Home' Aurora : Aurora August 2012 Contents 16
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
SEASONS OF GRACE
VERA AND LLOYD have been married
for 43 years, and while they haven't
always lived on their rural property,
it was a wonderful day when "Gravelly"
became theirs. For Lloyd, growing up in
Blackalls Park, Vera was not the girl next
door, but the cousin of the girl next door.
The couple hoped to have children but
it was not to be. However, to Vera this
was more of a challenge than a sentence,
and she wasted little time in considering
Vera looked to adoption rather than foster
care, but in phoning various agencies,
she was mistakenly put through to
Special Placements, which deals with the
placement of children with special needs;
as she says, "usually children who are
very hard to place". Lloyd admits it was
Vera who took the lead, "as usual", in
pursuing foster care, but it didn't take
him long to come on board.
Like Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in
Anne of Green Gables, Vera and Lloyd
intended to foster, and then perhaps
adopt, a boy. However, when they
encountered Sinem, a girl of Cyprian
descent who was almost 11, Lloyd
immediately said, "She's the one. She's
got character." Vera agreed, and from
that initial encounter, "We were
just determined to get her."
Sinem, now 31, has a
disability, and when she
first joined the Mudfords at
the age of 11, she had acute
speech difficulties. Vera recalls,
"I was quite prepared to learn sign
language, but then I thought it would
be better for her to try to make me
understand. We did have speech therapy,
and now, as a young woman, she can talk
to almost anybody and be understood."
The Mudfords' hearts and home still had
room for a boy, and Vera's persistence
had not abated at all! Enter Richard*,
aged almost seven. Richard came to stay
with Lloyd and Vera for a few hours, then
a week, then for a longer stay. At the end
of that time, he begged to be able to stay
permanently. Richard is an epileptic with
severe behavioural issues, and so his
care has at times been demanding.
Vera had heard good reports from a
family member about CatholicCare as a
support agency, so when Richard reached
a new stage she determined she would
make the change. Anyone who knows her
will not be surprised to learn that she
persisted until she was on CatholicCare's
books. She continues to find the staff
supportive and caring.
As Vera says openly, "We've
driven a lot of miles with each
of them, but you just do what
needs to be done to give them
the best chance." Sinem
and Richard attended local
schools, and now they spend
a few days a week at Mai-Wel
Raising beef cattle and maintaining a
property are big tasks and Vera happily
shoulders much of the burden while
Lloyd awaits knee surgery. It's a mark
of her generosity that the property was
bequeathed to Vera by a previous owner
who appreciated the unstinting help
Towards the end of a long conversation
with Vera and Lloyd, it emerges
that since childhood Vera has had a
great love for, and empathy with, dogs.
More than this, she is something of
a 'dog whisperer', working patiently
and effectively with dogs that have
led troubled lives or been poorly treated.
Some of the dogs she has worked
with have been hard to let go, and one
German shepherd, "Toby", was 'adopted'
by Vera with the owners' acquiescence.
With quiet pride, Lloyd tells the story
of one dog weighing significantly more
than Vera which she succeeded in loving
It's risky I guess to stretch the metaphor
too far, but for me, it's patently clear
that Vera Mudford is the epitome of
grace. She sees more than most in
terms of the potential embodied in all
she encounters -- especially in children
who need a home furnished with love.
And of course, it would not be possible
without Lloyd by her side.
*Name has been changed to protect
For all foster care enquiries, please
P CatholicCare 4923 0660.
By TRACEY EDSTEIN
Vera Mudford of Gravelly, Glen Martin, wouldn't
describe herself as an encounter with grace.
Her husband Lloyd might, although certainly not in
her hearing. Read on to learn why this determined
and energetic country couple is the embodiment
of gracious living.
You just do
what needs to
be done to give
them the best
Lloyd and Vera Mudford at Gravelly.
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