Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ave, Grandma

My Grandmother died on Monday.  It seems weird to post about it, but also kind of rude not to.  She was a strong woman, who served in the war, emigrated to Australia with small children, and maintained her independence til she died.  Here she is when Lolly was around 9 months.

Here is what I said at her funeral yesterday:

Here are some things about my Grandma.

When I was a little kid, she would let us ride around on her back.  She was the horsey.  She read us books, and told stories. This was some pretty awesome Grandma stuff.

I remember her house at Veron St (I always think of her townhouse as “the new place”).  At Veron St there was (originally) an outdoor loo that I found scary and fascinating.  There was a long yard that backed onto the railway.  The trains punctuated life at that house.  There was a garage, and once my Uncle bought out his old science-y stuff, and let us hold drops of mercury in our hands.  It was silver and the small bead darted across the palms of my sister and I.  We all used to play cricket in the back yard.  Grandma had an old exercise bike that sounded like a hurricane.  There was tea to drink, and a table in the kitchen.  I remember students who would come for tutoring, and sit at the table.  We stayed quiet.

Grandma was interested in what we were doing, what we were studying, and what we were reading.  I had some wonderful conversations about reading and literature with her, particularly in my 20s.  We both loved some of the greats, particularly the classic British women authors, like George Eliot and Jane Austen.

She loved England, and went back every couple of years for most of her life.  She had friends there she'd known since she was a girl.  She saw family, and toured castles.  I always admired that, and her deep connections to place, family, and friends.

She wrote, and wrote.  Letters and cards.  I have a card from her that my Mum saved from when I was born, and one from my first birthday.  Which is beyond lovely, what a wonderful connection to have.  She would also get the irrits if we didn't write back enough to suit her.  She was stubborn, and had expectations.

She taught me things as a kid, but she never managed to teach me cryptic crosswords.  I just never got them, no matter how hard I tried.  They always (and still) make me feel a tad stupid.  Sorry, Grandma!

 I remember going to play tennis at her club, she had a white dress.  It was hot and there was a place to sit under the trees.  I watched Wimbeldon for many years to be able to converse sensibly with her about tennis.  All tennis feels like my Grandmother to me.  She played her whole life, seriously, into her 80s, and then she took up table tennis.  That rocks.

When I was young, she had cats, they were all strays, who had come to her through various cat ways.  Those cats always reminded me of her.  Perhaps she should have been freer in her life to go her own way, like a cat.  It must have been hard at times for a smart woman born in the 20s.

She had seen active service in the armed forces, and overseas service, in the war.  I wonder what she saw over there.  She didn't talk much about it, but once many years ago when I stayed with her, she showed me some photographs and spoke about being away from home.  I wish I knew more about that time in her life. 

She was not always the easiest person, she was stubborn, and set in her ways.  She wanted things to be how she thought they should be.  But she was smart, funny, and fiercely loyal to her family.  She had a strong faith, and built strong connections with people.  I was not always as close to her as I could have been, as an adult, but she had a great impact on me and my life.  So I want to say thank you, Grandma.  And travel safely.  And I remember you.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

A beautiful eulogy for a remarkable woman, it sounds like. I send my condolences for your loss -- and appreciation for sharing a bit of her with us. The photo is wonderful --