Thursday, May 24, 2012

attitude is everything

My nan (pictured left) and Pete's mum (on right) are visiting River's school today for Grandparents Day. This occasion has raised an unexpected wellspring of emotion in me - which I have to say I find inconvenient when this happens! - but anyway happening it is. Partly an emotional hangover from Mother's Day but the other part is the pure love and admiration I feel especially for my nan who is such an inspiration to me, and all the women of her generation who raised their children back in the days before lattes, baby cinos, 'me' time and dads who washed dishes.

My nan and Pete's mum are a year apart in age, (in their eighth decade shhh! they don't look it or talk much about that), their resilience is something I am in awe of.

Nan raised her four children while my grandfather could be counted on to drink his pay check and turn the house upside down.  To feed herself and her children my nan sewed. Dress after dress, alteration after alteration, with children climbing on her lap her sewing machine hummed along and nan just 'got on with it'. When nan's youngest child, my aunty, was 14 they went to live with my great-grandmother another great woman I was blessed to have in my life. By this time, nan's three sons - my dad and my uncles - were living independently off in the world doing their own thing.

Nan is an exceptionally capable and unflappable woman. I have never heard a bitter word spoken by her about my grandfather who passed away 2 years ago. In fact, they remained in contact over the years. My grandfather had stopped drinking in the latter part of his life and had better relationships with my aunt and one uncle. Nan is eternally optimistic about life and lives by the motto, "attitude is everything and as long as you have good health that's all that matters."

The quality I admire so much about Pete's mum is that despite a very difficult family life as a child she went on to create a loving family life with her husband and Pete and his sister and also became a Nanny to two families who she is still very much part of their lives today. Pete's mum's kindness and generosity is inherent in her nature.

The year nan was turning 70, my aunt and I were planning a party for her. Plans changed though when nan announced that she had met a fella and that he had asked her to go travelling with him. First stop was Darwin (from Melbourne where nan lived to Darwin by road is 3,754 kilometres). As her family we were slightly speechless but nervously happy for nan who was off on an incredible adventure. On her seventieth birthday nan rang me from Broome in Western Australia where she had just watched the camel train walk along Cable Beach as the sun was setting, her beau Bob by her side. The lightness and joy in her voice, she sounded like a teenager. I was so happy for her it was a gift I couldn't have given her and it beat the barbecue party in the backyard my aunt and I were planning.
Nan and I on my wedding day

Today I am happy for River that he gets to have his grandmother and great grandmother see him in action at school, and Bob will be there too. And I am happy for all the grandparents because I know the boundless joy their grandchildren bring.

Who are the inspiring women in your life? Are you lucky enough to have great grandparents?

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