Happy 90th birthday to Trudy Bylhouwer

Geertruida Magdalena Somers  (Trudy) was born 90 years ago in the middle of a very cold winter in Vlissingen, Holland.  

She was the eldest daughter in a family of six, three of whom were girls.  

Her parents ran a very successful bakery in Vlissingen and she grew up during the war years.  

Trudy left school earlier than she would have liked but had no choice as it was expected she help in the running of the bakery.  

She was sent off to learn sewing which she mastered easily.  

Trudy remained working in the bakery until 1954.  

Up until that time she not only helped to run the bakery, but helped bring up her younger siblings, ran the household - and for the last 10 years, was her father’s greatest support as her own mother had died.  

During this time all of her brothers and sisters went on to develop their own careers and study. 

Trudy always wanted a career, but the dream was never realised whilst in Holland and took on a different form when she came to Australia.  

She married Bill Bylhouwer in 1954, having earlier that year migrated to Australia. 

Thereafter she embarked upon a journey in life that could only be described as a mixture of adventure, hard work, interesting and difficult times - which were both enjoyable and at times lonely.  

In that time she achieved what can only be described as her greatest achievement - she had a family of five children, kept Wimpie Wimpie under control for 59 years (no small feat in itself) and became the favourite Oma of 10 grandchildren.  

Her life in Australia began in Wallerawang and was initially difficult and lonely.  

She had to master the language which she did superbly and she ran and maintained a household of seven on a shoestring budget, which she did with such expertise that would shame all past Australian Treasurers.  

Her skills as a seamstress were invaluable.  She sewed most of her children’s clothes, including  high school graduation dresses.  

Takeaway food was a concept unknown to the household.  

Trudy cooked everything herself including baking her own bread.  

When all the children had left home, she didn’t just down tools and put her feet up.  

By that stage Bill had brought a run down old shop and wanted to start his own business.  

Taking nothing away from Bill and his contribution to the success of Parkes Cellars, or what became known as ‘Blowholes,’ Trudy made an enormous contribution to its success.  

We all know the saying that behind every successful man stands a good woman, and that was certainly the case here.  

Along came 10 grandchildren and suddenly the family that Trudy as a young girl in Vlissingen always wanted, had expanded enormously.  

The long distances between her and the grandchildren meant that she did not see them as much as she wanted but nevertheless she travelled frequently to visit them and they in turn travelled frequently to visit her.  

Her grandchildren love her dearly - the most popular Oma in Australia!  

Trudy’s life in Australia, despite its difficulties, has been much more interesting and diverse than that of the siblings she left behind in Holland.  

She has travelled extensively throughout Australia, she has ridden on the Indian Pacific across the Nullarbor, sailed on a boat on the Murray, fished in the Murray River, sailed on ships in both the Pacific Ocean and on two long journeys from Australia to Holland and return, climbed Ayers Rock, camped in the State Forest in the Pembertons under the Karri trees, ridden a camel, swum in gorges and fried eggs in a frying pan heated only by the hot Australian sun as it beat down on a concrete path in the back yard.  

At the age of 60 she obtained her driver’s licence and in almost 30 years that she drove the car, she maintained an impeccable driving history.  

Trudy still does all her own cooking, washing, shopping and ironing and most of the cleaning.  

She is the primary carer for Bill.  

She reads and writes extensively in both English and Dutch and her handwriting is as clear as it has always been.  

Trudy is a woman who has achieved much in life.  

She has been a wonderful wife to Bill, a wonderful mother to her children and wonderful Oma to her grandchildren.  

She has reached the age of 90 looking fitter and healthier and more beautiful than most women 10 to 20 years younger, and certainly more capable.  

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