Life at No.22, Musings

A Grand Lady

During March most of us celebrated another International Women’s Day in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Proudly, we were the first country in the world to allow a woman the right to vote.

This day always makes me feel somewhat staunch in my demands for women’s rights around the world. Yes, I have been to my share of marches to demonstrate with emotion and outrage.

Instead of focusing on how much further we have to go for equal rights. I am going to concentrate on one woman who has lived an ordinary life and was extraordinary in her kindness to others. She made a positive impact on my life and all of us who knew her.

We called her Nana and today would’ve been her 103rd birthday.

Nana who was born between two wars. Though the event that was to impact on her life the most was the Spanish flu epidemic. She was to lose both her parents by the time she was just five years of age. She had three brothers and one sister.

Unfortunately, and sadly, the children were separated. Nana and her younger brother went to live with an Aunt, her husband and their son, the other three went to a Catholic orphanage in Auckland.

This woman, I called Nana, loved not just me but all my siblings and cousins in her quiet, patient, loving and non-judgemental way. I never heard her say a wrong word against another soul. To her, we were all perfect, and no one could tell her otherwise.

Though I am sure most ‘Nanas’ think the same.

Aren’t all Nana’s special women? 

I think they are, women with an essential role in any child’s life!

By stating that it is not to say that my Mum, Aunties, sister, female cousins and friends have not made an equal or more of an impact, because they have, during different segments of my life.

With a heart of gold, Nana made my school holidays so memorable.

I recall how much fun small things such as domestic chores were, and helping her feed all the stray cats around the countryside that used to visit her daily. Each cat had its bowl situated by the back door under a large plum tree. From that prize-winning tree, jars of jam were produced for the local fair when my Mother and Auntie were young. Most of us kids used to gorge ourselves on the delicious plump fruit [or was that just me?]. It was also a refreshing oasis in summer, and fun to climb.

An exceptional treat was a visit, to the tearoom [there was only one in Gisborne in the late 1960s to 1970s] which was above a department store, sipping my cold drink with a chocolate eclair. Of course, I was in my Sunday best and Nana in her ‘going out’ cardigan and skirt [she never wore pants, and she had a tan mark where her gumboots finished just slightly below her skirts].

Nana in her gumboots would have me and the rest of us traipsing around the small farm where she lived. We helped her with various chores, such as stoking up the firebox under the copper so washing could be done. Then the laundry was taken to be hung out on the rope line and me, of course, got to pull the wooden pole down lower as Nana was short in stature.

The warmer months would see her get on her bike after filling her basket with flowers and cycle miles to the cemetery to lay flowers on her families headstones and other peoples’ that she had known. She was still doing this in her late seventies.

Plus, there were other chores to do, such as dealing with kumera plants that would need to be planted out in the back paddocks. In front of those paddocks was a HUGE shed filled with wooden boxes that eventually would transport the kumara to the local market. That shed was the background of many family and cousin photographs that Nana captured of our visits. She loved to catch us all on film, not once, but twice, to make sure she had a good shot.

Those are just a few of the happy times I can remember, there are many, and I am sure my siblings and cousins have an abundance of memories themselves. What’s, even more, fun than going over childhood memories is the keepsakes. I still have letters that I wrote to Nana as a child. Yes, she kept all the letters I and the rest of us wrote to her.

You don’t need to have achieved something ‘extraordinarily significant’ in life to have left a significant mark on people’s lives. Maybe it’s just all about extraordinarily sharing the love.

What our Nana did was to share the love in her quiet and gentle way.

Today we get to celebrate her as a woman.

 And to say “Thank you” to all women, 

who make our world a better place in which to live.

45 thoughts on “A Grand Lady”

  1. I’m late reading this, but what a gorgeous tribute to your Nana Suzanne. She sounded to be a wonderful person. I also had a Nana who I spent quite a lot of time with, she was also such a kind hearted soul who was very clever with a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sam, no worries about being late to read it. Time seems to go by so fast and of course there is no pressure to having to acknowledge blog posts. Though I must admit to wondering how people are if I don’t see them publishing a post for a while. Though one’s I have met like you are on my personal FB 🙂

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        1. Yes, when that mojo gets wobbly we can all question what the heck are we doing with our time and lives 🙂 You are an excellent writer with the ability to publish a book or two. Keep going Sam 🙂

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    1. Thanks Denyse and I am sure your grandchildren will have many fond memories of your time together. I think most children do as it is certainly a privilege to be a Nana/Grandma.

