Memories of Fae

FAE ALISON HOWARD

2.1.1940 - 23.5.2020

Fae is remembered as a beautiful lady, devoted wife to Bruce, amazing mother and grandmother to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private service was held at Forbes lawn cemetery on Monday 1 June.

Her eulogy was read by her son, John.

Before I continue with the story of Mum's life journey, I think it's important to share some insight into her character.

Mum's life could be summarised into the following key themes: family, friends, faith and one foe.

Mum was very particular.

She had an incredible ability to recall all manner of facts. If it wasn't in her mind, for good order it was also written down somewhere - probably twice.

She was a planner and a note taker. Her diary for 2020 was already filled with dates of events, and for a quite a few people here today, your birthday.

She was a committed Christian who always carried her faith with her. In going through her things there are Biblical quotes dispersed through the paperwork that has been collected over many years.

Mum was frugal. It would seem that nothing was ever discarded without careful thought and consideration.

Mum never believed that she was old.

Early days: In 1940 the world was at war. Into this uncertainty Fae Alison Ewing was born to Muriel and Clive Ewing.

Later in the 1940's Fae was joined by her brothers Robert and Donald.

Mum's early childhood came with her lifelong battle with several lung conditions. These lung conditions were her constant companion, they were her foe.

Her early schooling was interrupted by this ill health. It meant that she had to repeat one of her primary school classes. It came with a blessing though, joining the class of her lifelong friend Margaret Lindquist (now Murphy).

To try something different with treating her illness she was sent to Bexleys Ladies College in Sydney around eight years of age.

Even though Mum's education was affected by ill health she was always interested in the world. She read widely and across all manner of topics, political, social, and scientific.

1956: A short story from brother Don: The Ewing family had a 1955 FJ Holden ute that Fae was learning to drive when her girlfriend Margaret visited. Fae would show her how she could drive up and then reverse up the driveway with Margaret in the ute as well. All was well until Fae backed into the Jacaranda tree, much to the laughter of everyone watching.

Fae would regularly invite members of the CE Fellowship group around to the Ewing home and there was no doubt that Fae had a number of suitors.

Around 1956 a handsome young man of 20 years of age by the name of Bruce Howard transferred into town with the CBC bank.

When he came to Gunnedah, Bruce boarded with Auntie Girt. Dad took Auntie Girt's grandson, five-year-old Ralph Delander, to a local show. Ralph was sitting on a fence post, Mum spotted Ralph and came to talk to him.

Afterwards, Bruce spotted Fae going to work at the Commonwealth Bank and asked a colleague "who is that girl!"

Subsequently, Fae turned up at his lodgings to invite him to go to the Elsleys for a meal.

From then on, there were trips to the family farm "Vivale", to Curlewis to see Fae's grandmother, Nana Ellicott, and Wednesday night "balance night at the bank followed by movies at Gunnedah cinema".

Bruce was transferred to another town but their love continued to blossom. A lot of letter writing ensued, almost daily, and phone calls as Dad moved about the State only seeing each other on special occasions.

1960: Mum married Dad on 1st October 1960 and took up residence in a fully furnished cottage facing Little Beach at Pambula for 6 pounds per week.

With this started a life of devotion to Dad. Dad has ever since been generously fussed over. Often more than he might deserve. This fussing also involved Dad being "set straight" as well. Each has always been 100% for the other.

During these years Bruce preserved home grown beans in layers of salt as his mother did years ago. Fae, after some months, fed them to the eight hens and one rooster. By the time Bruce got home from work, all the hens were dead, and the rooster was staggering around.

In some ways Pambula Beach, although a beautiful place, was a lonely place for Fae. Heydon's arrival in 1961 was a blessing in more ways than one.

Not long after, the family was transferred to Moss Vale where Mum taught Sunday School.

In 1965 John was born at Bowral while Dad was out fighting bush fires.

The growing family then moved to Moree and from there onto Harden. Rowan was born in Harden in 1969 and Elizabeth in 1971.

Bruce became treasurer of the Harden bowling club and customarily Friday night was a "long mates' night" and Dad would often come home very late.

One night, Dad was of the mind that Mum had retired for the night and as Dad slipped into bed he put his hand across mum's shoulder to reassure her he was home.

On this occasion something did not feel right, in fact, after several hand movements some alarm and horror thoughts of a "werewolf" came to mind.

Dad jumped out of bed and turned on the light as he tore back the covers only to discover a "kangaroo skin rug" rolled up like a body. Mum then appeared from behind the door and could not control herself from laughing at Dad's expense.

1972 - 1979

By 1972 the family was in Devonport, Tasmania, living in a cul-de-sac full of kids.

The family was very involved in Scouting and Cubs and Mum continued a strong relationship with her church.

Mum was a Member of other community groups, including the Penguin Speakers Group.

Many weekends were spent either at the farm at Forth or fishing, and various family picnics.

Once while holidaying in Gunnedah Mum and Dad were advised by a late phone call that 10 Percy Street had burnt down.

Dad's reaction was "Oh my boat" which was in the garage under the house. Mum's reaction "Oh my Singer Sewing machine".

In the end Tasmania was not for Mum. Mum became seriously ill and Dad applied for a transfer - we were bound for Tottenham NSW.

1979: The family arrived in Tottenham to a combination of dust storm and locust plague. It was certainly going to be a place that dried her lungs out.

Mum and Dad enjoyed the friendship of the Hands, the Cleggs and the McCarthys, and we are very pleased that Bert Hand, Pat McCarthy, Richard, and Paula Clegg could join us today. Later the family moved full circle back to Gunnedah.

1984: In 1984 the family purchased Lachlan View Caravan Park in Forbes.

Mum soon enrolled Elizabeth in the local church youth group. Through this connection Mum met Ruth Elphick who became another good friend. We are pleased that Ruth could play for us today - thank you.

At the caravan park Mum knew her limits for most jobs and could be quick to delegate if needed.

On one occasion a man entered with a syringe to rob the shop. Dad was also in the shop. Mum called for Dads' attention, "Bruce .... BRUCE ... BRUCE!! .... He wants our money."

Dad drew an iron bar that was stored close by. The assailant was vanquished and Mum's knight in shining armour prevailed.

1999: In 1999 the Caravan park was sold, and Mum and Dad settled into retirement.

Mum continued to do what she could to maintain her heath, with aquarobics and Curves Gym.

Mum enjoyed community activity with the Probus Club, serving three terms as President.

Mum also volunteered at the Christian Book Shop once a month until she could no longer do so - a job that she had since delegated to Bruce to continue.

Legacy: Mum's ambitions were small in number but important in value: a loving husband; children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; good friends whose company she appreciated so much; a vanquished foe.

She is survived by 10 Grandchildren and 6 Great Grandchildren, she loved them all. Each was special to mum.

Mum was a fighter. Her body may have been weak at times, but her mind was always strong, and she will be forever young and forever in our hearts.