Carole Edith Vivian was born at Brighton, Victoria to James and Jessie Spence, on the 5th of January, 1932. She was born into a large and loving family with brothers Malcolm, Allan and Douglas and sisters Flora, Clair and Margaret. Unfortunately many of Mum's early years were spent in hospital after she contracted polio and scoliosis at an early age. These problems left her with the capacity of only one lung functioning properly and would place a lot more stress on her heart than normal. However, this helped shape her into a very determined and forthright individual who would not allow anything to stop her from her goals in life. Mum didn't have a lot of time for others who used their misfortunes as excuses. She told us sometimes that, " If you're crying, it doesn't hurt enough".
lt worked - Stephen came home one day clutching his groin saying, "Mummy don't look, you'll be sick"! He'd been crossing a creek on a log, and slipped, impaling himself on tea tree sticking up from the water. lt missed his vital organs, but required quite a few stitches. However, despite being tough, and expecting us to follow suit, Mum was always affectionate, and we boys always knew that we were loved.
Against the odds, and doctors' initial diagnosis, she developed a determination for living that saw her eventually leave hospital to be with her family. She showed promise at school, even playing in the netball team, and developed a talent for artistic pursuits. On leaving school, Mum became a florist, which she loved.
She met a plasterer named Ray Vivian and walked down the aisle with him in early 1953. During the next few years, again, against doctors' expectations, she became the mother to three baby boys: Stephen, Mark and me. The family had moved to Devon Meadows in 1957 onto a 3-acre parcel of scrub and Dad built the family home. lt was not quite the same for Mum as for a young mother today: she had 3 children under 5 years old and no electricity for the first few years. Water came from a 2000-gallon tank, and she didn't drive.
As we grew, she encouraged us to be outdoors as much as possible but this caused some problems. For example, one particular day, when I was about 6, I came into the house saying "Mummy. I nearly hung myself'. The massive rope burn around my neck made her realize that I wasn't telling a story. On another, Stephen and Mark emulated Dad's favorite TV program, Wild Kingdom, and brought home a snake, live, in a noose. Mum was well aware of the effectiveness of cages we built, and, after several screams and effective use of the shovel, her peace of mind was restored.
Mum also encouraged us to exercise our minds. She and Dad were avid readers, and passed this on to us. She also played card and board games with us, which has now passed on to the next generation. Mum's siblings and their families often visited at Devon Meadows, especially on special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays. On one such occasion, celebrating Stephen's birthday and Guy Fawkes Night, on the 5th of November, a “jumping jack" firework jumped into the entire box of fireworks, resulting in a Monty Python-style scenario as all concerned scattered to watch the explosions from a safe distance.
Mum, with Dad, quickly became involved in the local community. Soon after arriving in "the Meadows", a new friend offered to take her to a mothers' group. The lady picked her up in a horse and jinker. When the friend stopped and got out, to go into the store, Mum was a bit perturbed to be left holding the reins. Mum became secretary of the Recreation Reserve committee and of the Progress Association, working alongside other local families such as the Thomas' and Hunts. During her almost 16 years of service Mum had great pride in driving the development of local facilities, in particular the construction of the Devon Meadows recreation reserve, which resulted in the formation of the Devon Meadows Cricket club which became a big part of her life through her family's involvement. The cricket club saw the Vivian name become known throughout the district through the boys' performances (mainly Stephen and Mark) and also equally for the reputation for the afternoon teas provided and the accuracy of the scorebooks. Again this was the effort of Mum and her best friend Betty Thomas and it became important to have home matches at Devon Meadows during the season. During these sporting years the Recreation reserve was like a second home to the Vivians.
In the local community, Mum came to prominence with her floral work, winning many prizes for entries at the local flower shows and numerous fetes that were held. Because of her reputation, she was also engaged to do the arrangements for family weddings and a number of local weddings as well. Later on, Mum also became heavily involved with the local china painting group and sold many of her pieces. She was engaged on several occasions to do work for local friends on pieces provided.
Devon Meadows also tested Mum's resolve when Dad was involved in a serious car accident that put much pressure on her emotionally, physically and financially. She never learnt to drive and the only way to travel was a 2km walk up and down dirt roads to the bus stop or the local store. Life was much more challenging than most people realize. For example, at one stage, as well as the normal home duties, Mum used to milk a cow by hand each day, as well as make sure that Dad's collection of birds and animals was looked after.
After we all moved out of home Mum worked for several years at the local store, doing the lunchtime sandwiches. One former school friend of the ours, Frank Tegiffell would drive from Officer, 25 kms away, for Mum to make his lunch, Another notable customer was comedian Col Elliot, but she warned him about any jokes being told at his shows about sandwich ladies.
As we grew up and began our adult lives, Mum and Dad discussed moving to Queensland, for Dad to work and for Mum's health to be maintained. This was a tough decision, because, by this time, they were grandparents to Lyndsey and Sean. However, they made the move to Buddina. Dad's work plans never eventuated, but Mum's health benefited - the warmer climate made it much easier for her breathing and lessened her aches and pains. ln their mid-fifties, Mum and Dad took up tennis. They made many new friends, and Mum supported Dad in his sporting administration roles.
She spent a year by herself, supported by Aunty Clair, who had moved next door with Uncle Bert, while Dad worked in Melbourne. Dad returned from Melbourne and they involved themselves in the coast's leisurely pursuits. 2003 began a period of hurt and doubt as Stephen found that he had not beaten his bowel cancer, and Dad was admitted to a nursing home with a rare brain disease.
2004 was a disaster, with Stephen passing away in January and Dad in September. Mum was hit very hard, and began to lose motivation for her china painting. She still kept busy with other community activities, her indoor bowling a favorite, but as she struggled with her health she sometimes found it difficult to stay positive, despite the love of family and friends. She had amazing support from Clair right to the very end. She relished her Tuesdays with Betty Thomas and library trips and chats with John Shingles, from across the road. She still defied her doctors' expectations with the same determination as always.
Mum finally went one step too far, physically, and eventually fell heavily. With a fractured pelvis, she dragged herself across the floor to ring the paramedics, then Mark. ln hospital, she was determined to return home. However, force of will cannot beat nature. Mum's body couldn't sustain the effort it had been making for the 74 years since she first contracted polio, and she passed away peacefully. We will always remember her for her sense of humour, her love of her family and friends and her fierce determination to push through any obstacle. She will be happy now to be reunited with Dad and Stephen. Rest in peace Mum.