Memories of Gill

Memories of Gill and why there is a programme for children and animals being formed in her memory.

I will say that, included in this “Memories of Gill” are the speeches given at Gill’s Life Celebration, speeches which give reflections from both family and friends and have greater details of particular events.

This is merely a snippet of Gillian’s life, written by her mother, remembering some of the special times spent with her.

Gill was a special girl, young woman and as Soren always said, a lady.

I don’t quite know how or where to start. It is difficult to write this down, because, while it brings back fond memories, it also reminds me of what has gone, of what can’t come back.

Why did Gill become who she is?

Gill was loved by everyone. She was a wonderful person, full of character. She had a heart of gold, loved having fun, gave more of herself than anyone could ever imagine and excelled at whatever she took on. Also she looked forward to being married to Soren, her partner, and having children of her own. She was so excited about this. She would often tell me “I am a lucky girl” and I would say “Yes and Soren is a lucky boy”.

As a young child Gill was in to everything, in the most positive way. At the time we lived on a small property, 2 acres, with dogs, a cat, ducks, horses and other creatures that came along. Gill was four and a half when she got her first pony, a little white Welsh mountain pony called Gloria, purchased for $100. She was an absolute treasure. One year Gill and Gloria went off to the local horse show, both spruced up to the hilt. All the younger children won coloured ribbons and delighted in the delicious jelly beans the judge handed out. These were the days! This was the beginning of Gill’s love for horses.

We had little spare money to splash around, however we decided to go on a holiday to Cape Patterson. Gary, Gill’s dad, purchased a large second-hand blue tent that lasted for years. Cape Patterson is a family beach with both a safety and surf beach, and a small local milk bar where children could get all the summer treats you could want. The weather wasn’t always kind to us; the tent would flood bringing in bull ants; sun and wind burn were a constant threat: we swam nearly every day come rain, hail or sunshine; fishing was always an option; and if you felt totally bored Gary would tell the kids one of his wacky, mad stories, all in all these were fun, family times. Over the years many a story has been told about our time spent at Cape Pato, with much laughter echoing through the walls.

At this time we were a Foster Family, having children come and stay for varied lengths of time. Gillian shared her family, pets, bedroom and toys with the many children who spent time with us. (It was important that you didn’t have to share your very special toys.) I remember saying good night to Gill and Mary, a young girl who had lost confidence in herself due to health issues and messy family problems, and here they were all snuggled up, Mary reading a favourite story to Gill. Mary was so proud of herself, her reading skills and confidence had quickly progressed. She had spent the day climbing trees, helping to make a scrumptious cake, feed the farm animals and taking part in other general outdoor fun. I think Gillian learned many skills that became useful later in life.

Sometimes things just happen in your favour and led us to purchasing our current home. Here we have 50 acres, with an old farm house, large old hay shed (converted into stables) and lots of space to play in. This was our dream come true. Early in the piece foster children continued to visit, joining in all the family happenings. Gill’s interest in animals continued to grow, helping me with chickens that needed encouragement getting out of their shells, and raising them till joining the other hens. This showed Gill’s nurturing skills. At one time Gill brought home a wild duckling which lived with the chickens. Gill named him Bob. He was later set free then each spring when the wild ducks returned Gill would look for Bob hoping he had returned to say hello. We still say hello to Bob.

Gill was fortunate to have all her grandparents living close by. Sometimes after school Gill and Travis, her brother, would go with their nana to the senior citizens and join in with the singing. They both loved these afternoons. One time Gill was down the street with her nana looking through the pet shop when they saw a darling puppy. Gill wanted this puppy so much. She had been saving up. (Not necessarily for a puppy). We already had two kelpies; however Gill could have the puppy if she paid all the costs and took full responsibility for the puppy. A big decision to make! Gill got the puppy but ended up with an empty money box, Gill was happy and so was the puppy. Bowey, was a wonderful family dog and a friend we all remember.

