, Ina went from island life to mother of many to travelling the world as the Mills Sisters with Cessa and younger sister, Rita.
Ina’s Story recounts the amusing, tragic and sometimes frustrating voyage Ina has navigated over nine decades and five generations, with Cessa by her side.
The memoir is not just about Ina’s amazing story; it includes the small and often overlooked details of life in the Torres Strait in the first half of last century; the physical demands of island life and living under the control of the Department of Native Affairs. Catherine wanted her children and each of Ina’s grandchildren to understand their grandmother’s struggles and learn about the value of hard work.
Publication of Ina’s Story was made possible with a grant from the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Culture Art and Heritage Program.
Ina is thrilled that her story has been written and that she can share it with others.
Ina and Cessa
Ina’s Story, includes sixteen pages of fascinating photographs.
Catherine and Ina.
Ina's Story $27.00
$5 per book
For orders of 4 and over, please contact us for cheaper rates.