Posted by Judy Dearsley on Aug 15, 2018
Having recently lost a sibling in a family of five, it has again made me very aware again of how unpredictable life can be and the ramifications that emerge from an event. 

I am the eldest in this family of two girls and three boys, and my sister was the third born.   We lost our parents 42 & 37 years ago, so I became the matriarch of the family at a reasonably young age.   With Esther’s sudden death, it has made me think of my life and the paths I have taken to where I am now in this present time.

I can still remember the joy of growing up on a small farm in Taranaki, west of Stratford, riding my bike to school on a metal road and learning to read along with arithmetic, writing and social studies.  Life on a farm meant there were jobs to be done, such as feeding the calves, sweeping paths, etc.  I recently returned to the farm, but the house has gone apart from the chimney. Some of the hills we climbed have been semi-flattened to allow more pasture for the cows to feed.  My cousin who now farms there has merged three farms into one large property and milks an enormous herd of cows every day.

Moving into the small town of Stratford in my second year at High School brought about a change of lifestyle – we saw shops every day as we biked to school and it was much noisier, particularly in winter as the skiers and climbers travelled to our side of Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont as it was called in our day).  Leaving school with School C, I joined the Bank of New South Wales for two years, before being transferred to Wellington as my eldest brother was joining the workforce and we were not allowed to work together.

I was planning to go nursing, but eight months into my time in Wellington, I was appointed to the role of Secretary to the Chief Manager of the Bank – a role my father advised I should stay in.  I met Mike in my workplace and we eventually married and were then transferred to Auckland, where our son was born.  Then it was Darwin, where our daughter was born, before transferring to Adelaide.  After five years there, we were then moved to Port Moresby, PNG, for three and a half years, before coming back to New Zealand where we wanted our children to do their secondary schooling.


While our children were at school, I worked in various part-time administrative roles – in Adelaide, Port Moresby & Palmerston North. But I returned to full-time work in Wellington, working for Deloittes, as Office Manager, then a small law firm.  Finally, it was at ACC for 13 years, during which time I spent two years in Hon Ruth Dyson’s Office as the ACC Private Secretary - an interesting experience.


However, retirement brings opportunities to do different things, some onerous but mostly enjoyable.  It is lovely to have the time to get involved in the local community and make new friends, as well having time to catch up with older friends.   I particularly enjoy being out on the bowling green in the warmer months.

However, as I age, I realise that I have lots of stuff which my children will probably not want and I need to start decluttering.  There was a very interesting article in the newspaper recently about children having to sort out deceased parents’ ‘precious stuff’ – something my niece is now doing.  She is coping very well with a bit of help from her Aunt and a large double garage to spread everything out.  I hope my children will have a slightly easier task.