THE LEGACY FAM­ILY

THE SPOUSES AND CHIL­DREN OF VET­ER­ANS WHO HAVE DIED OR ARE DIS­ABLED KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: LETEA CA­VAN­DER Find out more at legacy.com.au.

Ger­rard Ra­do­se­vich sur­vived Aus­tralian Army ser­vice, but can­cer claimed the 37-year-old’s life in 2010. His wife Supra­nee was preg­nant and they were build­ing a home when they found out his can­cer had re­turned. The Aussie sol­dier, who served in UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions in East Ti­mor in 2000, had al­ready bat­tled can­cer once. “He had a melanoma on the back of his head and it spread to his brain,” Supra­nee says. “It was re­ally hard be­cause we were bat­tling can­cer since 2007. “I’d just given birth to my daugh­ter, Chloe, and we’d gone through a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent pro­ce­dures. “And then we were given the all clear and thought we could go on with our lives.” The pair met in 1998 when Ger­rard was in the army. He was trans­ferred to Queens­land from the cou­ple’s home state of Western Aus­tralia be­fore he served over­seas. They moved to­gether to the eastern state, and were mar­ried in 2008. “I fell preg­nant with my sec­ond child,” Supra­nee says. “And then we were told the can­cer had come back. “He man­aged to live long enough to live in the house he built for three weeks be­fore he passed.” Left with a 16-month-old baby and a three-year-old on the Sun­shine Coast, away from most of their fam­ily and close friends, Supra­nee did not know where to turn for help. She strug­gled alone un­til about 2015. “I just didn’t know how to reach out for help un­til my son was hav­ing a lit­tle bit of ag­gres­sion, and some­one said ‘get in touch with Legacy, they might be able to help with coun­selling or some­thing’,” she says. Legacy was founded in 1923 by a small group of World War I vet­er­ans. They be­lieved there was a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wel­fare of the spouses and chil­dren of their com­rades who were killed or wounded dur­ing wartime or who died upon their re­turn. Legacy con­tin­ues to as­sist about 65,000 wid­ows and wid­ow­ers and 1800 chil­dren through­out Aus­tralia. The char­ity helps pay for Supra­nee’s chil­dren’s school shoes and school books and this year the fam­ily par­tic­i­pated in an an­nual camp. “It was so lovely for the chil­dren to be around other chil­dren who had lost their par­ents as well,” Supra­nee, 46, says. “My chil­dren are only young, they’re eight and 10, it’s nice to see they are not the only ones in this type of fam­ily.” In turn for the help Legacy pro­vides, Supra­nee vol­un­teers to sell the well-known Legacy badges. “It’s such a nice thing to do,” she says. Supra­nee has many mem­o­ries of her re­la­tion­ship with Ger­rard, and says one thing that lingers is the way he al­ways treated her as an equal. “From noth­ing, we built some­thing amaz­ing to­gether and that con­tin­ued our whole re­la­tion­ship,” she says “Now we have two beau­ti­ful kids. “The proud­est mo­ment I saw of Ger­rard was the mo­ment our baby girl was born. He was so proud, and he just cried.” An­other wi­dow to ben­e­fit from the help Legacy pro­vides is Eleanor Shaw. Many years ago, the 89-year-old Mt Mor­gan res­i­dent was an only child, and lonely. She wanted a pen friend and ended up with a hus­band. The lo­cal news­pa­per had a sec­tion ded­i­cated to match­ing up chil­dren to write let­ters to each other. “I wrote in ask­ing for a pen friend and Melva Shaw an­swered,” Eleanor, who prefers to go by Nell, says. The two girls struck up a friend­ship. Af­ter ex­chang­ing let­ters, Nell went for a hol­i­day at the Shaw fam­ily farm in the Daw­son Val­ley in Queens­land. Her hus­band-to-be was one of the 15 chil­dren on the farm. “I was 11, I met my hus­band when he was 14,” she says. “They were a big fam­ily, but they were a happy fam­ily.” That man, Arthur Shaw, was a teenager when World War II broke out and, like so many other young men of the era, he signed up to the RAAF. He served mostly in Bor­neo be­fore com­ing home to Nell, whom he had started writ­ing to when he was over­seas. The cou­ple mar­ried in 1946, a year af­ter the war ended. They had two daugh­ters and a son and shared 47 years to­gether be­fore Arthur died in 1993. Legacy stepped in straight away to of­fer Nell sup­port. “They’ve been mar­vel­lous to me,” she says. “We’ve got a nice lit­tle group of ladies up here. I look for­ward to the monthly meet­ings.” Sim­i­larly, Legacy was there when Rockhampto­n res­i­dent Peggy McDonell needed sup­port most. She had trav­elled with her hus­band John McDonell, a Viet­nam veteran, to have rou­tine tests in Bris­bane af­ter he had a heart at­tack in Rockhampto­n in 2007. John, a rail­way worker aged 60, never made it home. He suf­fered a heart at­tack and stroke in the mo­tel and was rushed to a Bris­bane hos­pi­tal. “It was re­ally hard be­cause I had no one there with me,” Peggy says. The 66-year-old says Legacy stepped in straight away. “Be­cause of the way John died so quickly, I had a lot of prob­lems, but they helped me with ev­ery­thing, re­ally,” she says. “The thing that was the hard­est was when I had to change my health into my name and my car into my name be­cause it’s the not know­ing what to do.” Peggy says her hus­band did not talk much about his ser­vice, but the signs of post-trau­matic stress showed es­pe­cially in later years. The cou­ple mar­ried in 1974 and had a daugh­ter and a son. “He didn’t talk much about (the war),” Peggy says. “The only thing I can say, how I de­scribe my mar­riage to him was that I was mar­ried to a man who had an af­fair with an­other woman and her name was Viet­nam. “When she vis­ited, I had to leave.” Peggy at­tends meet­ings, sings for the other war wid­ows and at­tends Legacy’s Christ­mas party. “I don’t think I’d be where I am to­day with­out Legacy,” she says. Legacy is sup­ported by the work of Le­ga­tees, vol­un­teers, staff mem­bers and wid­ows.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Supra­nee Ra­do­se­vich and her chil­dren Chloe, 10 and Jay­den, 8.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Ger­rard Ra­do­se­vich with his chil­dren Chloe and Jay­den.

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