Thursday, May 23, 2024

How a daughter’s loss raised voices of priceless family tales

In a world of fake news, scrolling feeds and instant gratification, Dimity Brassil is a strong believer that collecting the stories and wisdom of our elderly matters. 

When she lost her father and sister within a couple of months of each other, Dimity realised she’d never hear the sound of their voices again. She didn’t want the same to happen with her 90-year-old mum, Anne, so she asked if she could record her life story.

“When my father and sister died, I realised we really didn’t have a lot of history recorded about them – particularly of my sister, who was only 52 and left behind a 12-year-old daughter, and that we hadn’t captured many of her stories in her voice for her daughter to hear,” says Dimity. 

“I wanted to do the same for mum, as she’s a really interesting person and has led a colourful life. She moved away at the age of 16 in 1950, as one of only two girls in Wagga who got the Commonwealth Scholarship to go to Sydney University.

“She led the creation of a very early Women’s Refuge – one of the first of 11 refuges in the state and was a foster carer for children in crisis. She also remembers the polio epidemic and seeing children in iron lungs in hospital. 

“Mum later became a teacher and skipped out of school with the teachers and the students when Queen Elizabeth visited the area as part of her great Australian tour in 1954.

“Most people – even her children and most definitely her grandchildren – didn’t know the true extent of her achievements, her community work, or her astute, witty and often acerbic observations on the play of life.”

Dimity and Anne.

Anne agreed to record her life story and together they formed a business – A Lasting Tale. As well as offering a professional podcast-like personal audio service, the platform also has a DIY interview guide for families wanting to interview their loved ones themselves. 

“I learned more about my mum and her life than ever before by asking questions I would ask every day to other people as a freelance journalist, but had never asked my mum,” adds Dimity.

“We quickly discovered other people also feel that need, so I took my creative juices and decided to not let that happen to our or anyone else’s family again.”

Dimity is a 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award NSW/ACT State Finalist. Her mother, Anne lives in Wagga Wagga, and is reportedly still telling a tall tale or two!

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