As an unofficial historian I would like to try and give an essence of Heather.
Heather was always optimistic. Tolerant of human beings, she didn’t judge people harshly. Well not openly, out loud. She was friendly to a large proportion of the population.
In turn, Heather was liked by most people who met her. She had a fairly full social life, belonged to many groups and fitted well into the wider community. She would have had a mitigating effect if any of her groups showed signs of extreme behaviour. Always quick to laugh, she could always easily defuse a tricky situation.
Heather started life living in a house the King Valley side of the cutting. This was quite a crude house. It did not enjoy many amenities. The inside was not fully lined. It had a limited supply of cold water. Heather enjoyed living here. This house is nestled in between the River and the Hill. It is close to both. She claimed she could go into the bush whenever she wanted. She might have done this in secret. But most likely she would have done it with her siblings and relatives, of which she had lots.
In time her family moved about two miles down the road to the house that is still in the family. This house was on 30 acres and close to the river. You could always hear the river at night. A clearing sale was held on the day they moved in. They had already purchased the property. The clearing sale was in the afternoon. They slept in the house that night. They had to move quickly because there were 20 cows to be milked twice every day. The cows came with the property. In time they also kept pigs. The pigs were the responsibility of Heather’s mother. Both her mother and father milked the cows, but her father worked off the farm as much as possible as an agricultural labourer or casual worker in industry.
Heather’s Father was Scottish. His name was Tom. He came from Paisley. Tom wasn’t hollywood Scottish. He never wore a kilt. He admitted however to having a connection with Robbie Burns and his family had kept intact a pair of Burn’s breeks. Tom had had a privileged upbringing until the time his mother broke with his father. The father was a serious drinker and was inclined to go on benders which lasted sometimes for weeks. Tom’s sympathies were with his mother. The family breakup however meant Tom’s life changed forever. The business which gave them a comfortable living came to an abrupt end. Tom had to leave school before school leaving age and get a job. In later life he would recall in detail how much he had loved school and how much he missed school. How he sometimes would stand outside the school and watch the pupils going in. Tom could quote Shakespeare. He could quote Wordsworth. Tom’s family did not get back together and in time it was decided that he would come to Australia and join his relatives in the King Valley. He came to Melbourne by boat and then train to King Valley. He claimed the train journey from Wangaratta to King Valley lasted approximately the same time as the journey from Melbourne to Wangaratta. The train stopped at all 12 stations. Sometimes for an hour.
Heather’s mother belonged to a musical family. Her name was Edith, but she was called Edie. There was a Laffy family band composed of Edie’s father, two brothers, and sister, but Edie never sang with the band. She sang solo songs which highlighted her voice. Her singing career went on long after the Laffy family band split up. She would often be asked to sing at public occasions. She would sometimes take part in talent quests run by the local radio station. All her relatives and friends would listen with interest when this happened. A vinyl record was made of one of her appearances.
Heather did not always get on with her mother. She once ran away from home, or more correctly rode away on her bike. She took refuge with her Aunt and came extolling a list of complaints. The middle verandah had to be swept. The kitchen floor needed to be washed. The beds had to be made and she was expected to do it all. Quickly, however, Edie was notified, and the conversation turned to how fast Heather had ridden. She had travelled 8 miles in an hour. How fast was she going?
Heather had a full working life until she got married and she then became a full-time housewife. She was good at this occupation. Excelled at it even. She got on well with her husband David and in time they raised two well-adjusted children. David and Heather had many adventures. David had several careers in various industries. Heather always supported him. It can be stated that Heather and David were soul mates. They appreciated each other in the deepest sense. If any marriage can be described as successful, then theirs can. This wasn’t all David’s fault. Heather had a hand in it as well.
In late middle age during a bout of illness Heather gave up smoking cold turkey. She had been a reasonably heavy smoker quite attached to the joys of smoking. She was never tempted to revert.
Heather was always generous to her relatives and friends. She always welcomed people to visit, was always accommodating if people wanted a meal or to stay the night. This was her strength. It was not always openly appreciated but it was always understood. It’s a cliché, but if anyone was generous to a fault, then Heather would qualify…