Her love and Light shine on in our Hearts

Nyree Venita Heading

10/2/1987 - 17/2/2021

Treasure your memories,

Recall often those that make you smile

Julie and David Heading, parents of Nyree (who died with mCRC)

My name is David Heading and I am sixty-seven years young and retired on 31/12/2019. Maybe retirement was not a good choice at this time considering that the recent bush fires and now the Corona Virus have caused my superannuation nest egg to shrink by more than forty percent, not ideal, but we all must deal with whatever comes our way on this amazing journey called life. It’s too short, yet wonderful when every moment you have is filled with love. 

In 1971 my best friend at the time coerced me into going on a blind date with one of his girlfriend’s friends, she was six months older than me, a particularly beautiful angel by the name of Julie Langley. I was apprehensive at first, but it turned out to be the best thing I ever did.

We have been 50 years together....47 years married.....we met on a blind date in 1971, at Headquarters Disco, where Masters Apprentices were playing. We were married in February 1974. Guess you could say we are children of the Hippy generation (no drugs, just lots of fun and rock and roll.)

We have had three children. Tyron Leslie (Our Little Soldier) was born in 1981, but he was only with us for fifteen days. He died from complications caused by an extremely rare chromosome condition. Julie’s life purpose was to be a mother and despite all the risks and warnings from doctors she wanted another child. We tried again and after several distressing miscarriages and a termination, Kyle (Our Superman) arrived in 1983. Our joy and happiness were hard to describe, but still Julie wanted a sister for Kyle, so with courage and determination she went through the whole thing again and in 1987 Nyree (Our Beautiful Princess) arrived. Now our family was complete.

We didn’t have a lot of money, but most of our free time was spent locally, camping, fishing, beach trips, simple things full of happiness.

During my working life I have held many different positions. Fresh out of school (matriculation/year 12) my first job was as a salesman at Freeman Motors in Adelaide. From there I went to the public service and worked as an assessor with the State Taxation Office, Payroll Tax Branch. My next position was with AE Tully & Sons in the old East End Market. Our extended family has always had a connection to the Adelaide Produce Markets (and the old East End Market). My father, Geoffrey worked there for most of his life. The boss, Albert Tully asked Julie and I to relocate to the town of Katherine NT. In 1978 we moved, to live in Katherine where there was a huge amount of local fresh produce that needed a market and with the assistance of Tully Exports operations in Darwin we set that market up from scratch.

Homesickness eventually saw us back in Adelaide where I took on the adventure of outback 4wd tour guide. I drove amazed tourists (including my mum, Cora) across the deserts around Birdsville and Innamincka. At that time (1979) the Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks were just that, tracks which changed position and direction according to local weather conditions. I knew of three different ways to get to Birdsville; the inside track, the outside track and the track you made yourself! I did not have a GPS (they were not widely available in those days) instead I used a map and compass to guide us where there were no roads, yet somehow, we always managed to get home safely.

The East End Market beckoned again, and my brother and I purchased a fruit barrow in Rundle Mall (Top of the Mall Fruit Stall). Early starts, long hours and bloody hard work meant little sleep, but somehow, at the same time I managed to study accounting at TAFE, where I gained a certificate in Advanced accounting.

Council rule changes and restrictions eventually made the fruit stall unviable, and I used my accounting knowledge to gain a position with a major Australia wide finance/insurance company. Over time I came to realise that senior management of that company were doing creative things with the company profits and, in 1987 when the stock market crashed so did the company! I helped finalise the company’s Adelaide accounts and the selling-off of its assets.

At this point Julie and I decided to purchase our own fruit and veg shop. Disaster! Everything that could go wrong did. It was the perfect storm of tragedy and deceit. We lost everything including our house. At one stage we only had a grand total of $5 in the bank!

I took the first job that came along, driving trucks for a company in the Pooraka Markets. (The old East End market had been relocated to Pooraka). More very early starts (12.30am) meant that I got home at about 8.00am, but then I went and picked apples at a major Lenswood orchard and did not get home till well after dark. With lots of love and bloody hard work we managed to clear all of our debts from the failed business without declaring ourselves bankrupt. Eventually we bought an older house in Lobethal where we still live today and I continued to work in the Pooraka Market until retirement.

Through all of this our children, Kyle and Nyree did what they could to help, and I thank them for that, but at times I’m sure they must have thought that their old man was a bit of an idiot to let all this happen, but that’s life; something that happens while you are busy making other plans. I’m sure they learned lessons from what they saw, and they have both built amazing lives for themselves.

Julie’s story

Straight out of school (after 3rd year High) I was employed as a typist for an Insurance Broker in Rundle Street, Adelaide (before it was turned into a Mall).

I worked there for approx. 8 years, and gained knowledge of all office procedures and become their only accounts person. (Even learnt to use the now ancient ledger machines)

Our first home was at Morphett Vale so a year after our marriage, I left my work with the insurance broker and started work at Walter Reynell & Sons Winery at Reynella as an account’s clerk/office assistant. (Once again learning how to use the now ancient punch tape machine) I loved that work and the beautiful gardens around the winery, I was sad to leave, when in1978 we moved to Katherine, NT.

During our working lives we have turned our hands to many things to make ends meet, including picking flowers (while I was studying Office Admin 3, at TAFE) and David even modelled for Still-life art classes! Now that was interesting!

Just for variety in his spare time, David played drums in a rock and roll band, while I enjoyed flower arranging and researching family history.

