Those who follow my blogs and perhaps others who have a passing interest in the people and places I have blogged about will think I have fallen off the face of the earth, as after starting so promisingly last year, with the exception of a couple of blogs this year, I have been silent.
I have always kept my personal life under wraps, and never liked to talk about my activities and achievements, but it is time to declare, ‘Superwoman’ has abdicated!’
I have always taken on the role of ‘superwoman’ both for our families and in the community. I stepped up every day and most nights, to help and deliver whatever was asked of me, whether by family, friends, or even strangers. A family joke was, that our phones may as well have been a ‘call centre’, they were so busy. I never learned to say ‘no’ to anyone. Of course, criminal activities were not in any of those pleas for help, just frightened, ill and desperate people or enthusiastic family historians. I loved my ‘work’, why would I say no?
For most of my life, I have been the lynch-pin for four generations of our immediate families, as well as the ‘go-to’ person and ‘family historian’ in the extended families.
As a community volunteer, I have also been on a great many and a variety of community projects in a time span of more than fifty years. Without fan-fare I got the job done. Sometimes in an executive role, but usually as a dedicated worker.
For many years I have been known as ‘the local historian’ for the Clarence River area in Northern New South Wales, although I have no family connection to the area, just an obsessional interest for over fifty years, of the area and the families who settled here.
I believe in life long education, and along the way, completed a Diploma in Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogist (Sydney) and an Associate Diploma in Local and Applied History ( CAE, Armidale). I also began a degree in history at UNE (University of New England, Armidale). I sadly withdrew, when I could no longer afford or justify the many thousands of dollars in fees and HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) each year for my ‘hobby’, when our own, (then teenage children), needed assistance to continue their tertiary education.
Along with this, I have run three parallel careers throughout my life; one in teaching, one in health sciences and one in researching, writing and publishing in local and family history.
To top it all off we have eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 19 to 3 years. I have always been involved in their busy lives and activities.
As you can imagine, being so busy, I have no time to be ill or slow down, although, by the end of last year, my close friends and family were getting concerned about the amount of work I was being pushed to take on. I was getting up earlier and going to bed later, so it left so little time for sleep.
Well, it all came crashing down just after Christmas, when we seemed to be attending funerals every few days. Some of these were for elderly friends at the end of a long life and could be expected, but some were for friends and family about my own age and younger. A sudden illness had taken them unexpectedly and quickly.
Although I have had to deal with death all my life, with the death of many friends, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and even siblings, I thought I could continue to do it all, and was not ready for the overwhelming grief that brought about the sudden and dramatic change in my life. No stroke or heart attack (-thank goodness-), but my body just rebelled and I couldn’t function anymore.
I needed complete rest and a change of life-style to begin to get my life back. This included retiring as a busy community volunteer and the closing of my history research and publishing business- Heritage Path. Consequently, I have also taken down my website, also known as ‘Heritage Path’.
For the time being, I have retired from teaching, but have recently taken on the role of ‘student’ in a few activities to improve my health and well- being.
Always the optimist, I have taken this opportunity for a life ‘do-over’. Many will be involved or following Thomas Macentee and his ‘Genealogy Do-Over’ weekly blogs at Genebloggers. Well, I am not actually involved or following Thomas’s program, but I am taking this opportunity to return to researching our family histories. Previously I was so busy I could only manage the occasional research foray into our own family histories. Now, I can find time most days to have a little dabble, although it is seldom uninterrupted. One thing I am doing is taking the time to record and document the facts- this means adding my sources- and to ‘write up’ my research as I go.
I recently finished, or as far as possible for the time being, the story of the ‘life and times’ of my maternal grandparents, Arthur and May Baxter (nee Bell). Although born in Picton, in southern New South Wales, they moved to the South Arm of the Tweed River in the north of the state, soon after marriage in 1913, and lived there for fifty years.
I shared this story with my first cousins and their families at a family gathering a few weeks ago. We all had a wonderful day, with much laughter and reminiscing. I am very keen to continue the story of other generations, particularly all our direct ancestors. I hope to share some of this research through blogging, as I believe this will keep me on track.