At 93, Marjorie is funny, dry and very engaging. But it’s a story of hardship, and endurance.
“When I was born, my mother was told I didn’t make it."
They said, ‘I’m sorry, but your baby’s dead’. But when they came to take me away, I was breathing! My mother said, ‘Well, you were meant to be here’. I’m 92 now! Now, there’s a lot of people who only know me as Grandma. They don’t know I’m Marjorie! I’ve even got great, great, grandchildren. Too many – I can’t keep up.”
“I grew up in the country. I grew up in Gulgong. You know where Gulgong is? That’s where you’ve got all the gold. It was the depression - there was no work. So my father used to cut wood in exchange for vegetables. That’s how we lived. We had to walk 3 miles through the bush to school. My father died in a work accident, he was 43.
“I met my husband Bill at Port Kembla. He was in the army."
“But he was in Darwin when the bombs fell. He was never the same. After that, he got a job in a timber yard, and a chimney stack fell on his head. His neck and back bones were damaged - he had a lot of problems then. He started fitting, sometimes he’d have a fall in the street. The ambulance men got to know him, and they’d bring him home.
I got a job down on the wharves. That sounds terrible! But they were busy and exciting in those days, and I was in the café, the waitress. I loved that job. We were still a close knit family. Sometimes, when you’re old, you still think back on those hard times.
“We had six children and we raised four foster children."
“They were friends of our children at school. But they were going to take them away, and put them in a home in Sydney. It was terrible. The children wanted to stay with us. So we went to the courts and everything, and in the end, all four came with us. They stayed with us up until they got married. We lost a couple of our own children, from cancer. In those days, there was no one lovely to come and help you, no services. You had to just look after your own family. That was all you had.
I’ve had some sad times and some good times. But I could always see a lot of people worse off than I was.
“I worked till I was 85. I wish I could still be working!"
“But I had a fall, I hit my head on the kitchen drawer. The ambulance man came. I said, ‘Just pick me up and pass me that chair, help me up, and I’ll be right and get going’. He said ‘You’re not going anywhere’. He picked me up in his arms and carried me down the stairs, and put me in the ambulance! He was worried about the bump on my head, but there was nothing much wrong. I did have to go to hospital and then rehab for a while. But now they don’t let me in the kitchen!
“I’ve got full care from Anglicare for everything now, and they’re marvelous."
“When they started it was just a couple of days a week. But they come in every morning now. Do the kitchen benches and the floor, help me with a shower – they do whatever I need. They bring in the washing, fold it up and put it away, they know where everything goes.
Then every night, they help with a meal and the housework. They also do any other things I need. Anything I want. They help me in so many ways…they are marvelous. I feel like they’re family!
“I know it sounds terrible, but I don’t want to go into a nursing home."
“I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel. I’m too independent. With Anglicare, I can stay on at home. Last Christmas, we even had the whole family here. There was no room anywhere – everyone was sitting on the floor!
I’ve lived here 37 years. I’d say I belong to Anglicare now. Don’t you think?
Thanks Marjorie for sharing your story with us. Some names and details have been changed to protect privacy.