2018 has flown by in a flash with a variety of activities keeping us busy. I continue my involvement with a craft-group, book-group, church Ladies-group and a Hayes committee group working on the family tree, ready for a 170-year celebration in 2021, of the arrival of our ancestors in Australia. Ruary’s involvement with freemasonry has resulted in quite a lot of touring of Victoria during the year, and a weekend visit to Sydney. He has also been busy, as one of only a few drivers available during the day for the local CFA, responding to a couple of call-outs each week during winter and already increased summer fire-season call-outs. The garden, property maintenance and wood collection keep us active!

We only managed one caravan trip – to western NSW – enjoying a few days at Lake Mungo (with Ruary’s cousin Jill and partner John), then at Mutawintji National Park, and down what is sometimes described as the Darling River; at that time more appropriately described as a string of green-water-holes. It was great to have some camping spots away from crowds.

As well there were trips to spend time with family in Maryborough, Canberra and Gippsland.

In May I spent 2 weeks, with two weeks at home between each week, with Fiona, Chris and girls when Fiona had a badly torn Achilles tendon which resulted in her right foot being in a moon boot for 4 weeks and unable to drive. Tara also spent a week assisting. Chris was able to juggle some work shifts so they could manage when neither Tara or I were there. Our main tasks were getting Bryanna and Abigail to and from the school bus each day, and Fiona to and from school. I helped out again when Fiona had a school camp for a week in October. As Chris works mostly night shifts either in the Emergency Department or as Night time Co-ordinator of the hospital, he would be either still at work or sleeping when the girls needed to get to and from the bus.

Fiona continues her senior teaching position at Gippsland Grammar and has had a Year 5 class this year. Bryanna did very well in Year 8 at school, being awarded an academic achievement award for her work, which is not surprising when you see how conscientiously she completes homework. She continues playing the cello with a group of other celloists from the school. Abigail has adjusted to secondary school and the bus travel each day and she too is very conscientious, which is reflected in her results. She, too, has been awarded an academic achievement award by the school. She plays the violin in the school orchestra and is continuing with the piano.

At Easter time we had some time in Canberra with Tara, where she had Ruary assisting her with handy man tasks around her house and garden. Tara continues her part-time position with the Army as Deputy Commander Army Cadets, which involves quite a bit of interstate travel visiting various cadet units. As well she has her Party Lite and Rodan and Fields businesses occupying her time!

Tara was able to do the Reading at the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in August for Uncle Ian Hayes (my Father’s brother) who was KIA in 1945 in Borneo. The Last Post Ceremonies are always very moving, but to have one done for a relative means it is even more poignant. Tara struggled with her emotions at the start, overcame them and delivered a fitting tribute. It was a wonderful family occasion with 50 of Ian’s relatives in attendance – 2 sisters, a sister-in-law (my mother) and the rest made up of nieces, nephews (and partners), grand-nieces and nephews (and partners) and great grand nieces and nephews! The ceremony was on a Friday, so Tara was able to organise personalised tours of the AWM for Saturday morning, where the guides showed areas of the exhibits relating to Ian’s father’s involvement in WW1 (Lone Pine and Western Front), as well as exhibits related to Ian’s service. Then lunch and family chatter afterwards!

My mother agreed to spend some time in respite care in Euroa, while a bridge on the farm was replaced, as it meant she would have been unable to get assistance if she needed it. After some time in care, my brother, sister and I felt she looked much better so suggested she remain in care. She reluctantly agreed to stay for the winter months, but thankfully appears to have fully settled into her new living arrangements and will remain in care. It certainly means we no longer worry about her living by herself and having a fall or other mishap. Having reached the age of 96, and living alone and independently for over 20 years, she is enjoying the company; and not having to cook, clean, do the washing etc. Her home was so isolated it was not possible to get any help for her!

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