Guest blogger: Jeannie McCleary

emmaJeannie McCleary is my Mum. She lives in a small town in Southland and is probably the only person to have requested Whitney Houston’s I will always love you on National Radio. The photo on the right is me aged six months.

At age 19 and 20 our precious baby girl was born, Saturday night 10.30pm 3rd September 1977 in Jean Todd Maternity Hospital, Timaru; Emma Margaret McCleary.

We thought we knew the world, but this little 10lb miracle overtook all feelings we had ever had re: life in general. The little face had serious wounds from a forcep delivery but within days these had healed.

Transferring by ambulance from Timaru to Geraldine (Mum in her jamies in the front with the driver. Baby in the back with the nurse!!) Our new life was to begin in a little rented cottage in Cox St, Geraldine.

Emma’s room was the sun room. Walls lined with pictures from the Beatrix Potter series. I dont remember Em ever sleeping in there as we couldn’t bear to be away from her so always slept in our room. The big brown ’70s pram wheeled many miles. Walking “down the street” waiting at the gate for Dad to return from work as a builders labourer.
The only person I knew in Geraldine was the minister’s wife who would occasionaly visit. I don’t remember feeling lonely at all. My days were filled with my baby. Reading and playing and doing everything my wonderful plunket nurse Mrs Clark told me to. Washing nappies and sewing little clothes. It never crossed my mind to carry on working as a dental nurse, which I had just completed my training for. No-one would ever look after my baby!!

When Em was six weeks old I took on a job as a relief cow milker. I would take Em with me. Load the brown pram in the back of our orange mini. Set the pram up outside the shed and she would sleep the entire time of milking. Me rushing out to check her from time to time.

After a year we shifted to a little farm cottage at Peel Forest. Here we had hens and a large vege garden. Now I wouldn’t see anyone for days on end. Em and I spent hours reading books, walking down to the river and baking and making jam. The wonderful Lemon Honey I made was eaten completely out of the inside of jars by mice!! I was too scared to go into the hallway where I had stored the jars in a cupboard after that before I would spend minutes calling and banging on the wall.

Our shift to Southland was in March 1979, six months before we welcomed Jacob Roger to our little family. Roger trained as a meat inspector and was based in the local freezing works. 31 years have passed since those first precious days when our lives became whole. Two more little boys joined our family; Tom and Isaac.

They are all unique and have their own style and will always be the joy of my life. These years seem like yesterday to me. I wouldn’t change anything. I am still young enough to grow with my children and they have become my best friends. I am proud they still have a Mother and a Father that still live together.

My world has changed completely from those early days. In my businesses I would now talk to hundreds of people a week. I wouldn’t judge that as being a good thing though!

Time together is the best thing a family can have. I know times have changed but I dont believe morals should have changed.

We now own a catering business and a bakery. We cater for many Golden Weddings. When the Golden Anniversary Bridegroom gets up to speak and says it has been 50 years of wedded bliss I think to myself you silly old git you are lying!! If we always got our own way then that may be bliss!!

I feel proud and privledged Tom and Emma found each other. I know of no other couple so well suited and so devoted in each others company. Emma asked me to contribute to her blog. There are many chidhood memories I could share but I think I have covered the most important.


6 Responses to Guest blogger: Jeannie McCleary

  1. Andrea says:

    More, more more!! You wrote in a way that was so easy to imagine… I’d love to read a book on your days when your children were young.

  2. Helen says:

    Wow, Jeannie, that was a beautiful post, and I feel like I know Emma so much better after reading it! Thank you!

    x Helen

  3. Ross and Julie says:

    That was such a lovely blog, Jeannie. Brought back some baby memories for me. The wonderful feeling going for a walk pushing the pram, and in those days the baby faced you, and you could talk to them and see their reactions. Also the security blanket that the Plunket Nurse provided. Really looking forward to spending another Southland Xmas with your family.

  4. alana says:

    oooooooh, that is so so beautiful Jeannie! I love picturing Em asleep in her pram whilst you milked the cows in the dairy. Such beautiful imagery describing the precious relationship you guys have. xA

  5. Annie says:

    Fancy that Emma! I was born in the Jean Todd Maternity Unit, Timaru 14 November 1977 and lived my first couple of years at Mt Peel Station, my father being the farm mechanic and my mum looking after me and making ginger beer that I think got banned from the station when it blew up in the laundry one day – small world!

  6. […] McCleary is my Mum and one of this blogs most avid readers. Last year she wrote a guest blog post that was universally loved. A lot can happen in the space between guest blog posts but here she is, back again. The photo here […]

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