Incredible life story on paper for Toowoomba man
NEIL Tracey-Smith has lived an incredible life, from becoming an orphan immigrant at 16 to traversing Australia in multiple careers.
With his life coming to a close due to a terminal cancer diagnosis, the 76-year-old Toowoomba resident now has the chance to have his legacy etched in print thanks to his carer Kristian Cox.
The pair, who met through Lutheran Services' Salem Aged Care Community facility on Hume St, are now working together to complete Mr Tracey-Smith's memoirs.
The massive project is already 70 pages long, with Mr Tracey-Smith telling stories based on a pictorial collection of his life compiled by his wife Helen, while Ms Cox puts them on paper.
The former builder, psychiatric nurse, midwife and balladeer said his life had been full of twists and turns, something that became apparent when he first started speaking to Ms Cox.
"Initially, Kristian came into our home to assist from Lutheran Services. She came in to clean and do anything I needed help with," Mr Tracey-Smith said.
"We got talking about computers and printing and my life story. She's quite computer literate, whereas I'm a bit of a technological dinosaur.
"I've had a chance to review my life pictorially, and Kristian has been helping me to record it in writing form.
"We now have about 70 pages written, and a friend of mine who is an editor is putting it into a readable form."
Mr Tracey-Smith grew up in North London during World War 2, before he lost his mother at six years old and was placed in the care of his grandparents.
After moving to Australia at 13, he stayed behind and worked in a variety of fields that took him all around the country before settling in Toowoomba.
"I've reviewed (my life) over the past few years, and it's been a good life," Mr Tracey-Smith said.
"I've had a lot of growth experiences and as I look and put it into perspective, life's been good."
Mr Tracey-Smith said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has played a large role in his life, with many of his major life experiences based around it.
Ms Cox said her time with Mr Tracey-Smith had taught her many valuable lessons.
"He's taught me to never give up - he loves life, no matter what is thrown at him, and he's done so much and given so much," she said.
"He's shown me to always help people, because he's very good at helping.
"I love our Fridays, it's always fun - I get to learn a lot about Neil and we joke around.
"It's not like going to work, we're friends really."