Gill had dedication, particularly with horses. She was a horse woman not just a show rider. When Gill was 9 years of age she got her first horse, Hollywood, an American Quarter Horse. Gill wasn’t just given Hollywood she had to show she could care for and look after Hollywood herself. There was no hesitation as far as Gill was concerned. Hollywood still lives with us now being 28 years of age. I never thought Hollywood would outlive Gill! Gill continued to learn and build on her knowledge about training horses. One of Gill’s horses called Harry, who had found it difficult to go into a lope, (slow canter) gave both the trainers and Gill a lot of frustration, however Gill persisted. Gill had the ability to think things through as well as feel the horse under her as she rode. One afternoon when training Harry, Gill figured out that a minute movement from her helped the horse to move into the lope. This was a changing life moment! From here on Gill and Harry blossomed. There was no stopping them. They were a team to contend with being very proud of their many show results. In these years Gill worked at a vet clinic after school, took care of her horses, learned piano as well as keeping up with secondary school requirements. (I think the school work came way down the list!) She was a busy, happy girl.

Directly after secondary school, Gill managed the care and promotion of thoroughbred yearlings again excelling in what she took on. At this time she had the opportunity to work at a vet clinic, completing her Vet Nurse studies as she worked. Gill worked at a Vet Clinic in Montrose where she progressed to Clinic Manager. Here she was loved by all, staff, clients and all the pets. Later I was told of special things that Gill would do for some of the clients. One story in particular was a blind woman and her dog, often walking across the dangerous crossing which Gill could see from the clinic. Recently the lights had been changed which created some confusion for the dog, Gill saw danger as the lady and her four legged companion attempted to cross the road, Gill raced out helping them both cross with safety. There is a stream of similar stories like this that I could tell.

Friendship was important to Gill. She was a loyal and supportive friend and enjoyed the children she became Aunty to. Her motherly nature found it easy building warm and special bonds with these children. She loved hearing the words “Aunty Gill”. Then when Travis, her brother, and Katherine had their first baby, Alistair, Gill was overjoyed as is obvious in the many touching photos we have of Gill and Alistair. Gill would get phone calls from friends in relation to some health problem a horse or dog may have. It didn’t matter what time of day or night people phoned Gill, she would find a solution. She even made a calliper for a horse that had a severe bone problem, one that even the vets wouldn’t attempt to address. The horse came through, and is now living a healthy life.

Life seems unfair at times. Gill had been through some tough times but was now happy, having found Soren just over eighteen months ago. It looked like many happy years ahead were coming Gill’s way. Gill and Soren had found deep love and friendship. They were always laughing and happy, content in each other’s company. Gill had talked about her childhood to Soren, and how wonderful these times had been, also saying that she would love to create the same life for her children.

There are many stories we could all tell about Gill, with her wacky sense of humour and warm personality, the list is just too great. This is a snippet of who she is. She had many nicknames some of which are-Gilly Possum, as a child she would fill her bed with all her possessions, hardly any room left for her! Treasure, abbreviated to Treas, this, because to me, she was a treasure, and she loved being called Little Miss Sunshine-she loved yellow and loved the Little Miss Sunshine book. Even as an adult she had a collection of Little Miss Sunshine items. Also, she loved sunflowers, because they were so bright and cheerful.

Gill had the best smile. She would walk into our home with her happy cheerful face and a big happy smile; this instantly made you feel good. Gill had taken up pottery, quickly moving from hand building to the wheel. She was ever so proud of the pots she had made. She found it difficult to give too may away as gifts because she loved each pot, cup, dish, bowl.........

Gill was a person with many facets. If you are fortunate to see Gill’s Memory Quilt you will see the many delightful quilt blocks that depict touching stories made by family and friends.

Like all of us, she was part her genes and part her surroundings, but most of all she was just Gill a special, warm caring, thoughtful, understanding, talented person. As one friend said “We should all take a page out of Gill’s book”.

I feel it isn’t hard to see why we want to create a programme in Gillian’s memory and honour, especially as she had so many qualities to pass on to others, both children and animals. Our hope is that her memory will grow on in Gillian’s Rainbow Bridge.

Please feel welcome to read the Speeches.

Annette Conrad

Gillian’s mother, who misses her greatly.