- Special Guest -
From time to time I feature extraordinary people - young and old. Today I present an Australian woman who has seen and done much in her nearly 94 years - Isabel. She is one of 11 kids, is an artist, musician, poet, animal lover, mother ... and so her talents go on.
Welcome, Lady Isabel ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF – AGE, HOBBIES, GENDER AND LOCATION.
Hello Clancy. I'm Isabel. I'll be to 94 years old in a few days time. I have a good sense of humour. But I'm a bit handicapped at present because recently I fell and broke my wrist, and a few ribs. I like painting and I also like writing some poetry. My heart is in the bush, where I grew up. When I go for a drive these days, I don't see the houses but I see the beautiful trees and listened to the birds.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE IN A FEW WORDS?
I've had a wonderful life. And I have lived in many places mainly in Queensland. I was born in Pittsworth, on the Darling Downs. Life there was a joy, where I spent many hours and days and weeks on my grandparents’ small farm. We had chooks and ducks, and a large vegetable garden. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and my favourite aunts, Auntie Mary and Auntie Annie. I was named after two of my aunts, Auntie Annie and auntie Bella (Isabel). Isabel was a bit of the grouch but I still loved her.
It was only when we left Pittsworth when I was six that I realised that I had so many older brothers and sisters. When I was seven my eldest sister married and right or wrong I wanted them to take me on the honeymoon. They didn't. In all, I have 10 brothers and sisters. I am the eighth child born to my parents. Two of my older brothers died in infancy and my next closest sibling in age died at the age of four from tetanus following a traumatic accident. She died a few days later which broke my heart. I still think of her.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST JOY IN LIFE?
One of my greatest joys in life was holding my newborn children one of whom had bright red hair and looked for the entire world like a life-size toy doll.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT AGING?
One of the hardest things about getting older is that there are things that I can no longer do which I once took for granted. My hearing isn't the greatest, and likewise my vision. So, I can no longer paint, and have found it increasingly difficult in recent times to play the piano. These days I spend a lot of time listening to my favourite music on the radio, and listening to some selections of audio books.
I started drawing when I was six after a very sad event in the family when my younger sister Jenny died following an accident. I have never had a painting or drawing lesson in my life but I love painting and drawing. I still think of Jenny even in my old age. She never had the opportunity to grow old.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE?
I love frogs and dogs, horses and big animals. So maybe I was really a domestic or a native animal in a past life. The two dogs in my life at present give me great pleasure.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
One of my greatest achievements I think its actually reaching the age of 94, overcoming medical problems but I still feel in my mind and heart like two year role, sometimes a two-year-old horse and sometimes a two-year-old egg.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People have inspired me my whole life, my grandfather, my uncle Joe and my big brother, Les. My brother Les was an adult when I was still a child. He had a pilot’s license and sometimes after-school picked me up, and would take me on a joy flight in an open cockpit plane. I loved it, and I loved him. A sense of adventure is something that stays with you for your whole life.
My uncle Joe would sing to me when I was a child and I would play the piano for him. He would sing Italian songs and French songs, and then tell me what the songs meant in English. He was such a talented man. I still miss him.
Never give up, never ever, try and try again you will achieve what you set out to do.
DO YOU SUFFER MUCH? HOW DO YOU COPE?
I have suffered a lot in my days, during my life, but you have to keep going and don't give up. With the support of my family and my daughters and my son-in-law, my doctors, they have helped me a lot and they have all saved my life on more than one occasion. I am also thankful and grateful for having had such a wonderful mother who taught me so much.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY TODAY?
My greatest joy today is enjoying life at 94, music, my family, my animals, my garden, and the blue sky. I love the sound of rain on the roof, and the smell of wet grass.
Most of all I like music. My favourite composers of all time are Mozart and Chopin. I used to play their work. My favourite piece of work is the’ flute and harp concerto’. It fills me with a feeling of joy and pleasure - awe-inspiring.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
The greatest compliment I ever received was a recurring one, when people said, ‘that’s the best apple pie I ever tasted,’
At one time I wanted to be a concert pianist. I could play classical pieces on the piano after only hearing them once, and without the aid of music. My father bought me a piano to play as he recognised the talent that I had. Somehow this ambition to be a concert pianist never came to fruition.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT?
The worst comment that someone said to me came from my mother when she said ‘you’ve just wasted those great goose eggs,’ that I added to the mud pies I was making. She was right of course
WRITERS AND CREATIVE ARTISTS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I like to write poetry mostly, blank verse. And I write about things from the past, things about my childhood, about my family, and about my children. But I don't do enough of this. With the help of my daughter I would like to write my family history and my own history. There are many things which I have never told anyone. This would be a way of recording where I've come from and my journey along the way.
Memories from my childhood are very important to me. I had lots of siblings. We had family gatherings around the dinner table on Sunday lunch. My father always served the Sunday lunch. He and my mother grew lots of things in the family garden that were served on the table at our Sunday lunch
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My description of a perfect day, now that's a difficult one. I guess, just to be happy and have my family around me.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Of all the people in my life, the one person who taught me the most, whom I still miss, who was always full of great ideas, I guess this is the person I would take on a desert island with me. This person is my grandfather.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
If I had had the opportunity to speak to one person in history, a world leader about a significant event in my family history, I would ask Winston Churchill, ‘Why did you send my uncle to Gallipoli. Four went and only one ever came home.’
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS?
My plans are to enjoy the rest of my life. I would like to write some more of my poetry and my life history. I need help to do that with my failing vision, arthritis in my hands, poor dexterity, and reduced hearing. Not impossible however.
Isabel's magnificent garden
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
I would take all my music books.
I would also take:
Alice in Wonderland,
The Snow Goose,
Anne of Green Gables,
Dear and Glorious Physician.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I have been blessed with four children, and many animals that I have loved during my life. My very favourite dog, a black poodle died some years ago. She was part of me and I still miss her.
Today I spent some time alone
Just me and my memory
And it took me back to my childhood days
When I remember this valley
Cradled by the hills
With its colourful bushes, the small trees, and the tall trees
And wild flowers of many sizes, shapes and colours.
The lush grass crackled under my feet
And the gentle breeze fanned my cheeks.
The small birds sang, the larger sang
And the kookaburras applauded with their laughter
Clancy's comment: It's been a pleasure to interview you, Isabel. Thank you for your time. I'd love to taste your apple pie.
Love ya work!
Love ya work!