Birthday thoughts for Grandma

It’s snowing outside. It started this afternoon, so faintly I didn’t notice at first. But the babbies didn’t like it, it was far too cold, so I took them all in again. Now, under the streetlights, the night is broken by swirling white.

It’s my Grandma’s 80th birthday tomorrow, which is already today in Australia. Happy happy birthday!!!

I have thought of my Grandma often since I started working in the kindergarten. Being with all the little children has made me remember my own childhood. My Grandma was such a big part of it.

My brother, my cousins and I spent so much time at her house. I remember…

Sitting in her clothes basket in the garden. I’m not sure if this is a memory or a memory of a photograph.

Having very many dinners with my cousins around her kitchen table. Recently I’ve been re-imagining all these memories from and adult perspective. What must it have been like to have all those children around?

Sneaking down the long hallway on sleepovers because we ‘couldn’t sleep’, and knew if we poked our heads around the tv room door we’d get hot milk with honey in the cups with the birds on them, and half an hour of late night tennis watching.

Grandma showing me these incredibly long cloths embroidered by distant aunts a long long time ago.

Her kitchen. The texture of her bench-tops, the ABC news on the radio, the funny little secret drawers where the flour and the sugar were kept. The day we were making Christmas pudding and the mixer exploded and we got Christmas pudding all over us. The day I accidentally broke a china bowl and she wasn’t angry at me but I could see that she was sad because it had belonged to her mother. I felt terrible, and so did she. But she said – ‘it’s only a thing’.

Trips into town for afternoon tea.

Her garden. The big leaves out the back where we played at being tigers. The miniature violets I used to pick for my great grandma, who lived with my Grandma at the end of her life. She told me fairies lived there. Sometimes I pretended I saw them. The broad green lawn where my cousins and I build space ships out of garden furniture. The swings on the island. The jasmine growing on the bridge.

Her love of beauty – whether mountains or gum trees or autumn leaves or jacaranda blooms or Lalique glass.

Her stories of the wide wide world. Her joy in my chance to explore that world.

My Grandma taught me how to make bobbin lace, and how to make the perfect sponge roll. When I was doing my masters in York, Grandma and Granddad came to visit me, and took me to St Petersburg because I loved Dostoevsky.

So, yep, my Grandma is pretty special. She has always adored all of us, no matter what, and we’ve always known it. And these memories only scratch the surface. I’m so glad you had a wonderful birthday party last weekend, and I hope you have a brilliant day today. I’m sending thoughts of the last bright autumn leaves and the first whirling snow flakes into the beginning of your Adelaide summer. And I can’t wait to see you at Christmas. xxx

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