When we moved east from far western Queensland when I was a child, the six of us--two adults and four children--drove along the railway line because everything else was under water in one of the worst floods in decades. My younger sister, about 8 months old at the time, made the trip in a cardboard box on the floor.
Mum worked away from home for much of my childhood, returning for weekends every couple of months. On one trip home she brought with her a dog. He kept stealing her shoes and chewing on them - that's definitely an indication he's a keeper, right? He stole all our shoes too.
Mum grew up on a dairy farm but, even knowing cows as she did, she never counted on one of them lying on the bonnet of her car out on the highway. She was stuck there until the drover finally came along the line and moved the cows on. She didn't go far that day.
Mum was basically self-taught in everything. She taught herself how to cook, sew, crochet, play the banjo, guitar and piano, and she taught herself how to drive. Popular opinion indicated that she was successful with the crochet. I remember the fence surrounding our property, and several trees that began life well inside the safety zone, being wiped out piece by piece by Mum reversing over them. Considering the driveway was little longer than the length of the car, that was some feat. She parked by the 'touch' method.
Every parent wants their children to have a better life than they had. Mum was no different. She pushed each of us to achieve. She was an independent, working married woman at a time that was not easily accepted in society. That alone encouraged each of us to resist society's pressures to be pigeon-holed simply because we're women.
I've often had difficulty reconciling Mum's long absences in my life with her insistence that family is of prime importance, but I decided it doesn't matter. Whatever else Mum was or did, she was my mother. I'm sure she loved us more than she could express. I'll miss her.