Wednesday, 7 May 2014

On Mums and Matriarchs

  Mother's Day is this Sunday and now that I have tween and teenage children x 3, not pre-schoolers, I spend more time thinking about my cool Mum and the matriarchs in my family, instead of breakfast-in-bed, spa treatments and how much me-time I'm owed.
In light of that and my recent references of how I am turning into my Nana, this post is a tribute to her. In the photo above, Nana is centre front, between my Great Grandmother and my Mum. I'm the kid in the long dress. The pretty women side on behind them is my 95 year old Gran - she's our matriarchal legend and another story.

My Nana

My Nana wore a flapper style wedding dress and carried an enormous bouquet when she got married. She loved parties and people, tennis and matching hats. Perfect for a vicars wife.

My Nana read interesting snippets out of the paper and took up dressmaking. She scrimped on material so there was always a patch over a seam in a poignant place like centre front.

My Nana was widowed young so she took up traveling. She collected crystal hand bells and souvenir match boxes from the cities she visited around the world. She’d appear like an over adorned Christmas tree at the end of each trip, beaming as she sauntered off the plane.

My Nana wore orangey-red lipstick and grew a bristly kiss. She bought a white Mini Clubman and rode the clutch like a fury to morning teas around the village. On the days the tar melted, she’d collect us for a swim in her toweling housecoat; you could hear her roar streets away.

My Nana loved a good suntan. Her lower legs came to look like her crocodile handbag. ‘Just doing the fronts today dear,’ she’d smile from her sun lounger, while wasps nibbled at plums on the grass beside her in the Hawkes Bay heat.

My Nana had terrible bunions; it was surprising her feet could get into those rows of going-out shoes. Her bedroom was a treasure trove of handbags and water colours and clip-on earrings. Her glass topped dresser held a black and white museum of memories.

My Nana kept her hair dye in the bathroom cupboard. She used, ‘Cha Cha Gray’ and mostly left it in too long so her hair turned a flattering mauve. 

My Nana tried to discourage my love of ponies. She said girls that rode horses ended up looking like them. She had a friend who looked like her poodle. I could see her point. She also told me I was kind and could be a nurse when I grew up.

My Nana liked sherry. When I got my licence I’d drive up from Onga Onga to visit, she’d pour me a couple in her blood red crystal glasses, as we chatted in the drawing room. I’d be shickered by the time I left.

My Nana was never a great cook. But when she started making toad in the hole from sausages peeled off the bottom of her fridge, she went into a home. She complained Mr Witherton-Jones had terrible manners when he slurped his soup beside her, and she wasn’t staying long.

My Nana used to hold parties in her room and invite her favourite nurses. She always had a cask of Blenheimer under her sink. ‘It’s so refreshing,’ she’d say.

My Nana sometimes went missing. But she always wore a hat!

 Happy Mothers Day!
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  1. Love that! One of my fave of your posts so far, Jane. I'm quite sure I'll keep remembering today that your nan appeared off the plane 'like an over-adorned Christmas tree'! Ha ha. You've captured some exquisitely-rendered memories.

    1. Thanks very much Yvette! This piece was a writing exercise at a fiction workshop with Owen Marshall. I plan to do more family members one day...

  2. That is a lovely tribute. I hadn't ever heard much about your Waymouth grandmother and enjoyed reading your vivid childhood memories. Also the old photos are fascinating.

    1. Thanks Adrienne! Nana was a bit of a character.

  3. This brought the hairs on my arms,your Nana was amazing, I loved that she travelled so far and you made me lol about the women that turn into their ponies! What a wonderful tribute x

    1. Thanks Vicki! She actually had a friend with a pug dog but I changed it to a poodle to be more PC! Nana was a darling and never said a mean word about anyone. She sewed a lot of her outfits too and always ran out of material in a poignant place like centre front seam.


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