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  2. A lovely post Suzanne. Unfortunately, my grandparents had all died before I was born so I never had a Nana. I do enjoy being Nan to my grandsons, though, who bring me such joy. There is nothing like the love we have for our grandchildren and I’m creating special memories with them. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for sharing at #MLSTL.x

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    1. Have a relaxing weekend Sue, and, you feel quite passionate about being a Nana and for this reason your grandsons would have noted that they are very special.

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  3. HOw fortunate you were and how wonderful that your Nana did not allow early misfortunes to color her life. Thank you for sharing. Not sure quite what gumboots are, but I could picture everything, the bowls of milk around the plum tree, your Nana taking flowers to the cemetary, not only for the graves of her family but of other people that she knew. A wonderful role model to be sure. Thanks for sharing. Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles

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  4. That was beautiful Suzanne – she sounds like a lovely woman and I loved your last sentence ” You don’t need to have achieved something ‘extraordinarily significant’ in life to have left a significant mark on people’s lives. Maybe it’s just all about extraordinarily sharing the love.” because it’s what I hope my family will say about me one day.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

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  5. I adore this. It reminds me of my nan. Nan was strong, individual, independent – when women weren’t supposed to be so – and everything she did she did she did for her family. As an aside, I’m proud of NZs record as well – we could learn a lot from our neighbours…

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    1. Thanks Jo, I think our country still has far to go in many areas such as domestic abuse and child poverty.

      Strong “feminist” women weren’t the norm back then so to be one would’ve been hard going.

      It would be grand to pick out the best from around the world and create another. Just a fantasy!

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      1. I think we were all blessed and a few of Middleton girls used to come over too when we were visiting. That was fun 🙂 I always thought it was sad we never got to meet Nana Butler as she died before we were even born. She sounded a lovely lady.

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  6. What a moving memento of a time gone by. I hope grandmas today are so wise and caring. It’s strange how they can make chores seem fun. I think you’re right in that it’s the focus they bring to bear on you as a child in a way you’re not likely to get from a parent. Thanks for sharing these memories. So well expressed.

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    1. Thanks ver much, Eilene, unfortunately work commitments and time don’t give women as much time to spend with the next generations. Nowadays, families are more than likely scattered all over the world

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  7. What a lovely tribute to your Nana, Suz. Life has changed drastically since the days of our (and your) grandparents. Have you talked to your siblings/cousins about the role your Nana played for them?

    My oma left a similar impression in my life. She took care of us after school when I was a toddler and she became the most important woman in my life when I was in my teens, twenties, and thirties! Non-judgmental, caring, always having a listening ear. I could talk to her about everything, visited her as often as I could (and we’d talk for hours without realizing it), and she was the main reason I returned to Belgium once a year once I became a nomad in 2003. Fantastic memories indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hoya Liesbet, you were very lucky to spend so much time with your Oma. Nana lived in Gisborne so our main time with her was during the school holidays. She used to go on the bus from Gisborne to Whakatane for the day just to see us. She never wanted to stay the night as all cats needed feeding.

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  8. That brings back memories of my gran, a gruff stoic woman who taught me the joys of subverting the expected. Yours sounds a delight and yes why do those chores seem to have been fascinating in retrospect? Turning the mangle was hard work but all I now remember is it being fun.

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    1. I think the chores became fascinating because we were doing them with a woman who had the time to make us the focus of her day. She made us feel special. A luxury of being a “Nana”.

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  9. Such a beautiful tribute to your nana and to all the wonderful nana role models out there. I have been thinking and writing about my grandmothers lately, and reflecting on my own nana role. This is so timely. Thanks fir sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and yes at various times we miss them more. I’m not a Nana though I still appreciate the role they have in our world. Enjoy writing up about yours. Thanks again for commenting.

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