As we grow old — Discover

Growing older presents facing up to the possibility of finding comfort and security for our later years. Many people resist the move to designated retirement villages and have a horror of nursing homes. this is what I have discovered over the last couple of years as I made that choice.

It is better to choose your own path rather than wait for intervention that might be forced upon you through well meaning relatives because of some illness or other unexpected crisis.

You will need to take into consideration affordability and the resources you have available.

There are 4 stages to end of life care:

  1. Present: Independent Housing- doing your own shopping, finding social contacts, entertainment etc. with occasional visits to health professionals.
  2. Requiring Assistance: Help with shopping, transport, domestic and gardening. Visits from helpers, (nurses, cleaners etc.)Modifications to housing (wheelchair access, grab rails in bathroom etc.)
  3. Frail aged: Hostel, Carer, Meals on Wheels, walking frame.
  4. Hospice, palliative care, hospital.

We need to maintain our independence as long as possible but it is good to know that, when the time comes, help is available but it is necessary to plan in advance. There is a whole new world to navigate and it is tricky.

The first thing needed is to get an ACATassessment from My Aged Care. Nothing to be concerned about, ring 1800200422 and a person will visit you and fill in all the details for a Care Package. You will then need to choose a Care Providor, there are many available and it is wise to be familiar with all each one offers and what the charges are likely to be. It is worth knowing that there is a long waiting list so do not delay, you may be managing well enough now, but during the waiting time it is possible that your health may deteriate and then you are left without assistance.

Tale of Two Families.

Meet Emily Raisbeck (nee Chamberlain) my paternal great grandmother and “Willie”.

1800’s Raisbeck family arrivals:

My great grandfather Edwin Sheffield Raisbeck was born in London in 1844, his parents, Edward Charles Raisbeck and Catherine Swan were poor and were married 9/1/1831 at St. Andrew’s Holborn, London. 

Edwin came to Australia in 1881 and lived at 113 Humffray St., North Ballaarat. He was a talented carpenter.

On 4/ 11/1883 Edwin married Emily Chamberlain (1861-1934), daughter of Robert Chamberlain (1808-1841) and Louisa Fildes (1827-1874). The Chamberlains arrived in Port Phillip, Australia on 18/08/1841 aboard “Cheapside”. Robert Chamberlain was a China manufacturer in Worcester, England.

Emily gave birth to my grandfather Thomas Edwin in 1884. He was a sign writer and cabinet maker. The climate in Ballaarat was not suitable for his asthma, so he moved to Maitland.

All families have stories, some are true and others are myths.

How do we know the difference? I set out to find the proof of our family history.

Belmont Resident Dies at 85 

      (Newcastle Morning Herald Tuesday Feb.10, 1970)

Funeral services will be held at Broadmeadow today for Mr. Thomas Edwin Raisbeck, a descendant of Charles Dickens.

Mr. Raisbeck died at his home in Belmont at the age of 85.
He was the son of Charles Dickens’ eldest daughter, Catherine.

 His father, Edwin Sheffield Raisbeck, migrated to Australia in the 1800’s and settled in Ballarat (Vic.) during the goldrush of 1851.

Mr. Raisbeck was born in Ballarat in 1884 and became a champion gymnast.

He married Miss Violet Fandoni Davey in Sydney in 1908. 

Her grandmother was Italian opera singer Rosina Fandoni.

A signwriter all his life, Mr. Raisbeck moved to Maitland in 1922 where he established a business. He retired to Belmont in 1960.

Mr. Raisbeck is the father of 6 children, one of whom is the famous singer, Rosina Raisbeck.
The others are Charles Raisbeck of Cessnock, Ted and Alan, of Newcastle, Harry of Wollongong and Connie of Gosford.
Mr. Raisbeck had 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

As the eldest daughter of the eldest son of Thomas Edwin Raisbeck, I have attempted to establish our illustrious family tree. Alas, all I have found is the truth.

We are not related to Charles Dickens at all.

Pictured from left: Joyce Raisbeck, Charles Raisbeck (my parents), Janice Macpherson with son David, Rosina Raisbeck, Violet Fandony and Thomas Edwin Raisbeck.

