(2/2) Over time, we became really good friends, but he was so consumed with work that I thought that nothing was ever going to happen. So after a year, I decided to go to uni. The week I got accepted, I told him, ‘I'm going to Mitchell College in Bathurst.’ But he had better ideas. He said, "Well, if you don't mind not going to university, I'd like to marry you." Of course I said yes. My sister was over the moon!
Later he told me, ‘I knew if you’d gone, somebody else would have snatched you up.’ We got married at the farm by the Darling River. It wasn't anything fancy. Our friends brought food and our American friends made home-made ice-cream from our fresh milk. But it was a lovely day.
After we got married, my parents were able to come out, and they lived with us for 20 years. The Bourke community loved and respected them so much. A beautiful Aboriginal friend who was also a pre-school teacher used to come to the farm and teach them English.
Mal and I continued farming, and working with indigenous children whenever we could. I managed a government youth programme with Centacare, supporting Aboriginal students to continue their education. And our six children came along. They just loved the farm. I think it's such a nice environment for kids, to grow up with animals and responsibilities.
We eventually bought another farm, about 20 kilometres up the river. It was pretty harsh farming, with the heat and the flies. But the hard work was good for us. One thing that really inspired me was how the women of the west are able to spend the whole day working cattle or mustering sheep and then come back and still prepare the meals. I learned a lot from them.
We home-schooled all our children. The school was not too far but as a preschool teacher, aware of how important early education was, I thought I could do a good job. And once we started with one, it was easy to keep going! Most families in the outback have to send their children to boarding school, which is not only expensive, but the kids get homesick. So home schooling was a really good alternative for us.
Unfortunately, when I was about 50, my husband had a debilitating heart attack. He also got diabetes, depression, everything – a nasty package. At that time, the doctor didn’t really give him much longer to live. So basically he was told to stop farming, and go and enjoy life, the best he could. So we sold the farm, and moved to Bathurst to be closer to our kids who were at university there.
Since then, we've been traveling a lot. First, we bought a little farm in Victoria, not far from Yackandandah where Malcolm originally comes from. He just loved being there. And he got better!
8 years later, we were asked if we could go back to Bourke and help set up a church refuge for indigenous children, which we did for a year. Next, we went to work as house parents at a Christian school in Darwin, where we got to care for indigenous students from remote areas, working closely with their families back home. They became like our children! That was really fun, very rewarding, and we’re still in touch with some of them to this day.
After that, we lived in Victoria again for a couple of years, until Malcolm's medical needs became more intense. Then our paramedic son and daughter in law invited us to live with them in Goondiwindi in Queensland, and together we bought a 3 acre property with a granny flat out the back. There's plenty of space for their children, and Malcolm's growing a garden.
While I will always love Mexico, I also live with a lot of gratitude for my new country. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to bring up my six little Australians in Bourke. Unfortunately, like many Australian families, we are now scattered across three different states. But I think there will always be a special place in our hearts for the Darling river and the life we lived there under its spell and inspiration.
Happy holidays to all my readers! It's been a tough year for the world, but a great year of stories here on NHOA. I have truly loved hearing every single one, and I am sure you agree that many have inspired us all to be a little more stoical in these challenging times. Thank you so much as always to my patrons, and to everyone who bought a book. Your support has been truly wonderful. ❤ For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a day full of peace and love. Best wishes, Nicola????????????
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Beautifully written!Thanks Nicola.