WITH the passing of my mother this month, it became a timely reminder of her contribution to the success of our family farm.
Starting with nothing in the late 1940s, my mother and father established a fully paid for good-sized family farm in the Vic Mallee at Hopetoun. While mum did minimal paddock work, she did play a major support role.
When it came to raising the four children, our parents were like a plate of bacon and eggs where the pig is committed and the chook is just involved. Mum was the full on committed one and dad was involved - it was the way it was done in those day.
Beside raising a family and keeping the house, she was an outstanding cook and there was no waste in our family. Every bit of spare fruit or vegetable was made into a preserve or jam.
In busy times, mum would run hot meals to the paddock in the winter, helped dad shift machinery and do a run to town to pick up spare parts. In time she became quite good at dealing with sales people that would come through our front gate.
Mum finished school at 13 and, being the oldest child, worked as a farm hand with my grandfather until her younger brother was old enough to take over. Grandfather was a rather hard taskmaster so she knew how to work. My siblings and I wonder what mum may have become had she had the opportunity of a university education.
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When us children were in our teens, mum took to public life and she excelled in this role - a natural leader. Combined with her farming and family duties, she gave thousands of hours of her time to help make the life in our region better. She was possibly the matriarch of our district for 50 years.
Mum was responsible for empowering so many local people to tap into their unknown potential. She gave me the only thing I really wanted as a child -opportunity - and then it was up to me to make the best of it. Now I find that from one opportunity comes further opportunity if I do it right.
One thing you can always rely on is the unconditional love of your mother. The odd time I see this not happening it becomes a gut-wrenching experience. Each year we recognise our mothers on Mother's Day but in reality, every day should be Mother's Day because no matter how hard we try, we cannot do enough in return for what they have done for us. I know who was the greatest influence on my life.
Many of my greatest successes in life I can trace right back to an opportunity that mum and dad gave me decades ago.
An upbringing without my mother is hard to imagine. No one is indispensable but I think a lot of married women on farms go very close.
Their greatest legacy is raising a family that go onto become good citizens but my mother will be remembered for a lot more.
Growing and developing the community she loved was a high priority and her vision of developing the Mallee Retreat at Lake Lascelles in Hopetoun is near the top of the list.
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