WHEN Cecilia Hynes was 21, she met the love of her life.

It was 1938 and they lived in different towns so they would ride their bicycles to visit each other and back then they didn't bother to wear helmets.

It was a different time.

Going to the movies cost all of a threepence and you got to see more than one.

Cecilia's family didn't have a car until she was 17, when her dad bought a Chrysler.

"We were all really thrilled," she recalled.

Now almost 101, she remembers the fun she had as the eldest of 14 children, but she also recalls the tough times of life during the Great Depression and the Second World War.

Born in Howard on October 10, 1917, her dad worked on the railway.

When she was 9 or 10, her family moved to Babinda in North Queensland.

"We spent the Great Depression there," Cecilia said.

"We lived on bread and dripping, we had nothing much.

"Dad took 12 months leave and opened a fruit store.

"We were still as poor as a church mouse."

At 14 Cecilia left school.

She worked in a drapery shop at Mount Isa and had a talent for playing the piano.

Over the years, she found work in a tobacco factory and then a hospital and she would often play the piano at local dances.

One day there was a dance at the local convent and the nuns as Cecilia to perform for the children who were attending.

"The nuns gave me a pair of stockings for playing at the ball," she remembered with a smile.

Then she met Tom.

She says it was his manners that first attracted her to him.

"He was one of those people who pulled your chair out for you and held your coat," she said.

The two met in Bowen, where Cecilia was staying in a boarding house.

There was a dance on and Cecilia had decided not to go, deciding instead to sit by herself on the veranda to pass the time.

Tom told her if she wasn't going, then he wasn't going to go either.

"He came over and told me to come to the dance," Cecelia said.

When Cecilia would play the piano, he wooed her by turning her sheet music for her.

The two were married in Ayr when Cecilia was 24.

Tom was a carpenter and he worked on boats in Cairns.

Naval and airforce officers on leave used to visit their home and enjoy the parties they held.

There, Cecilia would play the piano, her dad would play the accordion and Tom would make coffee.

The couple had eight children, but Cecilia's life was almost cut short after the birth of her second child.

She had an ectopic pregnancy.

"I almost died, I was a fortnight unconscious," she said.

The Second World War was underway and times were tough.

Nurses were few and far between, but Tom sat with her every day as she clung to life.

During her third pregnancy she had to have an ovary removed and she was told she might struggle to have more children.

But five more followed.

The couple had one boy - their eldest child - and seven girls.

They moved to Maryborough 67 years ago and Tom built their house in Tinana, where they raised their family.

"He was a tradesman," Cecilia said.

She became heavily involved in Maryborough's hockey community, coaching several teams and cheering on her children.

Six of her daughters played hockey and one played squash, Cecilia said.

Sadly, Tom died 21 years ago.

He became ill with Alzheimer's disease and had to go into care.

Cecilia would sit with him every day, just as he did for her when she fought her health battle and she was told he could still hear her, so she spoke to him constantly.

The day he died, he sat up in bed and told his beloved wife "I love you too".

"That proved he heard me," Cecilia said.

"I often think of it."

Today, after surviving bowel cancer at the age of 94, Cecilia still lives in the house that Tom built.

Her children visit her there often.

"The kids are marvellous to me," she said.

"I'm really, really blessed."

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