“I don’t know where I am going, but I hope there aren’t a lot of stairs.”
These were the final words from Jill Heinze in a piece she wrote for her own funeral.
The wife of the late celebrity gardener Kevin Heinze died peacefully on 13 July, aged 92.
The couple donated their personal garden in Montrose to Yarra Ranges Council in 2008.
It contains an acorn tree planted in memory of their daughter, Kim, who died from bone cancer in 1974 aged 8 years old.
Jill, born Mary Irene Moulynox on 25 April 1927, said the death “really rocked us” and it led to the couple spending decades raising funds for cancer research.
“By then Kevin was doing a gardening programme on TV which also changed our lives,” Jill wrote.
Kevin, who was born in Yarra Junction, hosted ABC television gardening program Sow What.
“No one will ever know how much work that put on me and made Kevin even more difficult to live with,” Jill wrote.
“Being known to the public is not an asset.
“Kevin got a job as a consultant to children, on gardening, with the Education Department, taking him to the country for days at a time.
“I had 2.25 acres to look after, get things ready for TV, keep house, sew with the sewing group and play golf. Kevin gave up the TV in 1988.”
Son-in-law Stephen Shortis read a eulogy at Jill’s funeral and said she often joked that she’d packed Kevin’s bags but he kept coming back.
“Her stoic, unemotional nature was a perfect foil for Kevin who could be extremely emotional and erratic at times,” he said.
“Whilst we often wondered what had brought them together – and, more importantly, what had kept them together – there was no doubt of the strength of the bond between them.”
Jill and twin brother Stan were born on a farm at Melton Park and as babies were called Jack and Jill.
“Although my name is Mary Irene I’ve been called Jill ever since, except at school where I was called Irene,” Jill wrote.
“Although we all worked hard we never had any money but always had plenty to eat of food produced on the farm.
“Clothes were hand-downs from friends.
“Our recreation was rabbiting with guns or ferrets or trapping; selling the skins raised our only money.”
The family moved to Kilsyth when Jill was 19 and there she met Kevin.
They married in 1949, living at first in a shed at Chandlers where Kevin worked, then in a bungalow on top of the quarry.
Jean was born to the pair in 1950 and “always has been a great joy to me”. She married Steve in 1997 and they had three sons, Adam, Brett and Troy.
“They all graduated and married, providing lots of great grandchildren for us and we love them all,” Jill wrote.
Jill and Kevin had a son, Douglas, in 1952 but he died the same day.
The Heinze’s built in Kilsyth about 1956, had Kim in 1966, and moved to Montrose in 1968 “because the Country Roads Board were taking over our property”.
Kevin died in 2008 “and found peace after a lifetime of troubled waters”.
Jill moved to Walmsley Retirement Village in Kilsyth in 2012 and to a nursing home in Lynbrook in 2017, where her two older sisters and older brother-in-law were living.
Steve described his mother-in-law as “totally at-home in the garden” and said she’d spend many hours there each week.
“The North American natives have a belief that a person doesn’t truly die until the last person with fond memories of them dies,” he said.
“Looking out at this sea of fourth generation faces, I have no doubt that Jill will still live on for many years to come.”