When Jill Rath married her husband Bob, she became a wife and mother overnight. Bob had lost his first wife to cancer and had three children aged between four and 12 when he married Jill. ‘It was a real adventure taking on the family and I certainly learned a lot and enjoyed a lot,’ Jill says. ‘The children were definitely very happy to have someone on board. We had two more, so that made a family of five, which kept me quite busy for the next few years.’
Jill was born in 1934 and grew up in the Dandenongs with her parents and two siblings. She trained as a nurse and worked in hospitals before becoming a district nurse. ‘I loved that more than I had the hospital nursing because you knew the whole family, and that was great.
Negotiating the spagetti junction at St Kilda!
‘At that stage, the Melbourne District Nursing Service was based in St Kilda Road and we used to set off from there in our fleet of cars every morning. The trickiest bit I found was negotiating St Kilda junction before it was transformed as it is today. It was just a spaghetti junction. It was terrible. You fronted up to it every morning wondering, “Will I get through this or not?”, but you did somehow.’
Being part of the community
Bob was a teacher and the family lived next to the school where he taught in Glenrowan for three years, before moving to Nhill. ‘It was a small town by comparison to a lot of places and you got to know everybody. So we just all enjoyed it. We really did. It was a great nine years.’ The family’s final move was to Castlemaine. ‘I came back to nursing. I worked part-time two days a week. I enjoy people and nursing is a good job for that.’ Jill now lives in an aged care facility next to the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens and enjoys a walk and a chat there most days. ‘It's really wonderful to live in a community where you know people.'
Reviewed 25 July 2023