When we returned to Adelaide in 1979 and after long periods of unemployment David finally got a job as office manager at a bulk fuel depot near our home, so we decided to start a family.

Many years later, after we moved to Lobethal, I started work as an office administration assistant at a local food processing factory, 700 metres from home…which was great, as Nyree needed my car to get to university. After 16 years in this position, I retired at the end of 2020…. thankfully I was able to use up some of my accumulated sick leave as carer’s leave to be with our daughter, and I was so thankful to the company. 

The blind date when I met David, was a special night. When I first saw him, I was a bit unsure, but during our first dance we kissed, and that was the start of our wonderful journey together.

Being parents takes you on a rollercoaster ride of everything. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry. Your kids will always amaze you. Love is all you need and that is the real reward of being parents.

We believe that in the children's late primary years and early high school years the experiences we had, clearly affected them (as well as our own wellbeing)

They could see we were struggling but they kept their spirits up (and ours, although there were some very dark days) - they carried on with life, and never asked for anything they knew we were not able to give them. We believe that they became stronger more resilient humans after seeing us all struggle and come through our adversities.

We are very proud of our children and what they have achieved in life.

Kyle, our son, loves computers and with some high-level qualifications he is now Information Technology Manager at a private Adelaide girls’ school. He and his team, co-ordinated the IT operations of that school’s “phone call” to the International Space Station as it cruised over Australia. He really is Superman.

Kyle has been working at the same school for over 10 years and loves his work and helping to encourage the teachers and students to become engaged and curious in the many facets of IT. (He has come a long way from that little old Commodore computer that we struggled to pay for all those years ago!)

Kyle married Vanessa and they have three children, Mason, Xavier and Mila. Our completely unbiased opinion as their grandparents (Nanna and Pa) is that they are the best most amazing grandchildren in all the world.

Nyree, our daughter, took on the considerable challenge of early childhood educator. She earned herself a degree from the University of SA and then chose to move to the APY lands in the far northwest of SA.

There, at the Mimili Anangu School she gave the joy of learning to a new generation of the First Nation’s people of Australia. She learned as much from them as they did from her. She was brave enough to live there by herself and earned enough money for a deposit to buy her own home on returning to Adelaide. She moved back to Adelaide in 2014 as a teacher and was later appointed director of the Kaurna Plains Children’s Centre for Early Childhood Development and Parenting at Elizabeth.

In April 2019 Nyree travelled to Reggio Emilia Italy to attend an International Study Group to further her knowledge and understanding of early childhood learning.  “Let a child’s happy play guide their learning for life,” became her passion and she even developed web-based services to help other teachers share that passion. There are a lot of children around today who have had a much better start in life because of Nyree’s untiring efforts.

In her early years she loved and played all kinds of sports. Soccer, cricket, tennis and, she was a netball champion. In her adult years, she turned her skills to tournament darts, 8-ball and softball.  Nyree was a passionate educator and loved crafting and creating new ideas for the children’s learning. Nyree enjoyed walking her dog along the beach at sunset. She understood the value of mindfulness and meditation and explored the healing power of crystals.

Isn’t life strange. There is no rhyme or reason to the triumphs and tragedies it produces. Even the most beautiful passionate people are not immune and there is no answer to the eternal question, WHY?

In mid-September 2020, after weeks of back pain Nyree had some scans done and the doctors discovered some tumours. Nyree was diagnosed with aggressive malignant stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to her bones, brain and lymph nodes.

Reflecting back, her only symptoms were severe backaches, which she believed were caused by the physical nature of playing softball and also from lifting children at the kindy where she worked. The only symptom that she had ever known related to bowel cancer, was blood in stools, which she never had.

She was also very tired and had one bout of bad migraine, both of which doctors put down to work stress.

In April 2020, Nyree met her soulmate, Adam. He was her shining light. They planned a lifetime together, but only had a few months.  He was there whenever he could be, from day one right to the very end.

Through this traumatic and distressing time our son Kyle also did whatever he could to help, showing his love by staying with us and Nyree right to the very end.

We thank them both for their love and help in making this difficult journey, a little bit easier.

In creating a detailed and sometimes confronting blog about her cancer journey Nyree was passionate about spreading awareness that you are #never2young. Cancer can strike at any age. She helped other cancer Warriors and in turn they helped her in their mutual quest to spread awareness of this horrible disease, one day at a time.

It was hard to understand and accept that Nyree was in hospital for about 100 days, basically most of that time having to lay on her back.

Nyree passed on the 17 February 2021, a beautiful shining light that still shines on through all the people she knew and loved, especially the children.

Since her passing, we have discovered so much more about our daughter’s life. Many people we did not know previously, have contacted us with stories about how Nyree had helped them in their time of need.

In the community around the Children’s Centre where she worked, she was known as “Auntie Nyree". At her Celebration of Life service, they gratefully offered a Smoking Ceremony, and didgeridoo performance to acknowledge her contributions. The centre hosted a fundraiser which was themed to honour Nyree's fun loving nature with fancy dress, and an afternoon tea. They also unveiled a memorial bench which is located in the "Yarning Circle" section of the kindy garden. You can read more about the fundraiser here.

Earlier I mentioned retirement. Money or no money and as difficult as it is having lost Our Beautiful Princess, Julie and I will celebrate the rest of our lives together like we are 60+ year old teenagers (grow old disgracefully as they say), just as Nyree would have wanted!! We will find something joyful to do each day, and do a little happy dance for Nyree, to honour her love of life. Maybe I will write a book and Julie is fascinated by Family History so, perhaps we should do something together. That’s Life.