Faith gets Nell through the tough times


FAITH and family gets Nell Toscan through the hardships of life.

The mother-of-six, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of seven says complete trust in God and the unwavering support of children and grandchildren is what works for her.

Hailing from Griffith in the Riverina area of New South Wales, Mrs Toscan’s life was ‘turned upside down’ when she lost her husband Frank on November 23, 1975.

“It was a significant day,” she said.

“I became a single mother to four young children aged between nine and 14 years.”

Mr Toscan ran a tile drainage contracting business, while the couple also owned a rice farm to the north of Griffith.

“He (Frank) was down at the farm when suddenly I got a call from the manager of our farm, saying that my husband had a heart attack,” Mrs Toscan said.

“The paramedic was trying to revive him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but he was gone by the time he got there.

“It was a harrowing experience.”

At the time Mrs Toscan’s two eldest, Peter and Lyn were married, living in Canberra and Melbourne respectively, but Michael, Karen and twins, Janine and Jennifer, were living at home and still at school.

“The four youngest became my sole responsibility,” she said.

“I have been told that I am a very independent person, but in the position I found myself in I thought where do I go from here?

“Shortly after Frank’s passing I remember attending Mass and a feeling of peace came over me and I just knew it would all turn out well.”

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Mrs Toscan believes the faith which her parents instilled in her when she was younger held her in good stead and saved her from feeling sorry for herself.

She continued to keep herself busy with Catholic Charismatic Renewal, St Vincent de Paul Society and lamington drives.

She also volunteered in the local Catholic school tuckshop, all the while keeping a close interest in the family’s two businesses.

By 1980 all of her children had completed their schooling and were living in the ACT.

“Talk about families staying together!” Mrs Toscan quipped.

It seemed inevitable that she would join them and 1990 it proved to be the case.

“After a while, the four-and-a-half hour drive between Canberra and Griffith was getting a bit tedious,” she said.

“So I took it to prayer, and had a strong feeling that God was saying that it was time to sell up and move closer to family’.

“I’m so glad that I did move here, we are a close bunch.”

Upon settling in Isaacs, ACT, Mrs Toscan says she first attended Mass at St Augustine’s in Farrer.

She was immediately invited to join the local St Vincent de Paul ladies conference.

Shortly after she became involved with Canberra’s Charismatic Renewal which also helped her transition to city life by giving her a network.

The family will again meet-up for lunch on Mother’s Day this month.

It is a ritual which her son Peter says everyone looks forward to.

“Mum has just extended the back deck to cope with the family’s growth,” he said.

“We meet at her place regularly for many of our family gatherings and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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“She is remarkably resilient and is an amazing mother, grandmother and great grandmother, testimony to the fact that we’re still a very close-knit family.”


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