Heroes can be born from tragedies

I have always been an Eyre Peninsula girl, born at Wudinna and lived and grew up at Minnipa.

My real life began when I married John Borlase from Wanilla in 1970. A farmer, soldier and Vietnam veteran; a man of integrity, deep thinking, modest, humorous and most importantly to me, the wisest man I have ever met. He was the mentor of my life, always directing, guiding, teaching, uplifting but also injecting wonderful humour into our lives when things got tough.

A 13-month stint in Vietnam before we got married did nothing to fill the coffers, so this man proceeded to teach a farmer’s daughter how to really work! We had a cropping farm with sheep, cows and a piggery. We were always busy with cows to be milked, pigs to be fed, days and weeks of sheep work plus cropping. There was endless shearing, depending on what John bought at the sheep market. I remember going to bed one night only to be told, “Oh! I forgot to tell you. We’re shearing in the morning!” Which meant getting out of bed with a few unladylike words muttered under my breath and heading to the freezer to see if there was anything edible for four or five hungry men.

Having our two children Darren and Janelle brought us much joy and completeness as a family but time goes by so quickly and after years of diapers, schooling, sport, farm life and finally the end of their schooling, the time to leave home, be independent and look at new horizons began for both of them.

All too quickly they grew up, became independent and found their life partners. Darren married Natalie Griffith from Adelaide and moved onto the home farm with John and myself. Janelle married Paul Carman whom she met in SAPOL’s Police Academy in Adelaide.

Sadly, John died of cancer 12 days before Janelle and Paul’s wedding but we were blessed to draw together as a family to share in their wonderful day and were doubly blessed to have Darren and Natalie’s two precious children, Star and Jack, take part in their wedding.

Life has many twists and turns, ups and downs, trials and tragedies and none of us are immune from these events. Our family is no exception. Some are just dealt greater inflictions than others; we only have to look at current news reports from around the world to see this.

Ours came with the January Black Tuesday bushfires of 2005, several months after John’s death and Janelle and Paul’s wedding. 

It is hard to describe the multitude of emotions many people, including my family, went through on this day and are still travelling through. The shocking loss of Natalie’s mum Judy and their children Star and Jack will remain with us all forever. This has been a tumultuous time when our family shattered into millions of pieces, where hearts are broken and deeply wounded and the scars remain forever. But, l am so proud of my family as they have slowly recreated a burnt farm and home, built a business in Port Lincoln and continue to do their diligent amazing work in SAPOL .

Out of this tragedy, along with many others, my family have become heroes.

I will always be eternally grateful for the faith l have in God and His Son that has developed over the years. They have never left my side. 

I now live in Port Lincoln where my life is slowly being restored and rebuilt and continues to do so by the grace of God and my many friends.