Nanette’s dad Jack built their first home with his own hands.
It was while the family was away in the country. Nanette’s mum Gwen took her and her younger brother to live in Griffith for their asthma for a year. This was a family that worked hard, through some tough times, and held together tight.
Jack was an engineer fitter and turner. The family loved their new home. Later, Nanette married Dennis, a boiler maker, and had two children. Her brother (also called Jack) went to the Vietnam war, and ended up with health problems. But he also married, produced six children, and they all made their home close to parents Gwen and Jack. We ask Nanette about grandchildren. “Yes. I’ve got four. And my brother – I’ve got no idea how many he’s got. I can’t remember! But with six kids - he’s got heaps!”
Parents Gwen and Jack devoted their life to hard work, and their blossoming family.
Nanette’s husband Dennis had to retire early.
Dennis enjoyed his work, the couple had set up their own trucking business, and life was busy. But unexpectedly, Dennis developed a heart murmur. Dennis sold his business, worried about driving. It was a serious setback for the family. The doctors attempted to rectify things with a hospital procedure. Something went terribly wrong, and Dennis died three days later. It was a devastating blow - he was just 68.
Then three months later, they lost their father Jack.
Nanette explains. “I had seen dad the day before, and he seemed fine. But the next day, he told mum his arms and legs were aching…and he couldn’t move his legs. Mum called the ambulance and we went racing over. He died before we got there.” In the space of three months, Nanette and her mum Gwen had both lost their husbands. It was the year that changed everything.
But Nanette knew exactly what the family needed.
“I brought mum over to my place straight away. That night. That was eight years ago. I’ve been looking after her ever since.” Just like her parents, Nanette isn’t afraid of hard work…and values family above all.
Her mum Gwen is 94 now. She’s full of good cheer, and is relentlessly positive, but has extensive and complex health problems. She has dementia, limited vision and hearing, and has very little mobility, as well as other problems. Nanette cared for Gwen alone for many years, but 18 months ago, it was getting to be too much. She called Anglicare.
“I had had bit of help from a different provider, but they kept changing the care workers, and when mum’s problems became more complex, they just couldn’t provide the help. I spoke to them, and they never got back to me. Anglicare came in and did a full assessment and developed a detailed care plan. It’s what has kept us together.
“At first I was wary and still did a lot of things myself.
“But in time, I learned to really trust them. Our care worker Megan has been with us for eighteen months now. They do a real mix of things – some practical. Like washing and cleaning, and helping with mum’s personal care. But they help with the social needs as well. Mum loves them, she loves their company, and they have a good time together. And so do I!
“For me, knowing mum feels safe with Megan, it means I can head out the door when they come, and have a break. I can get my hair and nails done, do some shopping. Have a break. I would never leave Anglicare. As our needs change, we work together, we change the care if we need to. And it’s just brilliant.
“Considering everything that’s happened, eight years on - were as good as we could ever be.”
Thanks Gwen and Nanette for sharing your story with us. Some names and details have been changed to protect privacy.