Mum and I were fortunate to spend time with some favourite rellies this week – a tasty meal with my father’s sister and brother and their spouses. These aunts and uncles have been a part of my life forever and part of mum’s for over fifty years.
It was the start of birthday celebrations for mum, she turns 75 – wowsers! I have started this story about my mum several times and while most stories that I write come easily this one has eluded me.
There are few words in the English language to describe this lady appropriately.
In recognition of her 75 years I am going to try. Im sure the photos I have included will help paint the picture of this lovely lady.
Apparently, my dad said to his sister many years ago that the best thing he ever did was marry Brenda. As one of their 3 children I’m kinda glad he did too! She was a hit with his family from the start – including his mother, which for those who knew Ellie was something monumental.
I sometimes wonder if things would have been different if she was born in a different era. Would she have been a nurse? A counsellor? A psychologist?
As a middle child born during the late World War II years she was destined to leave school at 16 years and work to help support the family. As was the norm in the 1950s she worked until she married, at a local jeweller and then became a full-time wife and mother.
Would have, could have. I get the feeling she doesn’t regret how her life has turned out. It has still been one hell of a ride!
Life was tough growing up during those post war years, a middle child of six children whose father died when she was seven. The Murray River was her home – born in Yarrawonga and childhood in Corowa until a handsome school teacher swept her away when she was nineteen to Gundagai, Manilla and finally settling in Curlewis in 1974.
She was a bit of a looker as a young lady in Corowa. Her sweet curls set from rags in her hair a common sight in the family album, her peaches and cream complexion shining in photos taken at district balls and dances in the early 1960s. She has a quirky talent of being able to raise her right eyebrow which she used effectively to gain the attention of the handsome school teacher who used to visit their home in Parade Place, Corowa. Her skilful talent obviously worked, as they were married in 1963 and enjoyed over 50 very happy years together.
In times of sadness and loss this wonderful lady is the glue, the strength, the rock that guides and helps both family and friends through their most traumatic experiences. She does this without hesitation and it usually involves delivery of some home-cooked food to feed the soul.
Food baked by her, always with love and heart. Many have tried to recreate her jam drops, her Anzac biscuits, the almond bread, weetie pudding, curried chicken or memorable sponge cake. It is never the same. One of my daughters commented that Gran cooks with love in it – and no one can put Grans love in, so they will never be the same. I have to agree with this theory.
She was also quite the seamstress, sewing many of our clothes and her own in the early years. She still is the go-to person for mending and fixing clothing for family members, some even saving things until they next visit for Gran to fix.
Selfless – Caring – Generous – Thoughtful are all words that easily spring to mind.
There was invariably a little note wrapped in my school lunchbox with a smile, or simply the words love you x written on it. Just her way to let me know all was fine in the world, she was there in spirit, always.
When my girls come home to visit the pantry is stocked with home baked goodies, delivered by Gran who knows their favourites to welcome them home. She has baked birthday cakes forever, and always whatever is requested, though most of the time one cannot go past her sponge!
Her door is always open, the kettle is always on, there is always a cold beer in the fridge and food in the cupboard that she can whip into a master meal in a heartbeat. We had many a night with friends, playing cards and dancing, laughter and silliness in our Minhala home. The lady of the house was in the thick of it and making sure everyone was having a great time, their glasses full and their hunger satisfied. From Dad’s co-workers and students to my brother’s navy mates who would turn up at last minute on weekend leave – they were welcomed, bedded and fed – usually being sent off with armfuls of leftovers to get them home.
Officially she is Gran to eight grandchildren, unofficially to countless others. At the local school she was known for quite some time simply as “Gran’ – even the Principal fondly called her Gran. A most fitting title indeed for this lovely lady.
Her caring nature may have made a wonderful nurse, the way she can listen without judgement may have made a leading psychologist. Would haves, could haves that we will never know. I do know though, that she is the most considerate and forgiving mother and grandmother this side of the black stump. She is the most loving, honourable, proud wife, mother and grandmother in cooee of the Murray River.
And she does a damn fine cooee that has called many a child from up the paddock!
She is the one with the infectious laugh, the silliest faces, the quirky sense of humour, the willingness to give anything a go.
She is our world.
She is my mother.
She has made me all that I am and all that I will be.
She is my best friend.
Happy 75th birthday Brenda Christine – Mrs T – Mum – Gran x.
meilleure amie is French for best friend