Thursday, 25 July 2013

A letter to my other Grandma

Champagne Grandma …

There is no fizz as I write this note to you. I had hoped to get back to Brisbane to see you one last time after hearing the diagnosis was grim. In the event, there wasn't time.

I'm sorry I can't be at your funeral. Work pressures. Deadlines. Clients. There are plenty of excuses. There are always excuses. There is no excuse.

I was your eldest grandson. You were my last surviving grandparent.

My own mortality comes into sharper focus. And life will go on, as it does.

Indulge me a memory or two. My most vivid ones are of the old Station Master's house at Michelton. The dirt beneath the high-set worker's cottage mined with ant lion nests, funnels of slippery sand where ants would lose traction and end up in the maw of a monster.

The green conifer of some description festooned with spiked blue plastic-like pods, which resembled shipping mines from early wars, or perhaps a medieval mace.

Uncle Roger's room. Referred to with whispers and glances. The mysterious Uncle Roger. Larger than life. Elusive. An Elvis. Once or twice we glimpsed a sighting.

Grandad Crawford, with his fist-like calves, big knots of gnarled muscle rippling beneath his crisp white gartered socks. Taking me up to see the train levers, switching trains to different tracks, staying on the rails.

And Grandma Crawford, Violet, Vi, with her neat perm and twinkling eyes, fragile, almost birdlike to hug as the years went by and grandchildren grew bigger.

Later, Keperra. A comfortable brick home, comfortable retirement. Less mythical, sharper focus. The beer coaster collection. Jamaica. Why do I remember Jamaica? A coaster, or a poster perhaps. Some impossibly exotic rum juxtaposed with the ordinariness of the Brisbane suburbs. Long lazy stuffed Christmas afternoons that crept by with a torpor all of their own.

In later years, I enjoyed seeing the two Grandmas as partners in crime, mending fences, enjoying each other's company.

What memory will I hang on to as I sign off here? I'm sitting at Carmel, fondly remembered family gathering spot, coffee in hand, sea breeze whipping up and rattling the windows. Just me and Grandma Gags and Grandma Crawford.

Doing a cryptic crossword, or at least trying. And Champagne Grandma's razor mind slicing open anagrams and puns and scrambled words without any of the mind-twisting effort I required to solve them.

Life. Death. The big cryptic crossword. I never did know why we called her Champagne Grandma.

I still don't have a clue.

Bereavement completists, family members and other interested readers can find my piece read at the funeral of Ann Tree, my 'other, other' Grandma, and my dad's mother, here: here:

No comments:

Post a Comment