Gogglebox Australia

Gogglebox: Emmie reveals the struggle of her ‘very tragic life’

Emmie Silbery opens up about the heartbreaking challenges she's had to overcome.

Emmie is the matriarch of the much-loved Silbery family we catch up with every Wednesday on Gogglebox. Known for her cheeky sense of humour and light-hearted attitude, people woudn't know of the heartbreaking challenges she's overcome to get where is she is now.

"My mother has had a very tragic life," her daughter, Kerry reveals. "The fact that she's still here with us and she can still fantasise about how lovely life is despite all the tragedy that she's had is a credit to her inner strength as a person."

The youngest of seven children in a poor family from Mildura, Emmie was orphaned at eight years old and navigated her way through life until she was faced with yet another heartbreaking moment.


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 "When I was in my 50s my husband left me for a woman who was the same age as our daughter, Kerry, and that was pretty humiliating for me," Emmie explains. "I thought, 'What am I going to do now?'

"When I had my children I was not encouraged to work. Once you had your baby, you were expected to stay home and look after the kids until they were old enough to go to school and then you were allowed to go to work.

"But I needed to get a decent job. I had to go on the pension and I had to find work to get some money to support myself. That's when Kerry suggested I go to night school and complete my HSC qualification.

"So that's what I did, and I was able to have financial independence," she tells.

While Emmie went to great lengths to make a successful life for herself, the great-grandmother says that she never had the same expectations for her own children. 

"I didn't put any pressure on either of my children to be anything in particular," Emmie says. "I wouldn’t have worried if they were sweeping streets.

"But I did encourage Kerry to stand up for herself and get a good education so she could have a good life," she tells. "So I was very proud to be at Kerry's graduation to see her become a fully qualified teacher.

"I remember Germaine Greer was the one who started getting me thinking about how women should be treated. So I tried to follow her encouragement," Emmie adds.


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In fact, Emmie's encouragement is what would inspire Kerry to attend university - marking the first person in their extended family to do so. 

"It was the feminist environment that I was growing up in really," Kerry explains. 

"I went to a girl's school whose motto was 'I am for god and for home' and I thought, 'That can't be all there is, seriously?' I wanted more out of life and I knew that was involving study so I went off and got an education and became very financially independent as a result and had a wonderful career," the 66-year-old adds.

At 35, 66 and 91, Gogglebox fans watch in awe at the Silbery women's intensely close relationship. While the sharp intelligence, wit and a dry sense of humour seem to be Silbery traits, it's their personal lives that have bound them, each being hard working, single mothers. 

"I'm proud of Isabelle for resilience because she's been through a lot of shit but she's still her with us still smiling and laughing," Kerry says.

It seems that the Silbery parenting lessons have flowed through each generation, as Isabelle reflects on what she hopes her children will remember from her own parenting:

"I hope that my children will know that they'll able to express themselves, be whoever they want to be and know that there was never pressure from my parenting to live up to any sort of expectations," Isabelle says. "I want them to know they could come to me with anything and that I'd be non-judgmental and loving."

And through it all, when most would have a hardened chip on their shoulder, 91-year-old Emmie has some final word of advice: "Always forgive, never hold a grudge against people."

Watch Gogglebox Australia, Wednesdays, 7.30pm on LifeStyle or On Demand

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