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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



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“When I was born my father had two girls but he wanted a son. So, he divorced my mother so he could marry someone who could give him a son (which suggests to me that he didn’t know much about biology).

My mother married again and her new husband turned out to be a violent alcoholic. A lot depended on what he had been drinking. If he was on beer, he was sentimental (which my mother couldn’t stand). If it was whisky, he was cranky. If he was on rum, he was violent; we knew to keep out of his way.

So, it wasn’t a very happy childhood. It was pretty lonely. I’ve never been good at reaching out to people. I’ve never been good at making friends … so, Jesus became my closest friend. I mean, I couldn’t see him, couldn’t touch him - but having Jesus meant I didn’t have to be lonely.

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My mother used to tell me I was so plain that no man would ever want to marry me, but if you look over there you can see I was married. And my husband himself was quite good looking.

He passed away in 1995 of a heart attack.

He’d just driven us home and we were putting the groceries away.

He said, “Would you like some prawns?”

And I said, “I’ll just go put my bag in the study.”

And I heard this deep sigh like air being let out of a tyre … and that was that.

I was so grateful to the Lord it didn’t happen five minutes earlier or we could’ve taken someone with us. I’m so grateful he didn’t suffer. I’m so grateful that he passed away at home.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I’ve said to the kids and I can honestly say, I don’t have one negative memory of our marriage. That was lovely.

One of my fondest memories of him …

He was such a family man that his idea of a holiday was going to visit the kids.

I remember this particular day he said, “Oh, I was just wondering, how would you like to go and visit our son?”

He was in Israel. I thought, ‘How can working class people afford a trip to Israel?’ But my husband had just retired and his superannuation had just come in and he wanted to take me. So, off we went. It was wonderful.

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 I’m 84 now but that’s nothing to do with me. It’s up to the Lord how long I live.

I have no fears about the fact of death. I have no idea about the manner of my death - that’s a different thing - but …

You know, because my own father had walked away and my step-father was a danger, I never really could relate to the fatherly love of God. Until there was a day at church recently.

I saw a father doting on his daughter. What’s the phrase? The sun shone out of her or something? Anyway, you’d have thought the way he was looking at her that she was so precious to him that he was the only one who had a little daughter. And it made me realise what a father was supposed to be like … and for the first time I realised how much God loved me. I’d never been able to feel it before.

So, dying won’t be worrying me in the slightest.”