A Timeless Love

The story of Barry and Lorraine

She was sixteen and he was twenty-one when destiny threw them together.

Lorraine didn’t want to go to the dance that night, but her sister, a contender for Queen of the Banana Festival, was too sick to attend. Somebody had to go to apologise for her sister’s absence, and Lorraine’s parents placed the responsibility squarely on her young shoulders. Reluctantly, Lorraine went.

Barry was at the dance that night and asked Lorraine to dance with him, then walked her to the bus after the dance. As he gave her a peck on the cheek before she got on the bus, Barry asked Lorraine to go to the Pictures with him the following Saturday night.

Two years later Barry and Lorraine married and have been together ever since.

Lorraine isn’t Barry’s only love.

Barry was born in Kyogle but moved to Murwillumbah with his family as a young child. Lorraine was born and bred in Murwillumbah, and together they raised five children in the local area. But their middle child, Michael, needed support that could only be provided outside the region. Neither parent could make the trip to Sydney with Michael, so he was driven to Casino and placed on the Sydney-bound train in the care of a woman they did not know. They describe how they held it together until the train left the station, and then held each other and cried, their heart’s breaking at what they had just done.

Michael was seven years old.

With his heart aching for what his son was going through without them, Barry promised that when Michael returned, he would buy him a train set.

Barry made good on that promise and proudly showed me Michael’s train, now more than fifty years old. And it was that train that ignited a spark in Barry, a spark that would fuel a love-affair that spanned many decades, and thousands of hours.

There was no spare money for hobbies while raising five children, but when the children were grown and had children of their own, Barry began building model trains. In the house they’d raised their children in, not far from here, Barry had a room big enough to house multiple train tracks. And from there a mini city grew, complete with trains, signals, a sawmill, houses, and people. Photos of the little village are packed away, and sadly, downsizing to Mountain View meant the tracks and trains had to be dismantled and given to the younger generation of the family.

The love affair didn’t end there.

On the dining room table, here in Tree Tops, Mountain View, Barry laboured over building model trains and sailing ships until just a few years ago. His hands are no longer able to manipulate the tiny, fragile model-pieces, but the timeless love goes on.

A magnificent sailing ship sits proudly on a shelf in Barry’s bedroom.

And a train and ship adorn the small table next to Barry’s chair in the lounge room, where he can glance over at them with pride.

His hands might have lost their agility, but Barry’s timeless love affair with model trains and ships will never end.

In the past it was the process of building, and the outcome of the finished project, that Barry loved. Now, Barry looks at the completed models and still feels the love, despite not being able to build new models.

Why was Barry dedicated to building trains and ships?

It started with the train he bought his son when Michael was seven years old.

Michael’s journey through life was challenging; he needed extra support that necessitated stays at the Far West Children’s Home in Manly. When he was nineteen years old, Michael was diagnosed with Leukemia.

The Murwillumbah community rallied round and supported the family throughout the ordeal.

Michael lost his battle when he was twenty.

We all deal with grief in different ways. For more than twenty years, Lorraine opened up the family home to support others dealing with grief.

Barry built model trains and ships, finding comfort in the hours spent making every tiny, perfect detail.

The timeless love Barry and Lorraine have shared in their marriage was acknowledged by the Pope, leader of the Catholic Church, on their sixtieth wedding anniversary. The framed certificate hangs proudly in their living room.

The family’s timeless love for Michael was celebrated on what would have been Michael’s sixtieth birthday. A party, with all the trimmings, was held in his honour.

And the remnants of Barry’s timeless love for the model trains and ships he created, still have pride of place in his home. 

Did I mention Barry’s favourite football team? Perhaps I should have, or perhaps you can ask him about it when you see him.

We are honoured and privileged to have Barry and Lorraine as friends and neighbours, here at Mountain View.