Photo commemorates 50th. Wedding Anniversary 21st.  September 1958.

             Raisbeck Family at Ballarat.

Back: Ned Raisbeck, Mary,unknown, Edwin.Front: Edward, Emily, Willie unknown, unknown.


My grandmother, Violet Fandony Davey, born on the Victorian goldfields from convict stock was a pragmatic, stoic, but loving woman who provided strength to her more delicate and talented husband and their six children.

My paternal grandmother.

The family never owned their own home but lived simply, Grandma making rugs  and embroidering fancy aprons,  growing vegetables and a wonderful fernery that I loved. Grandpa had a workshop where he made signs for the local shops as well as making beautiful cabinets with stained glass fronts. They lived in a rented place that, at one time, had been a corner store, the shopfront becoming full of paints and brushes, ladders and signs.

I spent a lot of time with them during my formative years because my father was in the Army and my mother wasn’t coping so well with her three daughters so she would send me off with my 2 sisters on the bus to stay for a while with our grandparents, an hour away.

At the time I was about 8 years and my sisters, 5 and 2 years, the bus conductors were always very concerned that we were not accompanied by an adult, but I considered myself very capable of looking after our welfare, it was what I did.

My grandfather was always trying to improve his health and would grow and eat herbs and catch fish in the local river and ride his bike everywhere, they never owned a car.There was a piano in the lounge room that was always kept dark, very mysterious to me, never allowed to actually sit or stay in there. However, it had to be traversed in order to go upstairs to the bedrooms or through to the workshop. Most of the time we stayed in the kitchen or a little back verandah overlooking the garden.

Grandma’s six children were my father, the eldest, Charles Sheffield who became apprenticed to his father and became a signwriter and artist. Next came myUncle Ted, a refridgeration engineer, after that Uncle Harry that I met up with much later in life when he was a busker playing the saw in a supermarket mall.

My famous opera singer Aunt Rosina came next, but to me she was Aunty Phyllis. The next son Allan was a bit of a black sheep, a drunken larrikin, playing music in a pub, lots of children that he abandoned, sad story.

Lastly, my Aunty Conny, pretty, kind and a wonderful seamstress. Also quite a good singer, but stuck to church choirs.

They had moved to Maitland from Ballaarat because grandpa had asthma so we never got to meet any of the rest of the family. When I started doing family history I discovered the first Raisbeck to arrive in Australia was Edwin Sheffield Raisbeck who was born in London (1844), to Edward Charles Raisbeck and Catherine Swan. He arrived in Australia in1880 and married Emily Chamberlain at Ballaarat in 1882. They had four children during their marriage. He died on 30 July 1918 in Ballarat, Victoria, at the age of 74

So Grandpa Raisbeck born in 1884 was not the illegitimate grandson of Charles Dickens (a family myth) after all.

The interesting fact that I learned about Emily Chamberlain is that her father and grandfather were famous. They manufactured fine porcelain in Worcester and came to Australia after they sold the business to a partner.

Chamberlain Robert father of Emily Chamberlain, according
to the 1851 census Worcester, lived in Bromwich Lane
Robert Chamberlain age 22, married was a
China Manufacturer employed by Father Walter, marrie Mary (Hewitt) .
His wife -Louisa age 24, daughter -Mary age 2
Daughter-Louisa age 1.
2 servants Mary Stephenson, age 14.
Anne Middleton age 22.
Robert also appears on 1841 census with his father
Walter Chamberlain age 40/44
Living at London Road, St Peter Worcester.
Also with mother Mary age 30/34
Sister -Susan age 14, sister Fanny age 8, brother -Harvey age 6,
sister -Emma age 3, brother Walter age 0.
Robert’s age given as 13.

Shaking the Family Tree

My great, great grandparents,  Peter and Mary Ann Davey with eldest daughter MaryAnne at Creswick, Victoria, C1868.

I shook the Family Tree and down came MaryAnne Goodwin Davey.

When I first came to Tasmania I gave no thought to the fact that I was returning to the state where my great, great grandmother arrived in Australia, as a convict, in 1845 on the “Tory 1”. Catharine Steele nee Platt, was a widow and worked as a laundress to support two little daughters. Times were tough and she stole some shoes and her and her children were deported to Launceston. Sadly, her children died on the voyage, she was reported to have been quarrelsome and discontented, not surprising, given the circumstances.

