On 17 May, Mrs Cliffline Cox, known as Cliffy, celebrated her 100th birthday and volunteer Leigh, sat down with her to learn more about her life over a century.
Currently, Cliffy is a resident at Resthaven Mount Gambier, but she was once a young girl growing up in the small country town of Dungog, NSW in a family of seven.
‘In speaking with Cliffy, I learned she has always been fiercely independent and resourceful, and that everything she went through seemed to help her along the way,’ says Leigh.
In Cliffy’s words, ‘I will never forget the ache I felt, pining for my mother after she died in childbirth with my youngest sister.’
‘A few years later, my baby sister and I moved to Hay to live with our aunt.’
At the age of fourteen, Cliffy landed her first job as a babysitter, finding ‘much joy in looking after children and earning some pocket money’.
‘At this time, I met my husband, Walter, and we got married when I was seventeen.’
The newlyweds quickly uprooted their lives to Maude, where Walter took a job building the local weir.
‘Days were long for me then, so I taught myself needlework and sewing – making clothes for the whole town!’
After only a few short years, they moved back to the town of Hay, settling down with their four children.
‘It wasn’t long after the birth of John that the war started, and Walter did what everyone else was doing at the time and enlisted and he was sent to New Guinea.’
‘I was fortunate to get along with my mother-in-law and I took the children to live with her until the war ended. She helped me a lot, after all, I was raising four small children without a father!’
‘Walter came back after the war, and we had dear Jennifer and Anne. Six was enough for me!’
‘I took up sewing again once the kids were all off to school, managing to save for my first sewing machine – I still have it with me today.’
Leigh reflects, ‘Looking back into Cliffy’s life, I could see her true aspiration was to be the best mum and wife she could be.’
‘Cliffy is very proud of her twelve grandchildren and great-grandchildren – It is heart-warming to see and puts everything into perspective.’
Established in 1935, Resthaven is a South Australian not-for-profit aged care community service associated with the Uniting Church in Australia.
Every day, Resthaven shares the lives and wisdom of older people and their carers, opening doors to the full range of aged care service options available.
Services are provided throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland, Fleurieu Peninsula, lower Barossa region and the Limestone Coast of South Australia.