Saturday, 17 November 2007

Full and empty

I haven't blogged in a while.

Sometimes it is too hard. My head is so full but I feel empty.

It's been a hard couple of weeks which I won't go into.... but the long and the short - my Nana died, and in the same week I was a bridesmaid and my best friends kid had his first birthday.

My Nan was cool. She wasn't the type of Nan to bundle you up in her ample body and stuff you with biscuits and cake. She was a skinny Nanna. My husband rekons no one actually told her that the depression had ended, she still cooked, ate and spent money like it was still here. It was a question of virtue for her. So biscuits at Nans place always had a musty flavour - and it wasn't until years later when my uncle explained that she used the leftover lard (from the bottom of the grill) instead of butter, that I realised that the musty flavour did taste a bit like a chop. Which is of course confusing in a biscuit. She grew her own lettuce and it was always leathery and purple and regularly contained a slug or snail. In the recent period of drought she confessed to me in an intimate moment that she only used cold water in the shower (she was 92) and she turned it off when lathering the soap on her body as a way to save water (the cold water was to avoid the temptation of standing under long hot showers)..... she remembers visiting farms in drought and this is what you had to do.

No... she wasn't extravagant, and spoiling kids was not part of her repertoire. Where my Nanna came into her own was in doing things. She lived down at Chinamens beach. There was a little bush track heading down from the bottom of the great sandstone rock the house was built on down to "the green" the hectare or so of grass and trees before you rose over the dune and onto the beach. Nannas beach - as we called it - was a inner harbour beach .... so no crashing surf except in the wildest of weather. It was perfect swimming for us kids and we spent a lot of time there. We walked up and down the beach studying the flotsam and jetsam. Nan would show me what a shark egg looked like. We'd collect witches fingernails - a long thin shell that we held over our own fingernails for as long as we remembered or until they got a bit cumbersome and in the way of our climbing. There was a rocky headland at either end of the beach. The southend is where we hung out. There was a bamboo patch behind the rocks and my cousin showed me how you could lift the bamboo edges and crawl into a big hollowed out section. This was cubbyhouses on a grand scale - 12 ft ceilings and soft leafy carpet. It was a place to conduct important kids business although I believe the passage to and from was the most exciting part of this cubby. Once there.... well we were ready to move on pretty soon.

You could make your way round the rocks at sea level to the next beach - but you had to time it to miss the tide. Going around the rocks was one of my favourite things. I remember the feeling of power in my body and trust in my agility as I ran over the rocks, always sure footed and doing what seemed like flying leaps over gaping chasms in the rock. The barnacles hurt but if you learnt to relax your feet over them rather then tensing up it wasn't so bad. When walking on the green weedy parts you had to grip with your toes in order not to slip. We were forever stopping to wait for the adults to catch up. So we'd holt our nimble progress where the waves were lapping the rocks and tread on the cunjevoies(sp?) to try and squirt water at each other.... or just into the air. A little geyser controlled by yours truly. Next you had to find the best rock pool which meant finding one with something you hadn't seen before, or, finding one with heaps of anenemies. You could stick your finger in the middle and feel the gentle suction of the fronds closing around your finger. It required a small tug to release.

I remember waiting for Nan to catch up one day. The spot I was waiting at required a decision to be made. The tide was coming in and we had three options... 1 to turn around and go home (not really and option) 2. to lift skirts and wade in the water to our waste, 3. to crawl on a rock ledge on our bellies to get to the next platform. My preference of course was to crawl on my tummy. I remember being surprised that Nan agreed to that one. I felt very proud looking behind me to see my (seemingly ancient) Nanna on her scrawny tummy crawling after me. I felt very very proud. This is MY Nanna. The one doing what kids do.

This was the best of Nan. And I believe that she did not need her grand kids to be with her as an excuse for these things. In later years we'd swap travelling stories and where I would be struggling to remember the name of the port in Athens or which state of India Bahratpur was in, she would be able to remember the name of the plaka where she sat to drink coffee. She travelled more or less overland with Pop from Australia to England. Up through Australia, across to singapore, west through asia, the top of india, afghanistan, then i think a flight to turkey and overland from there.... This was well and truly before the invention of the Lonely Planet.

I visited her for 3 hours before she got suddenly sick. I think she knew. She was in a lot of pain and could barely stand up. She wasn't able to walk me to the door when I left, so she stood in the hallway of her home and waved and said "Goodbye" "Goodbye".

Goodbye Nan.

8 comments:

My Reality said...

I am sorry for yout loss.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Your Nan sounds fabulous. What an amazing and inspiring woman. My condolences for your loss...

sharah said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your Nan sounds like a wonderful woman.

Carole said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your Nan was truly a wonderful woman.
~Carole

tonya said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Nan. My Grandma passed five years ago, and I miss her still. Hoping you find peace in time.

Kami said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful, happy story about your Nan. What an amazing woman she must have been.

Kristen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. XOXO

custom term paper writing service said...

sad about you loss. hang on my friend, we're with you