...surreal is the state that I have felt after coming out of the movies in the middle of the day, or going out for the first time with my baby after recently giving birth...everything is still functioning...time didn't stand still for everyone, just me, in that moment.
And so again, as I attempt to get back to my "normal" life after receiving the phone call..."come now, your Grandmother is dying". Ten days later, 1500km, broken sleep, ...surreal...
My 98-year old role model. Such a strong, determined and independent woman! She was never afraid to speak her mind or demand perfection. She travelled the world, sang, acted, played sports, chaired committees, coordinated social events as the Mayoress of North Sydney and Newtown and entertained the Prime Minister. She taught me how to crotchet and body surf and how to play different card games - skills that I have passed on to my own children, and that have entertained me for many hours over the years.
We often holidayed at her home in Port Macquarie, she took us to all of the local attractions, picnics, scenic drives all around the area, fireworks and parades. Her crafting skills were incredible. She made most of the clothes for her five children when they were young, as well as many items of clothing for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved to garden, and knew the name of almost all plants. When I was about 12, she gave me a little silver heart pendant on a chain. I have worn that more than any other item of jewellery. I've replaced the chain several times, but the solid little pendant shows no sign of it's age. I recall that the heart had belonged to another female family member as she told me the story at the time she gave it to me. I forgot, and asked her years later, but by then, she had also forgotten.
She was a powerful matriarch, the oldest of 11 children, with only one sibling remaining alive. Her mother, Anne, who I am named for, had picked up and left England when she was 17. Set sail for a far-away land and adventure (yep, I come by it honestly!). Grans father had been born on a boat from England as it sailed into the heads of Sydney.
My Gran was still feisty up until a few days before she passed when she had a fall. She has been an inspirational role model. As a child, I was sometimes a little scared of her, but as I grew into my own power, I appreciated her strength, and as I watched her operate, I was filled with respect and love for this amazing woman.
Gran, I am so glad that I had a turn to hold your hand and stroke your hair as the family sat around your bed telling stories. I am so grateful for the many hours of care that my Mum has given you, as her stories of all of the big and little moments, keep you alive in our hearts. I am so grateful that you had my Mum, as her own way of loving us has always made me feel important and loved.
Go in Peace and Joy my Gran...love and gratitude xoxo
My children spent time with their Great-Gran in those final hours, and again with her body when we all spent time saying a final goodbye. I did not instruct them on how to behave, but I just expected that they would be true to whatever was right for them. Their deep respect for the process and for the other family members present, was sincere and filled with love. I am so grateful to have these amazing people in my life!