Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mum's eulogy

In memory of Joyce Clarke
28.04.1934 to 01.09.2013
Photo taken in 2009 (age 75)
It's Mum's birthday, she would have been 79....... I've mentioned before how dear I miss my mum, and for those who have lost a loved one dear to you.....You know how I'm feeling....
There have been many firsts since my mother has passed away in September last year....

But this one...this first....is her birthday and I'd like to share with you the eulogy I wrote honouring her life...

Where do I start? There’s so much I could say …and what parts do I leave out?           I hope I don’t keep you too long…but here goes….

Joyce Isabel Cady was the first of five born to parents Richard and Edeline Cady on 28 April 1934 at the Brooklyn Private Hospital in Kiama.  Joyce found her calling as a Nurse’s Aide, working in Obstetrics and the Psychiatric Ward in Goulburn.

After giving up nursing because of her allergies, Mum moved back to the Kiama area. In 1954 Mum married my father Horace. Everyone knew him as Nobby though…  At that time Dad had not long returned from active service in the Korean War. … 

What I didn't know was that 8 years earlier, my father had married another lady…also named Joyce. I found this out while researching the family history. I gently approached Mum with the subject, having no clue how she would react because I never found documentation that he had divorced the first Joyce. 
She said in a quiet calm voice…
”Oh yes, he told me that there was another woman named Joyce, but that I had nothing to worry about.” 
“I had already fallen madly in love with him, so I just accepted what was, and got on with it.”.....and this love glowed brightly throughout their entire marriage.

I guess she thought the strapping young soldier, (my father) was quite a catch and worth the risk. Trustingly, he had told her that the relationship was a mere marriage of convenience, and that they never lived together very long..... and it was over before he went to Korea. 

As any family historian would do, I investigated further, wondering if there may be a half brother or sister out there somewhere. 

It was to be an eventful and rocky start to their marriage because Mum fell ill and had her gallbladder removed while on their honeymoon. How romantic!
In the early years of their marriage, Mum had trouble conceiving and sadly delivered two stillborn babies, both at full term. It wasn't until about three years ago, that I found that these babies had been buried in the Albury Pioneer Cemetery. When I told Mum I had found her babies, she became rather quiet with many unhappy memories flooding back….she recalled how upset she was to have lost her baby (Robert) the day before Anzac Day, only to have her newly wedded husband leave her to join in the Anzac March and two-up festivities. 

On top of the heartache, she was never allowed to hold either babies she lost, and assumed they were discarded as hospital waste. Sadly, this was common practice in those days….I can't imagine the darkness of this 50 year assumption. After more discussion, we realized that Dad must have ‘handled things’, as the babies burials must have been paid for. One was even named. Only Dad would have had the means to pay for the burials of the babies. But it was never discussed and I know that troubled Mum, wondering why her husband would make these arrangements without telling her. I often wonder what things would be like, if Robert had lived...... Would I even exist?

As my father was a soldier before life with Mum, she learnt very quickly that she had also married the Army. The next ten years or so would prove that while they lived at 3 Sub Depot Army Barracks in Bandiana.

While living in Bandiana  in 1956……Mum gave birth to her first daughter, my sister Susanne at the Wodonga District Hospital. Not long after Sue was born, the young family moved to Englehart Street in Albury and it was to be a long and difficult 9 ½ years before they would conceive again successfully. That’s when my brother Richard came into the world.

Between the birth of Richard in 1965 and 1968, Mum, Dad, Sue and Richard moved to the family home that we know as 34 Lindsay Street, Wodonga. Every house in the street was Army. Over the next few years, Mum and Dad tried again to conceive.... as they felt another child would make their family complete. 
After several miscarriages, they decided to adopt a child. 
This is where I come in……....

I can thank my lucky stars that in 1969, Mum became ill and was too sick to complete the adoption. Mum has told me on several occasions that they had the adoption papers in the house. After seeing several doctors they were blown away by the news that Mum wasn't really sick, when in reality, she was just pregnant…..With me! … 

I guess you could say I was her most troubling pregnancy, with her spending more time in the hospital than out. The troubles I caused her when I came into the world two months early didn't stop there. Dad was also in trouble with the matron, as he had remarked; “bi crikey, she’s small”….The matron stiffly turned and said to Mum, “What does he expect for a 2 month premmie?”
Both Mum and Dad used to tell me that I could fit into a child size shoe box.  Hard to imagine now hey!

When I was four, Dad had his first major heart attack. The worries for Mum with a husband with a bad heart must have been horrible. Somewhere in there Dad retired from the Army due to health conditions brought on by being in Active Service in Korea. 

It was only in recent years that Mum let slip here and there, the degree of Dad’s nightmares. Over the years, Mum must have kept a lot of things bottled up inside her heart.

I’ve always called her the Peace-Keeper of the family and she definitely stopped some big wars between us kids over the years...... With Dad so ill, what he didn’t know, couldn't hurt him.

