International Women's Day ~ Dame Elisabeth Joy Murdoch (APR)

The theme for the Artist Play Room this week is in honour of International Women's Day that took place on the 8th March.  
International Women’s Day recognises the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future and therefore I was determined that I wouldn't miss entering this week...unlike last week.
I gave some serious thought as to what my post would highlight and so many incredible women came to mind but then one in particular stayed with me. 
Her name is Dame Elisabeth Joy Murdoch AC DBE, previously styled as Lady Murdoch, and she was an Australian philanthropist. Obviously I'm assuming that you've heard the name Murdoch before but I have to admit I'd not heard of Dame Elisabeth until I came to Australia.
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (née Greene; 8 February 1909 – 5 December 2012), was an Australian philanthropist and an incredible woman, wife and mother.
She was the wife of Australian newspaper publisher Sir Keith Murdoch and the mother of international media proprietor Rupert Murdoch. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1963 for her charity work in Australia and overseas.

(Photograph courtesy of The Herald Sun Newspaper )

Born at the time when the horse and cart were still on the streets of Melbourne, she was privately schooled in the grace of giving from the age of 13, when she knitted her first baby singlet for orphaned children.
Her enormous capacity to give and to keep on giving —  to state schools and prisons, to dry-out centres for drug addicts, as well as the ballet and Melbourne's Botanical Gardens or hospitals — has been celebrated across the land.

When Dame Elisabeth died, aged 103, on the 5th of December last year, it marked the last chapter of a great love story and life of philanthropy. Dame Elisabeth — who supported more than 100 charities — died in her sleep at her farm on the outskirts of Melbourne.
It has been said that she's one of the greatest philanthropists Australia has ever seen —  not just in terms of money, but also the time she gave and her dedication to so many causes. 
She was always looking to give back and at no stage in her life did she say, ‘I’ve done enough’, even though she could have said that decades ago. 


The News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch told the scores of dignitaries and community representatives at St Paul's Cathedral here in Melbourne, that his mother's deep love for her husband and children shaped the family from the very start. "However you came to know her, what you remember is her strength of character that defined Elisabeth Murdoch's life," Mr Murdoch said.
"(But) Mum would never forgive me if I did not start by acknowledging a truth she repeated constantly throughout her long life. The most satisfying thing I ever did, she always said, was to marry my husband.
Elisabeth was just 19 years old when she married Keith who was then 42 years old.
All her life, Dame Elisabeth would say that she thought it was a miracle that Sir Keith would fall in love with her as hard and obviously as she had fallen for him. They married on 6th June 1928 and together they had four children. When Sir Keith died in 1952, Elisabeth was just 43 years old. In the midst of her heartbreak, she immersed herself in charity work, instituting, among other things, the world-famous Good Friday Appeal, which would go on to raise tens of millions of dollars for the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
It should be pointed out that Elisabeth was a Dame not because her husband was Sir Keith, but because the Queen personally saw fit to appoint her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1963, to mark 30 years of service to Victoria's sick children.
  I could write so much about the wonderful work and dedication that Dame Elisabeth's gave to her charity work but that would take some time...if you are interested in all the various charities that have benefited from the Murdoch Institute, then click here....

On their 10th anniversary Keith wrote a note which said, 'It is an amazing piece of luck for me, that you were just you. Because I could not have been happy with anyone else'.
He gave Elisabeth a farm to his teenage bride in 1928 as a wedding present...Cruden Farm.
They remained married for 24 years until his death. Elisabeth was so absolutely in love with her husband.
She never re-married after the death of Sir Keith and never stopped wearing her wedding ring

Cruden Farm has been described as a breath of fresh air in the midst of suburbia, nothing grand but a delightful relaxed place.
From the 1960s she made Cruden Farm available at no charge to local groups, then to organisations large and small for fundraising or celebrations. One memorable late afternoon in 1989, 5162 visitors (excluding children) turned up. In recent years, scarcely a weekend went by without the garden hosting some event or other. Only in late autumn and winter did it take time off to breathe.
Everyone who comes to Cruden Farm finds a favourite place...It continues as inspiration in the couples shared love of nature and appreciation of beauty.

Over eight decades Elisabeth learned as the garden grew. She was it's hands on number one gardener. She worked with space, texture colour and masterfully she created long vistas, secluded nooks and crannies. She grew her own seeds and cuttings yet never stinted on professional attention for her trees. To the end she kept a keen eye on progress and could often be seen perusing amongst the plants.
I feel sad that I never managed to visit the farm whilst she was alive but have it on my list and if I do visit then I hope to bring you some of it's magic. 
She showed such generosity because she loved to share. She felt blessed that she was able to live with a beautiful garden and she did not think it right to keep it to herself.
The task for her descendants is to maintain the property in her spirit and as she would have hoped, while looking as she always did to the future.
 Dame Elisabeth has a rose named after her to which she described it as "tough as old boots just like me!" 


(photograph courtesy of Google Images http://www.pbase.com/image/38119964)

Now before you look at my journal entry today I need to make excuses (cough) explain, I decided due to missing last week's theme that this week I would enter no matter what. I had to create my entry within an hour or two today so here it is.

 (Another excuse coming up...I only have a travel watercolour set, so I couldn't quite get the right colours that I wanted...oh yes and I took this photo quite late on in the afternoon, so I'll have to retake it tomorrow when the light is better.
All that said...I'm so happy that I've managed to enter the APR this week, especially when I can pay tribute to this special lady and her beautiful rose.
 
(photograph courtesy of Google Image ~ www.fara.org.au)

 I can't help but think of my own grandmother when I look at Dame Elisabeth...like Dame Elisabeth she too was an amazing woman who influenced me greatly and I truly miss her...especially when I see a rose.
She too had a wonderful affinity with roses and had a stunning rose garden.
I hope that I can perhaps be such a gracious lady leaving a legacy to be proud of...wouldn't that be wonderful.