Recently, Rebecca Mary Milley – my Auntie Bec – turned 100. The occasion was marked by a gathering of the clan – four generations descending upon country Victoria to share scones and tea and the biggest birthday cake I have ever set eyes on. Auntie Bec has achieved celebrity status as the only member of our family to have reached the magic 100. The excitement was, and continues to be, palpable.
The eldest of 9 children, Bec is the only one of her siblings alive – she has outlived them all and continues to shine – robust, active and blessed with grace, humour and optimism. Like many people born early in the last century, she has lived a frugal life, first in remote rural Victoria, before marrying and moving closer to Melbourne. During World War 2, she perfected her now famous boiled fruit cake to send to the boys fighting abroad. Bec had 6 kids of her own, made the best home she could for them with very limited resources, and supported them through their tribulations and successes. Today she continues to live a simple and gentle life, surrounded by friends and family – as respected and loved as ever.
Bec’s story is in many ways unremarkable – a story of its time, replicated many times throughout our communities. And yet it is also heroic – she has taken life on, given it her best shot, made a contribution in the way she best knew how, and has lived to tell the story with no embellishment or grievance.
At Bec’s party I couldn’t resist asking her that predictable question – what advice she could offer others as they go through their lives. She replied with a chuckle, as if she knew the question was coming:
Do your best with what you have. And just keep walking!
A life that continues to be well-lived? I reckon so.
Have a great weekend everyone.