Yesterday we gathered to celebrate my Nan’s 95th birthday. 95! Amazing. I can’t quite fathom that many years, living through that many decades and the changes she has seen through the 2oth century and now living seemingly in ‘the future!’ Nan was born in 1922, grew up in Melbourne’s inner south-eastern bayside ‘burbs and worked at a bank through the war years. She reminisced with me yesterday about taking a dressmaking night course after she finished school, she thought she would have been about 17 so it was about 1939, and catching the tram home from Balaclava to Elsternwick in ‘black out’ at night. Nan’s short term memory is not that great these days (fair enough and duly warranted at 95!) but I love asking her all sorts of questions about growing up in Melbourne in the 1930’s, her father worked for the railways so they had free travel within Victoria on the train. I was telling her how I got sunburnt (tisk tisk Emma) at Inverloch a few weeks ago and she remembered vividly riding the train home from Kilcunda with her family all brunt to a crisp and pulsating heat, her Grandma had lathered them in coconut oil to bake on the beach! Matt loves to hear how Grandpa did things on the farm in the 1950’s, Nan came up to the farm in 1949 after Grandpa bought ‘Ballina Park’ site unseen in 1947. Nan caught the train to Trafalgar from Melbourne with her worldly possessions to go to her new marital home, she had clear instructions to go on the mail car to get to Narracan but someone on the train was going on the bus so she went with them (what a rebel!) She remembers alighting the bus on the corner of our road, but can’t remember what she did next, or how she knew where to go – ‘Ballina Park’ is about 1.5km up the hill from the intersection so she must have walked with her suitcase, she remembers arriving on the doorstep of what she presumed was her new house and Grandpa (and his father who was there ‘baching’ with him) was gobsmacked to see her! And a little miffed as they had not prepared for her arrival and the house was a shambles – ha!
Nan was suitably celebrated and love upon by us all – with cake and toasting and a shared lunch with a collection of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (of which there are four, nine and nine respectively). Sharing the day at the home which Nan and my late Grandpa built in the 1970’s was serendipitous, now my brother and sister-in-law’s home, but with lots of memories for Nan within it’s walls. And that view! A handful of Spring days where it’s not blowing a gale or freezing cold out there on that deck, and yesterday was a cracker. Perfectly fitting…
Huge props to my sis-in-law Mandy for hosting yesterday, the hostess with the mostess who has just inherited the job along with the postal address! A dress rehearsal for Christmas if nothing else. Lunch was delicious, thanks Min. I made an angel food cake (never fails for a special celebration) and Harriet actually stopped crying for a few minutes to devour her lunch. Food makes her happy, fair enough kiddo. I am actually surprised there are a few photos of her not crying and being held by someone other than me. Boy, that child is a stage five clinger to the next level…she spent the majority of the day shooting death stares at anyone who thought of trying to coerce her out of mummy’s arms, or wailing in misery if I dared take a step away from her.
I did attempt to get some photos of the girls before they got too tired and full of sweets and covered in cake and watermelon. All things considered, not a bad effort with some non-compliant toddlers (plural! Yikes…) And what’s a sunshiney day with the cousins without a bounce? Big kids can bounce too. Even Uncle Kel.
Happy birthday to our beloved matriarch, Nanna-bear. Even though she has no idea what a blog is, she was full of congratulations for me yesterday on my Bupa blog award, and pretty chuffed I was on the ABC! Bless. I have tried to explain as best I could to Eleanor just how very special it is to have a ‘Nanna-Nanna’, as she is just wrapping her head around the ideas that Grandi is mummy’s mummy, and Grandad’s mummy is Nanna-Nanna etc. I do hope Eleanor has memories of ‘Nanna-Nanna’, I am realising that she is at the age where she will hopefully form very vivid memories and pictures in her mind of special moments and people to her. Nanna was saying to me yesterday how very lucky she is to have the family to help her and she gets to enjoy great-grandchildren and special days like yesterday – but I think we’re the lucky ones to enjoy having an amazing 95 year old in our midst! Very fortunate, with very tired little people last night. Here’s to 96 Nanna-Nanna, and many more thereafter.