A very special lady passed away this morning after a very long and adventurous life. It might not have been adventurous to you or me, but to Nanna J, she was a woman ahead of her time and very much misunderstood.
Nanna J was born and raised in Blenheim (New Zealand). Her father was an actor, as was her mother. She didn’t have a conventional upbringing, but she much admired her parents and spend most of her life seeking their approval, which unfortunately wasn’t forthcoming.
She married my Grandad and before he passed, they had celebrated 60 years of marriage, which is pretty impressive. They had six children, one died in infancy from pneumonia, something that probably would have been easily treatable these days, but in the 1930’s and 40’s, it wasn’t something that easily done.
My earliest memories of Nanna are of driving to Picton to visit her, which is where her and Grandad retired to in the mid 70’s. They lived in the same house until they were moved to a rest home in Wellington earlier this century (boy that makes them seem old!).
Nanna was a baker, presever, seamstress, knitter, whatever Nanna put her mind to, she could do it. From handwritten notes she typed up her father in laws family history, which is a piece of literature I hold very dearly. I have one of several copies in fact I believe I have the original, as the paper is almost like tracing paper, so it hasn’t been copied!
We didn’t see Nanna very often, but I noticed it more once they moved to Wellington. Suddenly it wasn’t a case of getting in the car and driving over the hill to see them anymore.
The last time I saw Nanna was at my Dad’s wedding last year. She was in a wheelchair, but only because she didn’t trust her legs. She still had the sharp wit, the dry sense of humour and that chuckling laugh of her’s, which I can hear even as I sit here typing.
Nanna sadly lost Grandad, then Aunty Jill in the same year, and Nanna has always mentioned in her letters to me how much she missed Aunty Jill and their excursions together. Still, I can imagine that Grandad and Aunty Jill would have been waiting for her this morning when she finally decided to give up life here.
Nanna was very supportive of my writing, in fact, she was strangely supportive of everything I did. I was a Captain in the Girls Brigade, I earned my Queens Award and she told everyone about it. She was impressed with my abilities to bead, write and entertain a small child all at the same time. She never believed herself creative, yet she was still knitting fine woolen items for prem babies at Wellington hospital up until her death this morning.
I shall miss my Nanna. She was the last one I had left. Both of my parents are orphans now, and I guess the sad reality is that they will be next. Lets hope that they manage to get to a ripe old age of 96 before I have to worry about that!
Love you and Miss you Nanna J x x x