Catharine married another convict, James Goodwin, on 10/8/1846 at Campbell Town C. of E., James was a potter convicted in1840 of burglary. At the time of their marriage James was 32, a farmer and Catharine was 33, a servant. The census in 1848 shows them living in Launceston where son James was born 1847 but died in 1848. Mary Ann was born in 1849. Then twin boys, William and Joseph were born in 1851, sadly Joseph died in 1852.

In Sept. of 1853 the family left for the Victorian Goldfields on “Queen of the Netherlands”.

Mary Ann 4, William 2, with their parents travelled inland from Port Phillip Bay, a long, tiring journey, probably on foot north of Melbourne to settle in Creswick, where rough huts and tents were home to the gold diggers.

They arrived into a harsh countryside with rough bark huts or tents, as shelters from the extreme cold of winter. Catharine, at 40 years would have few female friends among the diggers – most of the men would leave their wives and children in the towns but the Goodwins had no home or town so they had to establish for themselves with whatever they could find.


There is no evidence that any gold was found but this pioneer family braved the elements and harsh conditions to be the foundation of the Raisbeck side of the family in Australia. In the early years of the colony there was little medical help available and “survival of the fittest” prevailed.The women were also expected to bake the bread and grow the vegetables. There was no running water or electricity or sewerage syastem so life consisted of hard work just to remain alive.

Mary Ann Goodwin married Pietro Fandony , (PeterDavey) in 1864 when she was 15 years and they had 11 children, including my grandmother, Violet Fandony who was born in 1886 at Creswick, Victoria. 

Violet married Edwin Raisbeck and they were my paternal grandparents.

Your True Home

by John O’Donohue

One of my favourite teachers, John O’Donohue was an Irish priest, poet, philosopher who wrote a number of international bestsellers. These included Divine Beauty, Anam Cara, Eternal Echoes and Benedictus.

Each one of us is alone in the world.

It takes great courage to meet the full force of your aloneness. Most of the activity in society is subconsciously designed to quell the voice crying in the wilderness within you.

The mystic, Thomas a Kempis said that when you go out into the world, you return having lost some of yourself.

Until you learn to inhabit your aloneness the lonely distraction and noise of society will seduce you into false belonging, with which which you will only become empty and weary.

When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually your sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging.

This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rythm with your own individuality . In a sense this is task of finding your true home within your life. It is not narcissistic, for as soon as you rest in the house of your own heart, doors and windows begin to open outwards to the world.”

Jordan Peterson visits Australia.

“Life is suffering.

Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.

Truth is the handmaiden of love.

Dialogue is the pathway to truth.

Humility is recognition of personal insufficiency and the willing ness to learn.

To learn is to die voluntarily and be born again, in great ways and small.

So, speech must be untrammelled

so that dialogue can take place,

so that we can all humbly learn

so that truth can serve love

so that suffering can be ameliorated

so that we can all stumble forward to the Kingdom of God.”

Jordan Peterson, despite the often undeserved controversy that he is stooped in, is a unique figure in the currents of pop intellectualism. Peterson has an independent mind and does not utter political and cultural cliche’s associated with the right or the left. His amazing capacity to inspire and motivate those who have lost hope for the future is a force for good in the world.

I went to a Sydney event where Jordan was speaking, it was very moving to be in such a crowd, listening to a speaker so knowledgeable and inspiring.

More to life than Bingo

This year 2016 has found me in a new location, Hobart, Tasmania and with a new passion.

I have been studying Jean Gebser’s Ever Present Origin as part of an on-line Book Club,

It is quite an intense but rewarding journey through structures of consciousness.

To me, it seems like a Mythic Journey and here is a poem by my favourite poet that says it all.

Mythic Journey

by John O’Donohue.

A journey can become a sacred thing:

Make sure before you go,

to take the time

to bless your going forth.

To free your heart of ballast.

So that the compass of your soul

might direct you toward

where you will discover

more of your hidden life,

and the urgencies

that deserve to claim you.