In 1974 we moved to Rutherglen and into the Old State Bank Building. Looking back, I can see how Mum was virtually a single Mum, but with an invalid husband who didn’t leave the house much. Despite the difficulties, we had some great fun with different activities on the weekends when Mum would take us yabbying…or if it was the right season, we'd go picking mushrooms.  

I don’t ever remember Dad being well enough to go kick a football with my brother…and that’s so sad…..but I do recall him taking me down to the local footy oval to teach me how to ride a pushbike without trainers.

Most weekends involved hunting and gathering some sort of food. Whether it was yabbying, picking wild fruit, or buckets of mushrooms or even shooting rabbits.
When blackberries were in season, we also made many trips to the Stanley forest near Beechworth to pick wild blackberries.

Mum taught me to rub the green fruit onto your hands to lift the stains from your skin. I know this works with Mulberries, but I can’t recall if it worked with the blackberries. 

Trips to Beechworth, often involved a packed esky and we’d enjoy a quiet tea on the edge of a little creek, just off the main road into town. We also picked up rock lichen in the surrounding hills, which Mum would use to dye the wool of her sheep. Lichen dyes wool a lovely bright shade of pale green.

Mum turned any gathered fruit into the most delicious preserves and jams around. She was a good cook, and loved cooking pickles too. Desserts and home baked bread were specialties of hers too. Growing up around Mum’s kitchen, we were often volunteered to “STAND AND STIR”, if Mum needed help.  I guess Mum had her share of “STAND AND STIR” while learning from her Mother too…..Just a few months ago; I got her to stir sauce for me while I quickly did something else. I even get my boys to STAND AND STIR occasionally for me now too.  I know Mum was very proud of me for taking on all the old family recipes. It’s a nice feeling to know that you’re keeping things alive.

After Dad had another Major Heart attack while up a ladder, Mum and us kids packed up the already sold house, and moved everything over to our new home in 5 Booth Street, still in Rutherglen. This was across the road from the old timber Sawmill. Mum always said that we didn't need an alarm clock because the saw mill started up every day at 7am on the dot.

The lengths that mum went to while we were growing up was above and beyond what makes a good mum. Even while caring for an invalid husband, she always had time to run us around.  I remember one year, I made this huge poster for an art competition for the Winery Walkabout Long Weekend. Well; Mum drove me around to all the wineries so that I could take a photo of them to put in my display. She never once questioned her time or the cost that would have been involved. I won the competition that year and my poster was displayed in the window of the local solicitor Rod Ambrose.

Maybe that was the same weekend our goats ran loose in the main street of Rutherglen. I remember hearing an announcement come over the loud speaker with Tony Gillman saying “ Could Joyce Clarke please come and collect your goats, they have escaped and have been running wild in the crowd” You see; Mum rented the empty block that backed onto the Main Street.  

My mother was a very generous member of the Rutherglen Community.  She was always willing to help out when a young girl found herself pregnant too. She would ring around and gather whatever was needed. While packing them up though, she’d give me a stern…."Don’t you ever find yourself in this type of situation, because I won’t be so nice"....so when I finally fell pregnant at the age of 21, I went to my sister and told her first….I was horrified at how mum would react, so took Sue along with me.

Mum drove us everywhere. We used to go to Lavington for roller-skating on a Friday night. Richard had Judo in Albury too, and I doubt that Dad was well enough to take him. At 16, I was selling Nutri-Metics at night, and mum was always taking me to demonstrations. Never once, do I remember her complaining about all the running around.

1987 must have been Mum’s worst year. I watched as she grieved for her husband. Dad had his final and fatal heart attack. We found him outside the old dunny down the back yard. I think because mum had it torn down so quick, some folks actually thought he died on the loo.

Those that knew Mum, knew that her main passions were Bingo and Craftwork. She reveled in her own Craft Shop called Calico and Hessian and for a number of years, even Dad got involved. I remember Mum doing a leatherwork course to add to her many skills and list of crafts. But it was Dad that eventually took over the leatherwork craft.

Over the years mum has put her hand to Knitting, Crochet, Macramé, Leatherwork, Dying and Spinning wool from her own sheep, card making, bread baking, soap making, gardening, Lapidary work with Opal, and breeding meat birds…and that’s just to name a few…..So you see, it’s in our blood to be creative, us three kids are all creative in some way.

Even after she moved from Cooper’s Court- Rutherglen,   up to Oak Flats (600km away) to help out with Nan Cady…..Did she give up her role in the craft shop in Rutherglen….No way!....She had me send her craft by mail to be put in the shop on consignment. I guess she couldn’t bring herself to make that final break. After all, the ladies connected to the shop are friends from a lifetime.

One of mum’s favorite gadgets was the telephone. Keeping in touch with friends and family by phone was very important to her. I know she loved talking on the phone, because her bill used to come to us.

Mum lived with us for almost 9 years before passing away. In that time, she was as involved with her grandchildren’s lives as much as she could be. She had a brag book, which I had to keep up to date…she showed off those photos to anyone that was willing to have a look, especially at bingo.

