A mother’s love

Part of the extended Ramage family came together, including Tanya, Camden, Sylvie, Jeff, Paisley, Kath, Airlie, Harold, David and Lachie. Pictures: MATTHEW SIMS

At 92 years of age, Gembrook’s Kath Ramage has celebrated Mother’s Day on a number of occasions. Each year continues to be more special as her family continues to grow, with the family now stretching out to four generations. Gazette journalist MATTHEW SIMS spoke to Kath about how being a grandmother and great-grandmother has changed her life and why being a mum to so many remains special.

At the top of Ramage Lane in Gembrook stands a house like a number of others in the town.

However, this house tells a story of an ever-growing family and one of its major foundations.

Ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday 12 May, the Ramage family came together to celebrate Kath Ramage, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of a family with four generations.

Hailing from Mount Eliza, Kath first met Harold, who hails from Gembrook, at a badminton evening at her local social club in 1956.

The pair married two years later in a ceremony on 27 September 1958.

Living for 64 years about one kilometre from the town centre in a house built by Harold for his parents, the pair raised their four children – three sons and one daughter – in Gembrook.

David came first in 1959, followed by Jeff in 1961, Tim in 1963 and Jan in 1969.

Now the family has grown, with nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren extending the Ramage family to four generations.

Indeed, the Ramage family stretches back into the past as well, with five generations of the Ramage family working on the shire council at one time or another since the late 1800s and about eight different offshoots of the family living in Gembrook at one time.

“We’re the last ones to leave,“ Kath said.

The family also used to go camping at San Remo, where they had a permanent caravan and annex.

The very first announcement of church services for Mother’s Day in Australia was in 1910, but public observation by giving mothers a white flower gained popularity slowly over the following years.

Mother’s Day was first celebrated with gift giving in Australia in 1924, when Sydney woman Janet Heyden put out a call for people to donate charitable gifts for lonely, elderly mothers in hospital who had lost husbands and sons during World War I.

She ran advertisements in the local Sydney newspapers calling on the public to remember the mothers of Sydney with a gift.

Kath said she had always wanted to be a mother.

“I love family,“ she said.

“I had one brother and one sister.

“My sister-in-law was always asking me when was I going to have children.“

Kath had all of her children at the Pakenham Bush Nursing Hospital.

She said her first birth was especially slow, with nurses and doctors coming in holding a newborn baby to show her the end goal.

“The nurses came in the room holding a baby and said “This is what you’re supposed to be producing“,“ Kath said.

Kath said she quickly embraced the role of the mother.

“I loved it, that’s why I can’t understand the young mothers day wanting to get back to work.

“I think it was less stress on you back then.

“I wasn’t called out to a job, it was more laid-back back then.“

Kath remembered her boys loved playing games out in the garden.

“It was good for them to have each other,“ she said.

Jeff said he loved the life lessons and love he received from his mum and that she was then able to help raise his own children and grandchildren.

“You’ve always been a mum and a great nan,“ he said.

David said his mum had always been a “wonderful“ support for him and the family, with him now returning to care for his parents at home.

“We don’t know what we’d do without her,“ he said.

“We’re very lucky.“

Kath said one of the key elements of being a good mum was being there for your kids; “loving them and advising them“.

“The grandchildren were a joy,“ she said.

“We’re seeing them growing up.“

Kath said raising children and life in general was “more peaceful“ in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s

“It was more simple in those days,“ she said.

“We weren’t sidetracked.

“There’s more on the go now.“

Kath said children found it easier to preoccupy themselves with physical play.

“We didn’t have iPhones and iPads,“ she said.

“They were always interested in sport.

“They just played on the property.“

Kath said she was always grateful that her children grew up to healthy and happy.

“We lived simply,“ she said.

“We never had a takeaway shop in town.“

Jeff said having a number of cousins in the town also allowed a family feel in Gembrook.

“You always felt safe and loved,“ he said.

“The extended family were all close too.“

Kath remembered her own mother Dorothea (née Dixon) was a full-time mum.

“We lived on a farm in Bembridge behind Somerville,“ she said.

“She used to make and sell milk and cheese.

“I used to love the smell of the churn.“

Kath said she also loved learning new skills from her mum and then passing them on to her children and grandchildren.

“She was always teaching me to cook, sew and knit,“ she said.

Kath said she was excited to know the Ramage family would continue.

“I just think I’m lucky because the family have always been close and caring,“ she said.

“I’m proud of every one of them.

“They’re all good people and hard working.“