|Elaine’s life achievements and the gifts she gave her children and friends.
Born at Kalimna, overlooking the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes 12th august 1933 – just over 85 years ago.
The eldest daughter of school teacher Patricia Dugins and ex WW1 veteran Josesh Dugins.
Perhaps some of the family gifts instilled in us by mum and dad had their origins in the extreme conditions of the trenches on the western front survived by her father.
Mum was provided with a sound education, the first gift subsequently passed onto all her children. She excelled in academic pursuits, probably to the detriment of her sister and daughters who followed her at Our Lady of Sion school in Sale. As a border at Our Lady of Sion College in Sale, mum was dux of her year and then dux of the school in what then was called matriculation – year 12. The time at Sion probably entrenched mum’s lifelong faith within the catholic religion. Mum was an accomplished swimmer holding bronze medal and bar and taught all of us to swim. Rowing was also a skill mastered by mum – not in a traditional rowing skull but in a wooden boat rowing her younger twin brothers to their favourite fishing spots. Moving to Melbourne Teachers College as the first of the two year trained primary teachers mum was dux and winner of the rarely presented Gladman Award for excellence in her graduating year. As an aside mum was the first of the two year trained teachers and dad the last of the one year trained. Mum met dad when both were teaching in the north east of Victoria. Mum at Yackandandah and dad at Kiewa Valley consolidated. Married in 1955 they moved around the state to Neerim South, Heywood, Hazelwood North, Murtoa, Buninyong, Sale and finally back to Ballarat. During this time raising 7 children on a single wage.
Mum was a master of making the best of what skills you have, be that making our clothes or cutting our hair or just making the best of a situation. An example of this gift was when we moved from Hazelwood to Murtoa. Unbeknown to us kids 1967 was a severe drought in the Wimmera, moving from green Gippsland to that area was akin in our minds to moving to the dessert. We arrived in 40 degree heat to a Department of Education house still under renovation and no personal effects as the removalist truck had broken down en route. There was no hissy fit, slagging of the builder on social media or suing someone for hardship or mental scarring compensation. Two adults and 6 kids slept on 2 doonas on fortunately green grass in the back yard and effectively had a camping adventure for 3 days. Throughout our early years mum and dad encouraged us to try things – with a couple of important supporting provisos –
If you are going to do something stick at it and do it to the best of your ability.
Better to have the courage to try and maybe fail a few times than not try in the first place – thus learning from those efforts. Do not worry about others who may criticise those best efforts – invariably they had rarely tried anything.
While raising a large family mum displayed her artistic skills winning numerous floral arrangement awards at country shows, doing flowers for weddings and making other peoples deb and wedding dresses. She sowed every bead on Annette’s wedding dress and reportedly said a prayer for each bead sowed. Parents in theory should outlive their children. Sadly this is not always the case. Mum endured this twice with the loss of Mark and Kathy. Underpinned by her devout catholic faith mum lead the family from the front. Not from a stoic stance but from the most basic of practicalities.
No matter how hard, we learned to bury our dead, mourn and recognise our dead and get on with the business of living – because you have no choice and others will be relying on you to do so. Mum had a special kind of humour mixed with the subtle use of a wry grin and used those traits to bond with dad, her children and grandchildren. On the receipt of what could loosely be described as a marginal alteration of the truth by one of us, mum would raise an eyebrow and suggest that “only a mother would believe that”. A gifted public speaker mum represented the Catholic Country Women’s League at conferences in Melbourne and participated in a public speaking group at Murtoa. On being quizzed how could public speaking possibly be fun or a hobby the response was a borderline sledge – “ no one interrupts me and they have to listen to what I have to say”. Later in life (or more likely when she had time) mum returned to her passion for painting, regularly meeting with art group friends in the Ballarat gardens, selling a few and enjoying the social gathering of likeminded people. Mum was awarded life membership of the Ballarat Society of Artists in February 2007.
On being quizzed as to her artistic skills – the modest response was only a moderate skill and all artists skills are enhanced and recognised after their passing.
All members of the family have at least one piece of mums' artistic skills – perhaps also to remind us that to date this particular skill has not yet genetically reappeared.
Even in failing health mum was always interested in the development and activities of her 7 grandchildren and asked me to pass on her wish for them to “fly like eagles” in their chosen work, sporting and life pursuits.
Mum with the support of dad we recognise and thank you in a small way today, but in a much bigger way in life for the gifts bestowed on your flock.
Elaine is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery Lawn K Row 7 Grave 26