Distance was never a problem for mum and up until about 18 months ago, she could still do the 600km drive to Victoria to visit family and old friends. Driving wasn't the problem, it was with walking to her car and getting in and out that was hard. She struggled daily with pain…..With these long road-trips; Mum could rattle off the location of every fruit tree from here to Rutherglen. 
I don’t think she ever stopped thinking I can do this….I can still do that…..but my husband; knowing her limited mobility... had this ongoing but fun debate with her about the cost of apples as opposed to the cost of fuel and the effort involved hunting for wild fruit.

I’ve watched her body grow old, but her mind was always strong…..I’m sure quite a few of you have heard her tell her favorite joke about the prostitutes and the police handing out oranges. She loved telling that joke. Ask around...you’ll find someone she’s told it to here.

When she lived in Coopers Court, another move in Rutherglen….she was a member of the Rutherglen Fishing Club, and while her body didn’t allow her to go fishing much once she moved up here...She was satisfied to be able to watch from the car. It was the same with gardening….I would set up a chair for her in the shade, and she’d watch me tend the garden. I think she enjoyed the company too.

Once she had her unit built in our backyard  we decided it was in her best interest to have quick contact with us in the main house if anything went wrong. Let’s just say that modern technology wasn’t mum’s thing. We tried different phone setups, we also tried walkie talkies, but somehow she managed to reprogram her hand piece so that it would NOT communicate with the other one...With this total disagreement with technology, we decided on a wireless doorbell. We had the doorbell beside her bed, and one where she sits in her lounge room…..and if she rang the doorbell, it would then ring in our hallway where everyone would hear it. 

It was a great idea, and worked wonderfully…But remember how I said it was for emergencies, or if something went wrong……..It got to the stage that when the doorbell rang, we’d almost roll our eyes, wondering who’s turn it was to go see her….Talk about the boy who cried wolf…..We even teased her about it, but we dreaded that doorbell because it ended up being to ask, “What color wool should I use next?” OR…."Look what I made" .....or even …. “Is the Wrestling on today?” 
She loved watching the wrestling with Andrew and knew most of the wrestlers by name.

Sometimes it’s the little annoying things that we easily recall…..like how Mum had hand gestures for things….I don’t know why, but she often just gestured that she needed a drink..instead of just asking for a drink….or she’d wave her empty drink bottle around while watching television with us, hoping someone would catch on and ask if she would like a drink. She had lots of little hints like that, subtle but not subtle…..Maybe we joked about her free-use of that doorbell too much, because I would go hang the washing on the line, and I’d hear this almighty THUMP THUMP THUMP a few times…..This was her banging her walking stick on the floor in the unit….I’d go see what she wanted, and she would play the “I have no idea what you’re talking about"…."Oh that! I just had a cramp in my leg."

It’s those little things, and big things too, I will miss….She’s been a big part of my daily life for 9 years and my mother for 42. I was her day to day carer and confidant. But more than that, she relied on me to pick her up if she was down, she trusted me to keep her safe.  She depended on my strength. I promised her a long time ago that I’d let her go if the situation presented itself….In the hospital, we had a few talks about her going to be with Dad, after all, 25 years is a long time to be on your own……

With her body failing so quickly; It would have been selfish of me to fight for her to stay….
I love my mum, and I’ll miss her terribly. 

Narelle Pearce
in honour of my mother 


  1. Oh Narelle! I know exactly how it feels. Am coming up to my second Mother's Day without Mum and it still isn't easy. Have been thinking of you lots and missing reading your blog. It just been over 12 months or me and its still hard. I feel your pain. Thinking of you and wishing you peace.

    Anne xx

  2. Awe... I laughed out loud and shed a tear, too. I bet you miss your Mum so much, Narelle... Hugs to you, dear friend XOXOXOX

  3. What a beautiful eulogy Narelle. How lovely that you carried on doing what you learned from your Mom, like preserving fruit and jams.

  4. Beautiful Narelle. I feel like I know your Mum after reading that :)

  5. Oh Narelle, what a lovely eulogy - thank you for sharing it. My Dad passed away on 7 December, at age 93, and I still find myself reaching for the phone to call him when something happens that he would enjoy hearing about. Just yesterday I heard myself use one of his funny little expressions and suddenly my eyes just filled with tears. It's the small things. And the large things. I hope one day I can write about my Dad as clearly and lovingly as you have written about your beloved Mum.

  6. How eloquently you have described your mother, to the point that I feel like I know her too. Thank you for shaing her wonderful life with us - she certainly was an amazing lady.

    I pray in time that your raw wounds may heal and that you may gain comfort from the knowledge that your mother knew she was loved, as much as you knew you were loved by her. She is now pain free - and from the sounds of it, probably still involved in some craft or other :) May she rest in peace.

  7. Narelle what a beautiful and heartfelt eulogy. I can hear the love through your words. Take Care xxx

  8. Thinking of you today, Narelle and sending you a big hug. xx

  9. It's been 25 years since my mother died and I still miss her acutely.


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