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24 March, 2021

Remembering 'Nan'

Emerald local Paul Ballini reflects on his memories with his wife of 47 years

By Ali Goddard

Nancy (far left) and her midwife colleagues and friends in the 1950s. PHOTO: Supplied.

A LOCAL man remembers his wife 15 years after her death, showing that true love can blossom through adversity. 

Nancy Evelyn Ballini, affectionately known as ‘Nan’, was a light in many people’s lives, living alongside her husband Paul for 47 years. 

Mr Ballini said he first met his wife on the dance floor. 

“We used to go dancing every Saturday night,” he said. 

“I kept my eye on her but wasn’t game enough to ask her for a dance. 

“Eventually I did get my dance with her, got to know her and we went together for a while before I asked her to marry me. 

“Then she took off with two of her mates to go and do midwifery in Melbourne at the Royal Women’s Hospital.” 

Mr Ballini said she was in Melbourne for 12 months and there was even talk of her going to New Zealand. 

“I said ‘bugger this’ and went to Melbourne to marry her, so instead of having 400 people at our wedding, we had five. 

“That night, we all went to see My Fair Lady at the theatre.” 

Mr Ballini said they “became inseparable over the years”. 

“She had friends in Emerald and so we moved to a property in Capella after we got married,” he said. 

“There was a lot of hardship there at the time, but she put up with it.  

“However, after 25 years she had had enough and moved to Emerald. 

“She teased me saying ‘you can call me up and if I’m free you can take me out’, so I sold the property and moved to Emerald with her.” 

Mr Ballini remembers his wife fondly, saying she was like a female pied piper. 

“We always had kids at our house, and she would look after them – we even had an adopted daughter from next door, Ellie, who was a real tomboy,” he said. 

Mr and Mrs Ballini were also keen travellers, with much of Mr Ballini’s family living in different parts of Italy. 

“We travelled a lot to Italy because Nan loved Italian cooking,” he said. 

“We went to the Isle of Elba where my family is from and even had an idea to rent a house outside of Florence, but that never happened because she passed away. 

“My aunts in Milan introduced me to opera and I used to play Nan arias over the years, and she grew to love opera, too. 

“It’s been really hard without her these last 15 years,” he said. 

Mr Ballini has remembered and commemorated his wife every year for the last 15 years, proving love truly does extend beyond lifetimes. 


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