It has been just over a year since our family said goodbye to Mary, our family matriarch and my grandmother, who lived to the ripe old age of 99 years, three months and three days. Life has taken a few interesting directions since Mary left this world and not a day goes by where I don’t think of her and her influence on not just me, but our whole family. Today I was tidying some papers and came across the poem I wrote for her funeral. Although re-reading it has brought some tears, I think it is a good time to share these humble words. I know it is not my usual subject matter for the blog but who cares? We live in strange times which are turning our values and attitudes upside down.

One of the positive things that has arisen despite the current restrictions is how COVID-19 has brought families together – if not physically, then as remote support via the phone or video conferencing. For example, my parents have both emerged as confident Zoomers (as opposed to Boomers), which has added video conferencing to our means of staying in touch. I love to see their faces through the screen, so much better than a faceless voice through a phone line ❤
Anyway – this post is to acknowledge those family links and how we are shaped by our elders ❤

For Mary

Although we are all scattered to the wind
There was one place that brought us all together

The kitchen table

When I think of your kitchen
Memories come flooding back

So many memories

Of laughter
Of tears
Of secrets shared
Of promises made and of dreams not yet realised

When we were small I remember so many things
Collecting hail and pretending it was snow
Drinking cold cordial out of colourful metal cups
Running around the yard with Bolta
Laughing at his floppy ears
Wearing a groove in the ground from our tracks

Years later I watched my son run the same tracks

When I think of you and the time we shared
I am filled with gratitude
How lucky were we?

As kids we knew our place
Your voice echoes in my head
“Children should be seen and not heard”
“Eat your vegetables”
“Do you want your mouth washed out with soap?”
Well, I tested this one
“Keep it up Tracey and will scrape it on your teeth”
I didn’t believe her
I should have…
Let it be said I never tested her on her word again
Soap does not taste great.

What can be said about a grandmother who was loved so much?
There are no words
But your words were law

Although you were small in stature
You had the strength to hold us all
By you being you, I learnt so much
About responsibility, trust and being true to your word.

I also learned other things
You taught me to crochet, ever patient with my awkward left-handedness
You taught me about gardening, though I will never have your green thumb
You taught me the secret of Savoury Mince – just keep adding vegetables.

But it is the kitchen table I keep coming back to
It was the heart of our family life
Gathering when relatives come to town
There was always a place at the table
Even if you had to sit on the stool
Papa usually copped that one…

So many memories
Of you and Uncle Bruce trading jokes
You always had the edge
And we all so loved the banter
So. Here we remain Grandma Mac
Gathering today to mark your long life
Knowing that even though we will scatter again to the winds of distance
That we have all been shaped by you.

What a gift.

How lucky are we?

(April 2019)

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