Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ode to my Nanna

Mum, Nanna and me.

My sis, grandparents, cousins and brother.

So I do love my Nanna very much. Nanna just turned 80 and I went back to country South Australia last weekend to help her celebrate and gave a speech. The party had a theme of blue. My Nanna, in her darling and eccentric way, only wears blue. Never yellow, which she hates and claims makes her ill.

I should briefly talk about the party itself - at the 'Tarlee Institute' with nearly 100 people and a band mind you. Ah, the organisation. For those not from the country, this entails much preparation of the kind we cannot really even imagine. When I say we I mean you, however rest assured I don't get it either.

I'm talking 'mock chicken' sandwiches - a recipe bizarrely involving tomato, cheese and egg (sounds revolting but really quite nice - sorry Mum), caramel slice, 'butterfly cakes' with whipped cream and copious other recipes, a band playing the 'military two step' and the 'pride of erin' and a million blown up balloons.

I started my speech with a quote, which appeared on the date of Nanna's birthday (19th April) on a 'quote of the day' calendar of my Mum's.

'Growing old is compulsary. Growing up is optional.'

Words to live by? My Nanna is one of those people who will never grow up. She was unwell the day before her party and ended spending the night in hospital. However, annoying and stressful though this was, noone would have known. She somehow even persuaded the doctor to do early rounds so she could get to her hair appointment on time - I think it was something to do with the compliments she gives him about his 'nice shirts' and 'good injection technique' - which he apparently doesn't even have, but Nanna can make anyone feel good about themselves.

Nanna is the great provider and can always be counted on for any kind of food including her 'world famous' brandy snaps, or a lolly, which she'll find for you somewhere in the depths of her handbag. Apparently she got into trouble at bowls for giving lollies to the opposition - we should all be so evil :)

And that is how I ended my speech, that noone can leave Nanna's presence without feeling more beautiful, talented, clever (deep breath) , kind or brave as Nanna always has the right thing to say to everyone. So that kind of gave me a tear just writing it the first time, then giving the speech and even now.

In fact the next day, at a lunch for her actual birthday, she said that after my speech a number of people commented to her how close she was to her eldest grand daughter and that was it - I burst into tears. And then my Poppa, who is not the same these days, stroked my arm with such compassionate, unconditional and understanding love that it made me cry even more (v. embarrassing)

When I arrived back in Melbourne I picked a book off my shelf, 'The Prophet' by Kahil Gibran and it opened to a page on 'joy and sorrow' ...

'Your joy is your sorrow unmasked
And the selfsame well form which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain
Is it not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is it not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorry that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful ... look into your heart, and you will see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight'

I'm sort of annoyed at myself for being upset without reason, I know how lucky I am to still have ALL my grandparents (the other pair are now in their 90s and very healthy) but it's really the joy and sorrow getting all mixed up together ...


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  2. Hi Kerry,

    Great post. I almost shed a tear. I have no grandparents left and sometimes I get so sad when I think of all the things I still want to ask them and can't....

    I feel like giving you a big old hug...

  3. Hi Kerry
    What a lovely party for Mum, she is still smiling. The old fashioned supper dance seemed to be very popular with young and old alike. Thank you for all your help and the great speech. I guess "Mock tomato" sandwiches do sound rather weird, but they are nice. We did have less unusual ones including curried egg, chicken and pistachios. At least we didn't have brains and walnut sandwiches!

    Love from Mum

  4. Hi! I read a blog!! Yours!! Loved it. You are so clever and funny. It made me miss you!
    Cant wait to see you in 2 weeks! Yay!!!!! Will catch up with you very soon about the details.
    Love kel

  5. Love your comment Kel and well done for figuring out how to comment :)
    I'm sure brains and walnut sandwiches would have been quite a hit Mum - maybe next time!
    And you're right Yvonne - have to make the most of our loved ones because they're not around forever.
    Thanks for commenting! xx