Michael Mulhall never knew seeking treatment for a sinus infection in a small town health clinic would lead to marriage.
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Mary Mulhall, née McMahon, received a call from a payphone near the post office soon after the appointment.
Her parents granted permission to Mr Mulhall to court her, but under one condition: she must have a chaperone.
His mother would accompany the lovebirds to the cinema, nestled between them on the old car's front bench seat.
"But when we came out of the pictures, Mike quickly slipped me in from the driver's side so I could sit beside him on the way home," Mrs Mulhall said.
Mr Mulhall died at the age of 78 in Molong's hospital on October 21, 2023 after a 12 month-long battle with a lung condition.
Born on January 1, 1945, he needed around-the-clock oxygen in the three months leading to his death.
He was the adored father and father-in-law to Ann-Maree and Paul, John and Stacie, Bryan and Robyn.
The beloved "Poppy" to his six grandchildren: Seth, Ellie, Jake, Sophie, Ben and Cameron.
Roughly 500 people turned up to the town's Village Green for his funeral service on Monday, October 30.
Around 40 men from the Molong Magpies Rugby Union Football Club trailed down either side of the street in a guard of honour.
A former front-of-pack legend, Mr Mulhall was remembered as a "tireless worker" for the club, well after his paddock days were over.
One post-rugby treasure he cherished was being on the gate; mainly "because he got to talk to everyone" on game days.
Mike played in the front row and his wife says he was "the skinniest, tallest, fastest front rower" the club had ever seen.
Mrs Mulhall was part of the "little cheer squad" some of the boys' partners formed to rally them on from the sideline.
She notes how children would call him "the strongest man in Molong" back when he lived at the west end.
"He was a healthy farm boy and one fit fella," she said, "and he really loved his rugby boys."
Mr Mulhall also ran his own trucking business for many years, carting hay, livestock, wheat and spreading sugar.
His good health and work ethic helped him thrive in the army's 23rd platoon during his two-year service during the Vietnam war.
He started in Wagga Wagga in 1965 before being deployed to South Australia's Woodside near Adelaide, and returned home safely in 1967.
From thereon, Mr Mulhall never missed a single ANZAC Day service.
"It meant more to him than any other day on the calendar," Mrs Mulhall said.
"If we ever had a holiday or something planned, we couldn't leave until he'd attended the dawn service and caught up with his mates during lunch."
Some years, he'd still be down at the RSL Club until 4pm, but he'd usually wrap things up when the ANZAC Day Cup kicked off.
"He'd say, 'That's my cue' and usually come home to sit in front of the telly to watch the game," Mrs Mulhall said.
"He really loved those Dragons."
Heavily involved with Molong RSL Club, Mr Mulhall's connections to many other community groups ran strong, involved with the town's Rotary Club and St Vincent de Paul charity.
This included grounds-keeping at his children's' school, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School.
The Mulhall couple co-managed Molong's service station and Mr Mulhall also ran the local swimming pool on the Mitchell Highway bend.
He's responsible for many grown-up country kids being able to swim today.
"Mike would pick them up, throw them in [the pool] with their floaties on and say, 'Now, swim back to me'," Mrs Mulhall said.
Taking one floaty off at a time, he'd eventually say 'Now, swim back to me again; see if you can get back here'.
Eventually they'd be off like confident swimming rockets, moving around the pool without a scare in the world.
It didn't matter who you were or where you came from.- Michael Mulhall's wife, Mary Mulhall on her husband's inclusive nature.
"He loved this community with all of his heart and Mike was happy to help anyone who needed it," his wife said.
"You only had to ask him once."
But simply knowing him meant you were his best mate, with his wife describing him as a man who included everyone.
"And it didn't matter who you were or where you came from," she said, "he never discriminated."
He had the same gusto as a father, backing his three children to conquer any dream on the cards.
Mrs Mulhall's favourite memories marked the times he'd put the kids on his shoulder and carry them around.
Following the birth of their first child, she recalls an unforgettable moment when the couple moved only a few doors up from Mr Mulhall's parents on Hill Street.
Relaying the story leaves her in stitches.
"If I was out of the house when Ann-Maree was a baby and needed a nappy change, he'd march straight down the street to his mother," she said.
"He had her over his shoulder with her bare bum out for all to see and said to his mum, 'Can you do something with this, please?'"
Mrs Mulhall said her husband was her best friend and "biggest motivator" in life.
She says he "never once ever" said she shouldn't do whatever she was doing: the only requisite was she write him a note of locations before leaving.
"That way he knew where I'd be if anything happened," she said.
A big fan of crime shows, like NCIS and Hawaii Five-0, Mr Mulhall also "had to watch" the news every day and loved his weekend sport.
He also relished cricket during football's off-season.
"Someone would bowl and he'd say, 'Just as well he'd hit that or he would've been out'," she said.
"'Fair off the wicket', he'd say."
His top meals rotated between three meats: roast lamb, beef rissoles and a good T-bone steak.
He also collected tools and knick-knacks during his time, leaving behind a puzzle of questions his family may "never know" the answers to.
"When we cleaned his ute out we found five hammers, six saws, six pairs of secateurs, and I don't know how many pairs of gardening gloves," Mrs Mulhall said.
"But I just thought, 'who in the world needs five hammers and when was he going to use six saws?'".
Described by his wife as a "very loveable man" who enjoyed a chinwag, Mr Mulhall will continue to live on in the memories of his family and town.
"Mike just had an easy way of going and he very rarely ever got cranky," his wife said.
"He had the cheekiest personality and he was the most fun-loving man there was."
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